Want a healthy building? Follow this primer on two new wellness standards

This article is republished on Sustainable Benefits for educational purposes.
View the original article here: Perkins+Will’s Ideas + Buildings

By Kate Kerbel

WELL

While our industry’s focus on wellness may seem like just the latest trend, occupant health has been an important goal of the built environment for centuries. In the 1800s, urban infrastructure allowing access to fresh water, natural light, and clean air significantly reduced the number of deaths from infectious diseases like tuberculosis, cholera, and yellow fever. Additionally, in the 1900s, doctors consulted on the design of school gymnasiums, advising on how the environment could help support human health.

Today, with individuals spending on average over 40 hours a week at work, health and wellness are taking center stage. Labor and healthcare spending also comprise the bulk of operating expenses—making happy and healthy employees a smart investment.

Since its development in the 1990s, the LEED rating system has been applied to over 19.1 billion total commercial square feet. Along with other systems like BREEAM, Energy Star, and the Living Building Challenge, green building design and operations work to conserve energy across the globe. A serendipitous byproduct of green design has become apparent: people like working in green buildings better. Green buildings ensure access to daylight, incorporate biophilia, provide clean air, and leverage healthy materials; it’s no wonder people like spending time in them.

In recent years, two new wellness rating systems have emerged. Both use research-based strategies to evaluate buildings not by how much energy they save or how they impact the environment, but by how they can directly contribute to occupant health.

WELL was developed by Delos and has a somewhat similar framework and documentation process to its “cousin,” LEED. Both certifications are administered by the Green Business Certification (GBCI), which continues to improve and streamline the synergistic documentation processes.

Fitwel, developed by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the General Services Administration (GSA), and administered by the Center for Active Design, aims to identify the most impactful strategies for space and does not require a technical design background to administer.

Perkins+Will is well versed in both systems. We’ve committed to achieving Fitwel certification for all our North American offices, and we have a handful of WELL-certified projects, including the ASID Headquarters—the first space in the world to earn both both LEED and WELL Platinum Certification.

ASID

The ASID Headquarters in Washington, D.C., was WELL Certified at the Platinum level under WELL v1 in June 2017.

As a Fitwel Ambassador and our firm’s first WELL Accredited Professional, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the two systems. In just one year, I have seen a huge increase in interest, especially from developers. In response, here are my answers to two of the most frequently asked questions from those considering these emergent systems.

HOW DOES WELL DIFFER FROM LEED?

Impact Categories

As opposed to LEED’s Location & Transportation, Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality categories, WELL divvies up its 100 Features (credits) into: Air (Quality), Water (Quality), Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort, and Mind. There are naturally some synergies between the categories: For example, an automated daylight sensor that dims overhead lights when sufficient daylight is present saves energy, but it also reduces glare and allows people to work in a naturally lit space. Conversely, some of the categories prioritize occupant health over energy savings . For example, WELL requires that paper towels be provided in restrooms because automated hand blowers are less sanitary. Through the LEED lens, the additional use of material would be discouraged.

On-Site Testing

LEED requires thorough documentation for the majority of credits, including annotated floor plans, measurements, manufacturer documentation, etc. WELL, on the other hand, requires signed letters of assurance from the architect, contractor, MEP engineer, or owner for many Features. Then, the GBCI sends their own WELL Assessor to the site to visually observe that all the policies are in place, and to conduct rigorous testing to confirm air and water quality standards.

Recertification

Unlike LEED, WELL requires project recertification for construction/major renovation projects as well as interiors projects every three years, which means a WELL Assessor will come back to the site to make observations and rerun quality tests. Projects may either meet the same level of certification they originally earned, be awarded a higher certification than their original level, or lose certification. Core and shell projects, however, do not need to be recertified.

Preconditions

There are more preconditions in WELL (called prerequisites in LEED) than you might expect. For certification or compliance to be awarded, all applicable WELL preconditions need to be met. The number of preconditions that must be met depends on the project typology. For example, new construction/major renovation projects have 41 preconditions, while core and shell projects have 26.

Levels of Certification

Certification starts at silver and consists of Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Meeting all of the preconditions earns a silver certification. Gold level certification is achieved by meeting all WELL preconditions, in addition to between 40 to 80 percent of the optimization features. Platinum level certification is achieved by meeting all preconditions, as well as 80 percent or more of the optimization features.

WHICH STANDARD IS BEST FOR MY BUILDING?

There are several compelling reasons to use each system. For instance, if a client comes to us with a large real estate portfolio and is interested in tracking hundreds of locations, Fitwel would be the best choice. Fitwel is relatively quick and straightforward for facility managers to use themselves to find out if their buildings earn zero, one, two, or three stars. Furthermore, with a large portfolio, facility managers would be able to benchmark all of their locations and set company goals. For example, they may want to bring all of their locations up to two stars over a certain number of years. Fitwel gives the user feedback regarding what changes the building/operations can make that will have the most impact on improving their workplace.

WELL, because of the more substantial effort and cost, realistically would be ideal for a few featured locations of a large portfolio at this point in time. The process of achieving WELL looks similar to that of achieving LEED: It should be discussed early in the project design process and will require members of the architecture, engineering, and operations team to work together to submit documentation.

Lastly, a client could also pursue both Fitwel and WELL for a building, as we are doing with our own Perkins+Will Dallas office, since there are unique benefits to both. Also, keep in mind that certifications are not necessary to ensure the design of a healthy space. Similar to designing green buildings, it is completely possible to design the healthiest of spaces using thoughtful design concepts that great architects have pursued throughout history without completing a formal documentation system.

