Posts Tagged ‘LEED

26
Jun
08

U.S. Green Building Council Makes Revolutionary Change

the Solaire in New York

John Tepper Marlin likes the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Standards, and he enumerates the reasons in a Green Building News article, which also delineates what he sees as a very big problem, and predicts how the problem might be solved. The reason why we listen to Dr. Marlin is clear: he is an expert who has published fifteen books about the complicated economic realities of large cities, chiefly New York. He served in the office of the New York City Comptroller for over thirteen years, as both Chief Economist and Senior Policy Adviser. He knows all about the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and also about the not-so-good aspects of LEED certification, one of which he describes as follows:

If the estimate is accurate that half the cost of LEED certification is USGBC’s fee, this is very high compared with other certification programs, where the bulk of the cost is for meeting higher standards. One can hope that the certification cost will drop by the end of 2009 as more certifiers are accredited.

Before getting into that, however, let’s look at what Marlin likes about LEED: just about everything. The LEED point system is broad-based, transparent, and easy to follow, and the most basic level of approval is not too difficult to attain. There’s flexibility built in, and scalabilty and expandability. Independent third-party certifications are recognized. Builders have gotten on the bandwagon, and are anxious to achieve LEED’s blessing, which is a major selling point. Using green products has become fashionable. Leaders in the construction industry have adopted a LEED-friendly attitude, and willingly aim for the best recognition they can win under the system. It gives them a well-deserved reputation for civic responsibility, which is always a plus.

The downside of LEED is, the process is slow as molasses in January. Marlin cites the numbers for New York City as an example: Four years into the LEED program, only 15 certifications had been issued, out of 294 registered hopefuls. This, obviously, will not do.

So, here is the new procedure, which Marlin feels is not getting the attention due to such a major shift in policy. Starting in 2009, USGBC will continue to set the standards, but will outsource the certification process to the bodies accredited by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), who will then do the certifying. In other words, GBCI will become an Accreditation Agency that will give third-party certification bodies their licenses to issue certificates to individuals, companies, facilities and products.

This is good for two reasons: first, it will bring the U.S. in line with the best practices already adopted by other countries that have been doing things differently and more effectively. This has to do with the “Who’s watching the watchers?” question that always haunts such bureaucracies. Separation is needed between the organization that sets standards, and the organization that decides whether these standards are being met. The offices and officials who are doing the accrediting must maintain the highest degree of credibility themselves. Otherwise, the potential for mischief is enormous and unacceptable.

Second, the new method should clear up the equally unacceptable backlog of buildings awaiting judgment. There could potentially be hundreds of third-party certification bodies, each one holding itself to the most stringent requirements, because it wants to retain its accreditation when it comes up for renewal by the top-level overseers, the GBCI.

In summary, Dr. Marlin says:

USGBC’s move to open up its certification process to outside certification bodies, and to focus on accreditation, is a very good sign that the green-buildings program is going to catch up on its backlog and to be credible, so that the public will know whether or not the claimed standards are actually met.

He will be tracking the success of this far-reaching and much-needed change on his own City Economist website.

Pictured: the Solaire at 20 River Terrace, New York City’s first LEED-certified building (2004).

SOURCE: ” Green Building News – USGBC to Accredit LEED Certifiers” 06/06/08
photo courtesy of Payton Chung , used under this Creative Commons license

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24
Jun
08

The Glavinich Guide to Green Building Requirements

Green Roof in Canada

Among other accomplishments, Thomas E. Glavinich is past president of the Architecture Engineering Institute, associate professor at the University of Kansas (more specifically in the schools of Engineering and of Architecture and Urban Design), and author of a new book from Wiley. In its current issue, ArchitectureWeek excerpts a chapter of this book, Contractor’s Guide to Green Building Construction. Glavinich draws the distinction between green project requirements and green building project requirements, and recommends careful attention to every detail of both, saying:

Green building product requirements are expressed explicitly when the required green product characteristics are included in the product’s respective specification section with other standard product requirements. Implicit green building requirements are usually included in the contract documents by reference.

