Physical Benefits

Why a sustainable blue recovery is needed

By Mukhisa Kituyi, UNCTAD Secretary-General, Dona Bertarelli, UNCTAD Special Adviser for the Blue Economy
View the original article here

A woman repairs fishing nets in Thailand / ©tong2530

The world’s seventh largest economy based on GDP doesn’t belong to a single country, and isn’t even on land, yet it’s valued at around $3 trillion annually, and supports the livelihoods of more than 3 billion people.

It’s the ocean.

Worryingly, the ocean and the blue economy it supports are not only in severe decline, the current mode of operating is no longer sustainable.

We all rely on the ocean, which covers two-thirds of our planet, to regulate our climate, provide us with food, medicine, energy and even the very air we breathe. Put simply, without a healthy ocean, there is no life on Earth.

But the natural assets that the blue economy depends on are fast eroding under the pressure of human activities.

For example, 34% of all fish stocks are exploited at unsustainable biological levels or overexploited, while 60% are maximally sustainably fished or managed.

This means that we have reached a celling, as 94% of all wild stocks are already being fully utilized, with about one-third exploited in an unsustainable manner.

Further, the ocean is becoming acidic due to increasing levels of carbon dioxide being absorbed by it. Rising water temperatures have killed up to half of the world’s coral reefs, and by 2050 there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean.

Most of the more than 3 billion people who rely on the ocean for their livelihoods live in developing countries. About 90% of all fishers live in these countries too.

Also, 80% of the world’s goods are transported via maritime routes. And between 30% and 50% of the GDP of most small island developing states (SIDS) depends on ocean-based tourism.

Ocean health equals human health and wealth

We are at a crossroads in history. We can’t afford to continue mismanaging this important global resource whose health is intimately tied to ours. Investing in biodiversity, conservation and sustainable practices is key for a peaceful and prosperous future.

A regenerative and equitable blue economy that is sustainable must be a vital part of the world’s social and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. It will help cushion us against future global crises by enhancing the resilience of ecosystems and thus livelihoods.

Thankfully, implementing a blue economic approach is possible under the guidance of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UNCTAD has identified the pillars of such an approach: economic growth, conservation and sustainable use of the ocean, inclusive social development, science and innovation, as well as sound ocean governance.

Towards a deep blue vision

We envision a blue economy that derives value from the ocean, seas and coastal areas, while protecting the health of the ocean ecosystem and enabling its sustainable use.

We need to diversify towards economic activities that will have a lower impact on ecosystems, while sustaining livelihoods and stimulating job creation.

New areas of opportunity include marine bioprospecting, ocean science, sustainable aquaculture, renewable energy, low-carbon shipping, blue finance as well as ecotourism and blue carbon.

The total “asset” base of the ocean is estimated at $24 trillion, excluding intangible assets such as the ocean’s role in climate regulation, the production of oxygen, temperature stabilization of our planet, or the spiritual and cultural services the ocean provides.

Instead of focusing only on the returns from harvesting and extracting the ocean’s resources, we need to realize the monetary value of conserving marine life.

For example, economists from the International Monetary Fund estimate that a great whale is worth $2 million alive, but just $80,000 once dead, as it absorbs the equivalent in carbon dioxide of 30,000 trees each year.

All hands on deck

Governments around the world can set a new course. We know the overwhelming cost benefit of nature-based solutions. It’s possible to combine production from the ocean while protecting its economic, social and environmental value for the future.

Coastal countries must prioritize ocean, marine and coastal resources and ecosystems in their strategies for trade, the environment and climate change as well as in their actions to promote sustainable development.

Countries such as the Seychelles are walking the talk. It has declared 30% of its waters protected areas, well beyond the 10% target set by SDG14, restricting activities in the protected area to balance economic needs with environmental protection.

Other nations rising to the challenge are Vanuatu, which is producing and consuming renewable energy from wind turbines and coconut oil, as well as Fiji, which banned single-use plastic this year to stem the pollution of its waters.

Science needs to drive these efforts and inform policymaking and regulations. The UN Decade of Ocean Science, which starts next year, will be an opportunity to maximise the benefits of effective science-based management of our ocean space and resources.

Regulation is key

Regulation is of prime importance for food security and to ensure harvesting and trade in marine resources is transparent, traceable, certified, sustainable and safe, to meet consumers’ growing need for sustainably sourced products and services.

Sustainable biodiversity-based value chains, products and services in ocean-based sectors should adhere to internationally agreed criteria of sustainability, such as the blue BioTrade principles.

As part of this effort, UNCTAD and the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea are launching the first-ever oceans economy and trade strategy in Costa Rica.

In addition, a pilot blue BioTrade project to make the queen conch value chain more sustainable in the eastern Caribbean region is on the cards.

Ending harmful fisheries subsidies

Harmful fisheries subsidies must end, and governments need to shift the allocation of public funds to fish stock management and ecosystem restoration, instead of fuelling overcapacity, overexploitation, inequalities, human and wildlife trafficking.

