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Vote YES on Amendment 4 in August to Lower the Cost of Energy for Floridians

Solar Power: the Sunshine State Needs Your Help

JulieBy Julie Lundin, LEED-AP, Principal, Emerald Skyline Corporation

Vote Yes Amendment 4In April 2015, I wrote an article for our newsletter entitled “How you can help make Florida the Sunshine State again.” At the time, Floridians for Solar Choice, a coalition of solar advocates was seeking signatures on a ballot petition to expand solar power in the State of Florida. I volunteered and participated in obtaining these important signatures. The petition’s focus was to increase solar choice by allowing customers the option to power their homes or businesses with solar power and choose who provides it to them.

To get the initiative on the ballot, Florida required the coalition to first collect over 68,000 signatures of registered voters, and then have the initiative language approved by the state Supreme Court. This amendment failed to get on the November 2016 ballot due to being stymied when the utilities conducted a price war over petition gathering and they ended up in federal court suing their petition gathering vendor over billing practices. This proposal is now intended for the 2018 ballot. If passed, it will allow property owners to sign lease agreements with solar companies to finance and install equipment, a financing vehicle available in most states. Solar owners would then be allowed to generate and sell solar electricity to contiguous property owners as well as to area utilities.

Currently, there are two solar power amendments that will be part of our Florida elections this fall. Even as a person involved in sustainable building and design as well as a solar power supporter, I was unclear about the content and ramifications of Amendment 4 and Amendment 1. My hope is that this article will help clarify the amendments and lead to informed voter choices.

Amendment 4 will be on the August 30th Florida 2016 Primary Election Ballot. It is officially titled “Solar Devices or Renewable Energy Source Devices; Exemption from Certain Taxation and Assessment.” Explanation: If you were to install solar panels on your property, the value would be exempt from both the tangible personal property tax and the real property tax.

  • It also creates a new exemption for businesses, appraisers would exempt the renewable- energy from the ad-valorem tax levied on the tangible personal property of a business. Amendment 4 was put on the ballot by the Legislature, with unanimous votes in both the Florida Houseof Representatives and the Senate.

Amendment 1 also known as “The Florida Solar Energy Subsidies and Personal Solar Use Initiative” will be on the November 8, 2016 Election Ballot as an initiated constitutional amendment. According to BallotPedia, for a constitutional amendment to be enacted in Florida, it must win a supermajority vote of 60 percent of those voting on the questions. Amendment 1 was created by an organization with a grassroots sounding name, Consumers for Smart Solar. In reality the organization is financed by the state’s major electric utility companies. This measure qualified for the ballot in late January after getting nearly 700,000 signatures from Floridians. The competing measure that I referenced above, Floridians for Solar Choice, a group backed by the solar industry, did not get enough signatures and was derailed by the petition gathering price war. For in depth information on Amendment 1, read the following article titled “Are Big Power Companies Pulling a Fast One on Florida Voters?”

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2016/03/florida-solar-amendment-utility-companies-electricity 

Solar Panel Installation
The following is an editorial by the Miami Herald Editorial Board printed on August 9, 2016. This editorial will help to understand the history and issues of solar power in the State of Florida and perhaps provide clarity for your vote.

http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/editorials/article94707982.html

Amendment 4: Vote Yes on this beneficial solar proposal on Aug. 30

This is the Sunshine State. However, the use of solar energy — dependent on sunlight, which we have in abundance, and not on nuclear or fossil fuel — is still sporadic and contentiously debated.

Cost and who profits almost always play central roles. But unlike the controversial solar consumer-rights amendment on November’s ballot, in the primary on Aug. 30, Florida’s voters can approve an almost universally supported constitutional amendment that will reduce the cost of installing solar panels — more incentivizing, less punitive.

The biggest barrier to solar panels is the upfront cost. Even though the cost of solar-panel installation has been dropping, it still is an expensive endeavor for many property owners. Amendment 4 would provide a tax exemption that makes it less costly to go solar.

It would extend a tax break for residential property owners who have installed solar or equipment for other renewable energy since Jan. 1, 2013.

In addition, the amendment would establish a new exemption for businesses. Right now, if a business installs solar panels, it gets hit with a “tangible tax,” an assessment for equipment, fixtures and furniture that an enterprise or rental property uses. But as the ballot language says, the constitutional amendment would authorize the state Legislature to “exempt from ad valorem taxation the assessed value of solar or renewable energy source devices subject to tangible personal property tax, and … prohibit consideration of such devices in assessing the value of real property for ad valorem taxation purposes.”

This measure will allow Florida to get closer to realizing the full potential of solar energy. Consumers can trim energy costs; encourage energy independence and tamp down on fossil fuels’ contribution to climate change.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Floridians use 40 percent more electricity than the national average. No surprise there, with air conditioners running almost year-round. So, yes, we can do much better.

Unlike other constitutional amendments, placed on the ballot through petition drives because state lawmakers preferred to punt rather than take legislative action, Amendment 4 reached the ballot via a unanimous vote in the Legislature.

The state cannot abate local taxes without going through the Florida Constitution. Lawmakers, this time, were following mandated process. And Amendment 4’s backers are a wide-ranging bunch, including, according to the League of Women Voters of Florida — itself a supporter — The Nature Conservancy and the Florida Tea Party; The Sierra Club and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Amendment 4 not only would expand the use of clean energy, beneficial for Florida’s singular environment, it would add to the 6,500 solar jobs currently in the state and strengthen the economy while lowering solar consumers’ energy costs.

The Miami Herald recommends YES on Amendment 4.

Below are links to organizations that have information on Amendment 4 and Amendment 1 so that you can be an informed voter.

http://www.yeson4.org/

Support-solar http://www.flsolarchoice.org/

  1. Spread the word on Amendment 4; Urge people to vote YES on August 30th! As a result of our collective efforts, lawmakers and other coalition partners helped place a solar tax abatement amendment on Florida’s 2016 Primary Election ballot.  This initiative would remove a barrier to solar by exempting the panels and other renewable energy equipment from property taxes for 20 years. If passed in August, this policy will lower the cost of solar, increase clean energy jobs, and greatly expand solar development across the state! Vote YES on August 30th!
  2. Say NO to the utility-backed ‘solar’ petition this fall: Amendment 1 is an effort by big monopoly utilities to choke-off rooftop solar and keep a stranglehold on customers by preventing them from generating their own power. In March, the Supreme Court narrowly ruled 4-3 to allow the utility-backed petition on to the November ballot.  The utilities may have more money, but they are on the wrong side of this issue. We need you to fight alongside us and urge your friends, family and neighbor: VoteNO in NOvember!

https://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Solar_Energy_Subsidies_and_Personal_Solar_Use,_Amendment_1_(2016)

Solar Technology Update: New Device Does the Work of Plants

KG ResizeBy Kendall Gillen, LEED Green Associate

ARTIFICIAL-LEAFThe latest in solar technology is unlike what you would expect. Traditionally, solar cells harness sunlight and convert it into electricity, which is then stored in batteries. This is one of the cleanest forms of renewable energy that can be used to power your home or business. This type of solar cell isn’t going away any time soon, but a different type engineered recently by researchers at the University of Illinois is capable of doing the work of plants. This new solar cell could be a game-changer as it “cheaply and efficiently converts atmospheric carbon dioxide directly into usable hydrocarbon fuel” according to Solar Daily. The process is powered entirely by sunlight and requires no battery storage.