 

Well Building Certification and How We Plan to Achieve It in Boca Raton

Julie

 

By Julie Lundin, Founder, LEED AP ID+C, NCIDQ, ASID
Director of Sustainable Interior Design for Emerald Skyline Corporation

 

Emerald Skyline Corporation in conjunction with Golden Spiral Design, is designing, renovating and repurposing an unoccupied industrial building located in Boca Raton, FL. Our renovation includes many sustainable features with the intent to obtain LEED certification from the USGBC. In addition, we hope to achieve a “wellness” standard certification, WELL or Fitwel. Our project has gone through many design changes throughout the renovation process however sustainability and a healthy built environment continue to be a priorityI have written about the USGBC LEED Certification previously. This article focuses on “well” certifications that are available to those who want to impact and improve the health and well-being of people through the built environment. Design plays a significant role in human health.   Designing for wellness (salutogenic design) is a measurable aspect of design that can help a building’s inhabitants operate at their peak effectiveness, maintaining physical and mental well- being, helping them to lead healthier, and therefore longer lives. It is the ultimate investment in people, in an architectural sense.

The WELL Building Institute has developed a holistic approach to health and well-being in interior places where we live, work and play by using the WELL Building Standard, which aims to transform indoor environments by placing health and wellness at the center of design and construction decisions. The WELL Building Standard focuses on seven major areas: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.

Design is frequently associated with the concepts of beauty, color, texture and other aesthetic attributes; all of which were taken into consideration during the design of our building. However, as an Interior Designer and LEED AP, it was also important to incorporate one of the most powerful elements of building and space design which is the opportunity to impact and improve the health and well-being of our occupants. Below are some of the strategies that we applied in our project to the Well Building Standard seven concepts of Well building:

AIR

  • We selected low VOC materials and those with no harsh chemicals to reduce off-gassing of VOC’s to limit the likelihood that occupants come into contact with harmful, harsh chemicals
  • Our building has no permanent wall-to-wall carpeting, an open space plan for easy and effective cleaning
  • Incorporating natural and biophilic elements such as plants, a living wall, and natural materials.

WATER

  • Encourage hydration of our occupants by placing a water dispenser with fresh citrus in the design studio area for easy access to all.
  • Installation of a reverse osmosis water filtration system to enhance water quality and taste.
  • Additional energy efficient refrigerator with a filtered water container for cold water that is not bottled.

NOURISHMENT

  • Our space has been designed to provide a full kitchen to occupants so that they may prepare or store healthy meals.
  • Numerous seating areas are available to encourage gathering and sharing meals.
  • Fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts will be out on a regular basis for healthy snacks.

LIGHT

  • We have specified BioLight (biolightllc.com) healthy LED light fixtures that provide appropriate lux and equivalent melanopic lux levels to prevent eye strain while also aligning with the body’s circadian rhythm.
  • Reduced glare by positioning light fixtures strategically, provide task lighting, and install an exterior awning to provide shading at the windows.
  • Daylight was considered in the installation of large windows on the south façade of the building to allow for access to natural light and views of the outdoors.

FITNESS

  • Our building is one story with an open space plan which encourages occupants to move frequently and interact with each other.
  • The grounds of the property will contain a water element, butterfly garden, and green outdoor seating areas to encourage time spent in nature.
  • We have installed two showers and bicycle storage to promote active transportation and exercise.

COMFORT

  • Select furniture that enables our occupants to be more active during the work day and offers an alternative to prolonged sitting. We have designed numerous collaboration areas with comfortable sofas and chairs.
  • Our open space plan and newly installed ADA bathroom provides an equitable environment for any occupants with physical disabilities.
  • We have included both collaboration and quiet areas so that occupants can be acoustically comfortable and select their more productive environment depending on their activity.

MIND

  • We have created a beautiful, collaborative space so our occupants and associates will be happy to spend time there
  • Incorporated biophilic design with a living wall, large windows, and natural elements to allow occupants to be connected to nature even while indoors.
  • We have designed the space to have cozy and relaxing areas in addition to the productive work spaces This includes a loft that encourages the opportunity for relaxation and refuge with time spent reading and meditating.

 

The Fitwel Certification System is a unique building certification system that positively impacts occupant health and productivity through an integrated approach to workplace design and operations. Fitwel’s development was led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) and the General Services Administration (GSA). It is an evidence based approach as research by the CDC has shown that health promotion through programs, policies and environmental changes can improve employee health and productivity, with potential savings in healthcare costs. The Fitwel scorecard was developed by experts in public health, facility management and design. Each criterion is linked by scientific evidence to (at least) one of seven health impact categories.

We are confident that our design decisions will enable us to achieve a Well Certification. It is of the utmost importance that our project enhances the quality of life and health of all who spend time there. We encourage this forward way of designing and hope to see many Well Certified buildings in the future.

Referemces:

https://fitwel.org/

https://www.wellcertified.com/

https://www.wellcertified.com/en/articles/design-wellness-strategies-unite-health-design

https://www.littleonline.com/think/the-connection-between-space-and-wellness

http://standard.wellcertified.com/light/circadian-lighting-design

A Wood Fence Just Won’t Do

Wood is a great material for a myriad of products, but not for a fence. With consistent weather and pest exposure, wood fences often succumb to a number of factors that decrease the overall value of your fence and property. You’ll find that with a wood fence, weather and pest exposure can cause:

  • Rotting
    • Warping
    • Splintering
    • Staining
    • Integrity loss

Many of these issues are caused by wind, sun exposure, freezing temperatures and snow, as the heating and cooling often breaks down the wood fibers and the overall integrity of the fence. This results in panel shrinking, meaning an overall loss of security and privacy. And because wood is composed of organic materials, wood fences often become food for termites, wood ants and other pests.

These issues mean wood fences must be repaired and replaced more frequently, which translates to more wasted materials and new materials to supplement replacing the old. This inevitably reflects on the wood industry, which participates in logging and other practices detrimental to the environment.

