If you don't have a subscription to the DJC or don't click on our articles as they are locked, you might not know about our free special sections.
Special sections, written by people in a targeted industry for people in the industry, are free to read, meaning even you non-subscribers can access valuable information. Special sections come out about once a month and each section focuses on a different topic. This month's excellent topic is Building Green and I am thoroughly impressed with the breadth of this year's coverage.
In it, you'll find this excellent article by Michelle Rosenberger and Nancy Henderson of ArchEcology called "Watch out for 'greenwashing' by service providers." Among its interesting points, the article examines whether consultants can truly bring a LEED approach to a project without rigorous third party LEED certification. Interesting item to bring up.
There's this great article by Joel Sisolak of the Cascadia Green Building Council called "Two Seattle projects set 'net-zero' water goals," which looks at the region's water infrastructure and two living buildings (The Bertschi School's Science Wing and the Cascadia Center for Sustainable Design and Construction, both covered previously in this blog) that plan to go off the water grid and their challenges in doing so.
Then there's this article by Elizabeth Powers at O'Brien & Co. on whether green parking lots can be (gasp!) green. I'll let you read the article to learn more.
The section also has articles from representatives of Skanska USA Building, Mithun, MulvannyG2, GGLO, Scott Surdyke, Sandra Mallory of the city of Seattle and CollinsWoerman on topics ranging from the city's role in evolving practices to big box stores, student housing and public housing.
So go ahead, check it out and enjoy!
For those of you that don't live in the area, Yesler Terrace is a 28-acre publicly subsidized housing community owned by the Seattle Housing Authority. It is in the process of being redeveloped.
District energy systems are common in Europe, especially Denmark. They allow buildings to connect to each other, increasing efficiency and reducing costs by letting several buildings share energy from a main source, such as steam, geothermal, biomass or waste heat.
But they are often cost prohibitive because streets must be torn up for a network of pipes to be built underground.
Steve Moddemeyer, principle of sustainable development at CollinsWoerman, said according to a CollinsWoerman study for SHA, a district water system could cut water use by half for Yesler Terrace and reduce wastewater flows by 70 percent for the same or less cost as a traditional system. Just imagine if you could do that for an entire city!
The fact that Yesler Terrace is considering a water and energy district is really exciting. But what's more interesting is what it says about Seattle. District energy has long been a buzz-term in the city's green community. It seems like we might finally be moving towards getting momentum on new projects.
The city of Seattle hired AEI and Cowi to study district energy opportunities for the city. They are looking at where these systems would be feasible and will identify the top three places. Moddemeyer has seen such interest in district energy and water, he said Yesler Terrace might not be the first project to employ the system. If private developers move forward, he said district systems could be the norm within five years. (Can you even imagine that scenario...?!)
Separately, the city is also working with Trent Berry, a partner with Vancouver, B.C.'s Compass Resource Management. Berry is also providing expertise on district energy systems.
The city of Bothell is also looking at installing a district energy system.
The new projects point in the direction Seattle is heading. But we are also lucky to have Seattle Steam here. Seattle Steam, a district heat provider for 200 downtown buildings, has been around for over 100 years. I'm sure there's a lot of experience they can add to this discussion.
It seems like Seattle has an opportunity here to be a real leader.
Moddemeyer said the biggest obstacle to progress is our faith in the current system. Projects like King County's $1.8 billion Brightwater Treatment Plant put all our water treatment eggs in one basket, betting that water will continue to be treated the way it is in years to come.
What do you think?
P.S. Like me on Facebook for regular updates on blog posts and similar green building information: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Katie-Zemtseff/301025823604
Seattle’s Office of Sustainability loses Amanda Eichel to New York City and hires Joshua Curtis formerly of Great City
There are a couple newsworthy items related to the city's Office of Sustainability and Environment. First, it is losing Amanda Eichel, senior climate protection advisor, to the New York City office of Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Second, it recently hired Joshua Curtis, formerly executive director of urban advocacy group Great City. Great City was founded by Mayor Mike McGinn, previous to his political role. Curtis' title is community power works non-residential grant manager. He was brought on to manage a portion of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, funded by the federal stimulus. The role is funded by the grant.
Jill Simmons, acting director of the OSE, said she is reassessing the role Eichel played. Someone else will likely be hired to fill her post.
It's interesting that Eichel is leaving to work with Bloomberg's office, which seems to be snatching upPortland's Metro Council, as head of environmental policy. There's an article here about what the switch-up means for New York.
It's also interesting that OSE is hiring in today's tumultuous market when so many other city employees risk losing their jobs. In the Department of Planning and Development for example, the city is planning to lay off up to 40 employees in October. The city has had multiple rounds of layoffs since the start of the recession.
Simmons said OSE considered people from other departments for Curtis' post but he was the best fit. She said the office recently brought someone into the department who otherwise would have been laid off. There is no word yet whether the office will face any layoffs in the coming year as the city's budget has not been released.
McGinn founded Great City but resigned his post to run for mayor. In May of 2009, Curtis succeeded McGinn. At the end of June, Great City went all-volunteer and Brice Maryman seems to have taken over general duties. Curtis was hired by OSE at the beginning of August.
Simmons wanted to make it clear that the city didn't hire Curtis because of his past involvement with McGinn's project. In an e-mail, she said Curtis was unequivocally not hired because of his connection to Great City, and the mayor:
"OSE conducted a competitive hiring process in June and July to fill the EECBG Grant Program's Nonresidential Sector Manager position. We received nearly 30 applications, and interviewed a number of strong candidates. Joshua was the best of these; he is exceptionally well-qualified to ensure the city successfully implements the ambitious grant program. OSE lost one great talent with Amanda’s departure, but thankfully gained another with Joshua’s hire."