UNCTAD has been supporting negotiations on fish subsidies at the World Trade Organisation by providing a safe platform for dialogue and targeted research on key options and alternatives for a multilateral outcome.

Binding measures to be taken by governments include finalizing negotiations of the High Seas Treaty to enable the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Decarbonizing shipping

International shipping and coastal transport can reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by investing in low-carbon technologies and operations, reducing pollution and promoting greater digitalization for better monitoring, energy efficiency and lower emissions.

New technologies and satellite data can combine data sources that are enabling unprecedented insights into the ocean, in terms of mapping, surveillance and enforcement.

Such transparency is uncovering more than illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. We now have insights into the economics of fishing on the high seas, the relationship between IUU fishing and bonded labour and where to best establish marine reserves, and the capacity to provide data for enforcement.

Deploying blue finance and marine-based research

Innovative financial instruments such as blue bonds and blended financing are needed to fund the shift towards more sustainable ocean sectors. For instance, in 2019, Morgan Stanley, working with the World Bank, sold $10 million worth of blue bonds with of the aim solving the challenge of plastic waste pollution in oceans.

Investment in applied marine-based research, development and knowledge sharing should also be increased. To this end, UNCTAD has established regional centers of excellence with partner institutions in Vietnam and Mauritius, enabling the sharing of experiences, technical knowledge and fisheries’ inputs. 

SIDS and coastal communities are vital to preserving the ocean and will need global support to conserve and develop a blue economy that benefits not only local populations but humanity as a whole.

Longer-term, countries around the world need to expand ocean and sustainable blue economy literacy, especially among vulnerable populations, and increase understanding of gender considerations.

We need more individual and collective action if we are to build a sustainable blue economy that leads to prosperity for all.

Reimagining the office and work life after COVID-19

By Brodie Boland, Aaron De Smet, Rob Palter, and Aditya Sanghvi
View the original article here

The pandemic has forced the adoption of new ways of working. Organizations must reimagine their work and the role of offices in creating safe, productive, and enjoyable jobs and lives for employees.

COVID-19 has brought unprecedented human and humanitarian challenges. Many companies around the world have risen to the occasion, acting swiftly to safeguard employees and migrate to a new way of working that even the most extreme business-continuity plans hadn’t envisioned. Across industries, leaders will use the lessons from this large-scale work-from-home experiment to reimagine how work is done—and what role offices should play—in creative and bold ways.

Changing attitudes on the role of the office

Before the pandemic, the conventional wisdom had been that offices were critical to productivity, culture, and winning the war for talent. Companies competed intensely for prime office space in major urban centers around the world, and many focused on solutions that were seen to promote collaboration. Densification, open-office designs, hoteling, and co-working were the battle cries.

But estimates suggest that early this April, 62 percent of employed Americans worked at home during the crisis,1 compared with about 25 percent a couple of years ago. During the pandemic, many people have been surprised by how quickly and effectively technologies for videoconferencing and other forms of digital collaboration were adopted. For many, the results have been better than imagined.

According to McKinsey research, 80 percent of people questioned report that they enjoy working from home. Forty-one percent say that they are more productive than they had been before and 28 percent that they are as productive. Many employees liberated from long commutes and travel have found more productive ways to spend that time, enjoyed greater flexibility in balancing their personal and professional lives, and decided that they prefer to work from home rather than the office. Many organizations think they can access new pools of talent with fewer locational constraints, adopt innovative processes to boost productivity, create an even stronger culture, and significantly reduce real-estate costs.

Before the pandemic, the conventional wisdom had been that offices were critical to productivity, culture, and winning the war for talent. Companies competed intensely for prime office space in major urban centers around the world, and many focused on solutions that were seen to promote collaboration. Densification, open-office designs, hoteling, and co-working were the battle cries.

But estimates suggest that early this April, 62 percent of employed Americans worked at home during the crisis,1 compared with about 25 percent a couple of years ago. During the pandemic, many people have been surprised by how quickly and effectively technologies for videoconferencing and other forms of digital collaboration were adopted. For many, the results have been better than imagined.

According to McKinsey research, 80 percent of people questioned report that they enjoy working from home. Forty-one percent say that they are more productive than they had been before and 28 percent that they are as productive. Many employees liberated from long commutes and travel have found more productive ways to spend that time, enjoyed greater flexibility in balancing their personal and professional lives, and decided that they prefer to work from home rather than the office. Many organizations think they can access new pools of talent with fewer locational constraints, adopt innovative processes to boost productivity, create an even stronger culture, and significantly reduce real-estate costs.

The reality is that both sides of the argument are probably right. Every organization and culture is different, and so are the circumstances of every individual employee. Many have enjoyed this new experience; others are fatigued by it. Sometimes, the same people have experienced different emotions and levels of happiness or unhappiness at different times. The productivity of the employees who do many kinds of jobs has increased; for others it has declined. Many forms of virtual collaboration are working well; others are not. Some people are getting mentorship and participating in casual, unplanned, and important conversations with colleagues; others are missing out.