Emerald Skyline Corporation is proud to offer Trex Fencing to commercial building and property owners. If you’re interested in installing Trex Fencing at your commercial property, please email us at info@emeraldskyline.com. Please also read through some of the most commonly asked questions about why Trex Fencing is superior to wood:

WHY IS TREX® FENCING BETTER THAN WOOD?

Trex Fencing offers superior durability and performance that you can’t get from wood. Trex Fencing resists termites, won’t rot, warp, or splinter and never needs staining or painting. What’s more, Trex Fencing is made from 95% recycled materials (reclaimed wood as well as recycled plastic), making it an environmentally-friendly choice you can feel pleased about.

IF TREX® FENCING IS MADE FROM RECYCLED MATERIALS, WHY IS IT MORE EXPENSIVE THAN WOOD?

While most of the raw materials used in making Trex® Fencing are recycled, these materials are carefully processed to ensure the highest level of quality and performance. The end result is fencing that performs better than wood, actually lowering your cost over time through less maintenance.

WHAT IS THE LIFETIME VALUE OF TREX FENCING?

With wood fences, maintenance costs add up over time. Although Trex® Fencing costs more initially, you’ll never have to sand, stain or paint your Trex Fencing. Over the life of your fence, those reduced maintenance costs add up to a greater value than wood – not to mention the value of all the time you get to spend enjoying your fence rather than working on it.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STOCKADE COMPOSITE FENCES AND INNOVATIVE HIGH-PERFORMANCE TREX FENCING?

Understanding the differences between a stockade composite fence and an innovative high-performance Trex® fence is an important factor in distinguishing the benefits of Trex.

Stockade Composite Fences (Dog-Eared). These traditional types of fences use backer rails and pickets screwed or nailed to the rails. Fasteners are visible on these types of fences. True privacy is hard to obtain because the expansion of the material at higher temperatures requires the pickets to be gapped during installation. The gap becomes even more pronounced when the temperatures drop and the material contracts. A board-on-board (overlapping picket) design could be used but that creates additional expense and still won’t fully close gaps if the boards warp. Because backer rails are usually exposed on one side of the fence, determining which side will face the neighbors could lead to difficult conversations. The typical recommendation for stockade-style fences is to install them on 6′ post centers which adds costs for posts and causes extra time and expense for labor. Stockade composite fences are usually not tested or backed with product engineering.

Innovative High-Performance Trex® Fencing. The innovative design of Trex® Fencing includes a board-on-board appearance with top and bottom fascia rails, capped with an attractive shadow-line. The fence’s innovation isn’t just about appearance — it is easy for do-it-yourselfers or professionals to install. The form and function of the components were also carefully considered during development. For example, the brackets allow fasteners to be hidden and the interlocking picket system not only provides complete privacy, it eliminates warping and strengthens the fence. Trex® Fencing is installed on 8’ post centers reducing additional product cost and extra time for labor.

BEYOND USING RECYCLED MATERIALS, WHAT OTHER ENVIRONMENTALLY-FRIENDLY PRACTICES DOES TREX® EMPLOY?

The Trex environmentally-friendly manufacturing process recycles factory refuse/runoff back into the manufacturing line. Within the manufacturing plants, the trailers that carry product run on vegetable-based oil hydraulics. Trex is a member of the USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council) and Trex products contribute to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) points.

Emerald Skyline Partners with Trex Fencing to Provide Technologically Advanced Eco-Friendly Composite Fencing Solutions

South Florida-based Emerald Skyline brings the strength of wood without the maintenance to commercial fencing.

“We haven’t felled one tree in the making of Trex high-performance composite fencing. Ever.”

June 9, 2017 from Emerald Skyline Corporation (www.emeraldskyline.com)

BOCA RATON, FL, June 9, 2017 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Today, Emerald Skyline announced that it has partnered with Trex Fencing to provide revolutionary eco-friendly composite fencing solutions that offer privacy as well as durability for commercial and industrial properties. Together, we offer high performance and low maintenance privacy resolutions.

Trex Seclusions® are composed of 96% recycled wood and plastic and are manufactured in a facility that uses an eco-friendly processing method that eliminates the use of smoke stacks. In fact, the average 100-linear foot Trex composite fence contains 140,000 recycled plastic bags, making Trex one of the largest plastic bag recyclers in the United States.

This high-performance product never needs painting or staining, resists insect damage and won’t warp, rot, or splinter. The interlocking picket system installs quickly and easily and is strong enough to withstand winds up to 130 mph, passing the Miami/Dade wind load certification tests—making this an excellent choice for property owners in South Florida.

The durability and strength of this fencing system is only surpassed by its aesthetic beauty—available in three rich, natural colors that compliment any landscape. The interconnecting pickets have a clean, finished appearance on both sides with no structural boards visible inside or out. Additionally, this system offers true privacy with no gaps between pickets.

“We are always looking for ways to provide superior products and services to meet our clients sustainability and resiliency needs. We are pleased to add TREX Fencing to ChargePoint EV charging stations and Blue Pillar Internet of Things powered by Aurora to the quality products Emerald Skyline provides to our clients and customers.” reports Abraham Wien, LEED AP O+M, Director of Architecture & Environmental Design for Emerald Skyline.

For more than two decades, Trex has invented, defined, and perfected the composite deck category, becoming the world’s largest manufacturer of wood-alternative decking products. Never content to settle, they continue to make strides in outdoor engineering, melding innovation with environmental responsibility and beautiful form with powerful function. Trex is the first company to combine the durability of recycled plastic with the natural beauty of reclaimed wood.

To find out more information about Trex fencing solutions at your building or facility, please contact Abraham Wien at aw@emeraldskyline.com or call us 305.424.8704.

Amazon Invests In Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles

By: Tina Casey on Triple Pundit

Amazon Hydrogen
Retail giant Amazon made waves with its recent forays into the entertainment field. And now it looks like the sprawling enterprise is about to pull the rug out from under hydrogen fuel cell skeptics.

