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Archive for August, 2017

Human Performance Measured in Buildings

Aclima’s Scott Andrews talks about designing for IAQ data.

This article is written by Scott Andrews, LEED AP BD+C, Director, Aclima, Inc. In this series, speakers from USGBC Northern California’s GreenerBuilder conference, held July 13, 2017, at the Zero Net Energy Center in San Leandro, share insights from their sessions. Interested in supporting GreenerBuilder 2018 as an event sponsor or exhibitor? Please contact Brenden McEneaney.

USGBC’s Pacific Regional Director, Brenden McEneaney, and the President and CEO of USGBC and GBCI, Mahesh Ramanujam, kicked off GreenerBuilder 2017 with two very important concepts: First, that we must remember that green buildings are always about people, and second, that data is a natural resource in itself. Therefore, it was fitting that the first session of the morning, “Science and Practice of Measuring Human Performance in Buildings,” focused on the collection and application of environmental data to improve our buildings for people, who spend up to 90 percent of their days living, working and learning indoors.

Recent research shows that there is an undeniable correlation between measurable indoor air quality (IAQ) conditions and human cognition. This unleashes an entirely new set of economic considerations in managing commercial property. With new definitions of what constitutes an optimal indoor environment, tenants are beginning to look past aesthetics to the sizeable economic gains that healthier office environments can offer. This session, which included Lane Burt (North America Lead for Buildings Alive), Simon Turner (President and CEO of Healthy Buildings), and moderator Scott Andrews (a director at Aclima), took the audience through the science to the economics and into practice.

And fortunately, just as the deep relationship between IAQ and human health and wellness is becoming more widely understood, so too are our desires and abilities to empower facility managers to gather reliable, hyperlocal data to optimize building environments for health and well-being. The panel explored the question of how we will design, construct and operate buildings in five years. It was proposed that buildings might look more like a computer, with software controlling the building and adjusting to climate, health and other conditions in real time to optimize spaces for our most important resource: our people.

Although the panel agreed that some version of this new era of smart buildings may soon be a reality for many properties, thanks to the democratization of data that companies like Aclima are delivering to the marketplace, it will remain an imperative to train our facility managers. After all, not all aspects of a building can be automated, and this newly available data is only as valuable as the people and systems in place to analyze and apply it. FM, along with their consultants and internal teams, represent the critical last-mile delivery service for applying data analytics to make IAQ improvements and co-optimize the indoor environment and energy performance.

Distributed real-time sensor networks with parameters like CO2, VOCs, and comfort indicators such as temperature and sound levels represent the missing meter to measure how our buildings turn energy and water inputs into desired outputs. This includes a close review of building systems and potential outside factors that could impact IAQ, which can also be measured with on-site outdoor sensing equipment. There is a need to connect good intentions with measured outcomes, and new products and services are making this possible like never before.

State lawmakers plan legislation in support of green schools..

Legislators gathered at a green school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with the Center for Green Schools.

Early in August, the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators hosted their annual meeting in Boston, where state lawmakers discuss the most pressing issues in environmental policy and make commitments for their coming legislative sessions. Each year at the caucus meeting, the Center for Green Schools at USGBC holds a workshop to review the latest in green schools research and policy and make an action plan.

A dozen legislators from around the country joined us in a morning tour of the beautiful Martin Luther King, Jr. School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which was recently built with aspirations of net zero energy and seeks to achieve LEED Platinum. Visitors met with the architects from Perkins Eastman, the former mayor of Cambridge and city energy staff to learn about the policy landscape and motivations behind the green school. They also learned more about the school’s features—including an extensive learning garden, lesson-friendly mechanical room, and an indoor/outdoor gym.

National Caucus of Environmental Legislators tour Boston school

That afternoon, the group was joined by around 30 additional lawmakers for a workshop to review current research and recent legislation on four topics:

  • School infrastructure financing and management: The group discussed recommendations for local, state and federal action from a 60-person working group of national experts on school financing and management, including implications for state-level policy making to give school districts what they need to operate healthy and efficient buildings.
  • Energy efficiency in existing schools: A soon-to-be-released policy overview from the Center for Green Schools was reviewed. The overview covers state laws in eight states that provide funding mechanisms for energy efficiency projects in existing schools.
  • Benchmarking: The group examined current best practices for benchmarking energy, water and other sustainability metrics on the local and state level, including examples of existing state-level and local policies.
  • Green infrastructure: A preview was given to a forthcoming study that builds on the 2016 Achieving Urban Resilience, as well as policy implications for more sustainable land and infrastructure management. New research on the sustainability and health opportunities of so-called “smart surfaces” was also addressed.

Each year, the Center for Green Schools follows up with state legislators to ensure they have the resources they need to advance their priorities on green schools and green buildings. View our menu of options for state legislators, and pick out what you think is most important to take to your elected officials.

After many years of working with legislators, we have learned that your voice, as a constituent, is the one they value most.

Materials strategies in LEED v4

At Greenbuild 2017, get the info you need on materials credits for LEED v4.

