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USGBC member WSP examines the hidden interplay of water and energy

Published on 28 May 2015Written by Tom Marseille Posted in Industry

How water consumes energy

How does water “consume” energy? In the U.S. it is estimated 13% of electrical consumption is needed to support our water/wastewater infrastructure. Of that total, about three quarters is used to produce domestic hot water. The remaining energy end uses associated with the water infrastructure are varied, and vary by location. The largest is generally the energy use associated with pumps that are required to extract and deliver water, and, depending on location, as part of wastewater collection and treatment. That is closely followed by energy use associated with treatment of water for potable uses. The proximity of water source to where it is used can functionally drive energy use. In water scarce locations pipes carrying water may need to be pumped hundreds of miles, unless it is gravity fed.

How energy consumes water

So, what about the other side of the energy/water nexus and how energy consumes water? We need look no further than at the relative size of water end uses in the U.S. to get a sense of the answer, where just under 50% of estimated annual water use is for cooling thermoelectric power plants. Unpacking this number, the large percentage of this water use is drawdown for surface water sources such as rivers and lakes. That water is arguably not consumed, in that it typically is returned to the source, though elevated in temperature. Some power plants without a nearby surface water source for cooling do recognizably consume water by relying on evaporative cooling towers that are supplied with treated potable or partially treated reclaimed water.  It has even been noted that clean hydroelectric power plants likely consume significant water indirectly through water evaporation in the reservoir at higher rates than would have been the case in the original pre-dam river waterway.

So, the total water our buildings use, measured at the water meter, is generally only a fraction of the total water consumed if one accounts for how energy is produced to serve the building. Likewise, the energy consumed by our water and wastewater systems should be considered if source energy use rather than site energy use accounting is evaluated.

Tom Marseille

Senior Vice President WSP

 

 

Water Safe, Water Smart—Build to Code

Published on 21 May 2015Written by Grant Olear Posted in Advocacy and policy

Water safety takes center stage of Building Safety Month, Water Safe, Water Smart – Build to Code. The International Code Council’s (ICC) website features tips on staying safe from water related hazards. When using and managing water in a building, plumbing codes provide the foundation for safe conditions.

USGBC has collaborated with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Professionals (ASHRAE), the International Code Council, ASTM International, American Institute of Architects (AIA), and the Illumination Engineering Society (IES) to develop the International Green Construction Code (IgCC).

The code, established with the intent to be adopted on a mandatory basis, includes provisions for water efficiency such as metering, rainwater collection systems, gray water reuse systems, and reclaimed water systems. These and other advanced strategies are incorporated into the California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen)—the nation’s only statewide code to tackle a range of green building priorities.

Green buildings also contribute to community safety by managing stormwater flows to reduce development’s contribution to downstream flooding. Additionally, given freshwater scarcity, green buildings have an important role to play in conserving, protecting, and restoring freshwater resources.

USGBC is putting this in to practice at the William Jefferson Clinton Children’s Center, otherwise known as Project Haiti. The building is set to employ a closed-system system that will collect, treat, and store water on-site. Grey and black water will be fed into a bioreactor to be filtered and cleaned for reuse in landscaping.

Grant Olear

Green Building Policy  Associate U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff

 

 

raising the bar for energy efficiency in affordable housing

Published on 14 May 2015Written by Elizabeth Beardsley Posted in Advocacy and policy

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) took an important step—one that will make a difference in the lives of thousands of families. HUD and USDA issued a final determination essentially adopting the next set of building energy codes for a suite of programs and recognizing LEED certification as an alternative compliance path, which will help streamline documentation for project teams. USGBC filed comments on the proposed rule last summer, and also joined a diverse set of organizations in supporting the proposal.

Under federal law, HUD and USDA have a responsibility to adopt minimum energy standards for new construction of certain assisted housing, based on periodic revisions of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for single family homes and the ASHRAE 90.1 for multifamily buildings. Specifically, once the Department of Energy (DOE) has studied and found that the revised codes would improve energy efficiency, then HUD and USDA must adopt the revised codes after first determining that they will not negatively affect the affordability and availability of certain HUD- and USDA-assisted housing.

In this action, the agencies determined that adoption of the 2009-IECC and ASHRAE 90.1-2007 will not negatively affect the affordability and availability of covered housing, so, these codes now become requirements for those programs, which include both rental and owned housing.