Last week the company signed a deal with fuel cell innovator Plug Power for a new generation of zero-emission, hydrogen-powered electric forklifts and other equipment at its fulfillment centers.

Warehouse operations aren’t the most exciting sector in the auto industry, but the new Amazon forklift deal could make a big difference for the future of fuel cell electric cars. That market has been slow to take off, but the Amazon announcement adds momentum to the trend, helping to keep investors and auto manufacturers interested in pushing the technology forward.

A big deal for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles

Fuel cell vehicles run on electricity, like the now-familiar battery electric vehicles. Both types of EV emit no air pollutants. The main difference is that fuel cells generate electricity on-the-go through a chemical reaction. Battery EVs run on stored electricity.

That difference looms large in warehouse operations, where excess fat shaved from time and space translates into big bottom-line savings.

Battery-powered forklifts require relatively long charging times, and extra storage space for battery charging. In contrast, fuel cell forklifts can be fueled up in a matter of minutes, like an ordinary gas-powered vehicle, and they don’t require a “battery room” or other excess storage.

Hydrogen fuel cell forklifts have already begun to establish a solid track record in the logistics sector, and it looks like Amazon didn’t take much convincing.

The recent deal enables the company to acquire more than 55 million common shares in Plug Power in connection with a $600 million commitment from Amazon to purchase goods and services from Plug Power.

This could be just the beginning…

Amazon and Plug Power plan on a relatively modest start for the new venture, with a total of $70 million in buys this year for fuel cell equipment at selected fulfillment centers.

What’s really interesting about the deal is the “and services” part of the agreement. Forklifts appear to be just the start of a wide-ranging collaboration between the two companies, leading to other applications.

Here’s Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh enthusing over the potentials:

“This agreement is a tremendous opportunity for Plug Power to further innovate and grow while helping to support the work Amazon does to pick, pack and ship customer orders. … Our hydrogen fuel cell technology, comprehensive service network, and commitment to providing cost-savings for customers has enabled Plug Power to become a trusted partner to many in the industry and we are excited to begin working with Amazon.”

To put this in perspective, consider that just a few years ago it was difficult to get investors interested in fuel cell technology. The hydrogen economy dream was hitting a harsh reality — namely that the technology was not quite ready for prime time. Growing competition from battery-powered EVs also helped to shove hydrogen fuel cells down the ladder.

TriplePundit’s RP Siegel interviewed Marsh about the fuel cell dilemma in 2012, and the CEO made these observations about Plug Power, forklifts and the future of fuel cell EVs:

“With limited capital, we had to be selective in our decisions about which markets to go after. … The one that really jumped out at us was replacing batteries in fork lift trucks with fuel cells. How big of a market could that be? Well, in the US there are over 1.5 million forklift trucks, and worldwide, the number is 6 million.

“We chose this market because it was a way to build a profitable business that would allow us to attract large customers in a relatively large market … as we continue to drive down our costs, we should be at parity with IC [internal combustion] engines in five to six years, at which point we’ll be ready to expand into other areas.”

With the new Amazon partnership, it looks like Plug Power is hitting that five- to six-year timeline for growing into other areas.

Fuel cell EVs hit the streets

Just a wild guess, but in a few years you could see Amazon introduce its own fuel cell EV for street use.

That may seem far-fetched, but consider that Google began dabbling in the related field of self-driving cars in 2015 and is now a burgeoning leader in the space. (That project has since been transferred to Google’s parent company, Alphabet.)

Apple is also inching into the self-driving car market.

Intel is another tech company putting feelers into the self-driving sector. Just last month it took a giant step with a $15.3 billion acquisition of the Israeli startup MobilEye.

Amazon will have to act fast if it wants to catch the train. Mainstream auto manufacturers are beginning to add fuel cell EVs to their rosters at a quickening pace.

Toyota was among the first to make a firm commitment to the field with its fuel cell Mirai. The company’s efforts include the all-important transition to sustainable hydrogen and support for growing the network of hydrogen fuel stations, along with a foray into the forklift sector.

Other companies introducing fuel cell EVs to the consumer market include GM and Honda.

So, who’s giving fuel cell EVs the stinkeye?

In response to the Amazon fuel cell forklift news, last week MIT Technology Review pumped out a brief article with this observation about the consumer market:

“Attempts to convince the public to embrace hydrogen-powered cars have flopped. While some automakers continue to push on with the vehicles, other are increasingly having second thoughts.”

Calling Debbie Downer!

On the brighter side, last December the journal IEEE Spectrum took an in-depth look at the potential for the fuel cell EV market to bust loose, penned by the director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center at the University of California, Irvine.

The article emphasized that both battery and fuel cell EVs will have a place in the zero-emission market of tomorrow, but fuel cells will give batteries a run for the money based on a number of advantages including range and refueling time.

The author, Scott Samuelson, also makes a good case that excess renewable energy can be used to manufacturing sustainable hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles.

That growing market could provide an important incentive for investors to accelerate the pace of renewable energy development.

Plant walls are sprouting inside all kinds of buildings

One installer offers his thoughts on why, and what works.

BY: JOHN CAULFIELD, BUILDING DESIGN + CONSTRUCTION

Living Wall 1

Clover Payments, a payments software startup, installed a 30×22-ft living wall in its office in Sunnyvale, Calif., a net-zero-energy building. The wall provides air filtration for the company’s tenants. Image: Courtesy Habitat Horticulture

Improving air quality and reducing stress are two things that more businesses and homeowners want from their working and living environments. Plant walls can answer both of those calls, and are becoming more common in the built environment.

For example, a syndicated article posted this week reports on plant walls that were installed in Goodyear’s headquarters in Akron, Ohio. Another reports on a tech startup in Minneapolis, When I Work, whose lobby features a plant wall and big windows. Inhabitat’s website includes recent stories on “plant paintings,” indoor moss walls, and a “nature filled” office in The Netherlands.