Explicit requirements should not be hard to find in the building’s specification and drawings, and of course it’s always better to have these things spelled out in a way that guarantees a reduction of the contractor’s risk by expediting the bid process and the accuracy with which bids may be arrived at. Clarity upfront leads to a project where change orders are few or none, and disputes don’t even have a chance to happen.

A responsible contractor will diligently comb every available paragraph of text in order to glean the fullest information on which he is expected to act. As in so many other areas of life, making assumptions is not recommended, since they can lead to a large ration of grief, down the road.

Green building product requirements might be spread around in a lot of different parts of the documentation, and general requirements might be loosely stated as a requirement that the building be certifiable at a certain level of a certain third party system, such as LEED-New Construction 2.2 (from the US Green Building Council), SBTool 07 (from International Initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment), and Green Globes for New Construction (from Green Building Initiative.)

Implicit requirements always include the particular demands of state an local governments, as well as federal agencies and whatever third-party rating system is invoked.

When the green building product requirements have been identified, they need to be broken down into the categories of general, specific, and mixed. A specific product requirement can be told by its descriptive, prescriptive, or performance specifications. The specific product requirements translate into how many tons of what kinds of materials need to be procured.

Of course, all these things must be figured out before the contractor decides which parts of the project he will self-perform and which parts will be let out to subcontractors, and the sooner that is known, the better. Both the contractor and the specialty subcontractors need the most accurate information possible before suppliers are asked for RFQs (requests for quotations.) Getting things right from the earliest possible moment always gives a project the strongest possible foundation on which to build.

Glavinich’s book, Contractor’s Guide to Green Building Construction, covers the broad areas of management, project delivery, documentation and risk reduction; and judging from the sample of his meticulous work presented in this excerpt, he lays out a path through the green building jungle that can be followed easily, and with great benefit to all the concerned parties.

SOURCE: ” Getting Green Products Right ” 06/18/08
photo courtesy of pnwra , used under this Creative Commons license

12
Jun
08

Parking Structures Fit for Kings

Cordova Parkade, Vancouver

In the pages of Newsweek, Matt Vella reports on his quest for the world’s greatest parking structures. The piece is accompanied by a slide show titled “Most Incredible Parking Garages.” They may be the neglected stepchild of the architecture world, but buildings that house cars are an important component of modern urban life, and we’ll be seeing a lot more of them, so they might as well be good. While Vella’s definition is a bit broad, his admiration is sincere:

Few and far between, these wonders are sprinkled around the globe in locations from Paris to Santa Monica. These buildings-green parking garages, innovative automobile dealerships, and futuristic gas stations-form a network of buildings fit for admiration as well as for parking your car.

Santa Monica is mentioned because of the attention-getting Civic Center parking structure, the creation of Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners. Its glass panels add bold color to the seaside community, while concealing the presence of 900 vehicles inside. This innovative facility made history when it gained recognition as the first parking garage to be certified according to the standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating program.

Also singled out for praise is the Cordova Parkade in Vancouver, British Columbia, an $28 million edifice with a light well in the middle (pictured), recycled elements from an older building, and a method of cleaning storm water by filtration.

At the Fullerton branch of California State University, the Nutwood Parking Facility stands as an example of the movement toward greenness. Holding more than 2,500 vehicles, it is enveloped on three sides by “living walls” of vines and bamboo which are sustained by the storm water collection system.

Vella also finds much to admire in several automobile showrooms, particularly one in Paris where Citroën shows off its classy cars. Located on the fabulous Champs-Elysées, it had better look good . A Toyota dealership in Australia is impressive too, with its high degree of energy efficiency and its sinuously warped roof. Some compare this building’s profile to a snowdrift, while others think it resembles an interstellar craft that has just landed or is about to take off.

Another fine example of a car dealership to the nth degree is San Francisco’s Mercedes-Benz complex, which is actually four separate structures, including a tall, glass-enclosed atrium and a two-story showroom. In Los Angeles, Helios House is a modernistic gas station which, Vella says,

incorporates energy-efficient lights, a green roof of native plants, and a water-collection system that treats contaminated waste water and redistributes it to irrigate on-site greenery. The station’s unique metallic skin is made of prefabricated, recyclable, stainless-steel panels.

In Stamford, Connecticut, the Royal Bank of Scotland is in the process of constructing what will be the state’s largest green building, which will include a 2,000 car parking structure with an aluminum, faux wood façade.