On Thursday, the DJC published an article I wrote on a new report that says codes are getting in the way of cutting edge green buildings. This, in itself, is really nothing new. Last August, I wrote this article about the city's Priority Green program. In it, DPD's Peter Dobrovolny (whose last name is almost as difficult as mine!) said many projects consider innovative ideas but drop them when they realize how much extra time it will take under city code. However, having the problems and possible solutions written down in an actual report - well that is new.
However, the report. Is. Huge. If you dare to read it, click here . It manages to be very
I spoke with one of the study's primary authors, David Eisenberg of the Development Center for Appropriate Technology, this week. Essentially, he said codes are built incorrectly in that they are hundreds of ad hoc responses to problems. Codes, he said, should instead be built comprehensively to support a specific kind of development or project. Basically, he said the entire system needs to be rebuilt.
In Seattle, it can take months or years for changes (especially large ones) to occurr. Can you imagine what it would take to wipe out all the city departments responsible for allowing development to get built... and then to rework the system from scratch?
Eisenberg said he realizes that what he's asking might be impossible. But even if it is impossible, by voicing the idea, he hopes to get people talking about it. Everyone - he said - whether it's greenies or permitting people or anyone really - wants healthy buildings. And our current code system does not encourage healthy buildings because it pawns risks relating to climate change and environmental degradation off on future generations.
What do you think about all of this, dear readers? Is there any possibility that our overall codes could be reworked and if so, what would you want them to encourage? Here in Seattle (where we are pretty progressive in environmental issues, at least compared with some parts of the country) do we even need to be considering reworking the system or do we need to tweak it? If you could totally rework one code or issue, what would it be?
It's called the Quick Guide to Green Tenant Improvement series, and is a guide that shows users how to do sustainable commercial improvements in a variety of ten topics. The guides are a product of Seattle's Department of Planning and Development's City Green Building team.
The guides are available online here, though I haven't had time to study them yet. They are
If you want a hard copy of the series, contact Rebecca Baker at (206) 615-1171.
According to the press release, the guides come in the following fun flavors:
01 Green Lease — A green lease can enhance recruitment, lower healthcare expenses, yield productivity gains and lower operating costs.
02 Connecting with Nature — Interiors with natural elements foster positive connections between people and enhance physical and mental well being.
03 Adaptable Design — “Future-proof” office space by providing for the integration and adaptability of various building systems.
04 Office Equipment — Using energy efficient office equipment reduces energy costs, ambient noise, air-conditioning loads, electromagnetic fields and greenhouse gas emissions while extending equipment life.
05 HVAC: Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning — Energy efficient HVAC equipment can reduce energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and utility costs while increasing thermal comfort and improving indoor air quality.
06 Lighting — Energy efficient lighting systems can reduce a significant amount of electrical energy costs while enhancing aesthetic design inside and out.
07 Employee Well-Being — The quality of the indoor environment directly affects employee well-being and performance.
08 Healthy Building Materials — A healthy workplace is built, furnished and operated to minimize exposure to sub-stances harmful to human health.
09 Regional Resources — Purchasing locally supports our local economy and reduces transportation costs and emissions.
10 Construction Waste Management — Many construction, demolition and land-clearing waste materials have high value for salvage and reuse.
The Internet has been awash with green trend predictions for the last year, so I figured I'd show you where the predictions are in case you missed them.
First, there's Jetson Green's Seven Green Trends to Watch in 2009. The post from one of the top national blogs in the country calls out broad idealogical trends for the most part, like "non green will not survive," "change leadership will thrive," and "everything will shift." For more on what that means, check out the post.
There's Jerry Yudelson's Top 10 Predictions for the Green Building Industry 2009. Culled from conversations Yudelson's had with building leaders in the U.S., Canada, Europe and the Middle East, it's a wide range of predictions (that might be worth paying attention to, considering Yudelson knows almost everybody that's worth knowing in green). Among the predictions, Yudelson says green building will benefit from the Obama administration, the focus of green building will begin to switch from new buildings to greening existing buildings, awareness of the coming global crisis in fresh water supply will increase, LEED platinum rated projects will become more common place and zero net energy designs for new buildings will gain increasing acceptance in both public and private buildings.
And earlier today, I listened to the Sustainable Industries Webinar on its nine trends for 2009. Among the trends, it said the smart grid will take off, this will be the year of the carbon market, green building sets the code (meaning it becomes a larger part of city's building codes), and there will be a green jobs hiring blitz. While I can't find this information for free on the Web, it is in next month's edition of the magazine, and will likely be available online at some point here.
As for Seattle, I'm a reporter so I'm not going to predict what this year will bring in green building. It could bring a living building or a passifhaus to the city. It could bring more incentives. Or all new initiatives could dry up, due to the economy.
On the city side, the year will likely bring an official priority permitting program (rather than just a pilot program), and a deconstruction permit that is decoupled from the demolition permit. On the state side, Ecology might revamp SEPA to specifically include greenhouse gas emissions in its measurement requirements (for more on this, click tag SEPA below).
What do you think this year will bring to Seattle? And what do you think will be the biggest trends in the region?
Want a job as the sustainable infrastructure advisor for the city of Seattle Green Building Team and Planning Department? Well the job is open and waiting for you. There's only one catch: the position closes on Tuesday.
Before you get angry on me for last minute posting, be warned that I just received
The e-mail says the job is "a mid to senior level position." Salary range is $32.42 to $48.63 per hour. The job that requires the person to have:
- Technical expertise in low impact development, district energy/thermal distribution systems, on-site water and wastewater processing and other decentralized technologies.
- Strong communication skills.
- Financial skills to develop the business case for solutions that may provide distributed benefits to a variety of business units and stakeholders.
You also have to have a BA degree and five years experience in government policy and public utilities. To apply, click here. Happy hunting!