There’s also a raft of do-it-yourself living wall systems available at home-improvement stores and online.

Plant walls are so pervasive, in fact, “they are almost passé,” quips David Brenner, the 32-year-old founding principal and lead designer for San Francisco-based company Habitat Horticulture, which has been enlivening interior spaces with plant walls since 2010.

This year, Habitat Horticulture is on track to install 35 commercial plant walls and 15 residential walls, both numbers slightly up from 2016.

The benefits of plant walls are numerous: they provide cooling through a combination of shading, evapotranspiration (the water in a plant’s roots that evaporates through its leaves), and surface reflectivity. They bring nature into environmentally hostile urban areas, and serve as interior air filtration systems. They absorb sound. And the presence of plant walls has been shown to enhance worker productivity.

Brenner, who while attending California Polytechnic University studied horticultural science and psychology, accepts the research that finds a cause-and-effect relationship between plant walls and stress relief. He also believes that plant walls can be “restorative” to people exposed to them on a regular basis.

Brenner’s first exposure to plant walls was during an apprenticeship at the Royal Botanic Gardens in London. He started experimenting with “going vertically” with plants in 2007 when one of his college professors gave him access to a 30- by 20-foot greenhouse on campus.

“It’s surprising what you can grow on a wall,” says Brenner. But some plants are more conducive to living walls than others. Evergreen perennials such as geraniums, heuchera, and fuchsia are the best species because, he explains, they stay green, keep their leaves throughout the year, and tend to hug or compact against the wall. “They make for a good base or backdrop.”

Herbaceous perennial species, on the other hand, are not ideal, he continues, because they tend to lose their leaves in in winter. Brenner also stays away from plants that get “woody or stemmy” over time for his backdrops, as they tend to come off the wall. These are better used as accent plants for dimension, but not as the wall base.

Like any garden, the success or failure of a plant wall usually comes down to designing for performance within a specific micro climate, and the integrity of the wall’s irrigation system. And if a client wants a low-maintenance wall, that will limit which plants can used.

More important is the integrity of a wall’s irrigation system.

Habitat Horticulture is a full-service provider. It prepares detailed shop drawings that integrate the plant wall into the site’s architectural plans, and outline his company’s scope of work. His firm helps clients select the plant palette and composition (depending on the installation, panels are pregrown off-site or are planted on-site), builds the framework for the wall, commissions the controls for irrigation/fertigation and lighting, and installs and waterproofs the wall system and irrigation/circulation systems.

The only thing its associates and subs don’t handle is electrical and plumbing.

It also trains key personnel and management in ongoing maintenance and operations. (Most of Habitat Horticulture’s installations are followed up with weekly or monthly maintenance schedules.)

Plant walls aren’t that heavy; about 8 pounds per sf planted and irrigated. They can cost anywhere from $100 to $175 per sf, depending on the complexity of the system. That cost typically includes water recapture, and measuring pH levels, labor, and structural requirements.

As part of its efforts to earn the International Future Living Institute's Living Building Challenge certification for its 8,200-sf office in Sacramemto, Calif., the design firm Architectural Nexus irrigated its plant wall with repurposed greywater. Image: Architectural Nexus

As part of its efforts to earn the International Future Living Institute’s Living Building Challenge certification for its 8,200-sf office in Sacramemto, Calif., the design firm Architectural Nexus irrigated its plant wall with repurposed greywater. Image: Architectural Nexus

Clients sometimes turn to living walls as part of their strategy for their buildings to earn green certifications. For example, one of Brenner’s clients, the architectural design firm Architectural Nexus, renovated its new office in Sacramento to meet standards of the the Living Building Challenge Certification. A critical component of that building’s water filtration function is its living wall, which is irrigated by greywater repurposed from showers and sinks on-site. The wall can be viewed from all desk spaces throughout the office and from the street.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art also uses a plant wall Habitat installed to recycle water from its stormwater retention tank.

Four years ago, Habitat Horticulture installed three large plant wall and a living wine bar (live plants beneath a glass bar top) into DPR Construction’s office, which was the first certified net-zero energy building in San Francisco. Clover Payments, a payments software startup whose office is in a net-zero energy building that formerly was a racquetball facility, boasts a 30-ft-wide by 22-ft-high living wall that Habitat Horticulture installed in 2015, which helps provide cleaner air circulation for tenants.

More recently, Habitat Horticulture put in a plant wall at the main entrance of Westfield UTC, an open-air shopping mall in San Diego that is undergoing a $600 million renovation and expansion that will add 90 stories and 215,000 sf of retail space.

Healthcare could be Habitat Horticulture’s next frontier. Its portfolio includes a women’s health center. And Brenner says that some hospitals have “reached out” about adding a plant wall to their facilities. “Their biggest concern is infection control,” which he says can be managed by filters, testing and—to be on the safe side—injecting chlorine into the system.

February LEED Project Update

 

Julie

 

By Julie Lundin, Founder, LEED AP ID+C, NCIDQ, ASID
Director of Sustainable Interior Design for Emerald Skyline Corporation

 

 

Emerald Skyline Corporation in conjunction with Golden Spiral Design, is designing, renovating and repurposing an unoccupied industrial building located in Boca Raton, FL. This building was formerly an auto garage that stood vacant for several years and was environmentally contaminated. Our renovation includes many sustainable features with the intent to obtain LEED certification from the USGBC.