This seems like a good opportunity to mention something that, while not a garage nor indeed a structure of any kind, is a place to keep cars, and does hold environmental benefit as a high priority. It’s actually the parking lot of a ballpark, US Cellular Field, on the south side of Chicago. Its permeable surface is composed of more than half a million interlocking pavement blocks (made of recycled brick) that absorb water rather than letting it run off into channels. The Environmental Protection Agency and the US Green Building Council are all in favor of the concept, and this thing can soak up 920 gallons of water per minute.

Are there any more innovative parking solutions out there that we should know about?

SOURCE: ” Traffic-Stopping Parking Structures “05/21/08
photo courtesy of SqueakyMarmot , used under this Creative Commons license

05
Jun
08

Green Warehouses: Corporations Meet Sustainability Challenge

Kraft Foods, according to an announcement from ProLogis (which owns, manages and develops distribution facilities) has built a new distribution center in Morris, Illinois, which holds the distinction of being the largest structure in the world holding a Commercial Interiors certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

The 800,000 square-foot distribution facility was completed last year, and more recently, interior modifications led to the LEED Gold recognition. For Kraft, it’s a first, and certainly worthy of congratulation. The company’s Vice President for logistics, David Klavsons, had this to say:

This is a great accomplishment for our company and provides tremendous momentum for our future sustainability initiatives. We have a longstanding relationship with ProLogis and, by leveraging their expertise in green construction practices, the company has added an even higher value to our partnership.

For ProLogis, this Illinois facility is their third in the United States to receive LEED certification, and they have nine more warehouses currently vying for certification. A ProLogis executive re-affirmed the company’s determination to become the global leader in the construction of sustainable warehouses. Its customers include transportation, manufacturing and retail concerns, as well as third-party logistics providers. From its Denver, Colorado, headquarters, ProLogis controls about 526 million square feet of such facilities altogether, worldwide.

Every day, around 125 trucks approach the warehouse to either bring in or take away Kraft food products, chiefly baked good like chips and cookies. But what makes this warehouse special?

For starters, nearly 100 percent of the construction materials debris (more than 1000 tons) was kept out of the landfill by diverting it to recycling centers, while recycled and locally sourced materials were used as much as possible for the interior remodeling. An energy reduction of 60 percent was achieved in the area of lighting, through use of windows, fluorescent lamps, and motion detectors. Within the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, energy use was reduced by 40 percent, and only one quarter of the building’s area is air-conditioned. All the paints, adhesives, sealants and coatings used were chosen with an eye to their emission levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC), while carpeting and furniture are made from recycled materials.

Wood and wood-based construction materials came with the blessing of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This is the international organization devoted to best practices for sustainable forestry. The website of the U.S. branch lists the group’s principles, which cover compliance with local law, tenure and use rights, indigenous peoples’ rights, workers’ rights, community relations, environmental impact, management strategy, monitoring and assessment, and much more.

Kraft is not the only corporation concerned with “green” warehouses, of course. Nextgen Vending, purveyor of organic foods and beverages, recently opened a new facility in Boise, Idaho with several advanced features. Eden Foods, which also sells organic edibles, recently broke ground for a facility in Michigan that aims for LEED certification. The Lucky’s Warehouse project in Baltimore is the subject of a well-explained and profusely illustrated case study at Greenline, and many other similar projects are being developed throughout the country.

SOURCE: “Kraft Foods and ProLogis Announce Largest LEED-CI Gold Certification at Chicago-Area Distribution Center” 05/21/08
photo courtesy of tom.arthur , used under this Creative Commons license

30
May
08

The Role of Building Information Modeling in Cleantech

The Majestic Fool

While public awareness of ecological problems focuses on the transportation industry, many people are not quite accustomed to regarding construction as an area where green technology can make a huge difference. But new methods are changing the design, construction and operation of buildings and facilities more every day. This is emphasized by Scott Boutwell in a TriplePundit.com piece, where he says,

The building & facility industry is undergoing radical change today, as owners are demanding more project visibility, improved risk management (scheduling & costs); and increased use of technologies that will allow for less waste, more efficient energy consumption, and ultimately lower costs over the lifecycle of the facility (from design and construction to operations).