What does this new solar cell mean as far as real world problem solving? The benefits are two-fold. If entire solar farms were made up of these so-called artificial leaves, it could greatly reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere while simultaneously generating energy-rich fuel. Essentially, we can reverse some of the climate change damage done from burning fossil fuels and decrease the concentration of atmospheric CO2.

The product of this process is synthesis gas or syngas, which can be burned itself or converted into other hydrocarbon fuels. The artificial leaves convert carbon dioxide into fuel at a cost comparable to one gallon of gasoline. Read below for an explanation of the chemical process that made this possible as explained by Solar Daily:

“The new solar cell is not photovoltaic – it’s photosynthetic,” says Amin Salehi-Khojin, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at UIC and senior author on the study.

Chemical reactions that convert CO2 into burnable forms of carbon are called reduction reactions, the opposite of oxidation or combustion. Engineers have been exploring different catalysts to drive CO2 reduction, but so far such reactions have been inefficient and rely on expensive precious metals such as silver, Salehi-Khojin said.

“What we needed was a new family of chemicals with extraordinary properties,” he said.

Salehi-Khojin and his coworkers focused on a family of nano-structured compounds called transition metal dichalcogenides – or TMDCs – as catalysts, pairing them with an unconventional ionic liquid as the electrolyte inside a two-compartment, three-electrode electrochemical cell. The best of several catalysts they studied turned out to be nanoflake tungsten diselenide.

“The new catalyst is more active; more able to break carbon dioxide’s chemical bonds,” said UIC postdoctoral researcher Mohammad Asadi. In fact, he said, the new catalyst is 1,000 times faster than noble­metal catalysts — and about 20 times cheaper.

solar farm panelsThis is truly a breakthrough in the field of solar technology that can have large and small-scale applications. This is the first solar cell that could render fossil fuels obsolete based on its affordability and efficiency. Fuel could be produced locally as opposed to relying on unstable regions. Scientists have been working since the first ‘artificial leaf’ was produced last year to find a cost-effective process that uses only sunlight and carbon dioxide to mimic the natural process of photosynthesis in plants to produce fuel, and it appears they finally have something that will stick.

Emerald Skyline is always looking for ways to provide superior products and services to meet our client’s needs. My bachelor’s degree in biology allows me to bring a unique perspective on sustainability and mimicking the biological processes found in nature within the built environment. This allows us to provide our clients the latest technologies and largest and most open network available today.

Information on Emerald Skyline is available on our website: www.emeraldskyline.com.

This 21-Year-Old May Have Found The Way To Clean Up The Plastic In Our Oceans

by Alejandro Davila Fragoso Jun 28, 2016 8:00 am ThinkProgress.org
View the original article here.

plastic ocean cleanup
CREDIT: The Ocean Cleanup

Boyan Slat wants to start the largest ocean clean up ever with the help of nets and ocean currents. He began testing his prototype this month.

Boyan Slat was just 16 when he realized he wanted to rid the oceans of plastic. It all happened after he dove into the problem in the most literal way while snorkeling in Greece and finding more drifting plastic than fish swimming.

“I thought, that’s a real problem. How can we come up with a solution for that?” Slat recalled during an interview with ThinkProgress.

Indeed, the problem is real and large. Around eight million metric tons of plastic waste enter the oceans every year, according to a 2015 study. In addition, recent research found so-called garbage patches in every major ocean. Plastic is so pervasive that it’s been found in sea ice, and also inside 50 percent of all species of seabirds, 66 percent of all species of marine mammals, and all species of sea turtles.

Once back in his native Netherlands, Slat delved into the topic as people told him that cleaning up the ocean was impossible. Still, Slat, a young inventor who by then already held the world record for most high-pressure rockets simultaneously launched, persisted until he found what he was looking for.

“I saw this animation where they used computer models to show that plastic actually moves” through ocean currents, Slat, now 21, said. “And then I thought, why should you move through the ocean if the ocean can move through you.”

Slat, chief executive officer of The Ocean Clean Up, has taken his eureka moment and turned it into a collection system based on floating barriers attached to the sea bed that use the ocean’s energy to gather plastic waste. After obtaining over $2 million through crowdfunding and more from Dutch government financing, Slat unveiled the first prototype last week in the North Sea, just off the coast of Netherlands.

ocean plastic cleanup 2
Less than a mile in length, this prototype is but 10 percent the size of the actual Slat wants to build to conduct what he describes as “the largest clean-up in history” on a large mass of marine debris floating in the Pacific Ocean called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The prototype will be in the North Sea for a year as the foundation tests if the system can withstand corrosion, storms, and more in the open sea.

“The question that we are trying to answer with this prototype is: can we build a floating barrier which is able to survive at sea for years,” said Slat. In the next twelve months, sensors will track the prototype’s every move and gather data to inform the development of the larger system. The North Sea’s minor storms are actually worse than the most powerful storms in the Pacific Ocean, Slat said. “It’s pretty safe to say that if it survives here it will survive anywhere, and certainly in the [area] of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch where we intend to deploy it.”

The Ocean Cleanup’s cleaning technology uses long floating barriers creating a v-shaped artificial coastline that catches ocean debris in its center. There, a solar-powered hydraulic pump and conveyor system scoop up waste that boats then collect and take to landfills or recycling centers. This suggests a massive logistical effort depending on how far from shore the system is placed, and the sorting of trash or other bycatch that would follow. Right now however, testing the floating barriers is crucial, so for the next year, they are focusing solely on the barrier. Therefore, plastic collection is unlikely. But “if that goes well we should be ready to deploy the first operational pilot system late next year, and that should put us on track to start the largest clean up in history by 2020,” Slat said.

Slat’s plan has received some criticism, however. One worry is that the barriers will cause too much by catch — where marine life gets accidentally caught and dies, normally in fishing nets — though the foundation’s preliminary impact statement study found a low risk of that happening. “There shouldn’t be any impact because the barrier is 1.5 meters deep (roughly 4 feet),” Slat said. “It’s really small when compared to the Pacific Ocean, and the current flows underneath it.” Still, he said this test is part of making sure the system is safe. “We are not only testing the technology,” Slat said.

Chelsea M. Rochman, a marine ecologist at the University of Toronto who’s studied the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, welcomed the clean up plan, though she favors preventing plastic from reaching the sea in the first place. “I personally think that preventing it before it goes into the ocean … is better than placing something that large in the middle of the ocean where it’s very hard to monitor,” she said. “Putting things like what he’s doing at the mouth of a river may also be more effective.”