In addition, LEED project teams will be able to use certification as a recognized alternative path to show compliance with the agency requirements. This means streamlined documentation and less work for projects being LEED certified. The complete list of alternative compliance paths include ENERGY STAR Certified New Homes, ENERGY STAR Multifamily High Rise, LEED–NC, LEED–H, or LEED–H Midrise, and other green building programs, all of which require energy efficiency levels that meet or exceed the 2009-IECC and ASHRAE 90.1–2007. Likewise, HUD and USDA will accept certifications of compliance with state codes that exceed 2009-IECC and ASHRAE 90.1–2007.

The agencies will now take steps to implement the new baseline codes, such as HUD updating its Builder’s Certification Form and handbooks.

The impacts of HUD and USDA’s action are positive and significant. Their analysis show that houses will save about 10% in energy over the currently used code versions. Among the benefits of energy savings are potential health impacts with improved indoor environmental quality; reduced mortgage default risks; and many others. Importantly, the families who will rent or own these housing units will see a real and sustained benefit, as well. The reduced utility costs can be a significant boost to low income families, for whom utilities may represent 10 percent of income. For example, a recent study of green affordable rental housing in Virginia found that energy usage was approximately 30% less than new standard construction, saving families $54 per month on average—representing 1% to nearly 3% of gross income. That’s a big deal for any family struggling to put food on the table.

Elizabeth Beardsley

Senior Policy Counsel U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff

 

strong evidence of the impact of school design on learning

Published on 18 May 2015Written by Peter Barrett Posted in Center for Green Schools

Until now, it may seem bizarre, but the holistic impact of classroom design on the learning of school pupils has been pretty much an unknown quantity. Although many people intuitively feel that classroom design is important for effective learning, there has in fact been very little real evidence. Of course the challenge is far from simple, as there are a myriad of design factors in play within every classroom.

So the University of Salford’s research team targeted primary (or elementary) school classrooms, where the children are in one space most of their time and for whom there are metrics of their academic progress—an ideal “natural” research design. They then worked from the individual’s perspective to create a comprehensive and novel model of the factors in play (the Stimulation / Individualization / Naturalness, or SIN model). Finally they used multilevel statistical modeling to isolate the effects on learning that attach to the classroom level of analysis.

After three years the UK-based HEAD (Holistic Evidence and Design) study has reached a successful conclusion. Based on a detailed study of 153 classrooms in 27 schools in Blackpool, Hampshire and Ealing, involving 3,766 pupils, we have now established the evidence for how important classroom design is for learning and which of the factors involved are particularly important.

Based on this large sample it can be seen that variations in the physical characteristics of the classrooms explain 16% of the variation in the learning progress of the pupils who spent a year in these spaces. This is a much bigger impact than most people expected. Half the effect links to the normal comfort (or Naturalness) factors considered, but the other half is driven by factors to do with Individualization and the appropriate level of Stimulation. Interestingly factors to do with the school as a whole are nowhere near as important as the individual classrooms, and effective and less effective classrooms were often found in the same school.

The guide, “Clever Classrooms” provides illustrated advice to teachers and designers as to which factors are especially important. This is underpinned by a refereed journal paper in Building and Environment.

USGBC

AWT’S 2015 ANNUAL CONVENTION & EXPOSITION

SEPTEMBER 9-12, 2015

OMNI NASHVILLE HOTEL & MUSIC CITY CENTER

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

Five Reasons You Should Attend

AWT’s Annual Convention and Exposition continues to grow each year, yet it still remains the perfect size for professionals in our industry. With over 1,000 attendees, the meeting provides you with plenty of opportunities to increase your business connections and resources, while it maintains its exclusive focus on industrial water treatment.

Here are a few other reasons why you should attend the 2015 Annual Convention and Exposition being held in Nashville, Tennessee:

  1. 98% of past attendees say they return to the office with practical knowledge they can implement immediately.
  2. 93% of past attendees say the convention increases their industry knowledge.
  3. Since 2010, attendance has grown by more than 21%—exposing you to more individuals with whom you can network.
  4. Attendees are viewed as one of the biggest assets of the convention. The convention’s noncompetitive atmosphere allows you to share your experiences, challenges, and concerns.
  5. It’s the only convention where you’ll find exhibitors whose sole focus is industrial water treatment.

 

Bounce back faster from disaster (Building Safety)

Published on 15 May 2015Written by Grant Olear Posted in Advocacy and policy

Over the past decade, scores of devastating weather events across the globe have taken countless lives and destroyed many of the buildings people once called home.