Four steps to reimagine work and workplaces

Leading organizations will boldly question long-held assumptions about how work should be done and the role of the office. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. The answer, different for every organization, will be based on what talent is needed, which roles are most important, how much collaboration is necessary for excellence, and where offices are located today, among other factors. Even within an organization, the answer could look different across geographies, businesses, and functions, so the exercise of determining what will be needed in the future must be a team sport across real estate, human resources, technology, and the business. Tough choices will come up and a leader must be empowered to drive the effort across individual functions and businesses. Permanent change will also require exceptional change-management skills and constant pivots based on how well the effort is working over time.

We recommend that organizations take the following steps to reimagine how work is done and what the future role of the office will be.

1. Reconstruct how work is done

During the lockdowns, organizations have necessarily adapted to go on collaborating and to ensure that the most important processes could be carried on remotely. Most have simply transplanted existing processes to remote work contexts, imitating what had been done before the pandemic. This has worked well for some organizations and processes, but not for others.

Organizations should identify the most important processes for each major business, geography, and function, and reenvision them completely, often with involvement by employees. This effort should examine their professional-development journeys (for instance, being physically present in the office at the start and working remotely later) and the different stages of projects (such as being physically co-located for initial planning and working remotely for execution).

Previously, for example, organizations may have generated ideas by convening a meeting, brainstorming on a physical or digital whiteboard, and assigning someone to refine the resulting ideas. A new process may include a period of asynchronous brainstorming on a digital channel and incorporating ideas from across the organization, followed by a multihour period of debate and refinement on an open videoconference.

Organizations should also reflect on their values and culture and on the interactions, practices, and rituals that promote that culture. A company that focuses on developing talent, for example, should ask whether the small moments of mentorship that happen in an office can continue spontaneously in a digital world. Other practices could be reconstructed and strengthened so that the organization creates and sustains the community and culture it seeks.

For both processes and cultural practices, it is all too tempting to revert to what was in place before the pandemic. To resist this temptation, organizations could start by assuming that processes will be reconstructed digitally and put the burden of proof on those who argue for a return to purely physical pre–COVID-19 legacy processes. Reimagining and reconstructing processes and practices will serve as a foundation of an improved operating model that leverages the best of both in-person and remote work.

2. Decide ‘people to work’ or ‘work to people’

In the past couple of years, the competition for talent has been fiercer than ever. At the same time, some groups of talent are less willing to relocate to their employers’ locations than they had been in the past. As organizations reconstruct how they work and identify what can be done remotely, they can make decisions about which roles must be carried out in person, and to what degree. Roles can be reclassified into employee segments by considering the value that remote working could deliver:

  • fully remote (net positive value-creating outcome)
  • hybrid remote (net neutral outcome)
  • hybrid remote by exception (net negative outcome but can be done remotely if needed)
  • on site (not eligible for remote work)

For the roles in the first two categories, upskilling is critical but talent sourcing may become easier, since the pool of available talent could have fewer geographical constraints. In fact, talented people could live in the cities of their choice, which may have a lower cost of living and proximity to people and places they love, while they still work for leading organizations. A monthly trip to headquarters or a meeting with colleagues at a shared destination may suffice. This approach could be a winning proposition for both employers and employees, with profound effects on the quality of talent an organization can access and the cost of that talent.

3. Redesign the workplace to support organizational priorities

We all have ideas about what a typical office looks and feels like: a mixture of private offices and cubicles, with meeting rooms, pantries, and shared amenities. Few offices have been intentionally designed to support specific organizational priorities. Although offices have changed in some ways during the past decade, they may need to be entirely rethought and transformed for a post–COVID-19 world.

Organizations could create workspaces specifically designed to support the kinds of interactions that cannot happen remotely. If the primary purpose of an organization’s space is to accommodate specific moments of collaboration rather than individual work, for example, should 80 percent of the office be devoted to collaboration rooms? Should organizations ask all employees who work in cubicles, and rarely have to attend group meetings, to work from homes? If office space is needed only for those who cannot do so, are working spaces close to where employees live a better solution?

In the office of the future, technology will play a central role in enabling employees to return to office buildings and to work safely before a vaccine becomes widely available. Organizations will need to manage which employees can come to the office, when they can enter and take their places, how often the office is cleaned, whether the airflow is sufficient, and if they are remaining sufficiently far apart as they move through the space.

To maintain productivity, collaboration, and learning and to preserve the corporate culture, the boundaries between being physically in the office and out of the office must collapse. In-office videoconferencing can no longer involve a group of people staring at one another around a table while others watch from a screen on the side, without being able to participate effectively. Always-on videoconferencing, seamless in-person and remote collaboration spaces (such as virtual whiteboards), and asynchronous collaboration and working models will quickly shift from futuristic ideas to standard practice.

4. Resize the footprint creatively

A transformational approach to reinventing offices will be necessary. Instead of adjusting the existing footprint incrementally, companies should take a fresh look at how much and where space is required and how it fosters desired outcomes for collaboration, productivity, culture, and the work experience. That kind of approach will also involve questioning where offices should be located. Some companies will continue to have them in big cities, which many regard as essential to attract young talent and create a sense of connection and energy. Others may abandon big-city headquarters for suburban campuses.