One example of a comparable system placed in a river is Baltimore’s inner harbor water wheel, also known as Mr. Trash Wheel. This device uses the Jones Falls River current to turn a water wheel which picks up debris into a dumpster barge. When the current is weak, a solar panel is in place to provide the necessary power. Since 2014, the cartoon-looking Mr. Trash Wheel has collected 420 tons of trash, including hundreds of thousands of plastic bottles, polystyrene containers, plastic bags, and millions of cigarette butts, according to the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore.

mister trash wheel

The Inner Harbor Water Wheel, or “Mr. Trash Wheel” to locals, combines old and new technology to harness the power of water and sunlight to collect litter and debris flowing down the Jones Falls River. CREDIT: Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore

But whether the plastic collection happens in rivers or oceans, Rochman said solving ubiquitous plastic pollution requires “people like Boyan, who are doing it on their own.” At the same time, she said, more top-down solution like the federal ban on micro-beads approved in December or plastic bag bans need to happen. Furthermore, developed countries have to help emerging countries in creating better waste management, she said, since emerging nations are increasingly contributing to plastic pollution. In fact, more than half of all plastic reaching the oceans comes from China, Indonesia, the Phllipines, Thailand, and Vietnam, according to the Ocean Conservancy.

“I don’t think there is one solution to plastic debris, I really don’t,” said Rochman. “I think it’s like hundreds of little things and the more that we have that are out there and that are highlighted, I think the greater chance that we have.”

LEED Project Update

JulieBy 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.

The above paragraph still holds true months later. However, we have had to re-think the project scope and move forward on a smaller scale. We spent months working on the design and drawings in preparation for submission as a development project. In our original design concept we envisioned a larger building footprint and a second floor addition. Vision often becomes qualified by reality, and our project is no exception. The property size cannot accommodate a larger building footprint and the FAR (floor area ratio) requirements limit the building size allowed. An addition of a partial second floor (FAR compliant) was our solution to the lot size and FAR restrictions. Although only a partial second floor was now being considered it would still require stairs and ideally an elevator. Also, the limited first floor square footage available to accommodate the new stairs and an elevator almost negated the second floor addition. Our conclusion was that adding the partial second floor was not adding the square footage desired, and the cost of construction and engineering did not make economic sense.

In January we made the decision to proceed with the project as a renovation of the existing building only. No additional square footage is being added. Our intent is to repair and replace what is there. The building will visually retain the auto garage industrial look but will be transformed into a sustainable, repurposed space.   As a sustainable consulting firm, it makes sense for us to not increase the size of the building. Our society often believes that bigger is better and we briefly fell into this way of thinking. Now we are committed to working within a limited space and we are re-focusing on creative design and the best use of that space.

As stated in our previous post, this project is a proposed LEED certified building. A key component of a LEED project is its reduced energy use. We have replaced the existing flat roof which was old and leaking with a new roof that has a high SRI (Solar Reflectance Index). We are also designing a high efficiency HVAC system and building envelope to optimize the energy performance of the building. All of the existing windows are being replaced with product that exceeds the Florida Code and are High Velocity, Hurricane Zone approved for Miami-Dade as our project is located in South Florida. In addition, to optimize energy performance in a hot climate our windows have a high VT (visible transmittance) and low SHGC (solar heat gain coefficient) to ensure adequate daylight is being admitted while still blocking significant quantities of solar radiant heat gain.

window radiation

LED lighting fixtures designed with specific task usage will be installed on both the interior and exterior of the building. The existing concrete floors of the auto garage are going to be polished and used as they are. The specifications of the interior finishes are just beginning and as an interior designer, this is the fun part. Low VOC products, adequate air ventilation, and controlled air temperature and humidity will be utilized to protect the buildings IAQ (Indoor Air Quality). Low flow toilets and faucets, and Energy Star appliances will all be specified to reduce the amount of water and energy that is consumed.

We hope to be in our new location by early fall. Once our building is completed we will post descriptions of the renovation details and photos. This project has been a long journey. We are proud that it is a shining example of a correct decision to repurpose a building that might have otherwise been overlooked.

The future in automotive transportation is available now: The Growing Market for Electric Vehicles and ChargePoint Charging Stations

PJ PictureBy Paul Jones, Director, Emerald Skyline Corporation

plugged in electric vehiclesFive years after the first mass-market electric car hit the market, plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) have not met with the success expected, but they are pacing the rate of hybrid cars. Numerous challenges are being overcome in the evolution of the electric vehicle – not least of which is the automakers approach to the production and marketing of the cars, the range EVs travel on one charge and the availability of charging stations.

The new generation of electric vehicles began with the introduction of the first Tesla car in 2008 and began its embryonic growth in 2010 when mainstream electric cars like the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt went on sale. Throughout this time, plug-in car (PEV) buyers have repeatedly complained about poor consumer experiences. Last year, Consumer Reports published the results of a secret shopper study of 85 dealerships in four states, finding that staff at 35 of those dealerships (over 40%) attempted to steer buyers toward internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles instead of the PEV in which they had expressed interest. Thirteen of those dealers tried to entirely discourage shoppers from buying an EV. Legacy profits from on-going maintenance of ICE vehicles, most of which are not required for an EV, is considered a major incentive for dealers to steer customers away from EVs. Increased demand from consumers will be the key driver in forcing manufacturers and dealers to change their perception of EVs from a necessary regulatory evil to a new product category.

Range anxiety is the fear that a vehicle has insufficient range to reach its destination and would thus strand the vehicle’s occupants. The term, primary used in reference to battery electric vehicles (BEVs), is considered to be one of the major barriers to large-scale adoption of EVs. The main strategies to alleviate range anxiety are the development of higher battery capacity (Tesla S now sports a model with a 265-mile range and other manufacturers are working to follow suit with over 200-mile range EVs), battery swapping technology, and the deployment of charging station infrastructure.

Despite the obstacles in creating a new market, the fleet of plug-in electric vehicles in the United States is the largest in the world with over 400,000 highway legal plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) sold in the country since 2008 when Tesla introduced its first car through 2015.EV-sales-growing

As of March of this year, there are 26 highway legal plug-in cars available in the American market from over a dozen manufacturers plus several models of electric motorcycles, utility vans and neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs). The number of EV drivers has increased ten times in the past four years and EVs are expected to comprise over 8% of all car sales by 2020. New EV cars with increased range are being developed by many auto manufacturers – and some new entrants like Apple which has its first car, code name “Project Titan” planned for release in 2019.

However, consumers have been cautious about putting the car before the charging station. “Infrastructure for EVs is crucial to the adoption of use of electric cars. You’re not going to buy a car if you don’t know where and how to charge it,” says Erin Mellon, Director of Communications with ChargePoint, which operates the world’s largest EV charging network. The first place drivers need to be able to charge is at home. Being able to charge at work is second most important.”where-drivers-charging-chargepoint

Equally innovative but decidedly less exciting is what is happening with the growing infrastructure of EV charging stations, a stimulant for expansion of the market for plug-in electric vehicles. As of January 2016, the US had 12,200 charging stations across the country, led by California with nearly 3,000 stations. In terms of public charging points, there were 30,669 public outlets available across the country by the end of January 2016, again led by California with 9,086 charging points (29.6%).

