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Archive for October, 2016

Synergies: Interdependence and the building envelope (USGBC New York Upstate)

Published on 19 Oct 2016  Written by Jodi Smits Anderson  Posted in Industry

Interdependence, like community, is strength. We start as dependent babies, grow into young adults and become independent. Most of us stop there, because independence is not only a national ideal, but a mantra for everyone leaving home and starting their adult lives. However, true strength comes from interdependence—relationships, communities, families and a recognition of how our abilities can complement one another to achieve our common goals.

In my view, there are three pieces to this interdependence. For some metaphorical fun, I’ll use the trendy world of Pokémon Go. In this universe, Team Blue (Mystic) is that the building has to work with itself, and many don’t. Many buildings have leaky walls that undermine poorly designed HVAC systems, or they face the wrong direction and allow too much uncontrolled heat gain.

Team Yellow (Instinct) is the piece where the building needs to commune with its surroundings in order to benefit from wind, sun, rain, flora and fauna and soil conditions. Team Red (Valor) strives for interdependence between the building and its users, so they know how to manage the building and benefit from its capabilities and quirks and so the building can have the breadth of parameters to respond well. And it takes all of these teams to make the game fun and successful.

Mystic (building envelopes)

We have, historically, undervalued building envelopes and their collaborative success with mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, as well as user comfort. It’s not enough to heat and cool a building; the building also needs to be sustainable.

The building walls, floor and roof are part of the energy system, after all. The building envelope receives solar heat gain through windows and thermal storage through the sun beating on the materials. Using materials that can store heat longer and thereby lengthen the curve of heat gain and loss will help with energy control, and is a viable energy system akin to any radiant system or off-peak ice storage plan.

Designing the fenestrations to be very low in leakage and to optimize timing and amount of heat gain is also an energy production system, and one that can offset most of a building’s heating load, if done well. The most powerful aspect of a well-designed building envelope is its ability to act as a thermos, keeping the heat in the volume of air contained in the building. Tighter is always better, as long as we then mechanically ventilate properly to control air quality. We must select nontoxic, non-off-gassing materials for that building envelope to reduce the burden on the air quality control.

If dealt with as an energy system of interdependent elements, the building envelope can help you downsize the energy-driven systems which will save money, reduce fossil fuels and create higher resiliency in your building. There would be no battle if it were only Mystic out there looking for Pokémon. Interdependence rules. It helps us to survive, and it makes surviving fun.

Written by Jodi Smits Anderson

Designing for building health (USGBC Colorado)

Published on 29 Aug 2016 Written by Tracy Backus Posted in Sponsored

The definition of sustainability has made an incredible shift over the last few years—today, “being sustainable” is really about the occupant’s ability to survive their own built environment. The workplace has been undergoing a design awakening over the past few decades, and much of it has been driven by the quest for increased employee productivity.

One of the latest iterations was that workers would thrive with more light, lower walls, fresh air, plants and informal gathering spaces. They do and will, but there is much more to the equation; be it the use of adhesives, finishes, material ingredients or increased air ventilation, the conversation continues. Fortunately, design is not static, and we keep learning from experience.

“If we promote physical and psychological health and well­-being among workers, we can begin to reduce medical costs, improve productivity and performance, net happier and more engaged workers and ultimately realize greater economic value,” says Tracy Backus, LEED AP ID+C, Director of Sustainable Programs for Teknion.

According to a recent productivity study of 32,000 workers by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), almost half of them admitted to performing below par and not being as engaged as they could be. It’s not difficult to do the math. JLL field studies show that a workplace environment that features natural light, thermal comfort and good indoor air quality can dramatically improve employee productivity.

If that’s a worthwhile return, what can be done to change the physical work environment? Clients like TD Bank and other market leaders such as CBRE are blazing the trail on workplace wellness. In 2013, CBRE became the first commercial office in the world to achieve WELL certification for a commercial office space through the WELL Building Standard® (WELL) pilot program. The workspace integrated key features to improve employee health and well­-being, both to drive inspiration and to enhance productivity and focus. These features focus on optimal indoor air quality, circadian lighting, active design, biophilia, drinking water and access to healthy food.