The topic of materials is one that spans every phase of a building’s life cycle. It includes considerations of construction waste, specifying materials for the building’s structure in the design and construction phase, making green cleaning choices while the building is in use and determining what happens to the building in the demolition phase.

Quick facts about construction waste:

  • Construction and demolition waste constitutes about 40 percent of the total solid waste stream in the United States and about 25 percent of the total waste stream in the European Union.
  • In aggregate, LEED projects are responsible for diverting more than 80 million tons of waste from landfills, and this volume is expected to grow to 540 million tons by 2030.

Materials decisions are impacted by an array of stakeholders who work with the built environment and those who support it, as well as by those who work, learn, live and play within those buildings.

LEED projects divert more than 80 million tons of waste from landfills

What LEED does with materials

Since its initial launch, LEED has always addressed materials, and the newest version of the rating system is no different. LEED v4 brings a shift that goes beyond materials decisions focusing on single attributes and moves the market toward conversations about optimizing environmental, social and health impacts and gaining a better understanding of the trade-offs.

The LEED Building Design and Construction materials credits and prerequisites include:

  • Prerequisite: Storage and Collection of Recyclables
  • Prerequisite: Construction and Demolition Waste Management Planning
  • Prerequisite: PBT Source Reduction—Mercury
  • Credit (5–6 points): Building Life-Cycle Impact Reduction
  • Credit (2 points): Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Environmental Product Declarations
  • Credit (2 points): Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Sourcing of Raw Materials
  • Credit (2 points): Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Material Ingredients
  • Credit (1 point): PBT Source Reduction—Mercury
  • Credit (2 points): PBT Source Reduction—Lead, Cadmium, and Copper
  • Credit (2 points): Furniture and Medical Furnishings
  • Credit (1 point): Design for Flexibility
  • Credit (2 points): Construction and Demolition Waste Management

The LEED Operations and Maintenance materials credits and prerequisites include:

  • Prerequisite: Ongoing Purchasing and Waste Policy
  • Prerequisite: Facility Maintenance and Renovation Policy
  • Credit (1 point): Purchasing—Ongoing
  • Credit (1 point): Purchasing—Lamps
  • Credit (2 points): Purchasing—Facility Management and Renovation
  • Credit (2 points): Solid Waste Management—Ongoing
  • Credit (2 points): Solid Waste Management—Facility Maintenance and Renovation

Join USGBC at Greenbuild 2017 in BostonIndia, and China, to learn more about LEED and materials. In addition to educations sessions, Greenbuild in Boston and India will feature Expo halls where attendees can interact with the newest and most innovative products the market has to offer.

The Boston Greenbuild event will also include a special session on LEED v4 and its materials and resources section:

Course: LEED v4 and Materials: Interactive Session

Thurs., November 9 from 5–6 p.m.

Planning a more resilient future

The 2017 summit centered on financing resilient infrastructure and building more resilient communities.

This article was co-authored by Katharine Burgess, Director, Urban Resilience at the Urban Land Institute, and Cooper Martin, Program Director, Sustainable Cities Institute, National League of Cities.

Last week, an inspirational group of mayors, senior city officials, and nationally recognized experts gathered in Stowe, Vermont, for the 2017 Resilient Cities Summit, hosted by the National League of Cities (NLC), the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Against the scenic backdrop of Stowe’s mountain views and rustic charm, the group of 60 attendees from across the nation discussed how cities can be more prepared for climate risk and achieve a more resilient future.

After a successful 2016 summit focused on successful environmental planning and solutions for sustainable land use, the 2017 summit centered around how to finance resilient infrastructure and implement actions to build more resilient communities. Summit sessions discussed identifying funding sources, prioritizing equity in resilience planning and motivating support for investing in a more resilient city.

While the challenges that attendees face back at home vary from sea level rise and heat islands to earthquakes and severe storms, it was striking how much city leaders found they had in common in their approaches to community resilience. Here are four key takeaways from this year’s summit:

1) Local leaders must be willing to reimagine their city.

At its core, a resilient city is one that is thriving and evolving, rather than simply surviving. Resilient cities are adaptive, competitive and equitable, and this requires local leaders to position their city to respond to changes. Resilient city leaders should have an outlook for infrastructure and land use that incorporates the next 20, 30 or even 50 years, as opposed to a time frame that only extends through the length of their term. This often requires cities to do something they’ve never done before, whether it’s changing how they finance redevelopment projects or how they use data to inform decision-making.

Resilient Cities conference 2017

Mayors Lily Mei of Fremont, California, Dennis Doyle of Beaverton, Oregon, and Mark Mitchel of Tempe, Arizona, join other mayors, city staff and national experts at the 2017 Resilient Cities Summit.

The status quo might be comfortable, and governments are rightfully risk-averse, but elected leaders also have a responsibility to reach for the future. In today’s world, contexts are constantly in flux, whether they are based on economic, social, climatic or other factors. The city that thinks about tomorrow’s risks and vulnerabilities and acts on that future in a collaborative, equitable fashion will ultimately be more resilient.

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

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.