Personal Benefits

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.

 

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)

The rapid growth of electric cars worldwide, in 4 charts

The article below puts a spotlight on the swift growth of electric vehicle use worldwide. So speedy in fact, EV use has tripled since 2013. This is one of the few areas that the world’s nations are on track to keep climate change below 2 degrees celsius. Let this be a reason to keep up the good work with EV deployment, and highlight the other energy initiatives that could use improvement. With every electric vehicle that hits the road, the demand for places to charge up increases. What if I told you there was a way to not only install a charging station, but an independently owned business that can set its own pricing, access settings, and much more? Keep reading to find out…


The rapid growth of electric cars worldwide, in 4 charts

electric vehicle parking

An increasingly common sight

Written by Brad Plumer on June 6, 2016

One million down, another billion or so to go.

In a new report, the International Energy Agency estimates that 1.26 million electric cars hit the world’s roads in 2015, passing a nifty (if symbolic) milestone. Here’s a chart showing the very rapid growth of both battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEV):

evolution global electric car stock

(IEA, Global EV Outlook 2016)BEV = battery electric vehicles; PHEV = plug-in hybrid vehicles, which typically have both an electric motor and a conventional engine.

The United States now has 400,000 electric vehicles on the road — a massive increase since 2010, though well short of Obama’s goal of 1 million by 2015. Meanwhile, China has become the world’s largest market, overtaking the US in annual sales last year.

Is 1 million a lot? It depends how you look at it. It’s jaw-dropping growth given that there were only a few hundred electric vehicles on the entire planet back in 2005. And the total number of electric vehicles worldwide has tripled just since 2013.

But to put this in perspective, there are more than 1 billion gasoline- and diesel-powered cars on the world’s roads — and demand will keep soaring in the decades ahead as China and India’s middle classes expand. So we have a long, long way to go before electric cars take over the world.

In order to avoid more than 2°C of global warming, the IEA calculates, we’d likely need to see about 150 million electric cars on the road by 2030 and 1 billion by 2050 as part of a broader climate strategy. The good news, the agency says, is that this ambitious electric vehicle target seems much more feasible than it did just a few years ago.

Two big reasons for the rapid growth of EVs: public subsidies and falling battery prices

For starters, more and more countries are enacting policies to build up charging infrastructure and incentivize vehicle purchases. The table below details some of those policies, which include everything from tax breaks to tailpipe emission standards (which favor cleaner electric cars) to HOV lane access:

Electric vehicle uptake

IEA, Global EV Outlook 2016

“Ambitious targets and policy support have lowered vehicle costs, extended vehicle range and reduced consumer barriers in a number of countries,” the report says.

As a result, electric vehicles now make up more than 1 percent of sales in China, France, Denmark, and Sweden. They make up 9.7 percent of sales in the Netherlands, and 23 percent of sales in Norway, which offers some of the most generous tax incentives around, worth about $13,500 per car.

The other huge driver here is falling battery costs, which have fallen by a factor of four since 2008. Since batteries make up around one-third of the price of electric vehicles, getting this number down even further is crucial for widespread adoption.

evolution battery energy density cost

IEA, Global EV Outlook 2016

The Department of Energy estimates that battery costs need to fall to $125 per kilowatt-hour by 2022 to achieve cost-competitiveness with conventional vehicles. The IEA says this “seems realistic” given current rates of technological improvement, and points out that manufacturers like Tesla and GM have set even more ambitious cost targets.

The amount of energy that batteries can hold (known as energy density) has also improved significantly. The IEA cites various reports that electric cars will soon be able to travel more than 180 miles on a single charge — also critical for boosting consumer adoption and alleviating “range anxiety.”

Meanwhile, electric cars get all the attention, but the IEA points out that the electrification of other modes of transport, including motorcycles and buses, is just as important. Particularly in countries where these vehicles are widespread:

The electrification of road transport modes other than cars, namely 2-wheelers, buses and freight delivery vehicles, is currently ongoing in a few localised areas. With an estimated stock exceeding 200 million units, China is the global leader in the electric 2-wheelers market and almost the only relevant player globally, primarily because of the restriction on the use of conventional 2- wheelers in several cities to reduce local pollution. China is also leading the global deployment of electric bus fleets, with more than 170 000 buses already circulating today.

To help solve climate change, electric cars need to do much, much more

Here’s one last chart from the IEA, showing what electric car deployment would have to look like to help meet the emissions-reduction promises put forth at the Paris climate talks last year (around 100 million electric cars by 2030). It also shows the even faster deployment that would be needed to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (about 150 million):

deployment scenarios electric cars

IEA, Global EV Outlook 2016

We’re on track now, but it’s early. In fact, as the IEA points out elsewhere, electric vehicle deployment is basically the only area where the world’s nations are on track to hit the targets needed to stay below 2 degrees Celsius.