LEED certified building boca raton floridaWe are getting close… to completing the build out of the interior of our project. I would like to share some of the design details and finishes that we have chosen. This building is an old auto garage so we are keeping the existing open floor plan of the main garage space with minimum interior walls being constructed.   The perimeter concrete walls will remain intact without the addition of a drywall finish. The walls have so much character; the imperfections on the concrete block that have accumulated over the years are too interesting to cover up. The walls will be painted and some of the imperfections enhanced with paint layering. The 3 overhead garage door openings have been replaced with impact windows and doors with the center opening now serving as the main entrance.   Since it is important to our design concept to retain as many of the auto garage components as possible we designed this elevation to keep the overhead doors in place behind the new glazing. Manual lift mechanisms have been installed to enable us to raise and lower the garage doors. We are using the roll down doors as large metal shades for both privacy and sun control since the openings are located on the south façade. Broad horizontal stripes will be painted on the interior of the overhead doors to add a bold touch to the space when lowered.

Due to the absence of interior walls we will have an open workspace. Open work spaces can offer important benefits. Our windows and doors are south facing which will allow natural light to filter through the entire office and provide views of the outside. Studies have shown that natural light and views of the outdoors provide occupants attributes of increased patience, productivity and physical health. Open work spaces can be beautiful but do lend themselves to noise issues that need to be addressed in order to function well. Since we are not constructing interior walls, the spaces and their usage will be delineated by furniture and lighting placement. “Floating” furniture and fixtures will create visual separation as well as help control sound transference. The existing concrete floor will remain but be polished and stained. Hard surfaces do a poor job of absorbing sound, so we will be using large area rugs to help minimize noise. The ceiling height is 12 ft. in this portion of the building and is a great architectural element, yet can also contribute to unwanted noise. Once we are in the building and experience the day to day noise levels, additional soft acoustical materials may need to be added. In addition, plants provide sound absorbing capabilities that can work just as effectively in an indoor environment as an outdoor setting as well as provide health benefits, including improving oxygen levels. We may even include a living wall!

Since this is a LEED registered project the specifications for the interior build out as well as exterior choices will contribute to the certification of the building. There are many products available that are not only attractive but have the attributes needed to create a beautiful and sustainable space. Some of our selections include:

  • Low flow toilets and faucets
  • Energy Star Appliances
  • Low VOC paints and finishes
  • Bamboo wood flooring
  • LED Lighting
  • Reuse of demolition materials
  • ChargePoint Electric Vehicle Charging Station
  • Water Collection Cistern
  • HVAC Condensation Drip Lines for exterior vegetation

Two of my favorite sustainable design choices are on the exterior of the building. A recycled glass mosaic of an abstract nautilus shell was created to adorn the south elevation. Metal “green screens” will be attached to the front apex of the building to create a green wall that will add beauty and provide shading to the stucco exterior.

There is still much to be accomplished but we look forward to being in our new space and sharing the completed details and photos with you.

 

3 tips for designing workplaces that support culture, brand, and community

An authentic culture cannot be forced but can be encouraged and supported.

By Hakee Chang, Denise Darrin and Lisa Weeks, Building Design & Construction, 2/2/2017

View the original article here.

workplace culture sustainabilityThe workplace has evolved exponentially over the past decade, from large, uniform workstations and offices to efficient open plans and auxiliary areas. Technology has advanced from desktop computers and landlines, to laptops, and mobile apps. Innovation in technology has driven an increase in employees’ productivity and efficiency, and innovation in design has strategically followed.

However, effective and engaging workplace design doesn’t stop with a response to technological and real estate needs. It must go further, supporting the creation and integration of a company’s culture, brand identity, and overall community.

CURATED CULTURE

The most integrated cultures are co-created by leaders and teams. They are shared, organic, and capable of evolving. An authentic culture cannot be forced, but can be encouraged and supported. Without direct participation and buy-in from those involved, a company’s culture can end up a “mission statement on business card” or a “tagline on a wall” – noticed upon move-in, but quickly forgotten thereafter.

We have been fortunate to see these principles in action with a number of our key clients. In particular, technology companies are dealing with cultural change on almost a daily basis as a result of rapid growth. For example, one financial technology client has an ever-adapting nature and willingness to learn. Their leadership embodies an approach that has allowed exceptionally talented people of various backgrounds to come together with a unified and understood purpose.

The ethos of any company is the driving force. People connect over shared stories and experiences. Our job as workplace designers is to clearly understand the experiences of each and every client. What are their company’s particular drivers and values? How we can create a space that reflects and enhances those values and support the natural curation of their culture?

 BUILDING BRAND AWARENESS

Understanding a client’s brand in the context of external perception and internal practices are two crucial elements to designing a meaningful workplace. Through visioning and programming interviews, we find that office staff often seeks their work environment to “walk the talk.” It has to be authentic and reflect the reasons why they joined the company, and offer opportunities to highlight how their contributions matter.

As a first step, we typically will create overlapping layers of an “experience map” to begin building a workplace design that contributes to the client’s ethos. We map out various use scenarios through points of view, such as anticipating the tour our client may give to a candidate or business partners, an all-hands meeting, or an event for external community engagement. These maps overlap with curated moments where people can connect to individual stories or testimonials that are both inspirational and aspirational.

We recently worked with a technology company whose focus is on physical activity and health, and we incorporated design elements to encourage movement. For example, we designed meeting spaces with treadmills, social and collaboration spaces along popular walking routes, and adaptable spaces with natural light, comfortable temperatures, and views. Since the company offices are spread between buildings within a dense urban location, we leveraged the city as a vital active conduit to tie both the company’s brand and connect staff with their customer base. Allowing workflow through the neighborhood created a first-hand brand awareness that extends beyond the interior office environment.

COMMUNITY GUIDELINES

Technology has allowed the traditional office to transform into a dynamic working environment. The workplace is no longer built on “my” office or “my” desk, but has developed into “our” space: a place for community.

Technology has provided flexibility, choice, and options to employees – giving everyone the ability to decide where, how, and when they work. Yet, the reduction of individual workspace has created a need for smaller neighborhoods within the larger community. To help alleviate the possibility of feeling “crowded” it is essential to effectively distribute varied opportunities for different work styles, while providing adequate support and shared spaces.

