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Archive for July, 2017

How LEED combats climate change

One of the goals that guided the development of LEED v4 was reversing a LEED building’s contribution to global climate change.

The Earth’s climate is changing, and 97 percent of climate scientists agree that it is likely due to human activities. So where does that leave us and the rest of the building industry?

Buildings account for more than one-quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), according to the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction. Add in other infrastructure and activities, such as transportation, that is associated with buildings, and that number jumps.

By building green, we can reduce the impact our buildings have on contributing to climate change, while also building resilience into our homes and communities.

LEED vs climate change

One of the goals that guided the development of LEED v4 was reversing a LEED building’s contribution to global climate change. High-performing green buildings, particularly LEED-certified buildings, play a key role in reducing the negative climate impacts of the built environment. For this reason, 35 of the 100 total points in LEED v4 are distributed to reward climate change mitigation strategies.

The LEED process addresses a structure’s planning, design, construction, operations and end of life as well as considering energy, water, indoor environmental quality, materials selection, and location. Green buildings reduce landfill waste, enable alternative transportation use and encourage retention and creation of vegetated land areas and roofs.

LEED rewards thoughtful decisions about building location, with credits that encourage compact development and connection with transit and amenities. When a building consumes less water, the energy otherwise required to withdraw, treat and pump that water from the source to the building are avoided. Additionally, less transport of materials to and from the building cuts associated fuel consumption.

Here are some of the ways that LEED weighs the various credits and strategies so that LEED projects can mitigate their contribution to global climate change:

  • GHG Emissions Reduction from Building Operations Energy Use: To target energy use reductions directly associated with building operations. This includes all building systems and operations within the building or associated grounds that rely on electricity or other fuel sources for energy consumption.
  • GHG Emissions Reduction from Transportation Energy Use: To target energy use reductions associated with the transportation of building occupants, employees, customers, visitors, business travel, etc.
  • GHG Emissions Reduction from the Embodied Energy of Materials and Water Use: To target GHG-emissions reductions associated with the energy use and processes required in the extraction, production, transportation, conveyance, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, use, posttreatment, and disposal of materials, products, and processed water. Any measures that directly reduce the use of potable water, non-potable water, or raw materials (e.g. reduced packaging, building reuse) will indirectly reduce energy as well because of the embodied energy associated with these product life cycles.
  • GHG Emissions Reduction from a Cleaner Energy Supply: To target actions and measures that support a cleaner, fewer GHG-emissions intensive energy supply and a greater reliance on renewable sources of energy.
  • Global Warming Potential Reduction from Non-Energy Related Drivers: To address the non-energy related climate change drivers (e.g. albedo, carbon sinks, non-energy related GHG emissions) and identifies actions that reduce these contributions to climate change (e.g. land use changes, heat island reduction, reforestation, refrigerant purchases).

Some of the top credits in LEED v4 BD+C, ID+C, and O+M that are associated with mitigating global climate change:

  • LT Credit: Surrounding Density and Diverse Uses
  • LT Credit: Access to Quality Transit / Alternative Transportation
  • WE Credit: Outdoor Water Use Reduction
  • WE Credit: Indoor Water Use Reduction
  • EA Credit: Optimize Energy Performance
  • EA Credit: Renewable Energy Production / Renewable Energy and Carbon Offsets
  • EA Credit: Enhanced Refrigerant Management
  • EA Credit: Green Power and Carbon Offsets
  • MR Credit: Building Life-Cycle Impact Reduction / Interiors Life-Cycle Impact Reduction

To learn more about LEED and how it can help reduce the impact of global climate change, head to Greenbuild in Boston this November 8–10 (or check out our Greenbuild events in China or India). Greenbuild features LEED workshops, hundreds of green building educational sessions and inspiring speakers and events

Five ways data is driving green performance

The CEO of Arc Skoru, Inc., shares his thoughts on how data is driving a new era of green building performance.

When it comes to sustainability, data is ushering in a new era of green performance. Thanks to the digital age, our ability to capture data are virtually limitless, and the information we gather has the ability to drive better decisions—economically, socially and environmentally.

Over the last two decades, USGBC and GBCI have gathered vast amounts of green building data through transformative tools such as LEED. Recognizing the critical role data is playing, GBCI created Arc, a digital platform that is helping buildings, communities, and cities around the world benchmark and improves green performance.

As we continue to prove that financial benefits accrue with environmental benefits, performance data will be at the center of market transformation.