One final caveat: As David Biello recently explained at Scientific American, electric cars aren’t inherently greener than their gasoline-powered counterparts. If you use coal-fired power plants to charge all those electric cars, the climate benefits are minimal (or, worse, negative). The IEA is well aware of this, although it also notes that electric car deployment can help support the rollout of cleaner renewable energy, too:

The climate change-related benefits of EVs can be fully harvested under the condition that their use is coupled with a decarbonised grid, an additional challenge for countries that are largely dependent on fossil fuels for power generation. Investment in EV roll-out can support this transition, e.g. increasing the opportunities available to integrate variable renewable energy.

Cleaning up the grid is a sine qua non for electric cars to help ameliorate climate change, although this hardly seems like a deal breaker for the technology. Think of it this way: If we don’t clean up the world’s electric grid, we have little chance of stopping global warming either way. The two have to go hand in hand.

End article.


Following Emerald Skyline’s recently announced partnership with ChargePoint, we have realized more and more the importance of the growth of electric vehicle use worldwide. Equally important as these EVs are the charging stations and infrastructure needed to support them. This rapid growth necessitates installation of charging stations. The industry standard for functionality and aesthetics are ChargePoint stations which are independently owned businesses that 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 info@emeraldskyline.com

Going green – Fifty free or low cost ways for commercial property owners, managers and tenants to begin

PJ PictureBy Paul L. Jones, CPA, LEED Green Associate,
Principal, Emerald Skyline Corporation

Bloomberg CoverCommercial properties consume approximately 20% of the total energy used by the United States. We also know that commercial buildings consume a large portion of water, produce greenhouse gas emissions and generate significant waste. Further, we know that building owners and managers will seek to reduce energy and water consumption as well as greenhouse gas emissions and waste that is taken to a landfill (or the ocean) in order to save on operating expenses and improve the marketability of their property. But, we also know, owners and managers are budget conscious and want to time replacements with the deterioration or functional obsolescence of their systems and equipment.

So, what can an owner, manager or tenant do?

Good news. We have done the research for you and assembled a host of ideas and tips on free or low cost ways to start you on the Path to Sustainable Benefits (Please note that all figures and percentages are approximate and based on published sources; your results may vary):

Reduce, reuse and recycle

  1. Implement a recycling program (be sure to check local recycling and waste reduction guidelines for materials that are eligible to recycle);
  2. Establish a location in the building to recycle used batteries, toner cartridges and miscellaneous hazardous products and partner with a charitable organization to donate used toner cartridges, batteries and other products,
  3. Set up a cell phone recycling drive (contact ReCellular) or partner with a charitable organization to donate used cell phones.
  4. Recycle old or unused furniture whenever
  5. Post signs in production rooms, mail rooms and kitchens as a reminder to reduce, reuse and recycle and the 3 Include information in new tenant welcome packages.
  6. Purchase refurbished or environmentally-friendly new furniture.
  7. Source locally-manufactured/produced products to lower transportation and delivery costs.
  8. Encourage and educate building management personnel and tenants on how they can improve their recycling efforts including:
    • Provide individual paper recycle bins or cardboard boxes at each desk,
    • Provide recycle bins at each copier/printer/fax (more bins than trash cans increases use),
    • Reuse shipping boxes in the mailroom and use shredded waste paper as packing material,
    • Switch to refillable pens and pencils made from recycled materials,
    • Use envelopes a second time with a new address label,
    • Encourage staff who cannot recycle certain items at home to bring these to the office for recycling,
    • Establish a common space for reusable office products,
    • Establish a policy that employees shut down their computers when leaving for the day (“standby” draws power when not in use),
    • Turn off devices besides fax machines that are not in use afterhours before leaving the office,
    • Utilize remanufactured/recycled toner cartridges for printers and fax machines,
    • Save paper with the blank side to b used for scrap/scratch/drafts (reuse) before recycling,
    • Encourage printing on used paper if one side remains clean (use old reports from exiting or outdated hardcopy files to print new data for updated files),
    • Use document scanning and email technology to reduce printing of documents,
    • Encourage employees to read email and files without printing,
    • Set up and use electronic filing rather than a paper filing system,
    • Take the time to redirect undelivered mail with “no longer at this address” written on the envelope,
    • Contact advertisers directly to quit sending unsolicited marketing and catalog products,
    • Notify staff who receive unwanted mail to be removed from mailing lists by contacting Mail Reference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 3861, New York, NY 10163-3861,
    • Use ceramic/glass dishware to reduce wasted paper, plastics and foam cups, and
    • Discontinue the use of individually-bottled water.
    • Use on-demand printing processes rather than push printing that requires bulk ordering of marketing materials (e.g. brochures).