All of these factors have prescribed that companies establish community guidelines, the rules of engagement for the workplace. These guidelines address issues from etiquette to functionality.

Our Minneapolis office recently relocated and moved to an activity-based “free address” work environment with no assigned seats to untether talent from desks and empower employees with choice. Etiquette guidelines were created to assist in this new environment, including:

  1. Individuals are expected to clear their workspace of all materials if out of the office for more than four hours, and when they leave at the end of the day, so the location can host another user.
  2. Meeting rooms have different behaviors and etiquette associated with them. For instance, huddle rooms are non-reservable and dedicated to more informal, spontaneous meetings or calls.
  3. Project storage, personal storage, and office supplies have centralized home bases outside of the immediate workstations to prevent duplication and waste.

As an overall goal, the new workspace recognizes the value of a variety of workstyles: from large group meetings to spontaneous interactions to individual heads-down work. The studio supports this spectrum of work with project rooms, huddle rooms, pin-up spaces, and focus rooms.

Community guidelines present the parameters for employees to respect each other and their work places and to follow the “Platinum Rule”: treat others the way they want to be treated.

EMERALD SKYLINE PARTNERS WITH BLUE PILLAR TO PROVIDE THE ENERGY NETWORK OF THINGS POWERED BY AURORA

South Florida-based Emerald Skyline brings 21st Century technology to energy management.

“Over 75% of businesses say that Internet of Things (IoT) is critical to their future success, and nearly half of adopters are using IoT to support large-scale business transformation.” Vodafone IoT Barometer 2016

January 10, 2017 from Emerald Skyline Corporation (www.emeraldskyline.com)

BOCA RATON, FL, January 10, 2017 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Today, Emerald Skyline announced that it has partnered with Blue Pillar, Inc. to provide the Energy Network of Things powered by Aurora for hospitals, office buildings, retail centers, industrial and municipal facilities. Together, we’re transforming the energy industry by developing intelligent energy management solutions to help facility managers achieve their energy resiliency, efficiency and sustainability goals.

Blue Pillar connects any energy “thing” (i.e., any asset that consumes, switches or measures electricity — including meters (water, gas and electric), generators, fuel tanks, automatic transfer switches, chillers, boilers, HVAC control panels, CHP, solar panels, EV chargers and just about any other intelligent mechanical equipment you can think of — into our Energy Network of Things platform.
Blue Pillar’s Aurora Energy Network of Things™ platform has an architecture that is open at the device and application layer, so it is perfectly positioned to solve the energy management data crisis. In addition to being open and providing ubiquitous connectivity, we also offer dozens of energy management applications the same way that a calculator or calendar app would be offered on your Apple or Android phone.

“As a sustainability and resiliency consulting and LEED project management firm, this partnership enables us to provide the industry’s most flexible platform for connecting and managing energy devices,” reports Abraham Wien, LEED AP O+M, Director of Architecture & Environmental Design for Emerald Skyline. “We are always looking for ways to provide superior products and services to meet our clients sustainability and resiliency needs and Blue Pillar is an IoT provider that we are proud to offer to the market.”

For nearly a decade, Blue Pillar has connected thousands of energy assets at a wide variety of deployment sites from hospitals and energy service providers to data centers and higher education campuses enabling them to work 75% faster and realize 30% more affordability.

To find out more information about the employment of the Blue Pillar IoT for building energy systems in your building or facility and unleash the power of real-time data that strengthens your infrastructure and improves not only your efficiency but provides opportunities for differentiation and even new revenue sources while providing for a greener tomorrow, please contact Abraham Wien at aw@emeraldskyline.com or call us 305.424.8704.

10 companies moving up in smart buildings

By Heather Clancy
View the original article here.

smart-buildingsThe phrase “Internet of things” has become a convenient catch-all for all manner of technologies that carry this common characteristic — they’re capable of sharing their data not only with each other but also with other information technology systems, enabling far deeper insights into how well they’re running and what’s going on around them.

In 2015, more than 15.4 billion gadgets fell into this uber category, according to data from market research firm IHS. That number could double by the end of 2020, and then again by the end of 2025. These “things” can be installed virtually everywhere, from factory floors to streetlights to water pipes — cities alone could spend at least $20 billion on sensor networks by 2020.

But one area to watch closely from sustainability perspective will be technologies related to buildings, both commercial and residential. Think of it this way: the Internet of things (aka IoT) is crucial for broader adoption of smart buildings. That will have big implications for how companies handle energy management. And for the next three years at least, IoT will be more pervasive in smart commercial buildings than anywhere else, suggests consulting firm Deloitte.

Things are certainly pointing up. Revenue related to installations of sensor-equipped lighting, climate control equipment, thermostats, and other automation systems could quadruple over the next decade to about $732 billion, predicts Navigant Research in a report published in early December.

“Connected or IoT devices in commercial buildings or homes enable a variety of applications and provide benefits related to automation, convenience, and, of course, energy efficiency — and these benefits are starting to resonate among building managers, homeowners, and even renters,” said Navigant principal research analyst Neil Strother.

More evidence that interest becoming more serious: ABI Research predicts that revenue related to IoT-enabled smart building technologies should grow to more than $8 billion in 2020, compared with just $625 million last year. The bulk of that money will be related to smart lighting and “intuitive” HVAC control systems, according to the research firm.

“IoT platforms such as GE’s Predix, IBM’s Watson, and SAP’s HANA, in collaboration with facility service providers, like CBRE, ISS World, and ENGIE, are gradually creating inroads by integrating multiple building automation systems to deliver a unified facilities management solution,” said ABI analyst Adarsh Krishnan. “the ‘make or buy’ dilemma of whether to develop the solution in-house or collaborate with a third-party technology vendor.”

What makes the transformation so hard, of course, is the long life expectancy of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems — usually at least 15 years, and counting.

