The following post is by Robin Guenther:
The war over toxic chemicals and human health is spilling over into places we live and work: our buildings. The American Chemical Council (ACC) has launched an expensive and focused attack on the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to protect the status quo of a small set of bad-actor manufacturers of toxic and obsolete chemicals. But innovative companies across the building industries and human health advocates are fighting back.
The American Chemical Council is lobbying to end the federal government’s use of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building certification system unless USGBC removes all references to human health. If successful, they will keep taxpayers from receiving the cost savings and productivity benefits that LEED certification has generated. Why does a chemical industry trade association think better buildings are such a threat, you ask?
The USGBC has transformed the global building industry with its emphasis on high performance, low energy and healthier building practices through its LEED certification program. In only a decade, LEED plaques have become synonymous with the best buildings in the world.
USGBC’s mission is to make buildings not only more energy-efficient, but healthier spaces for those who inhabit them. The new draft version of LEED seeks to assuage human health concerns of buildings by offering voluntary credits for buildings using healthy materials. Many in the health community see this as a long overdue step for the rating system.
The ACC, however, sees this as a dangerous threat to their member companies because a few of them make a pretty penny producing controversial chemicals.
So if you can’t beat ‘em, lobby against ‘em, right? ACC is doing what it does best -- spreading misinformation and shoving truckloads of cash into lobbying efforts to keep the market from abandoning toxic materials and embracing green chemistry.
They’ve even gone so far as to form the laughable “American High-Performance Buildings Coalition,” a group whose membership reads like a who’s who of industries that make unhealthy products, all uniting to lobby against LEED. From big chemicals to vinyl to adhesives to petrochemicals -- they’re all here.
These toxic trade associations are trying to convince us that they are the ones who truly support “green” building. Perhaps next they’ll suggest that their products only increase your odds of developing “green” cancer.
While they claim LEED is not consensus-based, this is demonstrably false. Any revision to the LEED standard must be approved through a democratic balloting process open to all 14,000 members of USGBC. These members are architects, engineers, builders, contractors and product manufacturers.
In fact, the ACC and many of its member companies are participating in the LEED development process. But when the professionals who purchase building materials began to suggest that a LEED credit be available for purchasing healthier building materials, suddenly the process is flawed, and not consensus-based.
In the real world, when your customers ask for something, you don’t lobby against their right to buy what they want, do you? Let’s hope these companies wake up and start to reign in their out-of-control trade association before people really start to notice who’s behind the curtain.
Green buildings are about more than energy and water conservation; they must also include consideration of human health. Hospitals have started to lead the way. The Health Product Declaration, an independent, open-source methodology for declaring content of building products, is ushering in a new age of transparency in corporate reporting. The Healthier Hospitals Initiative recently released targets for safer products that include credit for avoiding chemicals of concern in interior furniture. Major manufacturers of health-care building products have begun substituting PVC and phthalate plasticizers with safer alternatives. These firms are innovating and capturing market share.
While the ACC protests these LEED credits, we would venture to say their innovative members are investing in R&D to move to safer alternatives precisely because of these initiatives. The construction industry needs the USGBC and LEED; citizens do, too. Someone has to make the push to get these chemicals out of our faces.
Robin Guenther, FAIA, is a principal focused on health care architecture at Perkins+Will, a global design firm. This piece was distributed by American Forum.
The following post is by DJC staff:
People and businesses in Washington are now required to recycle fluorescent light bulbs and tubes. The new law covers residences as well as government, commercial, industrial, office and retail facilities.
Fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) save energy but each light contains a small amount of mercury that can be harmful to humans and wildlife if it is not disposed of correctly. The mercury content in fluorescent tubes ranges from 3.5 milligrams to 8 milligrams or more for older lamps.
The most common types of lights that must be recycled include CFLs, fluorescent tubes and HID (high-intensity discharge) lights, such as mercury vapor, sodium vapor and metal halide lamps. It is now illegal to knowingly place mercury-containing lights in waste bins or landfills. All mercury-containing lights must be placed in a recycling container specifically designed to prevent the release of mercury. Mercury inside a light does not pose a concern while the light is in use and unbroken, but during disposal and waste handling, lamps are broken, releasing mercury vapor and potentially exposing waste handlers or others to mercury.
Mercury in the atmosphere is ultimately deposited back to the earth, rivers and lakes, where it can enter the food chain and accumulate in fish, which humans and other animals eat.
EcoLights was created in 1996 to recycle mercury-containing lights and both PCB and non-PCB ballasts. The company said it is a licensed “final destination” light recycler in Washington state.
Ecolights said almost every component of a fluorescent lamp can be recycled, including metal end caps, glass and the mercury phosphor powder. When lamps are recycled properly, they are crushed and the materials are separated under a continuous vacuum filtration process.
