Tag Archives: architect

Greengrade Helps Canadian Projects Get the Green Grade

greengradeDuring the LEED® certification process, there are numerous guidelines, regulations and requirements that need to be addressed before the final LEED® stamp of approval is achieved.  LEED® stands for Leadership in Energy and Design, and is an internationally recognized environmental program that verifies projects were built in such a way to promote energy savings, water efficiency, indoor environmental quality and CO2 emissions reductions to the fullest extent.

With the help of Textura Corporation’s Greengrade-LEED® Management Software, this process has been made easier. Project teams in Canada can now achieve LEED® certification via the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) in a much more efficient and streamlined process by using Greengrade LEED® Management Software designed for the Canadian market.

In the United States, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) is the certification entity that issues all LEED® certifications, but many design firms have projects in both the U.S. and in Canada.  That being the case, it was important to have a certification system in place that kept the same basic guidelines and requirements as those of the USGBC, but adapted them for the Canadian market.  Differences in Canadian construction practices, climates and regulations use to mean that U.S. firms working on projects in the Canadian sustainable design market had to have two separate systems in place to get LEED® certification.  Now, by adding CaGBC Rating Systems to their Greengrade-LEED® Management software, Textura has helped those firms cut the cost involved in the certification process and achieve new levels of profitability while saving time and resources.  For builders and designers who are feeling the hit from the downturn in the global economy, this will go along was to relieve their stress and encourage environmentally-friendly building practices.

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San Diego Contractor Tapped for County Conservation Services

Green Schoolhouse Series Partner, Reno Contracting has been selected to provide energy and water conservation services to the County of San Diego under its energy and water sustainability program.

building efficient sustainable practicesReno Contracting, a leader in the green building industry, will have their Efficient Sustainable Practices (ESP) division work with the County of San Diego Department of General Services to help lower energy and operational costs, drive down greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce water consumption.

“Through Reno Contracting’s Efficient Sustainable Practices division, we help local government agencies and private companies achieve operational efficiencies and reduce costs through promotion of alternative energy and the strategic deployment of high performance building systems,” explains  Eric Scheidlinger, LEED AP and Division Manager of Efficient Sustainable Practices at Reno Contracting.

Reno ESP also designed a strategic leadership relationship with Brummitt Energy Associates and Environmental Building Strategies. The wider team of specialty subconsultants also includes Redhorse Corp., Advanced Onsite Systems and the California Center for Sustainable Energy.

The areas in the county that will be assessed by the collaboration include over 1,100 facilities, such as offices, community centers, health service centers, libraries, jails, parks, and fleet garages totaling 7.3 million sq ft.

The services that Reno ESP will provide include LEED consulting, whole building energy assessments, building energy/water usage analysis, distributed generation development and building commissioning services to formulate sustainability recommendations for detailed energy and water conservation projects.

“We are excited to be a part of this initiative with the County of San Diego, providing leadership to the team on their program to create healthier living, learning and working environments,” says Scheidlinger.

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How Green is Your City?

Popular Science published a list of America’s 50 Greenest Cities, using a scoring method that assigned numerical values to categories such as electricity, transportation, green living and recycling.  According to its calculations, Portland, Oregon is the greenest city in America, scoring big in areas of energy, transportation and green living.

Portland gets half of its generated energy by renewable resources and a quarter of the city’s workforce carpools, rides the bus or rides their bike to work.  The city also has a higher than average amount of LEED® certified buildings, meaning the U.S. Green Building Council has recognized the buildings as exceptional in terms of Energy and Environmental Design.

Other cities that made the top of the list have come up with some interesting ways to go green. The city of Boston, Massachusetts for example, has thought up a way to put all the fallen leaves that a New England fall creates to good use. The city uses the methane generated by the anaerobic bacteria feeding on the organic waste to power upwards of 1.5 megawatts’ worth of generators.  In addition to energy harvesting, the compost created by the breakdown of the leaves is used to enrich the city’s soil.

Another example is Oakland, California. Oakland has turned its transit system into a fleet powered by hydrogen-based energy – meaning zero emission buses driving down its city streets instead of the toxic, petroleum-based buses too many cities still use.

Oakland Bus

The East Bay cuts pollution with hydrogen-powered transit.

Here is a list of the top 10 cities in order of “greenness” according to the website’s scores:

1. Portland, Ore. 23.1

2. San Francisco, Calif. 23.0

3. Boston, Mass. 22.7

4. Oakland, Calif. 22.5

5. Eugene, Ore. 22.4

6. Cambridge, Mass. 22.2

7. Berkeley, Calif. 22.2

8. Seattle, Wash. 22.1

9. Chicago, Ill. 21.3

10. Austin, Tex. 21.0

It’s encouraging to see big cities take steps toward a greener, healthier world.  If more cities start getting on the “green” bandwagon, there is the very real possibility that some of the devastating effects of pollution and toxic waste might be reversed and we can begin healing our world and our environment.