But leading manufacturers are working diligently to instrument and automate their systems through IoT hardware and software, so that commercial buildings can respond better to environmental stimuli or a company’s energy efficiency policies. Here’s a cheat sheet of 10 big players to watch closely in the upcoming year (presented alphabetically).

Cisco

Part of San Jose, California-based networking giant Cisco’s “Internet of Everything” mantra is an energy efficiency concept it started pushing more aggressively in early 2016 called the “Digital Ceiling.”

The idea is to consolidate smart lighting networks and other Internet-connected devices into a centralized dashboard that can be controlled via a smartphone application. The system includes smart lighting that doesn’t require a separate electricity source—they are powered by the Ethernet network itself. Cisco lined up an impressive list of partners, including LED lighting pioneer Cree, to help evangelize the idea.

Hitachi

There’s been plenty of buzz about the 106-year-old Japanese conglomerate’s compelling business model for microgrids. Back in May, however, Hitachi began touting its IoT strategy, which is based on a technology called Lumada.

This platform will be relevant across a broad range of applications not just smart buildings, including connected vehicles, although details about the technology are just starting to emerge. “While it is still very early days in the IoT platform market, the landscape is crowded, making it difficult for new vendors to differentiate themselves,” said Christian Renaud, an analyst for 451 Research. “Hitachi’s extensive expertise in operational technology and IT gives them a unique understand of the fundamental requirements to build and deploy IoT solutions at scale.”

Honeywell

Honeywell’s IoT strategy already touches about 10 million smart buildings worldwide. One of the Morris Plains, N.J.-based company’s latest forays is a mobile app — which sounds similar to technology from startup Comfy — that lets building occupants report issues with heating or cooling. Basically, people become “sensors” alongside digital counterparts such as sensor. “Occupant engagement is an increasingly important aspect of intelligent building solutions,” said Navigant analyst Casey Talon.

IBM

The tech giant has been involved with a myriad of smart-this-and-that initiatives related to its Smarter Planet campaign. Now, IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y., is putting the firepower of its Watson artificial intelligence and data analysis software behind its projects that make buildings smarter.

One of its biggest customers for the technology is ISS, a facilities management company that will use Watson in more than 25,000 buildings to assess readings from sensors on windows, doors, chairs, food dispensers, air conditioning systems and so on. The sensors on doors, for example, can help commercial kitchens within these facilities figure out how many meals to cook for lunch, helping cut back on food waste. “Putting a ‘human touch’ in buildings helps to increase employee productivity, decrease absenteeism, and makes a better impression on visitors,” said ISS CEO Jeff Gravenhorst.

Deals beween mammoth players in building automation and connectivity, such as the one between Johnson Controls and Cisco, are becoming more common.

Johnson Controls

Already a big proponent of the push to net-zero buildings and the idea that buildings should “talk” to each other, $37.7 billion Johnson Controls became an even larger force in IoT technologies when the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, company merged in September with security services firm Tyco. Johnson Controls allied with IBM on the smarter building cause back in 2010, and moved closer to Cisco earlier this year (it’s one of several companies supporting the Digital Ceiling framework).

Legrand

The French-born electrical component manufacturer, which has been taking a deeper interest in sustainable business practices across its own operations, launched its IoT initiative dubbed ELIOT in November.

Legrand sees its technology as the glue tying together automation technologies from the likes of Samsung and Cisco. The effort even supports Alexa, Amazon’s voice-controlled home automation gadget, which is being engineered to handle tasks such as adjusting lights or temperatures. It helps that $4.5 billion Legrand’s sales for connected devices were more than $350 million in 2015, up 34 percent. “Legrand is built in, not simply plugged in,” said Stephen Schoffstall, chief marketing officer for the company. “This distinction is critical when you consider that ELIOT is an expression of Legrand’s determination to evolve the experience of living, working, and operating in buildings — and to minimize the impact those buildings will have on the environment.”

Panasonic

The Japanese company is already a well-known player in green building technologies such as energy-efficient lighting, refrigeration, air conditioning, heating and renewable energy. Like its biggest peers and competitors, it is prioritizing investments that use data from these systems to help them run ever-more efficiently. One example is its agreement with Germany’s Schneider Electric, announced in October, under with the two companies are collaborating on wireless technology that connects Schneider’s building management system with Panasonic HVAC systems that use variable refrigerant flow (VRF) technology. Translation: the amount of energy they require can be adjusted more finely than previous generations of the equipment.

“By combining the power of building management with cutting-edge VRF technology, we are able to help our customers further reduce capital and operating expenditures and reach new levels of sustainability,” said Toshiyuki Takagi, executive officer of Panasonic Corp., and president of Panasonic Air-Conditioner.

Schneider Electric

The energy management specialist, which has been especially vocal in the past about smart cities projects, overhauled its smart building product line called EcoStruxure in late November. You might think of Schneider first as a hardware company, but its partnership with cloud services giant Microsoft is focused on helping companies analyze operational data more efficiently. Its aforementioned partnership with Panasonic is also powerful.

Siemens

An emerging force in commercial and community microgrids, German conglomerate Siemens is also shoring up its IoT expertise. During 2016, it announced separate partnerships with IBM and consulting firm Capgemini to build even more credibility. The IBM pact centers on creating a cloud service to help corporate real estate managers gain access to energy efficiency metrics for their facility portfolios. The deal with Capgemini has a similar goal.

Verdigris Technologies

This San Francisco upstart is using artificial intelligence to collect information from a building’s electrical panels and then analyze these “fingerprints” for opportunity to optimize settings and to predict possible maintenance issues that could boost power consumption.

Verdigris raised $6.7 million in an October venture capital round that was led by contract manufacturer Jabil and Verizon Ventures, bringing total funding to about $15 million. The company is doing well helping companies in the hospitality sector reduce electricity usage; Hyatt, Marriott, and Starwood Hotels are all customers.