In any case, the coming transformation will use a portfolio of space solutions: owned space, standard leases, flexible leases, flex space, co-working space, and remote work. Before the crisis, flexible space solutions held about 3 percent of the US office market. Their share had been growing at 25 percent annually for the past five years, so flexibility was already in the works. McKinsey research indicates that office-space decision makers expect the percentage of time worked in main and satellite offices to decline by 12 and 9 percent, respectively, while flex office space will hold approximately constant and work from home will increase to 27 percent of work time, from 20 percent.2

These changes may not only improve how work is done but also lead to savings. Rent, capital costs, facilities operations, maintenance, and management make real estate the largest cost category outside of compensation for many organizations. In our experience, it often amounts to 10 to 20 percent of total personnel-driven expenditures. While some organizations have reduced these costs by thinking through footprints—taking advantage of alternative workplace strategies and reviewing approaches to managing space—many corporate leaders have treated them largely as a given. In a post–COVID-19 world, the potential to reduce real-estate costs could be significant. Simply getting market-comparable lease rates and negotiating competitive facilities-management contracts will not be enough. Real-estate groups should collaborate with the business and HR to redo the footprint entirely and develop fit-for-purpose space designs quickly—in some cases, by creating win–win approaches with landlords.

The value at stake is significant. Over time, some organizations could reduce their real-estate costs by 30 percent. Those that shift to a fully virtual model could almost eliminate them. Both could also increase their organizational resilience and reduce their level of risk by having employees work in many different locations.

Now is the time

As employers around the world experiment with bringing their employees back to offices, the leadership must act now to ensure that when they return, workplaces are both productive and safe.

Organizations must also use this moment to break from the inertia of the past by dispensing with suboptimal old habits and systems. A well-planned return to offices can use this moment to reinvent their role and create a better experience for talent, improve collaboration and productivity, and reduce costs. That kind of change will require transformational thinking grounded in facts. Ultimately, the aim of this reinvention will be what good companies have always wanted: a safe environment where people can enjoy their work, collaborate with their colleagues, and achieve the objectives of their organizations.

Why COVID-19 Raises the Stakes for Healthy Buildings

by Kristen Senz
View the original article here

Like it or not, humans have become an indoor species, so buildings have a major impact on our health. That’s why the Healthy Building Movement is gaining momentum, say John Macomber and Joseph Allen.

Will you ever again step onto a crowded elevator without hesitation? Reach for a doorknob without concern (or gloves)?

Easing social distancing restrictions might reopen businesses, but as long as memories of COVID-19 lockdowns are still fresh in people’s minds, the experience of being inside an office building most likely will not return to “normal.”

Even before the pandemic struck, there were plenty of reasons to be concerned about air quality and ventilation in the buildings where we live and work. After all, healthier indoor environments don’t just keep us from getting sick—they also enhance cognitive performance.

“OFFICES WITH THE PREMIER HEALTH STORY WILL GET THE PREMIUM RENT AND GET THE TENANTS, AND THE OFFICES WITH A LAGGING HEALTH STORY WILL LAG.”

To convey to managers the benefits of the healthy building movement, John D. Macomber, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, recently wrote a book about it: Healthy Buildings: How Indoor Spaces Drive Performance and Productivity, to be published April 21.

Although facilities managers might think they’re saving a few dollars on electricity and air filters, “There’s just no reason anymore to economize on airflow and filtration,” Macomber says. “That just doesn’t make any sense. It’s a cheap way to help people be healthier.”

Together with co-author Joseph G. Allen, a professor at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Macomber explores “nine foundations for a healthy building” and studies how simple tweaks to increase air flow and quality can have dramatic effects on workers.

But the economic benefits don’t stop there. Macomber expects that a growing public focus on health measures will drive major changes across a variety of industries, but especially in travel and hospitality. Increasingly, Macomber postulates, savvy business leaders and landlords will begin to leverage healthier indoor spaces as recruitment tools and sources of competitive advantage. Anxieties over COVID-19 are likely to accelerate these trends, he says.

“I think awareness is heightened, and in this economy there’ll be a drop in demand for space, both for apartments and offices,” he says. “With those two things together, I think that the offices with the premier health story will get the premium rent and get the tenants, and the offices with a lagging health story will lag.”

Many elite companies already use their building’s efficiency or grandeur to send a signal to customers and workforce talent. As a result of the global pandemic, Macomber expects an emphasis on indoor air quality and other healthy building measures will diffuse through the rest of the economy.

As the country begins to return to work, concerns about the spread of infectious disease will “make it easier than ever to invest in the basics of a healthy building, notably around ventilation, air quality, water, moisture, and security,” says Macomber. “Those aren’t expensive to begin with. So, I think those will propagate through pretty quickly, and they’ll be must-haves, because the cost is not relatively very high, and the benefit is extremely high.”

As anyone who has ever felt sleepy on a stuffy airplane can attest, poor ventilation impedes cognition. “Casinos figured this out a long time ago, pumping in extra air and keeping the temperature cool to keep you awake at the gaming tables and slot machines longer,” Allen and Macomber write.