Visit the Popular Science website to read the full list of the Top 50 Green Cities and see how your city ranks.

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‘No Marketing Rights’ for Olympic Design and Construction Firms

There have been smiles, cheers and celebration a plenty at the summer games taking place in London right now, but one group that is not happy are the architects, contractors and engineers who transformed London into an Olympic Showcase. As millions of spectators convene in London and millions more watch on television, most will never know those behind the work that went into the design and construction of the various building around the historic city.

The internet is a buzz with articles and commentary on the marketing agreement that bans the building and design industry from promoting their work on the historic buildings.

Under the agreement, the industry is banned from publicizing their work on the various Olympic building across London until next year. Excluded from the ban are the designers of Olympic Stadium and Olympic Park, who are not considered third tier sponsors. The clause, which is called the ‘No Marketing Rights Protocol,’  leave many feeling that the restrictions only hurt small firms and individuals whose work is seen by millions. The agreement, which affects almost 40 architects, even includes a ban on award submittals for the work on Olympic buildings.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) gathered on August 3 in order to drum up support of their cause and to ask officials to lift the ban.

“Now is the time to stand up for our architects,” said RIBA president Angela Brady. “I really thought they were going to lift the barring of architects and engineers the day they opened the games. The eyes of the world are on London right now and what are we doing to show off?”

Brady and fellow architects wore shirts listing all the firms banned from promotion and even posted that same list on a big sign in front of RIBA headquarters.

“Architects and engineers have delivered incredible buildings which are hosting the London 2012 Games right now,” explained Brady. “Let’s shout about the great design and engineering talent that the UK has to offer and not miss this valuable opportunity to do so.”

Olympic buildings London

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WorldHaus Provides Home Kits to the Developing World

You may have read our past post on prefab homes, but these modular kit houses are so unique that they deserve a post all their own.

Introducing WorldHaus – a company that manufactures custom designed, weatherproof home kits for families in the developing world at an affordable price.

These aren’t your typical prefabricated modular homes – these are home kits that employ a modular building system allowing families to build their home from the kit materials – compressed earth-bricks, steel roof panels and concrete – to any size and configuration they desire.

These home kits also allow for a number of optional amenities that include clean burning stoves, toilets and solar electricity systems. One-bedroom, 220 square foot base models can be built in just 10 days with a starting cost below $2,000.

WorldHaus

A WorldHaus prototype home

The company’s Founders Bill and Daniel Gross have also been working with mortgage providers to make the homes available for monthly installments of $40 – a price even more accessible for rural and semi-urban families in developing areas who make anywhere from $3 to $10 a day.

They have also partnered with state governments, NGOs and landlords to develop rental housing programs and subsidies that could cut the cost to occupants to less than $2 a day.

According to the UN Habitat on substandard housing, more than a billion people worldwide live in substandard housing conditions without access to things like clean water, sanitation and electricity.  WorldHaus is not only helping to alleviate that need, they are helping to build local economies through the use of local construction, a local dealer network and factory supply chains and they are promoting the stand-alone sustainability of homes independent of the constraints of housing projects or utility grids.

To learn more, visit worldhaus.com.

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The Living Building Challenge

One of the latest innovative measures in the A/E/C and design world, The Living Building Challenge (LBC),  is a philosophy, an advocacy tool and a certification program that promotes today’s most advanced measurement of sustainability in building design and construction.

Founded in 2006, The Living Building Challenge recognizes buildings and their green credentials after they have been up and running for at least twelve months. Buildings have to fulfill specific and rigorous requirements in areas of water, energy, site, health, materials, equity and beauty.

Because the requirements are so stringent and the review so intense, the buildings that actually receive living building certification are some of today’s most advanced structures.  At the Omega Center for Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, New York, they operate at a net zero energy level.  They make more energy than they use, and by using solar and geo thermal energy that does not pollute the air or add to the greenhouse effect, they are able to power the building itself as well as the on-site natural water reclamation system.

Omega Center

Another building that has passed LBC review is the Hawaii Preparatory Academy Energy Lab located on the school’s campus on the big island of Hawaii.  Through the use of local, natural resources such as lava rock and sugarcane, the energy lab works with the landscape instead of against it.  The over 6,000 square foot facility boasts indoor and outdoor classrooms, conference and project rooms, a full workshop, and many other 21st century learning tools that all have the green building stamp of approval.

Hawaii Preparatory Academy

The Living Building Challenge challenges us to push farther in our reach towards sustainable living, and with more organizations realizing the value of protecting our natural resources and incorporating those values into best business practices, we can expect to see more LBC-certified buildings in the future.