Conserve Energy

  1. Benchmark energy and water consumption through ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager.
  2. Perform regular energy audits to identify opportunities for cost-effective energy reduction. Remember to perform midnight evaluations to make sure lighting and HVAC are not running when the building is unoccupied.
  3. Make sure a/c vents, heaters and radiators are unobstructed by office furniture.
  4. Understand your energy bills and consult your energy supplier(s) to understand the billing rates and any peak-time charges and how they be reduced or avoided.
  5. Adjust the thermostat to be one degree higher during the cooling season and one degree lower during the heating season;
    • Reduce the thermostat in unoccupied rooms or in busy concourse spaces and corridors where people move quickly through anyway
  6. Set thermostats to energy-efficient heating/cooling levels during weekends and evenings,
  7. Inspect all thermostats semi-annually to ensure that they are working properly,
  8. Adopt on-demand HVAC,
  9. Ensure switches are labeled so tenants and staff are aware of switches that are relevant for use and won’t be switching on too many appliances or too much lighting.
  10. Leaving the lighting in vacant spaces off except during use and encourage tenants to turn off lights when departing a conference room or unused space (Better yet: install occupancy sensors (timers are another option) which ensures that even occupied spaces are lit when there is a person the room and off when vacant, further reducing energy consumption;
  11. Install solar shades to block heat.
  12. Switch to day cleaning so lights can be turned off at night rather than at 2:00 am when the cleaning crew is done.
  13. Establish a pro-active HVAC systems and building envelope maintenance programs. Something as simple as replacing worn door seals can cost around $100 per doo, but lead to thousands of dollars in annual savings;
  14. As lightbulbs are replaced, use LED bulbs to help reduce energy consumption;
  15. Install VFD (Variable Frequency Drive) on pumps and water features which minimizes energy use during low demand times;
  16. Vending machines carrying non-perishable items can be set on a timer or switched off during non-work hours (nights and weekends) when the building is closed.
  17. Power flushing your central heating system can reduce fuel wastage by a third as it can remove undesirable corrosion residues, replace aggressive water, quickly restoring circulation, efficiency, and increase the lifespan of your system.
  18. Institute a tenant energy awareness program – use your company newsletter and/or building announcements to keep tenants and their employees informed about energy management goals and how they can help.
    • Provide tenants with energy saving tips
    • Recommend that tenants keep the blinds in the office closed (or almost closed) during peak sun hours and especially on weekends,
    • Recommend that building occupants avoid placing lamps near the thermostats in your space (heat generated by the light causes the HVAC to turn on when not needed to cool the entire office),

Conserve Water

27. Install aerators on faucets (especially in older buildings) to reduce the demand for hot water;

28. Put water heaters on a timer that shuts them off at night and on weekends and add water heater blankets,

29. Insure all hot water piping, including water return piping, is insulated which reduces the amount of time the user waits for hot water and ensures warmer water will be returned to the water plant.

30. Place cistern displacement devices in toilets to reduce flush volume.

31. Use dyes to check and fix toilet cistern leaks.

32. Use native or drought-tolerant plants and landscaping;

33. Use reclaimed water (through the use of rainwater harvesting tanks), irrigation sensors, timers and green products for landscaping, common area amenities and pest control.

34. Add a rain sensor designed to identify when precipitation is present and lock-out a controller so it does not run its program and irrigate when watering is unnecessary. After the rain event, the sensor automatically resets, allowing the controller to resume its schedule without losing any program information.

Indoor Environmental Quality

35. Use sustainable cleaning products and building materials for any tenant improvements or repairs;

36. Have cleaning crews use mircrofiber towels for cleaning rather than wasteful paper towels.

37. Replace bathroom paper products with recycled or post-consumer content paper.

38. Use high-efficiency HVAC filters and change them often.

39. When repainting an area, require the use of low VOC paint or paint that meets Green Seal 11 standards.

40. Paint work areas in lighter colors and use brighter surface design materials to maximize the effect of natural lighting.