But through scientific, double-blind studies of workers in offices with various levels of air quality and flow, in which the workers were compared with themselves to gauge differences in personal performance, the authors of Healthy Buildings can quantify these effects.

Across all nine dimensions of cognitive function, which include things like “strategy,” “focused activity level,” and “crisis response,” performance was dramatically improved when study subjects worked in the optimal conditions (with high rates of ventilation and low concentrations of carbon dioxide and other harsh compounds).

“Think about that for one second—simply increasing the amount of air brought into an office, something nearly every office can easily do, had a quantifiable benefit to higher-order cognitive function in knowledge workers,” Macomber and Allen write.

Macomber is careful, though, not to make the leap from enhanced performance to increased productivity, because productivity involves so many different factors.

Among the nine foundations for a healthy building (see graphic) is “security,” a term the authors expect will take on a broader meaning in a post-pandemic world. Building security will involve monitoring not just who enters and what they are physically carrying, but also what they might be carrying internally. In addition to metal detectors, infrared scanners at building entrances will take visitors’ temperatures, to help prevent the spread of viruses and other pathogens, similar to technology already in place at some airports.

As people begin to internalize the collective nature of public health, sharing of personal health and air quality metrics—using wearables and smartphones—could lead to new applications that provide real-time information about the conditions inside buildings. Imagine an app that does for public health what WAZE has done for traffic congestion, Macomber says.

“There is going to be substantially more awareness and interest on the part of the public, in terms of the quality of the spaces that they’re occupying, and they’ll be selective about their airplanes and about their cruise ships,” he predicts. “And pretty quickly they’ll be selective about their apartments and their offices as well, and they’ll share that information with other people.”

WELL Building Standard – The Next BIG Thing in Business

Written by Zack Sterkenberg
View the original article here

Our world is getting greener by the day. As a global community, we are trying vigorously to recycle more, waste less, and become more efficient in everything that we do. Now, with the green building trend towards sustainability firmly in place, the WELL Building Standard is helping to spearhead the next big wave of change – making buildings healthier and greener for those of us who inhabit them.

The days of walking into uninspiring, lean-style working environments that carelessly hemorrhage energy and neglect facility performance with a blind eye are no more. Thanks to the growing popularity of WELL and the rising trend towards human health optimization, the architects and designers of today take care to mindfully consider your well-being and overall satisfaction.

The WELL Building Certification

At the most basic level, WELL is a building performance rating and certification system similar to LEED, but with a focus on human well-being and performance rather than environmental sustainability.

This performance-based system was constructed around seven core concepts to measure, certify, and monitor our working environments. These seven concepts lay the foundation for maximizing human health and wellness within the built environment.

The WELL Building Standard’s core concepts include:

  • Air
  • Water
  • Nourishment
  • Light
  • Fitness
  • Comfort
  • Mind

Under each of these concepts is a more complex list of certification “features” or metrics. The list includes over 100 individual metrics that fall under the greater umbrella of the seven core concepts.

The WELL program was developed during the course of seven years of exhaustive research. The research looked intensely at the role of nature and nature-based architectural patterns on human physical and mental wellbeing.

The correlation between human wellbeing and nature is well documented in studies on biophilic design, but WELL is the first building standard to tie all of the research together into a cohesive program that focuses exclusively on the health and wellness of people.

Benefits of a WELL building

In 2013, the CBRE Global Corporate Headquarters in Los Angeles became the first commercial office space to achieve WELL Certification. Upon initial analysis of the pilot program, employees working in the Headquarters reported overwhelmingly positive outcomes.

  • 83% felt more productive
  • 92% reported a positive effect on health and wellbeing
  • 94% claimed the space had a positive impact on business performance
  • 93% reported easier collaboration

WELL v2

After seeing such great success from WELL v1, WELL introduced WELL v2 in 2018. Using the latest health data and user feedback, WELL v2 maintains the first four WELL concepts and expands the concept list to ten.

  1. Air
  2. Water
  3. Nourishment
  4. Light
  5. Movement
  6. Thermal Comfort
  7. Sound
  8. Materials
  9. Mind
  10. Community

Version two of WELL was built with the goal of accessibility. WELL wanted to put even more truth behind their mission of “[advancing] health buildings for all.” The new version aims to meet the needs of any type of building, as its dynamic nature allows for continuous advancement and change. V2 provides a much more adaptable scorecard than v1. The new concept provides the opportunity to build a unique scorecard with the features that are relevant to your building.

Why businesses are betting on WELL

To date, there have been over 2,000 WELL-certified projects registered across 52 countries. These projects represent over 391 million square feet in built space. These numbers continue to grow by the day. There are several reasons why WELL is making such expansive waves in the business world. The most significant is the impact that the initiative has on the overall health and productivity of the employees, a company’s largest and most important asset.

As an engine operating at peak performance helps to drives a car to victory in a race, a workforce that is happy, healthy, and efficient workforce leads to increased success and higher profits for the entire company. By constructing facilities that integrate green design elements, businesses can expect lower physiological stress, increased attention span, increased cognitive functioning, and improved employee well-being across the board.