The following excerpt from an article published last September by Jones Lang LaSalle (“JLL”), a premier international commercial real estate brokerage, property and investment management firm headquartered in Chicago, entitled “Charging into the future: The rise of electric cars,” reflects cutting edge planning and action – much like being an innovator at the turn of the 20th Century who invested in gasoline stations rather than livery stables:

Sean McNamara, General Manager for JLL Property Management, began looking at electric charging stations for an office building in San Francisco several years ago. “In the beginning of the discovery process, there was just not enough demand or infrastructure,” he says.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu initiated the “Workplace Charging Challenge” in 2013 to increase the number of US employers offering EV charging stations – tenfold – by 2018.

“The proliferation of electric cars, has made these stations much more relevant over the past two years,” McNamara says.

Trophy and Class AA office buildings, such as the Georgia Pacific Center in Atlanta, were among the first to respond to Chu’s challenge. “Ownership and JLL are compelled largely because it’s the right thing to do for our environment. We are a LEED-certified building and our objective is to maintain the highest status possible,” explains Michael Strickland, a VP & Group Manager for JLL in Atlanta.

Strickland says that the Building’s 10 EV reserved parking spaces plus two public parking spaces equate to about one percent of the total parking spaces. “The Building has immediate access to public transport, which plays a role in how many building tenants drive and utilize the parking garage,” Strickland says. “It’s definitely a growing trend. But it’s not currently on par with having a sundry shop or a dry cleaner – yet….”

Today, McNamara is the General Manager of Southeast Financial Center, a Class A trophy office building in Miami. He oversees an 1,100-space parking structure with valet services and two EV charging stations. “In a Class A building, if the demand is there, the spaces will be added. Once the setup is done, sealing the delivery is even easier. Ultimately for landlords, it is not a matter of cost, it is a matter of appropriateness.”

Porsche Latin America, for example, a tenant in the Southeast Financial Center, installed two electric charging stations with special adapters, as a unique term of their lease. Then again, Porsche is not the average tenant. Earlier this month (September), the car manufacturer unveiled its first all-electric Mission E concept car at the Frankfurt Auto Show. It looks like a futuristic 911.

The Mission E, along with Audi’s e-Tron Quattro (scheduled to be launched in 2018), a hybrid SUV, would challenge Tesla’s Model S in the luxury category. Like Apple’s Project Titan, though, these models will take years to develop.

Until then, drivers can take their pick from available models such as the Nissan LEAF all-electric car, the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, the all-electric Tesla Model S and the Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid, and a growing public infrastructure in which to park and charge them.

For buildings being designed and built, or undergoing a major renovation, to achieve LEED certification under the 2009 rating system, providing one of the following earns up to three points in the SS Credit 4.3, Alternative Transportation for Low-emitting & Fuel-efficient (LEFE) vehicles category:

  1. Preferred parking (closed spot or price discount of ≥ 20%) for LEFE vehicles for 5% of site’s Parking Capacity (parking discount must be made available to all who drive LEFE vehicles and must be available for a minimum of two (2) years) OR
  2. Alternative refueling stations for 3% of site’s parking capacity OR
  3. LEFE vehicle and preferred parking for 3% of FTE OR
  4. One (1) shared LEFE be provided for 3% of FTEs with a minimum of one per 267 FTE for at least two (2) years (minimum one LEFE required)

Further, projects may be awarded one point for EP for instituting a transportation management plan that demonstrates a quantifiable reduction in the auto use through implementation of multiple options.

Even at this stage in the development of the market for EVs, which represents the future of automobiles, an EV driver plugs into a ChargePoint station every five seconds, saving over 12.5 million gallons of gas and over 41 million kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions.

Today, Emerald Skyline is proud to announce that it has partnered with ChargePoint to provide for a greener tomorrow – for an emerald skyline!

“As a sustainability and resiliency consulting and LEED project management firm, this partnership allows us the latest technologies and largest and most open network available to provide our clients,” 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.

With almost 28,000 charging stations, ChargePoint is the world’s largest network of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in the US, Europe and Australia. ChargePoint stations set the industry standard for functionality and aesthetics and their innovative, cloud-based software gives station owners flexibility and control of charging operations. Stations on the ChargePoint network are independently owned businesses, which set their own pricing, access settings and much more.

demand-for-charging-stationsBeyond the workplace, EV charging stations are a distinctive and value-add amenity for hotels, restaurants, shopping centers and entertainment facilities – and a growing necessity for communities serving an ever-increasing demographic demanding an alternative to fossil-fuel driven vehicles.

An electric car will have to be able to travel long distances for EVs to break into the mass market. Like few other parts of the plug-in ecosystem, this has been demonstrated by Tesla Motors, which has built out its network of sites not only in the US, but in all their major markets. An 80% recharge that provides 200 miles or more in less than an hour enables Tesla owners to travel coast-to-coast with recharging breaks every three hours. And, despite the reticence of many in the industry about the prospect of being stationary for a half hour to hour break every three hours, Tesla drivers seem entirely satisfied with the network, to the point that congestion is an occasional problem while range anxiety is not.

The availability of a charging station will attract that additional guest or customer who will pay extra for the charge (yes, EV-charging stations can be an additional source of revenue by monetizing an EV-enabled parking spot). It will attract new customers to your business and encourage loyalty from a growing customer base of EV drivers.

Emerald Skyline Corporation will be providing ChargePoint EV Charging Station services and installations for corporate, municipality, and private entities. Together, we’re transforming the energy industry by developing intelligent energy management solutions to help people and businesses shift away from fossil fuels. impact-chargepoint-drivers

ChargePoint stations set the industry standard for functionality and aesthetics and their innovative, cloud-based software gives station owners flexibility and control of charging operations. Stations on the ChargePoint network are independently owned-businesses which set their own pricing, access settings and much more.

To find out more information about the installation of a ChargePoint Electric Vehicle Charging Station at your home, office building, shopping center, hotel or transportation hub and join the EV revolution for a greener tomorrow, please contact us at 305.424.8704 or go to www.emeraldskyline.com

Water Conservation Tips from National Geographic

In honor of Earth Day, we wanted to share some water conservation tips that make it easy for everyone to do their part.

Toilets, Taps, Showers, Laundry, and Dishes

  • 1994 was the year that federally mandated low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets started to appear on the scene in significant numbers.
  • On average, 10 gallons per day of your water footprint (or 14% of your indoor use) is lost to leaks. Short of installing new water-efficient fixtures, one of the easiest, most effective ways to cut your footprint is by repairing leaky faucets and toilets.
  • If you use a low-flow showerhead, you can save 15 gallons of water during a 10-minute shower.
  • Every time you shave minutes off your use of hot water, you also save energy and keep dollars in your pocket.
  • It takes about 70 gallons of water to fill a bathtub, so showers are generally the more water-efficient way to bathe.
  • All of those flushes can add up to nearly 20 gallons a day down the toilet. If you still have a standard toilet, which uses close to 3.5 gallons a flush, you can save by retrofitting or filling your tank with something that will displace some of that water, such as a brick.
  • Most front-loading machines are energy- and water-efficient, using just over 20 gallons a load, while most top-loading machines, unless they are energy-efficient, use 40 gallons per load.
  • Nearly 22% of indoor home water use comes from doing laundry. Save water by making sure to adjust the settings on your machine to the proper load size.
  • Dishwashing is a relatively small part of your water footprint—less than 2% of indoor use—but there are always ways to conserve. Using a machine is actually more water efficient than hand washing, especially if you run full loads.
  • Energy Star dishwashers use about 4 gallons of water per load, and even standard machines use only about 6 gallons. Hand washing generally uses about 20 gallons of water each time.

