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Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 7:34 am
A recent New York Times article reports about the steps commercial landlord Vornado Realty Trust is taking to help its tenants reduce their energy costs. In particular, the company is installing sensors in some of the offices it controls, to help tenants monitor real time energy use. The sensors feed information to a private-access website, where tenants can see how their consumption fluctuates in real time.
The new sensors are intended for those tenants whose sizable spaces have their own meters, the article said. Though landlords such as Vornado pay for equipment that receives energy from the grid, these “submetered” tenants pay for their share of a building’s energy consumption as well. Thus far, Vornado has installed the sensors in 16 buildings, affecting roughly 250 commercial tenants.
The information has so far been popularly received, with tenants telling the NYT that the information is helping them isolate areas where they can improve energy use in their...
Monday, November 2, 2009 at 9:55 am
In Plano, TX, Pepsi-Co’s Frito-Lay corporate headquarters facility has recently earned a LEED for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) Gold rating. This makes it the first building in the state of Texas to earn a LEED-EB rating, according to this press release.
Frito-Lay project managers adopted a multi-pronged approach to implementing sustainable moves at the 450,000 square foot facility, encompassing a variety of moves associated with energy savings, water reductions, recycling, and employee education in order to achieve their LEED goal.
The Frito-Lay Headquarters is the first building in TX to earn LEED-EB Certification.Specific moves that save energy include the addition of a solar thermal water heating system to heat all of the building’s hot water, including the kitchen and fitness center. This one change reduced the facility’s energy consumption by 130,000 KwH and eliminated more than 154,000 lbs of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the atmosphere.
Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 1:51 am
The nation’s leader in sustainable design education and LEED Exam Prep has now expanded its offerings to flashcard iPhone Applications.
NY, NY – October 30, 2009 – Green Education Services (formerly named LEEDTeacher), a national provider of educational support services for Sustainable Design & LEED, announced Friday that it’s LEED Green Associate Flashcards are now available in the iTunes Store. The application is the first of its kind to feature over 350 flashcards, real-time instructor support, and an easy to use intuitive interface.
“We quickly realized that while there are plenty of options for students to purchase printed flaschards, there were no apps that allowed you to study directly from your iPhone,” said Zach Rose, CEO of Green Education Services. “Having already sold thousands of sets of flashcards for the LEED exams, these applications were the next logical step and are a digital, more environmentally conscious...
Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 9:32 am
Unique among LEED prerequisites and credits, Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) Prerequisite 2 concerns itself with a ubiquitous but thoroughly avoidable form of air pollution: “environmental tobacco smoke” (ETS), commonly known as cigarette smoke.
ETS is no joke; cigarette smoke has been found to contain over 50 different chemicals that cause cancer, including arsenic, benzene, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, and nickel, among others. It also can cause lung cancer in non-smokers, and heart disease in adults. It can also cause SIDS, ear infections, and asthma attacks in children. There’s no question that designing to limit ETS in a project will improve the quality of life for a building’s future occupants.
All LEED projects must meet this prerequisite by banning smoking in the buildings that are up for certification, as well as near building entrances, outside air intakes, and operable windows. Specifically, outdoor smoking must be restricted to areas outside...
Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 8:44 am
This week marked the grand opening of the new NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Flight Projects Center in Pasadena, CA. The building, which earned LEED-Gold, is also the greenest building that NASA has ever constructed, according to this article.
Designed by LPA Inc., an architecture firm based in Irvine, California, the 190,000-square-foot building includes an auditorium conference rooms, and workstations to house a large workforce that includes many visiting scientists and engineers.
"We are proud of the new building – not only for the exciting work on space missions that will take place within its walls, but also because it uses the latest green technology to help us protect the environment we live in on planet Earth," JPL Director Dr. Charles Elachi told OC Metro.
Below, a video produced by the architects explores some of the facility’s green features.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development entity managed...
Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 7:01 am
As part of its LEED Certification, Dockside Green gained points for remediating its site existing contamination.Encountering LEED for the first time, you might come across an uncommon term: “brownfield.” This is the type of building site around which the entirety of Sustainable Sites (SS) Credit 3 is constructed. So, what’s a brownfield?
You’ve probably seen hundreds in your life, and not known what they are. A brownfield is an abandoned or underused industrial and commercial facility or site, available for re-use. The land may be contaminated with low levels of hazardous waste or pollution, but it nonetheless has the potential to be reused once it is cleaned. Logically, the corresponding term for a previously undeveloped site is "greenfield."
Generally, brownfield sites exist in a city's or town's industrial section, on locations with abandoned factories or commercial buildings, or other previously polluting operations. Small brownfields also may...
Tuesday, October 27, 2009 at 7:25 am
Discovery Green—a new multipurpose park space in downtown Houston, opened in April 2008—has recently earned LEED-Gold certification, making it the first new project in the downtown core of the nation’s fourth-largest city to earn LEED certification.
The 12-acre park includes a one-acre lake; a children’s playground; underground parking; interactive water features; a multi-use amphitheater stage and sloping lawn; dog runs; public art works; an “express” outpost of the Houston Public Library; wetland and upland gardens; and two restaurants.
The park’s LEED-caliber features include the removal of surface-level parking spaces; the generation of on-site energy via the 256 solar panels on the roofs of nearby buildings; high-efficiency HVAC equipment; green roofs; and preservation of onsite live oak trees. Discovery Green is also located near public transportation and the many amenities and services of the surrounding downtown community.
Monday, October 26, 2009 at 6:29 am
Bicycles reduce single occupant vehicle use and dependency on non-renewable energy sources.Integrating alternative transportation methods into a building project serves a multi-faceted purpose: it makes commuting by mass transit or bicycle a more feasible, desirable choice, and it attempts to reinforce the site’s existing or planned transportation infrastructure through siting, number of parking spaces, and other design moves. It also aims to reduce pollution, congestion, and sprawl at a wider scale.
One such amenity that a project team may consider—especially as it relates to LEED certification—is bicycle storage and changing rooms, the subject of LEED Sustainable Sites (SS) Credit 4.2. The inclusion of a safe, clean storage area for bikes, connected to rooms where building occupants can change in and out of work clothes, provides a vital accommodation and enhances the individual transportation choices of the building occupants.
SS Credit 4.2 is achieved by...
Friday, October 23, 2009 at 6:38 am
Earlier this month, an animal shelter in Middletown, Rhode Island, became the first animal shelter in the country to achieve a LEED-Gold certification. Through the use of a range of sustainable features, the Potter League’s $8 million building provides an example of holistic animal care and resource conservation, according this article.
Founded in 1929, each year the Potter League provides care to 2,000 homeless, stray and lost animals while sponsoring extensive education and community outreach programs.
Potter League became the first animal shelter in the country to achieve a LEED-Gold certification.The Potter League’s 19,000 square foot shelter—twice the size of its previous facility—incorporates such LEED-worthy design features as a rooftop garden; recycled interior finishes, including wainscoting made from recycled plastic soda and milk bottles, and a floor made from recycled tires; use of rapidly renewable wood, such as bamboo; and a stormwater...
Friday, October 23, 2009 at 3:21 am
In the past 11 years, USGBC's Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program has quickly become the go-to standard for all green design & construction. This is evidenced not only by various government mandates & incentives, but also the increasing number of LEED Accredited Professionals (LEED-APs) joining the program across the world. Now that there are 130,000+ LEED APs doing their part in creating a more sustainable built environment, what happens when LEED projects go wrong and how can litigation be avoided? Let's answer this complex question by analyzing the first known LEED lawsuit.
The Captain's Galley condominium project in Crisfield, MD was in pursuit of LEED Silver certification in 2007 while being constructed by Southern Builders for their client, Shaw Development. The $7.5 million project was unsuccessful in achieving the Silver designation and was thus disqualified for a $635,000 tax credit from the state. The result: a lawsuit that was settled...
Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 7:40 am
On October 13th, New York governor David A. Patterson signed into law the landmark Green Jobs/Green New York Act, establishing a program that will spur the creation of green jobs and investment in energy efficiency improvements. The act propels the state of New York to the forefront of states tackling the challenge of sustainability and economic growth and provides a model for others to follow.
The program envisions energy efficiency upgrades to one million homes and businesses in the state within the next five years. It will leverage private investment and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative funds to make these upgrades. Additionally it is expected to create up to 14,000 green jobs.
State-certified contractors will perform free or low-cost energy audits for homeowners, identifying repairs and upgrades that can pay for themselves through energy savings within a 8-10 year window. The work that the contractors perform will be paid for by the Green New York fund, and homeowners will...
Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 6:43 am
Buildings that are naturally ventilated can make a significant impact in reducing energy use and cost while maintaining, and even improving, indoor environmental quality. Whereas artificially ventilated spaces and buildings require a constant amount of energy to compensate for the differences between indoor and outdoor temperatures, natural ventilation strategies can mitigate this cost through careful consideration of site, design, and function.
Incorporation of natural ventilation is ideal in spaces that don’t strictly require a constant temperature, such as lobbies and hallways. The secret of designing an effective naturally ventilated space is the creation of a circular route for air to travel, through the incorporation of louvers, open windows, transoms, or airy, open interior spaces—but these need to be balanced against local fire codes, which may require fire separation between spaces, through which air cannot pass. Conversely, a mechanical air delivery system...
Tuesday, October 20, 2009 at 5:59 am
Ubiquitous and inexpensive, concrete may often be overlooked as a potential sustainable building component. Yet the simply made and versatile material can contribute to a wide selection of LEED credits, depending on the manner in which it is used in a project. A new website, ConcreteThinker.com, helps explain how concrete and cement-based applications and products can garner over 30 LEED points for a project seeking certification.
According to this article, concrete contributes directly or indirectly to receiving points under 15 credit levels, with additional points possible under the “Innovation in Design” section. These include:
Sustainable Sites (SS) Credit 3: Brownfield Development (1 pt)
Cement can be used to solidify and stabilize contaminated soils and reduce leaching concentrations to below regulatory levels.
SS Credit 5: Site Development (1-2 pts)
Concrete parking garages within buildings can be used to limit site disturbance, including earthwork and clearing...
Monday, October 19, 2009 at 6:46 am
Often doing double duty as both a shading device and a reflector of natural light, a light shelf is an architectural element that allows daylight to penetrate deep into a building, further than it would normally with just a window opening. Chances are you have seen them, but you may not have realized how useful they can be.
The horizontal light-reflecting overhang is usually mounted around eye-level and has a highly reflective upper surface. This surface bounces daylight onto the ceiling of the interior space, and up to 4 times the distance between the floor and the top of the window. Light shelves are often made of aluminum and aluminum composite materials, can be painted, and are usually constructed from stock lengths. However they are finished, a matte finish is optimal for the minimization of glare and the provision of uniform distribution of light into the room.
A light shelf is usually used on the south side of a building, where the maximum amount of sunlight is...
Friday, October 16, 2009 at 5:51 am
According to a recent study conducted by Norm G. Miller of the University of San Diego and real estate developer CBRE, green buildings lead to greater worker productivity. This joins other attributes such as higher rental income and a premium at the time of sale, making the case for designing green even more compelling.
The study, to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Sustainable Real Estate, notes that “healthier buildings reduce sick time and increase productivity, making it easier to recruit and retain employees.” The subjects for the study included over 500 tenants who have moved into over 150 CBRE-managed buildings, many of them LEED certified.
Study authors evaluated how factors as telecommuting, health care maintenance, temperature, indoor air quality, and indoor pollution affect the productivity and well-being of the given occupants. In order to determine the productivity of workers in the building, tenants were asked to report on...
Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 4:19 am
Join thousands of others interested in sustainability at Greenbuild 2009, in Phoenix, AZ on November 11th-13th!
Greenbuild is the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. A wide variety of professionals convene at the conference each year for three days of over 100 diverse educational sessions, inspiring speakers, tours of green buildings, and networking events. Sponsored by the US Green Building Council, Greenbuild provides a singular opportunity to connect with professional peers, as well as experts and leaders as they share what they’ve learned and what’s ahead for sustainability in the building industry.
It is also a showcase of green efforts and initiatives in the local community. The burgeoning city of Phoenix offers a wealth of examples of sustainable action, as well as cautionary tales when it comes to preserving and maintaining resources in an arid desert environment. City tours will be offered, as well as hikes and several unique...
Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 6:48 am
Radiant floor heating—a series of water-filled plastic or copper pipes embedded in floor construction that radiate heat, in effect turning said floor into a “large, low-temperature radiator”—can be an energy-efficient and environmentally responsible way to heat a space. While a radiant system can have a high first cost compared with conventional heating systems, it can save money over the course of its useful life, while noiselessly improving comfort and air quality.
Whereas conventional heating mechanisms heat the air in a room via convection, radiant heat affects the floor, the room’s contents, and the occupants more directly, since the heat is delivered through radiation. When the contents of a room are heated to a higher temperature in this manner, many people are comfortable even at a lower temperature, thus meaning less energy is expended to heat water in the pipes. Savings result, and the boiler will last longer, too. A radiant floor heating...
Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 5:54 am
Engineers specializing in areas related to sustainability and the environment are seeing the greatest job growth, despite ongoing economic woes, according to a Seattle Times blog post.
This growth is in part due to the expanding influence of the LEED rating system, the post notes. The Pacific Northwest appears to have the highest concentration of LEED-certified designers and engineers compared to other regions; Seattle alone is home to 45 companies that are dedicated to sustainable building practices.
The piece cites the work of author and occupational expert Laurence Shatkin, whose most recent book, “200 Best Jobs for Renewing America,” analyzes six economic sectors that he says will grow, precipitating a shift toward a “forward-looking economy.” These sectors include education, health care, infrastructure, information technology, specialized manufacturing and green technology. The book further identifies the careers within these sectors that are the...
Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 5:51 am
The New York Times Magazine profiles the EcoDorm, a college dormitory at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC. The EcoDorm is part of a select group: only 90 dormitories have been LEED certified nationwide, and only two of those have achieved a LEED Platinum rating, the EcoDorm being one of those.
The building, which houses 36 students, features a fascinating array of green design moves that helped it achieve certification. Wood siding was wrought from trees on campus that were infested with pine beetles; kitchen cabinets are made from recycled fence posts; photovoltaic panels on the roof provide the building’s electricity; and the building utilizes solar hot water heating, high efficiency boilers and radiant floor heating. A web-based energy monitoring system provides real-time data about the building’s energy consumption.
Outside, a permaculture garden used by the entire college community helps feed the occupants; and rainwater is used to flush the low-flow toilets,...
Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 5:48 am
The new campus of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) has achieved a LEED Platinum rating, according to a recent press release. The university, built from scratch over the last few years, is the first LEED-certified project in Saudi Arabia, and the largest Platinum project in the world as well.
KAUST earned 52 out of 53 credits it applied for in order to achieve its Platinum rating. The campus’s approach to certification centered on seven specific areas:
Alternative transportation such as electric vehicles and a campus bus system, which reduces campus emissions and provides convenient transit options;
Renewable energy that helps cool and power the campus;
Preservation and protection of natural habitats surrounding the campus;
Architecture designed to maximize the natural advantages of the area’s microclimate;
Use of building materials that minimized environmental effects and recycled waste materials;
Minimization of water and material use...
Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 5:46 am
While Brad Pitt and sustainability don’t immediately connect in most people’s minds, the media celebrity recently received recognition from USGBC CEO Rick Fedrizzi and former President Bill Clinton for his efforts to green the battered city of New Orleans through his Make It Right New Orleans project.
Make It Right New Orleans, a development project begun by Pitt to spur the development of quality housing in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, currently features 13 LEED Platinum homes, according to a Mother Nature Network article. Make It Right is looking to add another 150 Platinum-certified, storm resistant homes to the neighborhood in the near future, the article said. The project encompasses prototypical home designs by 22 architecture firms in all, ranging from Holland’s MVRDV and Japan’s Atelier Hitoshi Abe to the environmentally-sensitive work of William McDonough + Partners and KieranTimberlake, to provide desperately-needed housing and economic...
Wednesday, October 14, 2009 at 5:43 am
The international hotel conglomerate Marriott recently marked the expansion of its LEED-certified hotel portfolio with the Gold certification of the Marriott Portland City Center, in Portland, Oregon. It joins another Marriott property in Chevy Chase, Maryland that has also earned a Gold designation.
The hotel properties employ a number of remarkable moves in both design and operation to ensure that they maintain the LEED Gold standard, according to a Mother Nature News article. Staff uniforms are made from recycled plastic bottles, and a kitchen waste composting program turns used cooking oil into biofuel.
Other features include high-efficiency water and light fixtures throughout, low-emitting building materials, a green cleaning program, bicycle storage and shower facilities for employees, and close proximity to Portland’s MAX light rail system. Overall the hotel consumes 26 percent less water and 60 percent less energy than a comparably built facility. 84 percent of...
Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 8:45 am
As all buildings now seeking LEED-EB certification are required to implement a green cleaning policy, it’s an important time to learn about the world of green cleaning products and practices. Green cleaning provides a route to enhancing sustainability at relatively little expense, and makes a good start point for any project team embarking on a project seeking LEED certification.
A variety of credits within the LEED certification system can be achieved via the incorporation of green cleaning practices:
Sustainable Sites (SS) Credit 1: Plan for Green Site and Building Exterior Management
This credit offers up to two points for an exterior site management plan that includes developing a policy for sustainably cleaning and maintaining the building exterior.
Materials and Resources (MR) Credit 4: Sustainable Cleaning Products and Materials
This credit offers up to three points for the implementation of a purchasing program for cleaning materials and products, disposable janitorial...
Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 12:59 pm
Part of the expanding Phoenix metropolitan area, the Arizona city of Scottsdale is among a growing number of municipalities nationwide that have begun to require LEED as part of their building codes.
Scottsdale can now boast further evidence of being ahead of the curve: a new LEED Platinum fire station, the first such facility in the world. While the city requires that all new public buildings be certified at a Gold level, the 14,350 square foot building exceeds that standard, incorporating a wealth of sustainable features.
Scottsdale has the first LEED Platinum fire station in the world.These include a roof-mounted photovoltaic array that provides 9% of its total energy needs; locally sourced exterior materials, including sandstone brick manufactured only 15 miles from the site; water-efficient landscaping and grey water recycling; water harvesting pipes that double as exterior shading devices; and energy savings of 40% compared to a comparably built firehouse...
Saturday, October 10, 2009 at 12:48 pm
The new $7.7 million, 18,000 square foot Markim Hall building on the Macalester College campus in St. Paul, MN recently became LEED certified at the Platinum level, making it the third building in Minnesota to reach the platinum level, and the first academic building in the state to do so, according to this article.
The building, which houses the Institute for Global Citizenship, cost about 15 percent more than a comparable academic building would, because of its LEED enhancements. However, the building’s wide range of sustainable design moves more than compensate for that first cost.
Markim Hall is only the third building in Minnesota to achieve Platinum certification.Markim Hall’s green features include triple-glazed windows; high-efficiency insulation; tile and carpets made from recycled materials; light sensors; and an energy recovery system that cuts heating and cooling costs by tapping into energy stored in exhaust air. Paints, carpets,...
