Herrera is testing to see whether new soil mixes can remove
more heavy metals and other pollutants from stormwater.
With all the cranes towering overhead in downtown Seattle, it’s easy to forget the important work going on below to manage and protect our water as the region grows.
To keep pace with this growth, Washington State is pioneering the use of new and innovative approaches for stormwater management. As of next year all development projects must use low impact development (LID) techniques or green stormwater infrastructure where feasible. Rain gardens, bioswales, green roofs, and permeable pavement will become the norm rather than the exception.
As the region makes this new investment to protect our water, everyone - regulators, project owners, designers, and the general public included - will want to be confident these technologies are providing the intended benefit.
Herrera Environmental Consultants, Inc. is conducting groundbreaking research to assess and optimize the performance of these systems.
For example, with grant funding from the Washington State Department of Ecology, Herrera is currently implementing two research projects to develop a more effective soil media for use in bioretention systems.
In partnership with Kitsap County, one of these projects has involved numerous pilot scale tests of soil media components and blends to optimize their removal of heavy metals and other harmful pollutants from stormwater.
Herrera has also partnered with the City of Redmond to construct a state-of-the-art research facility for evaluating pollutant removal and plant growth in bioretention systems at full-scale.
Herrera Environmental Consultants, Inc. is an employee-owned engineering and scientific firm focused on restoration, water, and sustainable development. Herrera is committed to working with our clients to develop innovative and sustainable solutions for infrastructure, natural resources, and stormwater projects. Herrera was recently featured as “favorite green collar company” by the Seattle Times.
For more information:
Melissa Buttin, Senior Marketing, email@example.com 206.787.8248
A new website offers plans, advice and a community of container home fans.
I’m Tom Woods. I run Container Home Plans along with my assistant Claire. I have a background in construction and studied sustainable development at Yale. Whilst studying, I developed my passion for sustainable buildings and this is what caused me to come across the idea of making homes out of recycled shipping containers. Earlier last year, I was browsing online to try and find more information on how to build shipping container homes and was frustrated because I couldn’t find much information out there. This is how Container Home Plans was born.
So I made the site to act as a central online resource for shipping container homes and to help people who are looking for detailed information on how to build their own. We feature on our site case studies of other people who have built their own container homes and go in detail, outlining the materials they used, the length of time it took them and the cost of the build. We also run a feature called container home of the week, where we show off the very best shipping container homes as inspiration for people! It’s our hope that Container Home Plans will act as a hub for the community of container home enthusiasts so they can share their experiences with other enthusiasts and help each other as they build their own.
We run the site because we believe that using shipping containers can be not only environmentally friendly but it can also be a very affordable option that allows people to make homes they otherwise couldn’t afford to if they used conventional building materials.
I’d be delighted to hear from people, so feel free to send any questions to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following post is by DJC staff:
Disaster-resiliency expert Stephen Flynn has posted a piece about the Oso mudslide on Northeastern University Seattle’s Re: Connect blog.
Flynn is a professor of political science and director of Northeastern’s Center for Resilience Studies in Burlington, Mass.
He spoke with the DJC in February about lessons from Hurricane Sandy and the need to better prepare for natural and manmade disasters.
In his post he says we tend to ignore the risk of disasters until they happen and says builders, developers and planners have a role to play in changing that.
It is purposeful denial, bordering on negligence, which allows residential property development in dangerous areas. That negligence is fed by a self-destructive cycle that begins when builders and developers with short-term interests are granted local permits to build new homes on low-lying barrier islands, flood plains, or near steep hills in the wilderness. These homes then require investments in new public infrastructure, which in turn require additional tax revenues to build and sustain. In order to expand the tax base, towns end up approving new property development adding new fuel to growth. When the foreseeable disaster inevitably strikes, individual property owners are often wiped out and the American taxpayer ends up picking up most of the tab.
Read the whole thing here and tell us what you think.
The following post is by DJC staff:
The Paramount Theatre has installed new lights that will reduce energy consumption and save $43,000 a year.
It cost $438,000 to replace about 4,800 lights, including huge chandeliers, with energy efficient LEDs, compact fluorescent lamps and T-8 tube lighting. About $136,000 came from Seattle City Light energy efficiency incentives.