Yards and Pools

  • Nearly 60% of a person’s household water footprint can go toward lawn and garden maintenance.
  • Climate counts—where you live plays a role in how much water you use, especially when it comes to tending to a yard.
  • The average pool takes 22,000 gallons of water to fill, and if you don’t cover it, hundreds of gallons of water per month can be lost due to evaporation.

Diet

  • The water it takes to produce the average American diet alone—approximately 1,000 gallons per person per day—is more than the global average water footprint of 900 gallons per person per day for diet, household use, transportation, energy, and the consumption of material goods.
  • That quarter pounder is worth more than 30 average American showers. One of the easiest ways to slim your water footprint is to eat less meat and dairy. Another way is to choose grass-fed, rather than grain-fed, since it can take a lot of water to grow corn and other feed crops.
  • A serving of poultry costs about 90 gallons of water to produce. There are also water costs embedded in the transportation of food (gasoline costs water to make). So, consider how far your food has to travel, and buy local to cut your water footprint.
  • Pork costs water to produce, and traditional pork production—to make your sausage, bacon, and chops—has also been the cause of some water pollution, as pig waste runs into local water sources.
  • On average, a vegan, a person who doesn’t eat meat or dairy, indirectly consumes nearly 600 gallons of water per day lessthan a person who eats the average American diet.
  • A cup of coffee takes 55 gallons of water to make, with most of that H2O used to grow the coffee beans.

Electricity, Fuel Economy, and Airline Travel

  • The water footprint of your per-day electricity use is based on state averages. If you use alternative energies such as wind and solar, your footprint could be less. (The use of biofuels, however, if they are heavily irrigated, could be another story.) You would also get points, or a footprint reduction, for using energy-star appliances and taking other energy-efficiency measures.
  • Washing a car uses about 150 gallons of water, so by washing less frequently you can cut back your water use.
  • A gallon of gasoline takes nearly 13 gallons of water to produce. Combine your errands, car pool to work, or take public transportation to reduce both your energy and water use.
  • Flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco, about 700 miles round-trip, could cost you more than 9,000 gallons of water, or enough for almost 2,000 average dishwasher loads.
  • A cross-country airplane trip (about 6,000 miles) could be worth more than 1,700 standard toilet flushes.
  • Traveling from Chicago to Istanbul is just about 10,000 miles round trip, costing enough water to run electricity in the average American home for one person for more than five years.

Industry—Apparel, Home Furnishings, Electronics, and Paper

  • According to recent reports, nearly 5% of all U.S. water withdrawals are used to fuel industry and the production of many of the material goods we stock up on weekly, monthly, and yearly.
  • It takes about 100 gallons of water to grow and process a single pound of cotton, and the average American goes through about 35 pounds of new cotton material each year. Do you really need that additional T-shirt?
  • One of the best ways to conserve water is to buy recycled goods, and to recycle your stuff when you’re done with it. Or, stick to buying only what you really need.
  • The water required to create your laptop could wash nearly 70 loads of laundry in a standard machine.
  • Recycling a pound of paper, less than the weight of your average newspaper, saves about 3.5 gallons of water. Buying recycled paper products saves water too, as it takes about six gallons of water to produce a dollar worth of paper.

 

National Geographic
View original article here

LED Lighting: Both Art and Science

JulieBy Julie Lundin, Founder,
Director of LEED Process Management for Emerald Skyline Corporation

As a registered commercial interior designer and as a LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional), I balance the aesthetics of lighting, the “art” and the technical knowledge the “science” when finding solutions for our clients project needs. Lighting is for people, so there must be an understanding of the visual quality users need for health, safety, productivity and enjoyment. Combining the needs of people, with the aesthetics desired and the rapidly changing technical knowledge are key when specifying lighting for any project. In addition, today’s buildings also require the need to consider the economics, sustainability and impact on the environment when making our decisions.

“More and more, so it seems to me, light is the beautifier of the building.”
Frank Lloyd Wright – Architect

Whether you are an individual homeowner or a business involved in commercial spaces you have probably noticed the rapidly evolving lighting product market. The standard incandescent bulbs that Edison invented and we all used for years are no longer available. They are being phased out by the federal government. Next, CFL’s (compact fluorescent lights) became the go to option for customers seeking an inexpensive, energy efficient replacement for the standard incandescent bulb. However, CFL’s have had issues with the quality of light which was perceived as harsh by users, they were slow to warm up and difficult to dim, and contain mercury. CFL’s are now also being phased out. General Electric announced earlier this year that they will stop making and selling these bulbs in the U.S. by the end of 2016. “Now is the right time to transition from CFL to LED,” said John Strainic, chief operating officer of consumer and conventional lighting at GE Lighting. Per Mr. Stranic, retailers are also moving away from CFL’s which will have a harder time qualifying for the Energy Star rating under regulations proposed for next year.

Initially LED’s were expensive but gained customer support because they offer better light quality. As with many emerging technical and consumer products, prices for LED bulbs have dropped steadily as manufacturing has increased and the products have been embraced in the mainstream. Manufacturers and retailers have also used coupons and rebates to further bring down the cost. Even as the prices are dropping the technology of LED’s has improved over the years.

There is no denying the energy efficiency of LED’s but other performance factors should be taken into consideration when deciding which product will work best for the intended use.

LED Glossary and Performance Factors

Efficacy – the rating for lumen output per watt, an easy measurable metric that compares the energy consumption and output of different light sources. Per Eric Lind of Lutron Electronics, the efficacy rating is starting to lose its relevance in favor of overall performance measurements. “If I’m trying to evaluate how much it costs to operate a building, lumens per watt is a good measurement,” says Lind. “The challenge is that buildings are there for a purpose and the color and quality of light have an impact on the people inside”.

Color Rendering Index – CRI is a measurement of a light sources accuracy in rendering different colors when compared to a reference light source with the same correlated color temperature. The closer a light source is to a score of 100, the better its color rendering. The higher the CRI, the better the visual perception of colors. Energy Star requires eligible fixtures to use lamps with a CRI above 80.

Lumens – Lumens are the perceived brightness of a lamp (bulb) and one part of a light sources distinct character.

Color Temperature – The other part of a light sources character, color temperature is a description of the warmth or coolness of a light source. Color temperature is measured on the Kelvin scale and is not the ambient hot/cold temperature of our surroundings. Confusingly the Kelvin scale goes backwards, the higher the color temperature, the cooler the light gets and the lower the color temperature, the warmer the light gets.

An example of color temperature application in a commercial building interior, a warmer (i.e. lower color temperature) light is often used in public areas to promote relaxation, while a cooler (higher color temperature) light is used to enhance concentration in offices. Lighting is one of the most important items that should be addressed in every space. An improperly lighted space can cause accidents, eyestrain, impact the occupant mood, and even how people look.

Color temperature and lumens are the new specifications that people need to know when choosing LED lamps.