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The 2012 “Green” Games

Olympics GreenThe Summer Olympics currently being held in London are touted by their host as the first green games the world has ever seen.  Olympic organizers wanted to make sustainability an important part of this year’s summer games and made it a priority to address a number of key environmental themes – such as waste, biodiversity, inclusion, healthy living and climate change – in the initial design and planning of the event.

The first step in achieving their goal was to create the Towards a one planet 2012 Sustainability Plan that focuses on tackling the environmental concerns of every aspect of the project. The plan stresses things like a “no added waste policy” regarding additional waste being sent to London landfills while the Games are in action and a minimization of gas emissions in the design and use of the game facilities.

The organizers not only want to keep the integrity of the natural habitats in the areas around the Games healthy and thriving, they would ideally like to leave things better than they were originally.

During the preparation for the Games, the host city began work on its “Brown to green” project of transforming 250 acres of contaminated industrial land into lush, green parkland. While the project was spearheaded by the 2012 London games initiative, the park will afterwards become the largest new urban park in the UK in over 100 years.

An important motivating factor for planning and design officials was the healthy impact on the citizenry of both the UK and world watchers of the Games.  Seeing people swim, bike, race and leap through the air after years of training and dedication can inspire even the most hardened couch potato to get up and get moving. The hope is that the Games’ “green” makeover will too serve as a positive model and source of inspiration.

To read more about London 2012 and Sustainability, click here. We also recommend viewing these amazing green buildings at the London Olympics.

Green Olympics

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QUIZ: Water Conservation 101 Answers Revealed!

Sustainable Water SupplyThe following quiz is from a recent article in Environmental Design + Construction (ED+C) Magazine on water conservation and the elements of facility design. The answers to the quiz are highlighted in green. Check out our Facebook and Twitter pages to see who landed the title of “Green Building Guru” for scoring the highest! If you’d like to take this quiz to obtain Continuing Education Units (CEU), click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for instructions!

 

1.       One of the most regular and predictable of all indoor water uses accounts for about 33 percent of total building water consumption. What is it?

a.       Coffee machines.

b.      Toilet flushing.

c.       Janitorial maintenance.

d.      Restroom faucets.

2.       Which of the following is NOT used to treat storm water or greywater for reuse within a facility?

a.       Aerobic pretreatment.

b.      Reverse osmosis.

c.       Rain sensors.

d.      Settling.

3.       True or false: Aside from leaks, the three ways that water is eliminated from cooling towers include evaporation, drift and blowdown. The total of these effects equals the cooling towers total makeup water needed.

a.       True.

b.      False.

4.       To improve the water efficiency of heating and hot water systems by as much as 70 percent, a retrofit or new construction project can include:

a.       A single-pass cooling system.

b.      Blowdown processes.

c.       Drift elimination.

d.      Condensate return system.

5.       A novel restroom fixture technology seen recently in Europe allows users to determine the level of water flow, from ultra-low flow to higher flow levels, based on a mechanical feature. This fixtures work based on…

a.       Resistance to force applied to the handle.

b.      Use of aerators to change the water flow appearance.

c.       A range of setting indicators corresponding to specific water needs.

d.      None of the above.

6.       Predevelopment site hydrology includes awareness of both site conditions as well as regional conditions of a natural site before construction-related land disturbance. Which of the following is NOT considered on the assessment of predevelopment hydrology?

a.       Runoff.

b.      Irrigation needs.

c.       Infiltration.

d.      Evapotranspiration rates.

7.       True or false: By definition, xeriscaping plantings are (1) appropriate to the local climate, (2) require minimum watering, and (3) contribute to landscaping that minimizes evaporation and runoff.

a.       True.

b.      False.

8.       Which of the following statements accurately describes the features or use of rain sensors?

a.       They can be hardwired or wireless.

b.      Some contain hygroscopic disks to activate switches.

c.       They can be combined with freeze sensors.

d.      All of the above.

9.       For site installations where irrigation systems are used, assessments of potential water-use reduction goals may be undertaken with a basic punch list or audit, which provides for:

a.       Pre-selection of low-flow restroom fixtures.

b.      Full commissioning of irrigation systems.

c.       Review of site inspection, performance testing and irrigation scheduling.

d.      None of the above.

10.   True or false: Two fixtures with the same rated efficiencies will save the same amount of water, regardless of use conditions or end-user behaviors.

a.       True.

b.      False.