Glass, aluminum and phosphor powder are captured and recycled. Mercury phosphor powder is sent to a mercury retort for recovery of the mercury and rare earth metals in the powder.
EcoLights sells a pre-paid box for recycling. The company ships the box, protective inner bag, and instructions to users, who fill the box with lamps, and return it to EcoLights for recycling. EcoLights then e-mails a certificate of recycling to the user. The company said currently there are no fines or other legal consequences associated with non-compliance.
“EcoLights is committed to being a resource for helping businesses throughout the region understand and comply with the new law,” says Craig Lorch, EcoLights founder. “We want to make sure everyone is prepared for the transition.”
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 Brad Kahn:
The last few months have been busy at the Bullitt Center construction site on Madison Street, with structural, glazing, mechanical and other systems taking shape.
The Type-4 heavy timber structure is a first for Seattle since the 1920's, when heavy timbers were used in most commercial buildings. In the interim, the technology of heavy timber structures has advanced, with glued-laminated timbers replacing solid wood in many cases. Of course, forestry practices have also improved in the last 90 years, with 100% of the wood used at the Bullitt Center coming from Forest Stewardship Council certified forests.
At this point, the structural work at the Bullitt Center – designed for a 250-year lifespan – is largely complete, with the roof firmly in place.
With the structure complete, work turned to the curtain wall. Of particular note, the Schuco window system being used is arguably the most efficient in the world. Yet before the Bullitt Center, these windows were not easily available on the West Coast, since the manufacturer was in Germany – quite a distance to ship windows weighing hundreds of pounds each. To address this challenge, the team was able to connect Schuco with Goldfinch Brothers, a glazing company in Everett, WA. Now Goldfinch is the exclusive manufacturer of the Schuco window system on the West coast, providing windows for the Bullitt Center and other projects.
On the mechanical side, the rainwater collection and treatment system is being built throughout the project, from roof to basement. While approval to use rainwater for drinking is pending, it is our hope that the Bullitt Center can help demonstrate that ultra-filtration, UV and activated charcoal can treat water as well as – if not better than – chlorine (which can't be use in the project, because chemicals are not allowed for water purification by the Living Building Challenge).
At this point, the Bullitt Center is on track for completion later this year, with occupancy by commercial tenants starting in January 2013. Conversations with potential tenants are underway, and interested companies should contact Point32, the project development partner, for more information.
Brad Kahn is president of Groundwork Strategies. He manages communications for the Bullitt Center project.
The following post is by Brad Kahn, president of Groundwork Strategies. He manages communications for the Bullitt Center project.
The roof of the Bullitt Center on East Madison Street is under construction now and all the structural elements are in place.
Today President Rosen Plevneliev from Bulgaria, who is a former real estate developer, will tour the Bullitt Center as part of a trade mission to Seattle.
After campaigning for president on a platform that included energy efficiency in buildings, Plevneliev will be in Seattle today before heading to the NATO summit in Chicago next week. His visit to Seattle is focused on international trade and economic development. In particular, he is interested in learning about green building and clean energy technology, which is why he is touring Bullitt Center, the world’s greenest office building.
In the next few weeks, we will begin outreach to brokers to begin marketing office space inside the Bullitt Center. It will be marketed at rates comparable to new class-A space in downtown.
The HVAC system is going into the building, including the six-story composting toilet system.
McGivra Place, the park next door, now has a final design direction and the process is moving forward, with re-development expected later this summer or early fall. The park project is the first to pursue the Living Building Challenge for landscapes.
A compact, green-built “pod” home designed by Ann Raab of Greenpod Development of Port Townsend is open to the public at the GreenDepot site until April 29 from 10 am to 6 pm M-F, 10-5 on Saturday and 11-5 on Sunday. Workshops will be offered daily.
The pod was part of last weekend’s Green Home Tour sponsored by Northwest Ecobuilding Guild, featuring new and remodeled homes designed for low energy use and built with nontoxic materials.
Raab’s 450-square-foot pod is factory-built using all green products. It can be delivered to any city in Washington.
Greenpod’s Waterhaus model has a Kangen water system with adjustable pH for drinking and cleaning. It also has a waterfall and living wall.
Ann Raab said pods are meant to be low maintenance dwellings that are environmentally safe, healthy for occupants and “a joy to live in.”
The Waterhaus model uses multi-use furnishings, color, lighting and windows to make the living space feel larger. The waterfall and living wall are sculpted from metal by industrial artist Ray Hammar of Sequim. Michael Hamilton of Port Hadlock made the tables and benches. Seth Rolland of Port Townsend created the bathroom vanity from rock and fir. Wall textures are applied by artist Gail Miller of Whidbey Island. The interior is decorated with an exclusive line of organic fabrics by Suzanne DeVall.