Watts – Watts are what we used to measure brightness in the use of incandescent and CFL’s. With LED’s, lumens are the indicator of indicator of brightness.

Controllability – the option of changing light levels and color temperature to suit individual needs and important to user satisfaction.

color temperature kelvin scale

LED Lighting Retrofits – The Low Hanging Fruit

In commercial facilities, lighting efficiency improvement is the simplest energy saving strategy, “the low hanging fruit”. Lights consume from 15 to 40 percent of the annual energy use for most buildings and are usually less expensive to change than other systems. Often there is more than energy savings in most lighting improvement projects:

  • Lower Cooling Costs – Lights generate waste heat, improved lighting efficiency can lower your air conditioning costs.
  • Demand Savings – Reducing the amount of electricity used for lighting may reduce peak demand billing costs.
  • Increased Occupant Productivity – Better lighting may permit faster work patterns with fewer errors and increased productivity.
  • Reduced Absenteeism – Improper lighting can cause glare which results in fatigue, headaches and absenteeism.
  • Increase Safety and Security – Proper light levels reduce the possibility of as well as improve the safety of the employees and vehicle traffic. LED retrofits of parking garages and parking lots are important for employee safety and security.
  • Lower Maintenance Costs – LED light sources have a longer lamp life than incandescent and CFL’s resulting in lower lamp replacements and labor costs.

Lighting is one of the most important items that should be addressed in any building. It has the capability to impact the occupants, the cost of operations and the environment. The Emerald Skyline team can assist you with your LED lighting retrofit project resulting in energy savings, lower cooling costs and most importantly occupant health, safety and productivity. Lighting has the ability to positively transform any space, a true blend of art and science.

 

G.E. to Phase out CFL Bulbs

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/02/business/energy-environment/ge-to-phase-out-cfl-light-bulbs.html?_r=0

Long Lasting LED Bulbs Now 90% Cheaper

http://time.com/money/3831356/cheap-led-lightbulb-philips/

Industrial Assessment Center – Energy Web Tool

http://iac.missouri.edu/webtool/TaskDocuments/lighting/lighting.html

Commercial Building Project Update

JulieBy Julie Lundin, Founder,
Director of LEED Process Management for Emerald Skyline Corporation

Emerald Skyline’s repurposing of our commercial building located in Boca Raton, FL is progressing and changing as we go through the development process. We have concluded the Planning Advisory Review and are now working on the Site Plan Application. As with any project, basic requirements must be met. These may include zoning, future land use designation, and city codes. One city code we were hoping to get an exception for is the Floor Area Ratio (FAR). The FAR is governed by the zoning district regulations applicable to each property. Based on our property’s zoning our “floor area ratio” – the floor area of our building divided by the lot area in square feet, cannot exceed 0.4. Since our project is registered as a LEED project we were hopeful that an exception to the 0.4 FAR could be made. The response regarding this issue during the Planning Advisory Review is that according to City Code, no variance may be granted which has the effect of increasing the intensity/FAR on a plot or parcel.

The adherence to the required FAR has presented us with design challenges resulting in both positive and negative impacts for the project. The property on which our building is located and it’s required setbacks is not large enough to accommodate any outward (horizontal) added square footage. Therefore, our option to increase the building size is by building up (vertical). This requires that a structural engineer is engaged to beef up the existing foundation and wall structure under the new space to ensure that it can support the added weight. With the addition of a second story, a stairwell has to be utilized which will use some of our already limited square footage. We have also decided to include an elevator which impacts the design and available square footage of the building. The height restrictions of 30’ based on the zoning district does not impact the addition of a second floor including the elevator shaft. The elevator component is a key design element to the exterior elevations.

The FAR of 0.4 has required us to significantly reduce the size of the second floor addition than we originally designed and wanted. This has impacted the layout of both floors and require that we re-think what is important to be included and where. As designers we have learned that what initially is perceived as negative impacts can actually lead to a better designed project. The second floor is now smaller but the green terrace is larger. This allows for more roof top vegetation and promotes a peaceful, connected to the environment space for the occupants. For more in-depth information on the benefits of a green roof please see Kendall Gillens’s post from last month’s newsletter “Vegetation is Not Solely for Landscape: The Benefits of a Green Roof”.

We are now preparing the drawings and documentation for the Site Plan Application. The site plan requires many issues to be addressed; parking, ingress and egress, landscaping, exterior lighting, ADA requirements, water and sewer, fire and life safety, etc. One of requirements of the site plan is to provide the design of the dumpster enclosures and their location on the property. Our property has very limited space which must accommodate many different elements to meet codes. The project is LEED registered with the intent to obtain the highest level of LEED certification that is possible. Sustainable design and LEED certification should positively impact all phases of a building including its design, construction and operation. We are proposing our building will be a zero waste facility in which no trash is sent to landfills or incinerators. Our goal is to send no garbage to the landfill. We will utilize new avenues for any waste and think creatively in terms of reducing, reusing and recycling. An example of this initiative will be the creation of an organic garden located at the rear of the building to process and compost organic materials to create a product that can be used to enrich the soil. Additionally, we will send materials that can be repurposed to innovative companies that will use the waste to create new products. We also plan to install portable carts with several recycling receptacles to facilitate the collection and sorting of waste materials. Our company will transport the recyclables to the recycling facilities. No commercial waste hauling will be contracted and there will be no dumpsters on the property.

We will pursue a dumpster deviation request from the City of Boca Raton and a Zero Waste Facility Certification. This is a third-party certification and we will need to meet all of its requirements. One requirement which is important is that our policy meets all federal, state, and local solid waste and recycling regulations. A zero waste facility will meet criteria to earn points toward LEED certification.

Our site plan will also contain a bicycle rack, an electric charging station for cars and pervious pavement rather than asphalt. For more information on pervious pavements please see our post “Exploring Permeable Pavement Options for LEED Projects”.

ZWS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zero Waste Business Facility Certification

Inspired by the Zero Waste business community, the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council and its Certification Development Committee have created the first third-party Zero Waste Business Certification program for facilities that meets the Zero Waste Principles of the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA). Our facility certification program goes beyond diversion numbers and focuses on the upstream policies and practices that make Zero Waste successful in an organization. We have crafted the facility certification to meet the requests of Zero Waste Businesses for a valid, comprehensive verification of their Zero Waste achievements.