41. Ensure remodeled include environmentally-friendly or recycled carpet.

42. Use a plant service to promote clean air and natural cooling.

43. Encourage tenants to position desks closer to natural light to reduce the onset of seasonal depression (aka SAD).

TransportationTripNec

44. Provide incentives, such as free or preferred parking, for building occupants who carpool.

45. Create a message board (either digital or physical) where building occupants can sign-up and find carpool mates.

46. Provide preferred parking for building occupants who drive low emission, fuel-efficient vehicles.

47. Encourage the use of public transportation

48. Provide bicycle storage to encourage building occupants to ride their bikes to work.

49. Hold long-distance meetings via NetMeeting, Live-meeting or other services.

50. Install electronic vehicle chargers

Has the Increase of Human Knowledge given us Wisdom? Let’s start the dialogue

11/25/14

By Paul L. Jones, Founder,
Director, Financial Advisory Services for Emerald Skyline Corporation

Muhammad Ali is quoted as saying: “The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

It makes sense that as we experience life, we learn from our experiences which changes our view of the world – we call it many things – like growing up or becoming mature. Throughout each of the stages of our lives, we experience life differently which causes us to act differently. Those changes can be infused from our personal lives through the loss of a loved one, the survival of a major illness, the overcoming of addictions or the recovery from a bad marriage or relationship. Or they may be through our education and career, through the rise and fall of a business, the lessons of a new course of study, the influence of colleagues and clients. And they may be spiritual – developing a deeper relationship with our God – however we conceive Him/Her to be, and what becomes important in the service of God and humanity. Ideally, we mature through all of these experiences and we move into Wisdom.

Wisdom is defined as “the quality of having experience, knowledge and good judgment; the quality of being wise; the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge and good judgment; or the body of knowledge and principles that develops within a specified society or period.”

The process of maturation in an individual can be viewed as the evolution of a person. And just as a person evolves, so does society: humanity as a species is dramatically different now than it was just 30 years ago – pre-internet, pre-smart phone, pre-nanotechnology, pre so many things that have changed how we experience and view the world.

In fact, the pace of human advancement has been accelerating throughout time. you can select many gauges by which to measure progress and change, patents for instance; but, there is one yard stick that I think gives us the greatest insight into the pace of change which is R. Buckminster Fuller’s Knowledge Doubling Curve which he introduced in his 1982 book, Critical Path.

A futurist and inventor, Fuller estimated that if we took all the knowledge that mankind had accumulated at the time of AD One, or One CE (Common Era), as equal to one unit of information, which took humcurveans nearly 198,000 years to accumulate, and used that as the benchmark; the amount of human knowledge would take another 1,500 years to double. With the introduction of the printing press, the pace of growth in human knowledge started to accelerate with another doubling occurring in about 250 years. By 1900 (around 150 years), human knowledge had doubled again. By the end of World War II, knowledge was doubling every 25 years. At the time Critical Path was published, Fuller estimated that human knowledge was doubling every 18 months. Now, Human knowledge is estimated to double every 13 months. With the internet and other advances in human communication and data storage, IBM predicts that human knowledge is soon to double every 12 hours.

 

This growth in human knowledge has lead to great advancements in the quality of life for much of humanity with scientific and technological advancements leading to improved hygiene, literacy, agricultural production, mass production, and medicine.

Further, these advancements lead to the first real increase in global per capita GDP which has been estimated to average $158 per annum (adjusted to 2013 dollars) from pre-history until the Industrial Revolution.   (According to a 1998 academic paper entitled “Estimates of World GDP, One Million BC to Present” by J. Bradford De Long of the UC Berkeley Department of Economics, GDP per capital started escalating around AD 1600 with consistent growth occurring after 1800).

The growth of knowledge and information accelerated in the 18th and 19th Centuries with a doubling of human knowledge translated into improved opportunities for a better life: People were empowered with knowledge which lead to the end of the feudal system and the introduction of democracy in politics, social structures and economics.

With the pace of human knowledge and the changes that it brings to our daily lives increasing exponentially, the natural reaction is to hold onto the bar and try to slow down the ride – like we do in a roller coaster or a vehicle traveling faster than is comfortable….

All this information and knowledge and experience should also lead to wisdom, right?opportun

Unfortunately, however, billions of people – including many of our political, religious and social leaders – still live as if they were in the Middle Ages.

The changes have made our lives better in many ways – but they have come with a price.   The following diagram from Wiki-books on “Economic History” is a diagram of societal development: hunter/gatherer, pastoralist/horticulturalist, agrarian, industrial, and post-industrial. It also ties each stage of development to the important consequences of societal development, namely: surplus, denser populations, specialization, technology and inequality (As a dramatic example of this inequality, the Toilet Board Coalition just reported that over one billion people live with no alternative to open defecation while 2.5 billion people in the world do not have access to proper sanitation which is in stark contrast to the standard of living experienced in the First World.) See: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/nov/19/world-toilet-day-business-coalition-open-defecation?CMP=new_1194

econom

(http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Economic_History)

As noted in an October 2012 article by Samuel Arbesman in BBC Future, “our lives are governed by centuries of advances that haven’t been random….there’s a pattern that reveals how our knowledge has changed over time….”