The pods are built by Greg Barron of Greenpod Builders.
They are built to meet King County’s requirements for an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) and are aimed at people who want to downsize, age in place or care for family member in a separate unit. They also work as cabins, second homes, home offices and small commercial buildings. Pods can be stacked and configured to create communities. More information is at (800) 569-0831 or GreenPod.us.
Groundwork Strategies. He manages communications for the Bullitt Center project.
When the Bullitt Foundation began work on the Bullitt Center, Denis Hayes, the foundation's president and CEO, had a clear vision that the architecture should be regionally relevant. Noting that buildings in Seattle and Phoenix are too frequently designed in the same ways, Hayes set out to promote the idea of a "regional vernacular" in architecture that draws on the environment surrounding Seattle for guidance. And in the Pacific Northwest, there is no environmental feature more prominent than forests, making wood a logical building material.
Add in the fact that when it comes from a responsibly managed forest, wood is among the most environmentally friendly building materials, and it is only natural that the Bullitt Center is a heavy-timber framed structure.
As the first commercial building to pursue the Living Building Challenge, the Bullitt Center team is working hard to meet all 20 "imperatives," as the requirements are known. Included in this list is an imperative focused on "Responsible Industry," requiring that "all wood must be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)" or from salvaged sources.
With construction well under way, wood framing for the Bullitt Center has begun.
And anyone who has passed the job site on 15th & Madison has likely noticed the glued, laminated timbers, or "glulams" as they are known in the industry. Manufactured by Calvert Glulams in Vancouver, Wash., the glulams offer several environmental benefits, in addition to being stronger than traditional sawn timbers. First, they are from forests certified to the standards set by the Forest Stewardship Council, which is widely recognized to be the most rigorous and prescriptive benchmark for forest management globally. All wood for the project comes from within a 1,000-kilometer radius, as required by the Living Building Challenge. In the case of the glulams, the wood came from FSC-certified Douglas fir forests in Idaho, so the project is helping support a regional economy for wood from responsibly managed forests. And because the glulams are manufactured by combining smaller dimensional lumber, they reduce pressure to harvest larger, older trees that historically were needed to mill large dimension timbers.
Over the next few weeks, expect to see the Bullitt Center take its full form, as the six stories rise from the construction site. The project is on track to be completed later this year.
The goal of many modern supply chains is to become more sustainable and reduce its carbon footprint. A great way to do this is by retrofitting older warehouses to reduce energy usage.
Unfortunately, this is often a costly initiative. These facilities are old and deteriorating, and investing in expensive green technology is sometimes a poor investment. How can these facilities be improved to become more sustainable without breaking the bank?
I sourced four experts to discover the answer to this very question: Sean Canning, LEED AP and owner of 10|70 Architecture; Shawn Casemore, supply chain consultant President at Casemore & Co; Dan Gould, president at energy-efficiency firm Synergy; and Dave Homerding, marketing manager of commercial contracting and roofing company WeatherSure Systems.
Based on their conversations, here are nine affordable retrofits to can help make the warehouse more sustainable.
1. Use solar tubes to increase natural lighting -- Solar tubes, or light pipes, can introduce natural lighting through skylights without major construction that will impact the building’s integrity.
2. Apply a cool roof -- White, reflective coatings can be applied to roofs to reflect UV rays and reduce the amount of heat the warehouse absorbs.
3. Upgrade batt insulation to sprayed-foam or loose-fill -- Loose-fill and sprayed-foam insulation are much more effective at insulating commercial facilities, and can be installed with little financial investment.
4. Move to task-lighting to reduce usage -- If intense lighting isn’t necessary to perform routine operations in the warehouse, reduce electric ambient lighting, introduce natural light and use “task-lighting,” or localized light around areas that need increased visibility.
5. Upgrade metal halides to fluorescent, induction or LED lights -- These lighting fixtures are much more efficient than the traditional metal halide lights used and warehouses, and can often be paid off in only a couple years of energy reduction.
6. Purchase destratification fans -- Destratification fans circulate heated air in warehouses, and can greatly reduce the amount of energy exerted to heat facilities.
7. Deploy (or program) networked thermostats -- Again, energy exertion can be reduced using controllable thermostats that eliminate extraneous heating and cooling cycles.
8. Use daylight or motion sensors to reduce light usage -- If electric lighting is necessary, invest in motion sensors to only use lighting when workers are present, or daylight sensors to dim lighting according to the natural sunlight throughout the warehouse.
9. Join a energy-reduction demand-response group -- Finally, participating in a peak-energy response group can reduce energy and add extra cash-flow to the business.
For more on these retrofits, check out: 9 Warehouse Retrofits to Go Green and Reduce Energy Consumption.