In the same vein, by incorporating plants into the working environment, employees will have lower blood pressure, cleaner air to breathe, lowered risk of illness and an overall boost in wellbeing. WELL effectively leads to a more productive and creative workforce with lower absenteeism rates and lower healthcare costs. By definition, it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.

This is great news for the employee. A company’s staff is the backbone of the business and is a major driver of overall success. This is why it makes absolute business sense to invest in them. This is the core mission of WELL: to make businesses more effective by making the employees more productive.

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/

Renovation Versus New Construction – Choosing the Right Path

Julie

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

As both the owners and the designers of a commercial building in Boca Raton it was essential that we examine the pros and cons of renovation vs. new construction and the impact on our project. When considering renovation vs. new construction for any project, it is important to understand that both paths lead to different and unique results. Comparing the merits and challenges of each against the needs of a project is crucial in determining what the best options are. Our design team collaborated and brainstormed to determine the issues involved, document the issues and prioritize them. This process helped us to determine that a major renovation will make the most sense for our building and our sustainable goals.

The building is an unoccupied auto body shop located on a former brownfield. Whether to save or demolish an old building has always been a question for owners, developers and cities. We are applying the concept of adaptive reuse to this project. It is the idea of “twice green”, not just repurposing an older building, but also making it even more environmentally friendly in its new life. This project will convert an existing eyesore structure into a rehabilitated sustainable building.

How green is adaptive reuse?

The National Trust for Historic Preservation published a report on the environmental benefits of adaptive reuse. The Greenest Building: Qualifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse, demonstrates through case studies that reusing buildings can save from between 4 to 46% over new construction.

These findings include:

  • Reuse Matters. Building reuse typically offers greater environmental savings than demolition and new construction. It can take between 10 to 80 years for a new energy efficient building to overcome, through efficient operations, the climate change impacts created by its construction.
  • Scale Matters. Collectively, building reuse and retrofits substantially reduce climate change impacts.
  • Design Matters. The environmental benefits of reuse are maximized by minimizing the input of new construction materials. Renovation projects that require many new materials can reduce or even negate the benefits of reuse.
  • The Bottom Line. Reusing existing buildings is good for the economy, the community and the environment. At a time when our country’s foreclosure and unemployment rates remain high, communities would be wise to reinvest in their existing building stock.

The U.S. Green Building Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) strongly encourages reuse of an existing site and building. By using LEED principles during design and construction points toward LEED accreditation can be achieved. The incorporation of sustainable solutions into our design and materials will create a healthier building, reduce negative impacts on the environment, and utilize the economy of reuse. Every material has an impact, the fewer building materials used in a rehab project, the less environmental impact there will be.

The decision to renovate rather than build new has many challenges. Key factors typically considered in this decision could have easily sent us in a different direction if sustainability was not important to our project. The budget to accomplish a major renovation for this project may not cost less than new construction but the sustainable benefits are significant. The condition of the current structure will require many changes and improvements. The building needs updated technologies, energy efficiencies, and time challenges to complete. By renovating we are diverting waste from being placed in landfills, we are disturbing less native vegetation and contributing less erosion and adverse effects on the land. The decision to renovate this older structure will provide a safer and healthier environment for its users while creating an enhanced appearance.

The existing footprint allows only so much floor space. To overcome this, we are going vertical and building a partial second floor. Building above is less expensive than building outward. A key consideration in many designs should be on how to best utilize the building while using smaller spaces.

The age old question of whether to build new or renovate has become even more complex as we seek to determine which has the least amount of impact on our environment. While the ease of new construction may be preferred, the greater potential for reducing your carbon impact during renovation compared to a new construction is apparent over a 75 year life span of a building. As The National Trust for Historic Perseveration recently stated that the greenest building may be the one you already own – and this is the reason we selected to renovate rather than build new.

 

http://www.preservationnation.org/information-center/sustainable-communities/green-lab/valuing-building-reuse.html#.VehletJRFMM

Beauty and Function: Landscaping for Sustainability

KG Resize
By: Kendall Gillen, Biologist, LEED Green Associate
Associate LEED Process Management for Emerald Skyline Corporation

Many building owners and managers take into account the interior and exterior of a building itself when considering sustainable initiatives, but just as important is the area surrounding the building. Landscaping can make a tremendous difference in the sustainability and qualification for LEED certification of a project. Sustainability is certainly an integration of many different factors, and landscaping is a significant one.

Through employing different strategies, landscaping can be practical, functional, and aesthetically pleasing. There are different factors that affect the level of landscape sustainability. Two of the most important are the types of vegetation chosen and the amount of potable water required to keep the plants healthy, otherwise known as irrigation. Not only can efficient landscape design provide noteworthy credit toward achieving LEED certification, but it can also provide substantial water-energy savings. This should be a great motivator for owners and managers to look to their landscaping for improvements to their bottom line.