As natural disasters become more and more common, it is imperative that building codes be updated in step with the ever-changing environment in order to adequately protect building occupants. Code revisions must arise from an integrated approach where all aspects of planning, construction, operation, and demolition are considered to ensure that human health and safety are a priority.

Planning for extreme weather events is essential, but we need to plan smarter as climate change disrupts our understanding of what’s normal, what’s predictable, and what’s likely. Currently, the majority of climate-related decisions are based on historic climate data and past trends, with the inherent assumption that the climate will remain relatively stable in the future. Observed effects of climate change include higher temperatures, an increase in the number and size of drought-prone areas, higher storm intensity, sea level rise, accelerated rates of coastal erosion, increased water salinity and suspended solids, and increased runoff.

Constructing above-code green buildings is a cost-effective way to increase resiliency while lessening the potential impacts of extreme weather events and ongoing climate change.

In order to overcome the growing threats associated with global climate change, we must continuously look over the horizon to foreseeable and unforeseeable crises and see what plans are on the table, what preparations need to be made, and what assets are in place. .

Grant Olear

Green Building Policy Associate U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff

St. Louis congregations green their houses of worship

Published on 30 Mar 2015 Written by Johanna Schweiss Posted in Community

Over 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. come from the building sector. Anywhere there is a building, there is an opportunity to measure its energy use and make changes to conserve energy, save money, improve building occupant experience, and protect the environment.

For many congregations, saving energy can mean more than a lower energy bill. From Catholic to Buddhist, Muslim to Presbyterian, Southern Baptist to Bahá’í, faith traditions from all over the world have ethical and moral frameworks for stewardship of the environment.

In the St. Louis region, Missouri Interfaith Power and Light and the USGBC Missouri Gateway Chapter have teamed up to support congregations as they improve their energy efficiency and reduce their environmental impacts through the 25×20 Voluntary Energy Benchmarking Campaign.

The 25×20 Campaign’s goal is to reduce building energy consumption in the St. Louis region by 25% by the year 2020, with campaign participants pledging to benchmark their building energy use. According to ENERGY STAR, buildings that benchmark their energy use for three years see an average energy savings of 7%.

Since the campaign was launched in April 2014, building owners and operators of all types have stepped up to show their commitment to the environment and to their bottom line, including many houses of worship.

Energy auditors investigated opportunities for energy savings in the selected congregations’ facilities, and provided each with a report that details potential strategies for energy savings.

Going forward, these congregations will be reviewing their reports and considering their potential next steps. To aid them in this process, Missouri Interfaith Power & Light, the USGBC Missouri Gateway Chapter and the Jewish Environmental Initiative, a committee of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis, invited congregations to reunite in a workshop titled “Green your House of Worship: Building Success for a Better Building and a Better Planet.”

Through conserving energy, making sustainable purchasing decisions, thoughtfully caring for our landscapes, responsibly handling waste, and ensuring a safe and healthy indoor environment, people of faith have the opportunity to make a positive impact on their congregations, their communities, and on climate.

Johanna Schweiss

USGBC – Missouri Gateway Chapter

Member employees

Going beyond green with green buildings

Published on 1 Apr 2015 Written by Nora Knox Posted in Industry

Initially, green buildings were intended to reduce damage to the environment and human health caused by creating and maintaining buildings and neighborhoods. As the concept of sustainability was applied to the built environment, it has become clear that doing less damage is not enough.

Leaders in the field now speak about buildings and communities that are regenerative, meaning that these sustainable environments evolve with living systems and contribute to the long-term renewal of resources and life. Some practitioners have begun to explore what it would mean to move beyond “sustainable” and participate as a positive developmental force in our ecosystems and communities. The focus is on building a comprehensive understanding of the place in which the project is located, recognizing the site’s patterns and flow of life. Accordingly, such projects contribute to the healthy coevolution of humans and all life in that place. They thrive on diversity, for example, and clean the air rather than pollute it. Regenerative projects and communities involve stakeholders and require interactivity.

Regenerative projects support the health of the local community and regional ecosystems, generate electricity and send the excess to the grid, return water to the hydrologic system cleaner than it was before use, serve as locations for food production and community networking, regenerate biodiversity, and promote many other relationships that link the projects to the whole system of life around them.