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QUIZ: Water Conservation 101

Green School Water ConservationThe following quiz is from a recent article in Environmental Design + Construction (ED+C) Magazine on water conservation and the elements of facility design. The Green Schoolhouse Series believes in the importance of water conservation and smart usage, and it’s the expertise of our Partners like BRAE, Elkay Manufacturing and Sloan that helps ensure that our Green Schools meet the highest levels of water efficiency.

Post your answers to the quiz in the comments section of this blog post by this Thursday, June 21 for a chance to be mentioned as a “Green Building Guru” on our social media sites!

1.       One of the most regular and predictable of all indoor water uses accounts for about 33 percent of total building water consumption. What is it?

a.       Coffee machines.

b.      Toilet flushing.

c.       Janitorial maintenance.

d.      Restroom faucets.

 

2.       Which of the following is NOT used to treat storm water or greywater for reuse within a facility?

a.       Aerobic pretreatment.

b.      Reverse osmosis.

c.       Rain sensors.

d.      Settling.

 

3.       True or false: Aside from leaks, the three ways that water is eliminated from cooling towers include evaporation, drift and blowdown. The total of these effects equals the cooling towers total makeup water needed.

a.       True.

b.      False.

 

4.       To improve the water efficiency of heating and hot water systems by as much as 70 percent, a retrofit or new construction project can include:

a.       A single-pass cooling system.

b.      Blowdown processes.

c.       Drift elimination.

d.      Condensate return system.

 

5.       A novel restroom fixture technology seen recently in Europe allows users to determine the level of water flow, from ultra-low flow to higher flow levels, based on a mechanical feature. This fixtures work based on…

a.       Resistance to force applied to the handle.

b.      Use of aerators to change the water flow appearance.

c.       A range of setting indicators corresponding to specific water needs.

d.      None of the above.

 

6.       Predevelopment site hydrology includes awareness of both site conditions as well as regional conditions of a natural site before construction-related land disturbance. Which of the following is NOT considered on the assessment of predevelopment hydrology?

a.       Runoff.

b.      Irrigation needs.

c.       Infiltration.

d.      Evapotranspiration rates.

 

7.       True or false: By definition, xeriscaping plantings are (1) appropriate to the local climate, (2) require minimum watering, and (3) contribute to landscaping that minimizes evaporation and runoff.

a.       True.

b.      False.

 

8.       Which of the following statements accurately describes the features or use of rain sensors?

a.       They can be hardwired or wireless.

b.      Some contain hygroscopic disks to activate switches.

c.       They can be combined with freeze sensors.

d.      All of the above.

 

9.       For site installations where irrigation systems are used, assessments of potential water-use reduction goals may be undertaken with a basic punch list or audit, which provides for:

a.       Pre-selection of low-flow restroom fixtures.

b.      Full commissioning of irrigation systems.

c.       Review of site inspection, performance testing and irrigation scheduling.

d.      None of the above.

 

10.   True or false: Two fixtures with the same rated efficiencies will save the same amount of water, regardless of use conditions or end-user behaviors.

a.       True.

b.      False.

 

Thanks for taking the quiz! Check back this Thursday, June 21 for the answers and to learn how you can use this quiz to recieve continuing education units (CEU)!

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Do You Know Your Energy Certification Programs?

Have you ever noticed an “ENERGY STAR” placard on the side of a structure or read an article about a new Federal building that had achieve LEED® Gold status and wondered, “What does it all mean?”

You are not alone.

While it may seem like common knowledge to those in the green building industry, many people aren’t clear about the various certification programs used to rate the energy efficiency of newly built and renovated structures.

Here are a few of the leading energy certification programs:

LEED®, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is the star player in terms of building certification. LEED is the green building rating system developed and administered by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED certification involves a process by which an independent, third-party entity certifies that a building, home or community was designed and built using specific approaches aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health. These approaches include sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. Once evaluated, buildings receive one of four levels of certification; LEED Certified, LEED Silver, LEED Gold or the highest level, LEED Platinum. The Green Schoolhouse Series aims to achieve LEED Platinum status on its first build, the Safari Schoolhouse in Phoenix, AZ.

ENERGY STAR® is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.  To be ENERGY STAR certified, a building must meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency and must cost less per square foot to operate. The programs philosophy centers around saving money while reducing energy consumption. According to ENERGY STAR, the program saved enough energy in 2010 alone to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 33 million cars — all while saving nearly $18 billion on utility bills.

Green Globes is an environmental assessment, education and rating system backed in the U.S. by the Green Building Initiative (GBI), a Portland, Oregon-based non-profit. The Canadian Federal Government has been using the Green Globes system for several years as the basis for the Building Owners and Manufacturer’s Association of Canada’s Go Green Plus program. Green Globes is designed to offer effective, practical and affordable ways to evaluate the environmental performance and sustainability of commercial buildings.

Green Schoolhouse Series LEED Platinum

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