As stated in a study conducted by the California Sustainability Alliance, water is a necessary resource for any landscape to survive and function[1]. However, not all landscapes are created equal. Climate, weather conditions, and vegetation grown can all impact the amount of water required to sustain life. Typically, if non-native plants are chosen, irrigation will be needed because they cannot survive on local precipitation levels alone. Thus, researching plants with a low water need specific to the project’s local climate is of the utmost importance.

Many states have online databases for irrigation friendly plants. Since we are located in the tropical climate of South Florida, here are just a few of the many trees, plants, flowers, and grasses that are ideal for reducing irrigation demand as found by the Florida-friendly Plant Database:

  • Silver Palm
  • Scrub Palmetto
  • Cocoplum
  • Seagrape
  • Jamaica Caper Tree
  • Gumbo Limbo
  • Fiddlewood
  • Crinum Lily
  • Blanket Flower
  • Beach Sunflower
  • Purple Love Grass

All of the above vegetation has a medium to high drought tolerance. There is also a resource listing the Plant Hardiness Zones for the entire nation available through the USDA. Once a project’s Plant Hardiness Zone is found by zip code, one can search for plants that thrive within that particular zone.

Choosing native vegetation is a step in the right direction, however without active management of landscape irrigation with adjustments to precipitation levels, the savings of native vegetation alone could potentially be nominal. To fully benefit from using indigenous and drought-resistant vegetation, the irrigation system must be managed. This is why the integrated process of landscape operation, management, and maintenance is so crucial.

  • Low-volume irrigation systems are a broad classification of systems that provide water more directly to the ground instead of spraying in the air where water can be lost to wind or evaporation.
    • This is a great starting point when choosing a system that fits a specific sustainable project need. By slowly releasing moisture, these systems greatly reduce runoff1.
  • Rainwater collection and re-use for landscape irrigation is another method to decrease water-energy expenditures. This harvested water can also be used for non-potable purposes such as toilet flushing.

The benefits to native vegetation and water efficient landscaping are plentiful. As previously stated, huge savings in water-energy can be achieved as well as the following:

  • Reduces the heat island effect which occurs when dark building and paving surfaces absorb the sun’s energy and re-radiates it throughout the day and night raising the ambient air temperature
  • Conserves natural resources and provides a habitat for native wildlife
  • Improves HVAC efficiency which is achieved through the shade generated by the proper selection and placement of trees and shrubs
  • Minimizes landscape maintenance requirements allowing the building owner to save on labor and materials

Undoubtedly, landscaping can play a huge role in the overall sustainability of a project, whether that is a retrofit or new construction. The take-home message should be to plan ahead and strategize when it comes to landscaping and irrigation. Also, having a water efficient landscape does not necessitate elimination of beauty. Use the abundant resources available online or through a professional and be responsible with water use. Water is in fact our most precious natural resource and it is our obligation to conserve.

[1] California Sustainability Alliance. Water-Energy Savings from Efficient Landscape Design in California. July 2015.

Sustainable Building Design

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

Our project in Boca Raton is being designed to become a LEED certified building. The U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green certification system is a tool for evaluating and measuring achievements in sustainable design. LEED consists of a set of perquisites and credits with specific requirements for obtaining points in order for a building to become LEED certified.

Many people are not familiar with the concept of sustainable design and how it relates to building construction and ongoing building operations. The built environment impacts our natural environment, our society and our economy. This concept is often referred to as the 3 P’s, people, planet and pocketbook. Sustainable design attempts to balance the needs of these areas by integrating design solutions.

EPA

EPA 2004

The main objectives of sustainable design are to reduce or avoid depletion of natural resources such as energy, water, and raw materials; prevent environmental damage caused by buildings and their infrastructure; and create livable, comfortable and healthy interior environments.

Sustainable design does not just apply to new construction; retrofitting of existing buildings should be an option and can be more cost-effective than building a new facility. With our project, we opted to retrofit as well as reposition an existing building rather than allowing further decay of the property or demolishing it and building new. My future posts will focus on specific details and products that we will utilize in our sustainable design process.

While the definition of sustainable building design continues to evolve, according to the Whole Building Design Group (WBDG) Sustainable Committee there are six fundamental principles that persist. References to some of our sustainable design solutions that will be written in upcoming posts are included below in the fundamental principles.

 

Optimize Site Potential

Creating sustainable buildings starts with proper site selection, including the reuse or rehabilitation of existing buildings.

  • We chose a contaminated site and remediated the property.
  • The project is an abandoned auto body garage that will be repurposed rather than demolished.

Location, orientation, and landscaping of a building affect ecosystems, transportation methods, and energy use.

  • A south facing orientation will enable us to harness solar energy and utilize the sun for daylighting within the structure.
  • Proximity to major bus and train lines provides alternative transportation.
  • The use of native plants and rainwater collection

Optimize Energy Use

It is essential to find ways to reduce energy load, increase efficiency, and maximize the use of renewable energy resources.

  • Solar energy via solar panels
  • LED lighting
  • Daylight Harvesting
  • Energy efficient windows, appliances, and HVAC

Protect and Conserve Water

Fresh water is an increasingly scarce resource; a sustainable building should use water efficiently, and reuse or recycle water for on-site use.