Understanding this pattern, Mr. Arbesman states, “helps us to understand something fundamental to our success as a species.”

In technology, Gordon Moore, a retired chemist and physicist who was a co-creator of the Intel Corporation, wrote a paper in 1965 entitled, Cramming More Components onto Integrated Circuits. In this short paper, Moore predicted that the number of possible components that can be placed on a single circuit for a fixed cost would double every year. This thesis, based on just four data points, has been proven true and is known as “Moore’s Law.”

If you generalize Moore’s Law from integrated circuits and chips to information technology, it explains extremely regular changes in technology over the past few centuries.

A primary reason that everything from the growth in knowledge to the advances in science and technology follows this pattern is related to the concept of cumulative knowledge.   All advances are built on the information available already. Like this article is based on the information and research that has been done by many people and is available now on the internet.

Mr. Arbresman continues:

” So, while exponential growth is not a self-fulfilling proposition, there is feedback, which leads to a sort of technological imperative: as there is more technological or scientific knowledge on which to grow, new technologies increase the speed at which they grow. But why does this continue to happen? Technological or scientific change doesn’t happen automatically; people are needed to create new ideas and concepts. The answer is that in addition to knowledge accumulation, we need to understand another factor that’s important to knowledge progression: population growth.”

In an August 1993 academic article published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Michael Kremer presents the case that the growth in knowledge and technology is directly linked to population growth and that technological growth is proportional to population growth.

There are now over seven billion humans on this earth – which both fuels innovation, the growth of knowledge, scientific discovery and technology while also causing an extreme demand on natural capital – the stock of finite resources which includes geology, soil, air, water and all living things from which humans use to sustain life.

Now, the question is – with 200,000 years of history and all this data, information and knowledge, have we grown wise?

What would Ali think? What do you think?

To be continued…..

Why the Invisible Hand Works

7/23/14

PJ Picture
By Paul L. Jones
, Founder,
Director, Financial Advisory Services for Emerald Skyline Corporation


This post has been over two weeks in the writing. Yes, two weeks. For me, the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence has always been a source for inspiration as the principles on which the United States of America is based continue to be a source of pride and reflection as well as a call to action.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

By these words, the Continental Congress established a moral standard that became the cornerstone of the US Constitution – our contract with each other that establishes the basis for our governance.

Of course, we have not realized these goals and they continue to be a guideline for our actions – as individuals and as a country. It is the mutual respect of our individual Rights that enables this pact among men and women to provide the freedom Americans enjoy.

In the same year the British-American Colonies declared their independence from England by establishing a new standard for the governance of a nation-state, Adam Smith published his A Wealth of Nations which provided the basis for modern free market economics. This was serendipity for sure.

As discussed in an earlier post, Smith introduced the concept of the Invisible Hand wherein he states that the market had an “automatic mechanism that allocated resources with great efficiency.”

It is difficult to realize how radical this concept was in 1776. Prior to the formation of the United States with an economy based on a free market, the allocation of labor was established either by tradition wherein the son was expected to follow in the trade of the father, or by command whereby an autocratic ruler (e.g., a king, pharaoh, emperor, etc.) dictates the economic activity to be pursued and the allocation of labor. In this way, humanity made sure there were enough farmers, carpenters, bakers, fishermen.

In describing the Invisible Hand, Smith says: “it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.”

Accordingly, the Invisible hand facilitates the interdependence of human workers while maintaining their independence. The precarious nature of human survival – and the ability of individuals to enjoy the unalienable Rights the Founding Fathers so bravely declared – would be exposed if the invisible hand had not worked.

It works because we are both independent and interdependent.

I, like most Americans, was raised to believe that America was built by rugged individuals who were as driven and as hardened as John Galt, Francisco d”Anconia, Hank Reardon and Dagny Taggart in Atlas Shrugged, the 1957 novel written by Ayn Rand.

The American history that I was taught told me that it was the titans of industry that built this country alone and the rest of us were along for the ride. Just like the characters in Ayn Rand’s famous novel, this is a myth and a fiction. To quote John Donne from Meditation #17 written in 1623:

“No man is an Island; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

It seems that in the propagation of the myth of the rugged individualist, we have forgotten that we are all in this together….America became an economic force because it had rich and abundant natural resources, a governmental model that promoted trade, an ever-expanding labor force by immigrants drawn from every nation on earth, scientific advances that led to the industrial revolution among other contributing factors.

Especially in this post-industrialized era of specialization when each of us have one primary trade or profession from which we earn a living. I would not have my breakfast if not for the farmer, the trucker, the grocer, the clerk and all the people who facilitate the production, processing, shipping and distribution of the food I ate. The market works because there is both a seller and a buyer. Without a buyer (market), no enterprise can survive.