Friday, October 2, 2009 at 10:54 am
A recent report, given at the BASF High Performance Buildings for Education Summit, points to greater student success in schools that incorporate green design moves, according to a recent Reuters piece.
That bolsters USGBC, whose National Green Schools Campaign supports the passage of federal, state and local initiatives that mandate the building of green, LEED-worthy schools, in coordination with the debut of its new LEED for Schools rating system earlier this year. So far, over 1,700 schools nationwide have registered for LEED for Schools, and nearly 200 have achieved certification.
The NGSC’s website emphasizes the importance of greening the nation’s more than 126,000 school buildings. With 20% of the population at school every day, the impact of sustainable retrofits of the buildings that house this significant piece of the population would be felt widely. Incorporating daylight and views, improved indoor air quality, and thermal ...
Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 10:29 am
The New York Times visits the small town of Greensburg, Kansas, and finds that the town, obliterated by a May 2007 tornado, is indeed on its way to becoming the “greenest town in rural America.”
Spurred by the tornado’s destructive power, Greensburg’s civic leadership adopted an ethos of sustainability as a way of rebuilding their town responsibly, injecting economic dynamism into Greensburg’s economy while persuading the town’s younger residents that Greensburg, population 900, was worth keeping.
After approving an ordinance requiring that all municipal buildings above 4,000 square feet be built to LEED Platinum standards, the town has become both a laboratory for sustainability and a showcase of LEED-worthy projects. In fact, Greensburg features several new structures that incorporate sustainable energy sources, high-efficiency building materials and machinery, and other green moves.
The first building to achieve ...
Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 8:03 am
As the President and the First Lady ready their pitches for the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Friday meeting in Copenhagen determining the host city for the 2016 Summer Olympics, let’s take a look at how Chicago, their hometown and America’s contender for the event, incorporates sustainability into its Olympic plans.
All four remaining cities—Tokyo, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, and Chicago—take care for the environment into account, what the IOC considers the third “pillar” of the Olympic Games, together with sport and culture. However, Chicago’s bid is unique in its promotion of a “Blue-Green Games,” drawing inspiration from its striking location at the shores of Lake Michigan to implement a five-pronged approach to environmental stewardship.
The first piece of the Blue-Green puzzle, Climate Cool, focuses on designing energy-efficient Olympic venues that minimize energy requirements; ...
Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 11:47 am
With the Gold certification of its new Zhuang Lab facility, Harvard University can count 20 LEED-certified buildings on its campus, according to a Treehugger article, solidifying its standing as the university with the most LEED-certified projects of any university worldwide. It has more certifications than all of the other Ivy League institutions combined.
The famous Massachusetts university counts three platinum level, nine gold level, four silver, and four certified projects across its campuses in Cambridge and Boston. Among its achievements is a certification for the oldest building ever submitted to LEED (built in 1889), and the first LEED Platinum Commercial Interiors and LEED Platinum for Homes projects. The 20 buildings certified at Harvard cover more than one million square feet of of space, conserve upwards of 3,500,000 gallons of water each year, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 1,500 metric tons annually, and save the university ...
Tuesday, September 29, 2009 at 11:37 am
As seen in this article, New York’s landmark Empire State Building is in the midst of a $500 million green revamp that will qualify it for LEED certification at the Gold level. Tenants and visitors alike will reap the benefits of improved windows, better lighting, improved indoor air quality, and energy savings.
Among those tenants is the global architecture firm BBG-BBGM, whose offices now occupy the building’s 25th floor. With offices on three continents and projects worldwide, the practice is known for its specialties in the design of hotels, resorts, high-density residential, retail, and mixed-use buildings, as well as master planning, renovation, and commercial office complexes.
With its expertise in commercial spaces, it’s only fitting that the BBG-BBGM office in the Empire State Building takes on a green hue. In fact, the practice is currently submitting its office for certification via the LEED for Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI)...