  • Cistern and water collection
  • Low flow toilets, sinks, and appliances
  • Grey water use where allowed

Optimize Building Space and Material Use

Available resources are stressed to due demands for additional goods and services. A sustainable building is designed and operated to use and reuse materials, environmentally preferable materials have a reduced effect on human health and the environment.

  • Shared uses for small building space
  • Low VOC paints, sealants and adhesives
  • Use of reclaimed wood

Enhance Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)

The IEQ of a building has a significant impact on occupant health, comfort, and productivity. A sustainable building maximizes daylighting, has appropriate ventilation, moisture control, optimizes acoustic performance, and avoids the use of materials with high-VOC emissions.

  • Low VOC paints, sealants and adhesives
  • Flush out building before occupancy
  • Thermal Comfort Control
  • Provide quality views

Optimize Operational and Maintenance Practices

Encourage optimal operations and maintenance systems during the design and development phases, specify materials and systems that simplify and reduce maintenance requirements; require less water, energy and toxic chemicals. Include meters to track sustainability initiatives, reductions in energy and water use and waste generation.

  • Energy and water metering
  • Recycling Waste Plan
  • Building Envelope Commissioning

 

Utilizing a sustainable design philosophy encourages decisions at each phase of the design process that will reduce negative impacts on the environment and the health of the occupants, without compromising the bottom line. It is an integrated, holistic approach that encourages the balance of people, planet and pocketbook. An integrated approach of sustainable design should positively impact all phases of a building, including design, construction and operation.

Sources:

http://www.wbdg.org/design/sustainable.php

 http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/104462

LEED Project Update

4/19/15

Julie

 

By Julie Lundin, Founder,
Director of LEED Process Management 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 distinctive commercial building will include many sustainable features with the intent to obtain LEED certification from the USGBC.

Existing

Existing

Proposed

Proposed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proposed LEED Certified Building

For general information on this project please Click Here to see our last post.

We have been busy working on the design and drawings in preparation for submission to the City of Boca Raton Development Services Department. The design of the building has taken many twists and turns over the last few months. Since we are doing a major renovation and constructing a second floor, the design and location of the stairs and an elevator have been instrumental in our building’s design. As with any project, the site plan and its setbacks limit the building footprint that will be utilized.

Based on our site plan, we do have the space to bump the front of the building out to accommodate our new staircase. This allows us to construct the stairs without having to penetrate the existing building ceiling membrane. In addition, it creates an interesting design element that does not deduct precious square footage for the stairs construction.

We have also decided to locate the elevator on the outside of the building. Again, an exterior location will not deduct square footage from the base building plan. Since the elevator shaft will be located on the exterior, building fire codes will be different than if the elevator was located internally. We are anticipating that the elevator will be a prominent design feature and contribute to the aesthetics of our project.

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. Our initial design utilized solar rooftop panels to generate power for the building even with the hopes of generating enough power to sell back to the grid. Florida’s large utility monopolies and lawmakers have worked successfully to block and control who can generate solar energy and what it can be used for; thereby restricting its use by homeowners and businesses. The Florida legislature, at the direction of the utility companies, have gutted the state’s energy savings goals and entirely eliminated Florida’s solar-rebate program. Due to this situation, we are now exploring alternative methods of energy including fuel cell technology powered by natural gas.

There is a pro-solar group in Florida, Floridians for Solar Choice, that is seeking to make solar more accessible in the state. Their ballot petition seeks to expand solar choice by allowing customers the option to power their homes or businesses with solar power and chose who provides it to them. Please visit their website to learn about this initiative and sign the petition. www.FLsolarchoice.org.

Ugly Duckling to Become LEED Certified Building

2/4/2015

Julie

By Julie Lundin, Founder,
Director of LEED Process Management 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 distinctive commercial building will include many sustainable features with the intent to obtain LEED certification from the USGBC.

Existing-Building

Existing Building

Proposed-Building-11-x-17-Perspective-

Proposed LEED Certified Building

We are in the process of renovating a 1,950 square foot warehouse located in Boca Raton, FL.  The building was previously used for a towing company so the property is currently a brownfield which will require that we remediate the contamination. This building is a major renovation/new construction project. We will be demolishing the existing interior space and adding a second floor and green terrace.  Our building renovations will include many sustainable features with the intent to obtain LEED certification.  Here are just a few of our intended design elements:

  • A tank used for rainfall and condensate collection to flush toilets and irrigate native Florida landscaping
  • A green terrace
  • A metal reflective roof
  • Use of low-VOC paints, sealants and adhesives for building improvements
  • Occupancy sensors and photos sensors that monitor daylight and reduce energy needs
  • LED or CFL Lighting
  • Pervious Paver Parking Areas
  • Low Flow Toilets and Faucets
  • Daylight Harvesting to lower Lighting Costs
  • Impact Windows

LEED Certification provides third-party validation that our building was designed and built to improve energy savings, water efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions, resource conservation and indoor environmental quality.

We look forward to showcasing the progress of our much anticipated sustainable renovations.