America is built on our interdependence as well as our independence. I have thought about this seeming paradox. Here is what I have concluded: We are independent in what we offer the world as God has endowed each of us with a unique set of talents and capabilities which we then refine through education and experience to become skills and proficiencies that sustain us. But, we are interdependent in what we need or take from the world.

We each are an individual with a unique life, values, talents, capabilities, perspectives, relationships, but like a drop of water in the ocean or a snowflake in a snow drift, we quickly join with other droplets or flakes and become greater, and better, than we could alone. Individual contribution and group synergy form the basis for the modern business enterprise, the sports team, the nation-state and most human endeavors.

Therefore, the basis for all civilized human interaction has to be respect for our human dignity and our personal right to our identity, our ideas, and the fruits of our labor.

As stated above: the Invisible Hand works because we are both independent and interdependent. So, as we celebrate our independence, it is right and good that we also celebrate our interdependence – an American tradition since 1945.

Original Declaration of INTERdependence

By Will Durant, 1945

Human progress having reached a high level through respect for liberty and dignity of men, it has become desirable to re-affirm these evident truths:

  • The differences of race, color and creed are natural, and that diverse groups, institutions and ideas are stimulating factors in the development of man;
  • That to promote harmony in diversity is a responsible task of religion and statesmanship;
  • That since no individual can express the whole truth, it is essential to treat with understanding and good will those whose views differ from our own;
  • That, by the testimony of history, intolerance is the door to violence, brutality, and dictatorship; and
  • That the realization of human interdependence and solidarity is the best guard of civilization.

Therefore, we solemnly resolve, and invite everyone to join in united action,

  • To uphold and promote human fellowship through mutual consideration and respect;
  • To champion human dignity and decency, and to safeguard those without distinction of race or color or creed;
  • To strive in concert with others to discourage all animosities arising from these differences, and to unite all groups in the fair play of civilized life.

Rooted in freedom, children of the same Divine Father, sharing everywhere a common human blood, we declare again that all men are brothers, and that mutual tolerance is the price of liberty.

On Questioning Assumptions/Making an Immediate Impact

PJ Picture
By Paul L. Jones
, Founder,
Director, Financial Advisory Services for Emerald Skyline Corporation

The nature of our education system is for us to believe that once we learn a topic or draw a conclusion on an issue, we move on to the next subject and never look in the rear view mirror except to use that knowledge to advance in the next course, subject or project. It is easy to fall into this routine, but life and reality do not fit neatly into this sequential thinking process.

For too many people, we have drawn a conclusion on a topic at one point in our lives and never revisit it with an open mind and the benefit of more time and knowledge and wisdom which leads to false beliefs and poor decisions but, the British philosopher and Nobel Laureate, Bertrand Russell, advises us: “In all affairs, it’s a healthy thing now and then to hand a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.”

Of course, we know this is the case with making the existing building stock sustainable. A common pre-conception is that it costs a lot of money to reduce a property’s impact on the environment and improve the operating performance of a commercial building. Yes, replacing inefficient lighting and HVAC systems, adding solar panels, installing a green roof and changing the windows and/or skin of a building are definitely investments that will save money, but there are many ways to achieve savings without a major investment. YOU CAN MAKE AN IMMEDIATE IMPACT NOW.

Jennifer McConkey, Operations & Sustainability Director at Principal Global Investors, reports in a recently published White Paper: “It seems clear that running efficient building operations, sometimes with no-cost and low-cost improvements, can be the quickest way to implement sustainability into your properties or property investments. Operations can provide the foundation for ‘green’ no matter how old the building.”

An article in the 6/10/2014 issue of EDC (Environmental Design & Construction) Magazine reports, “Implementing green building practices will help reduce environmental problems caused by building construction, use and demolition, as well as the manufacturing of building materials. It also has tangible economic and public health benefits such as lower operating costs and improved occupant health and comfort.”

So, we know that commercial properties consume approximately 20% of the total energy used by the United States. We also know that commercial buildings consume a large portion of water, produce greenhouse gas emissions and generate significant waste. Further, we know that building owners and managers will seek to reduce energy and water consumption as well as greenhouse gas emissions and waste that is taken to a landfill (or the ocean). But, we also know, owners and managers are budget conscious and want to time replacements with the deterioration or functional obsolescence of their systems and equipment. So, what can an owner, manager or tenant do?