Objectives

The USZWBC 3rd Party Zero Waste Business Certification does the following:

  • Supports ZWIA definition of no waste to landfill, incineration and the environment
  • Drives the development of new markets and new ideas towards a Zero Waste Economy
  • Meets Zero Waste Businesses request for valid and comprehensive third party certification
  • Focuses on upstream policies and practices beyond diversion or recycling
  • Emphasizes strong Total Participation: Training of all employees, ZW relationships with Vendors and customers


Requirements for Certification

1. Zero Waste policy in place
2. 90% overall diversion from landfill and incineration for non-hazardous wastes

-Discarded materials are reduced, reused, recycled, composted or recovered for productive use in nature or the economy at biological temperatures and pressures
-Materials can be processed above ambient biological temperatures (>200° F) to recover energy from the 10% residual, but they do not count as part of the 90% diversion
-Reused materials (office furniture, pallets, paper, etc.) are eligible to count as part of the 90% diversion requirement

3. Meet all federal, state/provincial, and local solid waste and recycling regulations
4. Data provided to USZWBC has been published formally
5. Data documents a base year and measurements since the base year
6. Commit to submit 12 months of data to USZWBC annually (Data submitted will be public and published on the USZWBC website)
7. Case Study of Zero Waste initiatives can be published on USZWBC website
8. Recertification is required every three years
9. Contamination is not to exceed 10% of each material once it leaves the company site

Exploring Permeable Pavement Options for LEED Projects

By Julie Lundin, NCIDQ, LEED AP ID+C, Principal
Emerald Skyline Corporation

As business owners and designers of our renovation project in Boca Raton, there are many decisions and variables involved in the design of both the building and the site. This project is a LEED registered project which impacts our design decisions and materials selected to incorporate sustainable goals. It gave us the opportunity to explore sustainable pavement options rather than the traditional blacktop used in most projects. The size of the project, location, cost, financial incentives to explore alternatives, and local city requirements all impact decisions to be made. When a pervious pavement is used in building site design, it can aid in the process of qualifying for LEED Green Building Rating System credits.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) is a rating system developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to evaluate the environmental performance of a building. LEED is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings.

LEED provides a framework for evaluating building performance and meeting sustainability goals through five credit categories: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. It should be noted, however, that LEED points are not gained directly by the use of a product but by meeting a specific sustainability goal of the rating program.

Pervious pavement options can contribute to many LEED categories including: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Materials and Resources, and Innovation in Design. Pervious pavement choices are unique and innovative ways to manage storm water and as a method of delaying roof runoff from entering city sewers. Considering these gives environmentally conscious business owners options to use in parking lots and walkways. When they are used in the building site design they function like storm water retention basins and allow the storm water to infiltrate the soil over a large area and recharge the groundwater supplies.

Why consider pervious pavement options?

Storm water is polluted

  • Oils and greases
  • Metals
  • Sediments
  • Fertilizers

Sustainability Factors

  • Low-Impact Development
  • Pollution Treatment
  • Recharging Ground Water
  • Tree Protection
  • LEED Requirements
  • Cool Communities

Meets LEED Requirements

  • Reduce Storm Water Runoff
  • Improve Storm Water Quality
  • Reduce Urban Heat Islands
  • Recycled Materials
  • Regional Materials

Description of specific credits where pervious pavement can aid the business owner or designer include:

 LEED Credit SS-C6.1 Storm Water Design – Quantity Control

LEED Credit SS-C6.2 Storm Water Design – Quantity Control

The intent of these credits is to limit disruption and pollution of natural water flows by managing storm water runoff, increasing on-site infiltration and eliminating contaminants. Pervious pavement can contribute to this credit by reducing storm water flow by allowing water to soak through and infiltrate to the ground below. Pervious choices can also reduce the pollutant loads by filtering contaminants as the water is transferred through the pavement.

 LEED Credit SS-C7.1 Heat Island Effect- Non-Roof

 Pervious pavement acts to reduce the heat island effect by absorbing less heat from solar radiation than darker pavements. The relatively open pore structure and the light color of pervious pavements store less heat, therefore, reducing the heat reflected back into the environment and helping to lower heat island effects in urban areas. The heat island effect can be further minimized by the addition of trees planted in parking lots. The trees offer shade and produce a cooling effect for the paving. Pervious pavement is ideal for protecting trees in a paved environment (many plants have difficulty growing in areas covered by impervious pavements, sidewalks and landscaping, because air and water have difficulty getting to the roots). Pervious pavements or sidewalks allow adjacent trees to receive more air and water and still permit full use of the pavement.

LEED Credit WE C1.1 Water Efficient Landscaping

 The intent of this credit is to limit or eliminate the use of potable water, or other natural surface or subsurface water resources available on or near the project site, for landscape irrigation. The gravel sub-base under pervious pavements can be used to store storm water for irrigation, helping to satisfy this credit. If no irrigation is required for a project, two points may be earned.

LEED Credits MR-C4.1 and MR-C4-2 Recycled Content

The intent of this credit is to increase the demand for building products that have incorporated recycled content material reducing the impacts resulting from the extraction of new material. Almost all ready mixed concrete contains recycled materials in the form supplementary cementitious materials (SCM) such as fly ash, slag, or silica fume. The use of SCMs or recycled aggregate in pervious concrete or base material contributes to recycled content needed for this credit.

LEED Credit MR-C5.1 and MR-C5.2 Regional Materials

The intent of this credit is to increase demand for building products that are extracted and manufactured locally, thereby reducing the environmental impacts resulting from their transportation and supporting the local economy. The majority of materials in pervious concrete and pavements are considered regional materials. In addition to aiding in gaining LEED certification points, pervious concrete can provide a safe and durable surface for most pavement needs. Light colored pervious pavements require less site lighting to provide safe night-time illumination levels, whether on parking lots, driveways, or sidewalks.

Types of Pervious Pavements

  • Porous Asphalt (Blacktop)
    • Low Cost
    • Effective Porosity
    • High Maintenance – Biannual cleaning to prevent clogging
    • Does not allow for plant growth
    • Contributor to heat island effect but better than standard ashphalt
    • Alternative for large projects
  • Pervious Concrete
    • Same concept as porous asphalt, except it is concrete
    • Easy to order and have installed
    • Light in color and not contribute to heat island effect
    • Higher Cost than Asphalt
    • Request use of local or reclaimed aggregates
    • Use highest amount of Fly Ash and/or Slag (both are reclaimed waste products)
    • Requires cleaning to prevent clogging
    • Can serve as a retention basin for storing rainwater during a storm
  • Pervious Block Pavers
    • Many different types on the market
    • Can look like traditional pavers for aesthetics
    • Filled in with grass or gravel
    • Allows for plant growth
    • Pavers are pricey
    • Installation requires laying of individual small blocks
    • May settle or become misplaced after use
  • Drivable Grass
    • Unique product
    • 2” x 2” mats that are more affordable individual pavers
    • Good infiltration for grass growth or ground cover
    • Plants remain cooler and receive uniform watering
    • Greener parking surface than other plantable systems
    • Low maintenance
  • Plastic Grid Systems
    • Made of recycled plastic and fully recyclable themselves
    • Low maintenance
    • Easy installation
    • Can provide a fully sodded surface if desired
    • Use only appropriate for light or occasional use parking lots

Decision making is a critical process for any project. Well informed choices and decisions can help keep a project timeline on track. Decisions in all areas including design and specifications need to be clearly and fully described. There should be at least three options to choose from that include how, what, where and how much? All the implications and impact of each option must be considered. Will it delay the project? Will it increase the cost?   A LEED project also needs to incorporate the analysis of products and design and their sustainable impacts. We are considering 3 categories of pervious pavement products for our project; pervious concrete, pervious block pavers, and drivable grass. With the ever evolving development of sustainable products, there may also be a hybrid solution available that will meet all of our project goals.

http://www.epa.gov/region02/njgiforum/pdf/08justice.pdf

http://www.perviouspavement.org/benefits/leed.html

http://www.100khouse.com/2010/12/08/permeable-pavement-options-for-leed-projects/

Vegetation is Not Solely for Landscape: The Benefits of a Green Roof

By Kendall Gillen, Biologist
Emerald Skyline Corporation

greenroofOn a hot summer day when it is 90º on the street, it can be twice as hot on the roof of most commercial buildings with a significant number of them made of black tar. Black roofs result in higher utility bills due to the higher HVAC costs. An alternative that is increasingly available is a “green” roof.