“When you consider the number of bulbs in this theater and what it takes to simply keep them all in good working order, this project is just good dollars and sense,” Seattle Theater Group Executive Director Josh LaBelle said.
Seattle City Light said in a press release that this is the second lighting upgrade it has been involved with at the Paramount. Incentives also helped to fund a retrofit of the Paramount’s neon sign in 2009. Both upgrades were made while preserving the historical character of the theater.
More information about City Light incentives for businesses and homeowners is available on its website.
The following post is by Silicon Energy:
Silicon Energy, a manufacturer of solar photovoltaic modules in Marysville, said it is releasing the Next Generation Cascade Series PV module.
The first generation came out in 2007.
The new module uses less embedded material, which improves performance and output.
Here are some features of the new module:
· Anti-reflective coating on the front glass
· Advanced encapsulant
· Lighter weight mounting hardware
· About 30% fewer roof penetrations to reduce costs and speed up installation
· 12 AWG wire for reduced voltage drop
· Amphenol connectors with a higher current rating and increased reliability
· American Fittings Raintight conduit connectors that improve mechanical and electrical bonding
Gary Shaver, president of Silicon Energy said, “Our relationships with suppliers and research laboratories allows our engineering team to integrate innovative concepts and advanced material sciences into our products. We’re excited to see how architects and building designers integrate our new, even more attractive Cascade Series PV modules into the building envelope and overhead structures to achieve contemporary and functional designs.”
The module has a double-glass, open-frame design to shed water, dirt and snow. Airflow behind the module keeps the system cooler, which boosts performance. Custom mounting hardware colors are available.
Silicon Energy is shipping the Next Generation module to Washington customers and will introduce it in other markets early next year.
Silicon Energy was founded in 2007, and is located in Washington and Minnesota.
The following post is by Kathleen O'Brien:
New is not always better.
I have to confess that I've been a little put off by local historic preservationists self-righteously declaring that "preservation" equals sustainability and leaving it at that. Yes, yes, I understand that recycling buildings intuitively makes sense, but since sustainability sometimes asks us to think counter-intuitively, I needed more. At a recent Sustainable Cities Roundtable conducted by King County's Green Tools Program, I got what I needed.
Robert Young, PE, LEED AP, is professor of architecture and director of the Historic Preservation Program at the University of Utah, and author of the new Island Press release, "Stewardship of the Built Environment." He was guest speaker at the Roundtable. Young provided some very satisfying arguments for promoting preservation and building reuse as a sustainability strategy. In making his arguments, he gives equal weight to what he terms SEE (or what some of us have called the "three E's"): social, economic, and environmental factors, and defines stewardship of the built environment as "balancing the needs of contemporary society and its impact on the built environment with the ultimate effects on the natural environment."
The Historic Preservationists have been at their best when justifying conservation due to social factors, and Young does speak to this. What I appreciated is that he also addresses environmental and economic factors in an analytical but highly accessible manner. One of the areas he touched on in his talk was the idea of calculating energy recovery as part of understanding the energy performance of preservation vs. new construction. As Young notes in his book, "the argument for measuring embodied energy to justify the retention of a building is (still) met with skepticism." He claims this is largely because embodied energy is considered a "sunk cost" and therefore not part of decisions about future expenses. I think he would also say it's because of our societal preference for the glitter of "new" vs. the practicality of "existing," which may not be part of the accounting equation, but certainly humming in the background.
In his talk, Young used his own home to compare the energy recovery periods required to simply perform an energy upgrade to his home, to abandon the home and build a new one in the suburbs, or to demolish and rebuild in place. When he accounted for the embodied energy in the new buildings (whether in place or in the suburbs), the energy to demolish the existing building, and operating energy required for the remodeled or new building, it became clear that the remodel was the best choice when considering true energy performance. In scenarios provided in his book, energy recovery calculations result in recovery periods that exceed "the expected useful lives of many buildings being constructed today." And this is without calculating in the transportation energy expenses that are likely to accrue when the new building is built in a greenfield out in the suburbs.