Regenerative projects strive toward “net-zero”—using no more resources than they can produce. For example, net-zero energy projects use no more energy from the grid than they generate on site. These projects may be connected to the grid, drawing electricity from it at night and contributing energy from on-site renewable energy systems during the day, such that their total energy cost is zero. Other projects strive for carbon neutrality, emitting no more carbon emissions than they can either sequester or offset. Still other projects are designed to achieve a more even water balance: they use no more water than that which falls on site as precipitation, or they produce zero waste by recycling, reusing, or composting all materials.

Not all projects can achieve those levels of performance. Nevertheless, on average, green buildings save energy, use less water, generate less waste, and provide more healthful, more comfortable indoor environments.

Getting to green and beyond requires more than learning about new technologies and strategies. Achieving true sustainability requires a new approach to creating and caring for the built environment.

Nora Knox

Digital Marketing Manager U.S. Green Building Council

Member employees, USGBC staff

 

USGBC and C40 Release Landmark Green Building City Market Briefs

Published on 2 Apr 2015 Written by Cecilia Shutters Posted in Media

(Washington, D.C.) April 2, 2015 –The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), in partnership with C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) and the World Green Building Council (WGBC), released a compendium of briefs that showcase the sustainability, building energy use and climate change policy work of cities across the globe.

Approximately 74 percent of the cities examined are implementing incentives for a greener built environment, 61 percent have enacted municipal green building policies and 49 percent are pursuing sustainable community policies.

“The findings within these briefs indicate that cities are making impressive investments to create more resilient and sustainable built environments, as well as impact the health and wellbeing of their citizens,” said Roger Platt, president of the U.S. Green Building Council. “Many mayors are forging the path toward a more sustainable future, and cities are the lifeblood of policy innovation. The collective impacts and outcomes showcased across these briefs show thoughtful leadership and innovation.”

The research covers an assessment of policies, plans, projects and programs in 66 C40 cities. Categories include: city-wide sustainability initiatives, private sector green building incentives, green codes, sustainable community development, energy benchmarking, green schools, green affordable housing and sustainable transportation measures. Additional data points on the uptake of green building certified projects are included where applicable. Collectively, nearly 5,000 projects in these cities have achieved LEED green building certification.

“Building energy use is a leading contributor to urban greenhouse gas emissions and therefore represents one of the greatest opportunities for cities to tackle climate change,” said Mark Watts, executive director of C40. “This report shows that C40 cities, representing 500+ million people and one quarter of the global economy, are taking bold and innovative steps to improve the long-term sustainability of their municipal and private building infrastructure, for the benefit of urban citizens.”

 Cecilia Shutters

Communications Associate

 

 

WELL Building Standard Introduced in China

Published on 24 Mar 2015Written by Marisa Long Posted in Media

(Beijing) March 24, 2015 – The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) and the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) formally introduced the WELL Building Standard in China. WELL is a system that focuses on human health and wellbeing in the built environment.

WELL, which complements green building rating programs such as LEED, Three Star and BREEAM, has come forward at a time of increased environmental awareness among the Chinese people who are looking for solutions to improve quality of life.

“Our world today is confronting massive health challenges that are assaulting our complete physical, mental and social wellbeing,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO & founding chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “As these challenges continue to mount, all of us have an obligation to be more purposeful when addressing how human health relates to our built environment. The WELL certification program is a powerful way to accelerate better, healthier buildings throughout China.”

The WELL Building Standard is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring features that impact human health and wellbeing, through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.

Grounded in a body of medical research that explores the connection between the buildings where we spend more than 90 percent of our time and the health and wellness of the people in them, WELL certification allows building owners and employers to know their space is designed to promote health and well being and is performing as intended.

“We think there is a great market opportunity in China for companies to be at the forefront of healthy building practices,” said Paul Scialla, founder of the International WELL Building Institute. “We are excited by the strong interest and demand we have already received from companies and projects that are interested in WELL certification and merging together best practices in environmental and human sustainability.”

GBCI, as the official certifying body of both WELL and LEED, will successfully integrate the certification and credentialing processes of both systems to help project teams efficiently deliver on both their environmental and human health goals.

Marisa Long

Public Relations & Communications Director U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff

 

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LEED Certification

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non profit organization that certifies sustainable businesses, homes, hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods. USGBC is dedicated to expanding green building practices and education, and its LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™.

Chemline, Inc. is a member of The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and has the potential to provide LEED points.