Plenty. For ways to start your road toward sustainability and improved operating performance, Jennifer McConkey of Principal Global and BAMCO courtesy of EDC gives us the following free or low cost ideas:

  • Adjust the thermostat to be one degree higher during the cooling season and one degree lower during the heating season;
  • Leaving the lighting in vacant spaces off except during use or installing occupancy sensors which “ensures that even occupied spaces are lit when there is a person the room, further reducing energy consumption;”
  • Establish a pro-active HVAC systems and building envelope maintenance programs. Ms. McConkey reports that “something as simple as replacing worn door seals can cost around $100 per doo, but lead to thousands of dollars in annual savings;”
  • As lightbulbs are replaced, use LED bulbs to help reduce energy consumption;
  • Install VFD (Variable Frequency Drive) on pumps and water features which minimizes energy use during low demand times;
  • Use native or drought-tolerant plants and landscaping;
  • Implement a recycling program (be sure to check local recycling and waste reduction guidelines for materials that are eligible to recycle); and
  • Use sustainable cleaning products and building materials for any tenant improvements or repairs.

Ms. McConkey’s White Paper can be found at the following link: www.principalglobal.com/us/download.aspx?id=96043

The EDC post can be found at the following link: http://www.edcmag.com/blogs/14-edc-blog/post/95677-building-green-5-ways-to-reduce-your-impact-on-the-environment

Remember, reduce, reuse and recycle.

Seek to make a difference! Be well and be blessed, Paul

Green Is the New Black: Levi’s, Nike Among Marketers Pushing Sustainability

View the original article here

Responding to a consumer behavior shift By Joan Voight

Levi’s boasts of designer jeans made out of used plastic bottles. Nike tempts runners with knitted sneakers that it claims cut manufacturing waste by 88 percent. These products may be the tip of a marketing iceberg, as new research shows a growing pool of global consumers are demanding that mainstream brands be sustainable.

“It’s not about offering a niche green product,” said Jonathan Kirby, vp of global men’s design for Levi Strauss. “We’re working to build sustainability into everything—from the cotton fields to our supply chain, to our stores, to our designs across product lines.”

Case in point: Each pair of Levi’s Waste<Less collection of jeans, launched in Spring 2012, is made from about eight recycled plastic bottles, Kirby said.

Nike takes a similar approach with the FlyKnit shoes it debuted last year, which are marketed as a high-tech advancement using yarn instead of leather uppers for a better fit and a reduction in waste. “FlyKnit is a great example of our innovation and commitment to products and services that are better for athletes, our planet and our investors,” said a company rep. “We’ve seen a strong response from runners and it’s safe to say it’s going to be a big [sales] year for FlyKnit.”

Numbers confirm that shoppers are increasingly seeing green. More than a third of global consumers, including 40 percent of millennials, view style, status and environmentalism as intertwined, per a 2013 survey by brand consultancy BBMG. These consumers love shopping and overwhelmingly desire responsible consumption. “For them, sustainability has changed from being ‘the right thing to do’ to being ‘the cool thing to do,’” said Raphael Bemporad, BBMG’s chief strategy officer.

Target is tapping into the trend with its “Sustainable Product Standard,” unveiled earlier this month. Household cleaners, beauty and baby products that pass the standard will be advertised with the “Choose Well” designation and get unique product placement, said a company rep. “This new standard is a first step toward sustainable innovation in our full product assortment,” she said.

In contrast, consumer goods companies like Unilever, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble are playing catch-up, with green initiatives focused mainly on the supply chain, said Bemporad.

J&J, for instance, recognizes 34 of its consumer items as sustainable through an in-house “Earthwards” evaluation, which includes R&D, marketing and the supply chain. The plan is for “marketing to leverage Earthwards’ claims for brands, such as Neutrogena and Johnson’s, in ways that relate to the products’ core benefits,” said Paulette Frank, vp of sustainability for Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies. “We’re still learning how to communicate and engage with consumers on our product sustainability improvements,” she added.

But the CPG giants risk becoming outdated as green design and marketing become the new normal in their categories. “It’s the ratchet effect,” said Nigel Hollis, chief global analyst at brand consultancy Millward Brown. “Look at the way Method spurred Clorox to launch the Green Works products. Once one brand in a category incorporates sustainability in a way that benefits the consumer at a fair price, it is tough for competitors not to respond in kind.”

 

Improving Indoor Air Quality the Easy Way

Environmental Leader, 5/2/2014
View the original article here

The natural first step most building managers take when they suspect that their building is causing health problems is to find the root cause and remove, replace or fix the problem. However, there are often more direct and less costly ways to attack poor indoor air quality, LEED trade magazine EDC reports.