Further, green roofs can provide useable outdoor patio spaces which, according to a an article entitled “10 Most Wanted Office Amenities” in the 9/3/2015 National Real Estate Investor, is the seventh most desired amenity based on a survey conducted by Colliers International Group Inc.

A green roof is built like traditional roofs except a final layer of vegetation and soil, or a growing medium, is planted over a waterproofing membrane. Additional layers, such as a root barrier and drainage and irrigation systems may also be included.

According to the GSA Green Roof Report green roofs consist of a waterproofing membrane, growing medium (soil), and vegetation (plants) overlying a traditional roof. Green roofs are used to achieve environmental benefits including reducing storm water runoff, energy use, and the heat island effect. They are sometimes referred to as vegetated roofs or eco-roofs.

The history of green roofs started in ancient Mesopotamia where rooftop plants were grown from the Ziggurat of Nanna to the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The most recognizable green roofs in America were installed on Rockefeller Center in New York City. They continue to flourish today (see photo). More recent examples are the Gap Headquarters in San Bruno, CA and the Ford Motor Co. headquarters in Dearborn, MI.

 

Green roofs can be either “Intensive” or “Extensive.” Intensive roofs have thick soil depths with elaborate plantings that include shrubs and trees that require heavy load-bearing roof structures and regular maintenance. Extensive green roofs are mush lighter with shallow soils with low-growing ground cover plants that are extremely sun and drought tolerant. Extensive green roofs can be installed over various roof decks and require periodic maintenance.

The environmental benefits of a well-designed and well-maintained Green Roof are summarized as follows:

  • Stormwater Management
    • Most urban and suburban areas contain large amounts of paved or constructed surfaces which prevent stormwater from being absorbed into the ground. The resulting excess runoff damages water quality by sweeping pollutants into water bodies. Green roofs can reduce the flow of stormwater from a roof and delay the flow rate.
  • Energy
    • Green roofs reduce building energy demand by cooling roofs and providing shade, thermal mass and insulation.
  • Biodiversity and Habitat
    • Green roofs provide new urban habitat for plants and animals, birds and insects, thereby increasing biodiversity
  • Urban Heat Islands
    • Cities are generally warmer than other areas, as concrete and asphalt absorb solar radiation, leading to increased energy consumption, heat-related illness, and air pollution. Green roofs can help reduce this effect
  • Roof Longevity
    • Green roofs are expected to last twice as long as conventional roofs
  • Aesthetics
    • Green roofs can add beauty and value to buildings

 

Green roofs can earn LEED points in several credit categories. The total points achieved will depend upon the size of the roof and the degree to which various features are incorporated into the overall building design. These include but are not limited to storm water design, reduced heat island effect, habitat provided for wildlife, reduced cooling load, and many others. Green roofs help to reclaim green space and promote biodiversity.

LEED is a rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). It provides a standard certification process with five key areas of human and environmental health. It provides a roadmap to measuring and documenting success for every building type and phase of building lifecycle. LEED certification is achieved by earning points for a variety of credits.

Of the five major LEED categories and subcategories, below are the ones that have potential to earn credit from a green roof

Sustainable Sites

  • Protect or restore habitat and maximize open space
    • Adding vegetation on a green roof reclaims green space that has been taken up by the built environment
  • Storm Water Design
    • Green roofs help to reduce excess storm water discharge through evapotranspiration, periods of longer infiltration, or capture and reuse.
    • Pollutants and other toxins are filtered out of storm water by the green roof
  • Heat Island Effect
    • Green roofs significantly reduce roof temperature, particularly in summer months
    • Vegetated roofs and high-reflectance roofs now have equal weight when calculating LEED compliance

Water Efficiency

  • Water-efficient landscaping
    • When vegetated with local or native vegetation, drought-tolerant plants require little irrigation
    • The growing medium or soil can act as a sponge to collect rainfall, feed the vegetation, evaporate and filter excess rainwater
    • Runoff may occur in heavy rains, which can be channeled to an on-site cistern for collection and reuse in irrigation, ground-level landscape, and non-potable water usage within the building

Energy and Atmosphere

  • Optimize Energy Performance
    • Green roofs can provide varying degrees of reduced energy costs based on climate zone, building type, site, exposure, atmospheric conditions, and moisture content of the roof soil

Materials and Resources

  • Recycled Content
    • If green roof materials contain recycled content such as compost or reclaimed mineral aggregate, they can count toward recycled content credits
  • Materials and products that contain multiple environmental attributes can have a synergistic effect on LEED points earned

Innovation in Design

  • Having a green roof on a building can contribute to increased workplace productivity
  • Green roofs can be used in various building types for
    • Meetings and relaxation, education, creating beautiful views, fostering better health, reduced healing time, and increased positive social interaction
  • Green roofs can be integrated with patios and outdoor kitchens which expands the building space
  • An advanced green roof may even grow herbs, vegetables, and other consumables for the property

 

Summary of the Benefits of a Green Roof

 In addition to reduced utility costs, the benefits of a green roof include: (a) reduction of water runoff; (b) reduced sewage system loads by assimilating large amounts of rainwater (3” to 5” of soil absorbs 75% of rain events that are on-half inch or less); (c) protects the underlying roof material by eliminating exposure to UV radiation and extreme temperature fluctuations resulting in a longer lasting roof system. Other benefits include reduction of air and noise pollution, creation of urban living environments for birds, provision of useable outdoor patio spaces, as previously mentioned, and enhancement of a property’s marketability (especially when multiple elevations are incorporated into a project resulting in views overlooking other rooftops).

  • For Building Owners
    • Increase roof life
    • Reduce HVAC costs
    • Government incentives
    • Storm water management tool
    • Contribute to earning LEED certification
    • Improve public relations
    • Transform roof into living space
  • For the Community
    • Reduce storm water runoff and pollutants
    • Reduce heat island effect
    • Improve air quality
    • Noise reduction
    • Lower energy demand
    • Provide green space
    • Improve aesthetics
  • For the Environment
    • Neutralize acid rain effect
    • Provide habitat for wildlife
    • Lowers the load on sewer capacity
    • Encourages biodiversity
    • Filters pollutants from the water supply

Up-front costs of an extensive roof in the US starts around $8 psf all-in. By comparison, a traditional roof starts at $1.25 with cool roof membranes starting at $1.50 psf. However, the additional installation costs are off-set by energy savings and the extended life of the roof and possible savings on the storm water infrastructure.   Finally, a property with a green roof will be more marketable to prospective tenants.

The benefits of a green roof are innumerable for building owners and occupants, the built environment, and the natural environment. Green roofs are a primary example of the advances in environmentally friendly systems that are available to enhance your commercial properties.