In the economic realm, Young compared the job creation resulting from highway, new, and rehab construction. In jobs per million dollars spent, rehab wins again. Although a small part of the construction activity (Young estimated 5%), rehab creates roughly 5 more jobs per million dollars spent than highway construction, and 2 more jobs per million dollars spent on new construction. If I am interpreting Young's figures correctly, just by turning our economic recovery lens on rehab and away from highways and new construction we could potentially create between 6-12% more jobs per million dollars spent on construction. (And we might actually reduce the environmental, social, and economic negative impacts of sprawl -- even if it's "green")!
Young's talk introduced some great food for thought, but I'm so glad to be reading his book. In his concluding chapter, "Putting it All Together," he provides a list of "challenges" for stewards of the built environment, ranging from advocating outcome-based codes (since prescriptive codes are based primarily on new construction practices) to presenting project lessons learned (both positive and negative) to "decision makers and policy shapers who mediate building preservation and reuse policies." Lots to work on.
Kathleen O'Brien is a long time advocate for green building and sustainable development since before it was "cool." She lives in a green home, and drives a hybrid when she drives at all. She continues to provide consulting on special projects for O'Brien & Co., the firm she founded over 20 years ago, and provides leadership training and mentoring through her legacy project: The Emerge Leadership Project.
The following post is by the New Buildings Institute:
To help commercial building owners and occupants get control of the growing amount of energy used by office equipment and other electronic devices, New Buildings Institute released the Plug Load Best Practices Guide. It is based on research done by Ecova and NBI for the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research Program, and gives advice on how to save money by reducing energy use in offices.
On average, plug loads account for 15-20 percent of electricity use. For offices that have already improved the efficiency of lighting and HVAC systems, that number can be as much as 50 percent. The impact of plug loads can be reduced by up to 40 percent through a combination of no- and low-cost steps such as:
• aggressive power management settings
• inexpensive hardware controllers like timers and advanced plug strips
• occupant-based strategies
When the time comes to replace equipment, buying new energy-efficient models can also reduce energy bills. The guide also gives advice on how to manage energy used by computer server rooms.
According to NBI Senior Project Manager Amy Cortese, "Owners, tenants, purchasing managers, IT directors and building occupants all have a role in managing plug load energy use. Our goal with the Plug Load Best Practices Guide is to help them establish a workable plan for cutting that energy use."
The largest plug load energy users are computers, monitors, imaging equipment, server rooms and computer peripherals. The guide outlines steps for selecting the highest efficiency equipment for a given job when it's time for replacement. "Simple equipment upgrades and making sure that control settings in most office equipment are enabled can make a huge difference," said Cortese.
"Through this research, we found that occupants can and should play a significant role in managing energy use," she said. "This guide will help office managers engage tenants and occupants in learning about these simple measures and ultimately reducing their own energy and utility costs."
The Plug Load Best Practices Guide is part of Advanced Buildings, a set of tools and resources designed to help improve the energy performance of commercial buildings. Funding support for development of the guide was provided by the California Energy Commission's PIER Program.
New Buildings Institute works with commercial building professionals and the energy industry to promote better energy performance in buildings.
The following post is by Brad Kahn:
It’s a question many owners of older homes have asked: Should I replace my single-pane windows or refurbish them? With a torrent of direct mail selling new windows, many people are led to believe the best option to save money and energy is to replace the old windows with new.
Now a new report from Seattle’s Preservation Green Lab sheds light on an answer. And it may be a bit surprising.
The report, Saving Windows, Saving Money: Evaluating the Energy Performance of Window Retrofit and Replacement, concludes that adding storm windows and cellular shades can deliver essentially the same energy savings as full window replacement — at a fraction of the cost.
Applying 80 years of research using energy simulations, the research team found that saving and retrofitting old windows is the more cost effective way to achieve energy savings and to lower a home’s carbon footprint.
Nationally, home energy consumption accounts for 20 percent of total energy use, and Americans spent more than $17 billion on heating and cooling, so the potential impacts of the research are large.
This chart summarizes the key findings across cities and climate zones. The bottom line: Don’t assume you need new windows to save energy and money.
The Preservation Green Lab, a project of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, conducted the research, in partnership with Cascadia Green Building Council and Ecotope. It was funded by the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training.
For a great slideshow about the research and links to the full report visit: http://blog.preservationnation.org/2012/10/02/10-on-tuesday-10-things-you-should-know-about-retrofitting-historic-windows.
Brad Kahn is president of Groundwork Strategies and works with the Preservation Green Lab.