Among these ways:

  • Use fewer chemicals. Cleaning chemicals, whether green or not, impact the indoor environment and using less will, naturally, lessen the impact. Janitors and other cleaning staff are wont to mix more chemical with water than necessary, according to EDC. This can be eliminated by installing an automatic dilution system.
  • Using greener chemicals can help, too. Look for products that have been independently tested and bear ecolabels such as UL’s Ecologo or the EPA’s Design for the Environment program. These are a better bet for those wanting to buy VOC-free or low environmental-impact chemicals.
  • Check vacuum cleaners. Vacuum filters are the one piece of equipment that can most contribute to indoor air quality improvement. By selecting advanced filtration filters and changing them regularly — twice a year is usually adequate — you can make drastic improvements.
  • Train workers on green cleaning. Many custodial workers don’t use environmentally friendly products in the right way. Implementing a training plan or sending workers to a green cleaning training program can overcome this problem.
  • Educate building users. Educating all those who use the building on the best ways to improve indoor air quality is the best way of making sure all building users are playing their part.

The global revenue for the indoor air quality monitoring and management market, driven by new building standards and regulations as well as a rebounding economy, will grow 80 percent to $5.6 billion by 2020, according to a forecast from Navigant Research released earlier this week.

The developed markets for indoor air quality-related HVAC markets remain sluggish — a holdover from the 2009 global recession. However, the North American market will become more robust this year. Europe will follow a similar trend but will not begin to recover until late 2014, the report says.

The Alphabet Soup of Transparency Tools

How do EPDs, HPDs, and PTDs fit into LCA?

By Christopher Curtland , Buidlings, 3/17/2014
View the original article here

Green certification shouldn’t feel like a game of Scrabble, but if you pursue certain tools, you’ll score a bonus in sustainability.

There are a growing number of acronyms in the industry, so it’s important you don’t get them jumbled. Learn how Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), Product Transparency Declarations (PTDs), and Health Product Declarations (HPDs) differ.

Lifecycle assessment (LCA) is factored into all three, and they could help you achieve LEED status or other designations.

 

Declarations of Disclosure


EPDs, HPDs, and PTDs were developed by SCS Global Services to effectively promote transparency, accuracy, scientific credibility, and comparability across several interior products.

While there is some overlap among the tools in terms of ingredient disclosure, they vary in how they report the impact of those ingredients on lifecycle, occupant health, and other criteria.

EPDs are summary reports of product-related environmental impacts based on a cradle-to-grave lifecycle assessment. HPDs are disclosures of product content and potential health hazards from chemicals of concern.

“There are two types of EPDs – basic for those seeking LEED v4 credits, and ‘full transparency’ EPDs that provide more comprehensive information based on advanced LCA,” says Stowe Beam, managing director of SCS’s division of environmental certification services. “HPDs enable companies to communicate the safety of potentially hazardous chemicals.”

PTDs are for products that undergo a health hazard assessment. They go a step beyond HPDs by disclosing intentionally added ingredients, including heavy metals. They acknowledge materials on six authoritative lists (see below) and indicate whether the ingredient level triggers an exposure warning notification based on the content.

“It’s a marriage between ingredient and exposure disclosure,” says Dean Thomson, president of the Resilient Floor Covering Institute. “PTDs also detail recycled content and VOC emissions.”

 

How to Use Them to Your Advantage


Think of these tools as nutritional labels for interiors products. They are all voluntary, so if a manufacturer has pursued them, you can feel confident in their commitment to sustainability.

Instead of using these designations as the basis for an apples-to-oranges comparison, they’re more apt for comparing Red Delicious to Granny Smith. The tools may seem the same at first glance, but their differences outweigh the similarities.

 

Ingredients and Health Risks

 

  • PTDs reference several hazardous materials identified by these six authorities:
  • International Agency on the Research of Cancer Terminology
  • National Toxicology Program
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • California Proposition 65
  • EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory
  • REACH Substances of Very High Concern

 

After digesting the alphabet soup of disclosure, ask yourself three key questions:

How is the product being sourced and delivered? Shipping a sustainable product overseas likely defeats its purpose.

 

How will the product be used? Cleaning solutions, wear and tear, room temperature, and moisture can significantly affect a product’s performance.

 

What happens at end-of-life? If a manufacturer offers recycling and disposal services, that’s a bonus. You don’t want the product to end up in a landfill.

And remember, these tools are meant to make your life easier, not harder.

“EPDs, PTDs, and HPDs present a product’s ecological impact in a way that is

easy to comprehend,” explains Dave Kitts, vice president of environment at flooring manufacturer Mannington. “Lifecycle assessments are very detailed and granular. They have a scientific feel and are hard to understand. These tools standardize environmental information for an average reader.”

 

Chris Curtland is assistant editor of BUILDINGS.