This change is due to Building Information Modeling (BIM), which is exponentially different from 2-dimensional computer-assisted design. Boutwell tells why:

This knowledge or database contains the ‘intelligent objects” of a structure; not just lines and arcs typically associated with traditional CAD or drawing tools. As such, BIM can represent multiple, dynamic, and collaborative views of information such as spatial data (3D), un-structured data (text), and structured data (databases, spreadsheets), as well as new views including scheduling and cost information (termed ‘4D’ and ‘5D’, respectively).

The visualization capabilities of BIM are of a different order of magnitude, allowing for much more in the way of collaboration in the early stages and throughout the gestation and birth of a structure, but that’s only the beginning. The technology’s innate intelligence and especially its ability to simulate events and processes are what really make a difference. In the area of energy and resources, like water management and re-use, it has never been so easy to design with conservation in mind. All the various elements that make up the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system can be tested and improved before one pipe is laid. The impact of alternative energy sources such as wind can be factored in. Energy analysis predicts how all the parts will work together and how their synergy can be enhanced, advancing also the health and comfort of the building’s eventual inhabitants.

The results of using various kinds of insulation, windows, and structural components can be played with, trying out different combinations until the optimal energy-efficient result is reached. The virtual management of materials allows for a formerly undreamed-of degree of efficiency and a significant reduction in waste. Along with being earth-friendly, this kind of analysis is also budget-friendly. The impact of a building upon the world around it, in terms of carbon, water, and other elemental substances, can be predicted and adjusted before mistakes are made on a large, expensive scale.

The management of risk is a subject dear to the heart of every architect, builder, developer, attorney, accountant, and insurance underwriter – aside from the purely altruistic safety considerations put in place for the public good. When the goal is to meet the U.S. Green Buildings Council standards for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, building information modeling keeps the project on track every step of the way.

Boutwell calls the adoption of BIM technology as a green tool “rapid but uneven” across the industry. He cites the Green Index Study, conducted in 2007 by the American Institute of Architects and Autodesk. The findings are that 44% of the responding architects are currently using some form of BIM. But, at this point, the definition is not quite pinned down. He quotes Buddy Cleveland, an Applied Research expert at Bentley Systems, who says, “People are defining BIM as whatever they want it to be.” What does it mean for a firm to say it utilizes BIM technology? Does it have a full team headed by a BIM manager? Has it bought the software but not quite gotten it installed yet? Does the firm make full use of BIM technology in the back office, while not yet incorporating this green-friendly approach into its marketing strategy?

In architecture, engineering, and construction, there are cultural factors to overcome before the concept of BIM as the royal road to greenness is fully accepted. There are training issues, and adjustments that must be made in traditional business processes. For owners, operators, contractors, engineers, and architects, ultimately the widespread adoption of BIM spells win-win-win-win-win.

SOURCE: ” Building Information Modeling and the Adoption of Green Technologies ” 05/22/08
photo courtesy of The Majestic Fool , used under this Creative Commons license

23
May
08

Christman Building Goes LEED Double Platinum

Pewabic Tiles

What does it take to score LEED double platinum? This certification, signifying “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,” is awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and never before has the double-platinum designation been applied to a building. An uncredited article from the Building Design and Construction website answers the question of why. It says:

The building is an example of sustainable “green” historic building practices, considered by many to be the highest form of sustainable design and construction due to its reuse of an existing structure. The many green features of the project include water use reduction, optimized energy performance, construction waste management, a focus on daylighting and a healthy indoor environment.

The LEED rating system, of course, measures the greenness or energy-efficiency of a building, and platinum is as good as it gets, except of course for double-platinum, which the Christman Building earned in two different categories: Core and Shell; and Commercial Interiors, which means it’s a Class A office building. In other words, both the building itself, and its office space, are awardees. Some feel that new ground is being broken in the area of best practices, that this one will be iconic in a newly-evolving sense of the word; a lasting inspiration. If buildings had slogans, this one’s could be, “Best is not good enough.”