Here are five ways data is driving a new era of green building performance:

Transparency: Data creates a holistic picture of sustainability efforts and impact. Tracking green performance also helps businesses keep pace with industry changes. Arc gives its users a transparent look at performance using real-time data. The approach encourages incremental improvement and uncovers innovative opportunities.

Comparison: Comparing performance leads to better results for everyone. Data is a powerful motivator and allows us all to learn from one another’s successes and shortcomings. Projects on Arc can see how their efforts are working and how they stack up to similar projects locally, regionally and globally.

Benchmarking: When you benchmark against yourself, you improve. Benchmarking against others helps you know how much you can improve. Leadership can occur anywhere, at any point. Benchmarking through Arc provides an immediate entry point, no matter where you are on your sustainability journey. It is a clear starting point and can help you move toward LEED certification.

Collaborative Learning: Projects pursuing multiple sustainability efforts at once—energy, water, waste, transportation and human experience—make better decisions when data is shared across teams. Arc connects actions so that buildings, communities, and cities can ensure they are performing at the highest possible levels. It also integrates with Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager and other industry tools to drive even greater results.

Performance beyond buildings: Data allows us to see results. Results are the core of performance. In Arc, net zero performance in energy and water is shown through a perfect score. Data also allows us to be non-linear. So we don’t have to separate buildings from communities and cities. With Arc, users can look at the performance of buildings, neighborhoods, districts, cities and more.

A goal of USGBC Central Pennsylvania

In March of 2016, USGBC Central Pennsylvania identified an opportunity to work with Habitat for Humanity of Harrisburg on a rewarding project: a duplex that was going to be given to a military veteran’s family, which had suffered from a fire. The goal of the project was to provide a low-cost and healthy home that operated sustainably to keep day-to-day costs for the family very affordable.

USGBC Central Pennsylvania worked with Habitat for Humanity by providing technical consultation and identifying potential suppliers to offer discounted materials and services. Several USGBC Central Pennsylvania board members conducted site visits and provided architectural, energy-related and green-building recommendations, including:

  • Insulation types and installation methods
  • Low-usage plumbing fixtures
  • Paints with less than 50 grams per liter of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Asbestos testing
  • With new roofing and windows, and a complete remodel of the interior by Habitat for Humanity volunteers, the property will soon be a beautiful home to a happy family. The space has energy-efficient windows donated by Plygem, upcycled cabinets, and countertops from the Habitat ReStore and bamboo and cork flooring donated by Calibamboo.
  • USGBC Central Pennsylvania is looking forward to more projects in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity in the coming years.  We are also glad to support other community-focused organizations that are interested in sustainability. Please email Heidi Kunka, the community’s director, or phone 202.706.0836, if you have a project in mind.

USGBC Northern California community members learn about managing WELL projects

Published on 7 Jun 2017 Written by Mara Baum Posted in Community

Demystifying the WELL Building Standard

The WELL Building Standard, which builds on the success of and complements the LEED rating system, is playing an increasing role in green building design. WELL is a holistic, evidence-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring the performance of building features that impact health and well-being. These goals are closely aligned with the USGBC Northern California community’s longtime focus on human health, dating back to its Building Health Initiative that began in 2013.

In April, USGBC Northern California hosted a panel discussion on WELL project management featuring leaders from HOK, Cushman & Wakefield and Perkins+Will and facilitated by the community’s director, Brenden McEneaney. The speakers demystified the rating system for a sold-out audience, highlighting lessons learned from current and recent projects. I shared stories from the design of HOK’s WELL Gold certified TD Office in Toronto, and we all discussed ongoing projects implementing the three WELL systems: Core and Shell, New and Existing Buildings and New and Existing Interiors.

How LEED and WELL work together

LEED and WELL have many similarities, and both certifications are managed by GBCI. However, differences in the certification processes need to be considered by even the most seasoned LEED team managing a WELL project. When a project is registered, the team is assigned a WELL Assessor, who is available to answer technical questions throughout the process. After construction, the WELL Assessor visits the project for on-site performance verification. He or she tests air quality, water quality, acoustics and light, and conducts visual spot checks of other WELL features. This ensures that the building or space fully achieves the WELL criteria. It also cuts down on the amount of documentation paperwork by the team.

Going for both LEED and WELL? Teams can use the new WELL Crosswalks resources, which describe where LEED credits and WELL features overlap. In some cases, achieving a prerequisite or credit in LEED will automatically qualify a project to achieve part or all of a WELL requirement.

To identify potential problems before they happen and limit surprises during performance verification, some teams retain private testing companies to conduct pre-tests. The panelists debated the pros and cons of this strategy, which adds a slight cost to a project.

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.