TD Bank incorporates the WELL concept, a global workplace strategy initiative that features a balance of private and collaborative workspaces designed to support the way employees work through enhanced flexibility, mobility, technology, productivity and wellness.

Written by Tracy Backus

Supporting Milwaukee’s Better Buildings Challenge with workforce development (USGBC Wisconsin)

Published on 1 Sep 2016 Written by Theodore Wilinski Posted in Sponsored

Milwaukee Area Technical College is proud to contribute to Milwaukee’s Better Buildings Challenge efforts.

The current evolution of the City of Milwaukee’s Better Building’s Challenge includes a holistic approach that eliminates potential barriers to achieving energy efficiency goals within our built environment. One key component to success is having a highly skilled workforce capable of maintaining and operating high-performance buildings.

Milwaukee Area Technical College’s (MATC) nationally recognized Center for Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing (ECAM) technology center is home to a multitude of educational and training opportunities and features state-of-the-art learning laboratories.  MATC contributes to the long-term success of the Better Building Challenge by producing graduates with specialized technical training and practical field experience that supports great-paying jobs in the energy efficiency sector.

Demand for skilled workers in the energy sector continues to grow, thanks to savvy building owners seeking ways to reduce operational expenses and to programs like the Better Buildings Challenge. In response to this demand, MATC developed a new one-year diploma degree: Automated Building Systems. The Automated Building Systems program prepares students for entry-level careers as technicians and specialists in building automation and controls. This industry encompasses a broad range of current and emerging technologies that control building electrical and mechanical systems efficiently, thereby optimizing energy usage.

Graduates of the new program will be well equipped to provide energy analysis services within our market, due to the carefully crafted class coursework and field experience provided by local firms. Area employers interested in partnering with MATC and the Automated Building Systems program are encouraged to reach out to Ted Wilinski at 414-571-4570.

MATC is proud to be one of several partners contributing to the success of the Better Buildings Challenge and the City of Milwaukee’s larger efforts to become a world-class eco-city.

Written by Theodore Wilinski

High-performing buildings offer solutions for Virginia’s Climate Action Challenge

Published on 31 Aug 2016 Written by Nick Brousse Posted in Advocacy and policy

The state of Virginia continues to up the ante in its energy efficiency initiatives.

Earlier this summer, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe took a bold step toward combating climate change in the Commonwealth. To reduce carbon pollution from the state’s power plants, Gov. McAuliffe signed Executive Order 57, setting in motion a process to accelerate efforts to improve energy efficiency and expand the state’s clean energy portfolio.

The Commonwealth is off to a running start, recently announcing the issuing of permits for two utility-scale solar facilities that will power nearly 6,000 homes. However, when it comes to helping residents achieve the benefits of living in energy-efficient homes to help achieve carbon reduction goals, Virginia’s leaders need not look further than the state’s own Housing Development Authority (VHDA).

In recent years, VHDA has implemented some of the nation’s most impressive standards for energy efficiency in affordable housing, relying on third-party green building standards like LEED® and EarthCraft. The Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech found that over the past five years, every applicant receiving highly sought-after Low Income Housing Tax Credits managed by VHDA have been committed to meeting these two green building standards.

The payback has been huge. Research examining 15 recently constructed or rehabbed apartment communities throughout the state built to these higher standards were found to use 40 percent less energy than housing built to existing code requirements. The average tenant in these communities saved 464 kilowatt hours of energy per month, equaling $54 per month on utility bills—a savings of over $600 per year. For seniors and families struggling to make ends meet, savings from energy efficiency is a lifeline.

With more than 1,000 LEED-certified projects encompassing nearly 135 million square feet in the commonwealth, Virginia businesses and residents recognize the benefits of LEED. By allowing lower utility expenses, reduced operations and maintenance costs and third-party verification providing assurance, LEED is helping Virginia scale up and enjoy the benefits of environmentally sustainable design. As the state looks for additional policies to drive energy efficiency even further across the economy.

Nick Brousse

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.