Built in 1928, the former Michigan Millers Mutual Insurance Co., or Mutual Building, is at 208 N. Capitol Avenue in Lansing, Michigan. In addition to being the Christman Company’s national HQ, the building houses long-term tenants Kelley Cawthorne and the Michigan Municipal League. It is venerable enough to be listed by the National Register of Historic Places, a condition which brings its own set of challenges to the builder. The exterior limestone detailing is mentioned as an example of the successful preservation efforts. A sixth floor was added to provide conference rooms and a glass-walled foyer.

The integrity of the structure was maintained not only in basic but in purely aesthetic ways, such as the preservation of the original tile stairways. The photo above shows examples of this finely-crafted stoneware, from the nearly century-old Pewabic pottery.

The renovation cost $12 million and will save $40,000 a year in energy costs. The design plan was not finalized from the start, but was adjusted as the project proceeded, in order to gain the most LEED points. Another source, Jeremy W. Steele reports,

Planning the structure with the top LEED rating in mind started with initial design work, said Gavin Gardi, sustainable programs manager for Christman.

The Christman Company’s website credits its design partner, SmithGroup, with the following achievements: architectural design, historic preservation design, LEED certification services, lighting and interior design, and of course all of the engineering, whether mechanical, electrical, or structural.

A May 20 ceremony formally sealed the occasion.

SOURCE: ” Michigan building awarded LEED double-platinum ” 05/20/08
photo courtesy of haycarrieanne , used under this Creative Commons license

23
Apr
08

First LEED-Certified Parking Structure, Santa Monica, California

Santa Monica Civic Center parking structure

Count on California to implement pioneering technologies, especially those related to cars. In Santa Monica, the city’s Green Building Program offers an interesting case study – the first certifiably green parking garage. This article is more oriented toward the technical details, but fortunately, another website, Inhabitat, offers spectacular pictures of the building’s exterior.

As for what the City of Santa Monica itself has to say about it, here is the Project Overview, as presented on their website:

The City of Santa Monica has made an aggressive commitment to becoming more sustainable. The new Civic Center Parking Structure embodies that commitment while at the same time establishing a new aesthetic monument in the City. This parking structure promises to be the first building of its type in the country to receive a LEED-Certified rating through the U.S. Green Building Council. The building features design strategies, materials, products, and construction practices that preserve natural resources, conserve water and energy, and reduce waste.

The page includes photos of many of the details that went into the sustainable design, like the photovoltaic panels on the roof which also provide shade for the top parking level. On the other levels, white ceilings augment the available light which is also bolstered by fluorescent lamps. A solar power inverter takes the energy harvested by the photovoltaic panels, and changes it to alternating current for the building’s needs. Stormwater is filtered and used for landscaping and toilet-flushing. Recycled steel and glass are used, in addition to recycled flyash in the concrete, and the building has outlets for 14 electric vehicles for public use. Alternative transportation is encouraged by the provision of bicycle storage lockers, and signs help the public understand the advantages of the building’s green components.

The building’s creators, Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners, also contribute some remarks:

Pre-cast white, ribbed concrete panels are set in a rhythmic, variegated pattern on all facades. These panels, in shifting locations along the facades, lend a surprising quality that screens the presence of parked cars. On the Fourth Street façade, a series of bays made of channeled colored glass breaks down the scale of the structure, and are set at varying sizes and angles to provide a light, luminous, and ever-changing quality to the viewer.

The considerations related to vehicles and parking are much more complicated than would be apparent to the uneducated eye. Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th Edition devotes several pages of its Building Sitework section to these questions, and then goes into the matter of accessible parking in even greater detail in its Inclusive Design section, including all the specifications for various scenarios. Its introduction on design considerations says:

Creating vital places is the job of those who design, build, finance, and plan the built environment. Unfortunately, too often as acres of asphalt attest, engineering standards are applied cavalierly; they are not used properly to help design the place. Even “just a parking lot” can be made into a place of delight.

We might also want to consider what Bobby Grace asks, at Media & the Environment:

I hope you realize the contradiction of terms here; this is an earth saving structure dedicated to the machine that has arguably accelerated the destruction of the earth…Is this making a joke of LEED certification?

SOURCE: “Santa Monica Civic Center Parking Structure”
photo courtesy of Omar Omar , used under this Creative Commons license