Physical Benefits

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.

 

Hotel Continues Sustainability Efforts

Boston’s Westin Copley Place upgrades its HVAC system and reaps savings.

By Paul Lin
View the original article here

February 14, 2014

Excluding labor, energy is typically the highest cost that hoteliers face and is the single fastest-growing operating cost in the hospitality industry.[1] According to Flex Your Power and ENERGY STAR statistics, the hospitality industry spends approximately $4 billion per year on energy, with electricity accounting for 60 to 70 percent of the utility costs. And the HVAC system accounts for more than 50 percent of a lodging property’s energy costs.[2] All of which significantly affect the bottom line.

The Environmental Protection Agency has calculated the associated cost savings and concluded that even a 10 percent improvement in energy efficiency is equivalent to increasing average daily room rates by 62 cents and $1.35 for limited-service and full-service hotels, respectively.[3]

Energy Efficiency and Hotels’ Bottom Line

In the hotel sector, reducing energy costs while continuing to meet the diverse needs of guests, owners and corporate requirements is challenging but by no means impossible. Energy efficiency provides hotel owners and operators cost savings that benefit the bottom line. Efficiency also improves the service of capital equipment, enhances guest comfort and demonstrates a commitment to climate stewardship. Environmental friendliness can be a market strength for a hotel brand, which can lead to a better reputation among consumers.

A report by Deloitte, “Risks and Rewards for Building Sustainable Hotels,” cites that both financial incentives and consumer demand are likely to encourage the hospitality industry to continue developing more environmentally friendly hotels, resorts, spas and convention centers. According to the report, “Travelers are increasingly considering sustainability in making travel plans. Business travelers increasingly consider a hotel’s sustainability in making their selections, and 40 percent of those surveyed are willing to pay a premium for it.”[4]

Companies in the lodging industry have realized that environmentally sound practices not only help the environment but can also lead to cost reductions, business expansion and profit growth.

Westin Copley Place

One such company, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, is dedicated to integrating enlightened environmental practices and sustainability principles into all aspects of its business strategy. By collaborating with hotel owners, franchisees, suppliers and business partners, the company actively works to reduce the environmental impact of hotel operations. The company recently set a target of reducing its energy consumption by 30 percent and reducing its water consumption by 20 percent by the year 2020. The goals are company-wide and apply to Starwood-owned and managed hotels.

Westin, one brand of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, incorporated a number of sustainable elements during a renovation of Westin Copley Place in Boston. This 803-room, 37-story hotel is not only determined to provide guests with a phenomenal stay, but the management also understands its responsibility to the environment. The hotel is a recipient of the prestigious Green Key Award in 2010 and one of four hotels in Massachusetts to be recognized as a Green Seal certified hotel.

Glenn Ralfs, Westin Copley Place’s director of engineering and an industry veteran, is constantly on the lookout for ways to improve energy efficiency. He recently participated in an upgrade to the hotel’s HVAC system by installing energy-efficient motors to the heating and cooling systems in the guestrooms. This entailed replacing existing motors with Regal Genteq Eon 42 ECM motors in all 803 guest rooms as a way to provide improved guestroom temperature resulting in a more satisfying guest experience.

Hydronic fan coils are heating and cooling devices that utilize hot and/or cold water as a thermal source. That water is typically provided by a central system, consisting of a boiler, chiller and other ancillary equipment. Fan coils are extremely quiet and reliable, have low operating costs and remarkably long life cycles. The Westin Copley Place utilizes a two-pipe system which circulates chilled water to provide cooling and an electric strip for heating.

“The benefits of this system are threefold: increased guests’ comfort, energy savings and motor controllability,” says Mike Rosenkranz, Gexpro energy specialist. Gexpro, an electrical distribution company, specializes in energy efficiency solutions which range from lighting, power quality, solar, energy management, drives and motors. Gexpro teamed up with JK Energy Solutions, a provider of energy efficiency services, to engineer a turnkey solution to help the Westin Copley Place achieve its energy efficiency goals.

The designers expect the guestroom energy management system is 80 percent more energy-efficient than the previous HVAC system and plan on saving the property an estimated 400,000 kWh annually. Additionally, due to the high kWh savings, the property expects a return on investment in approximately 2.3 years.

“In a hospitality property, unlike in some other commercial buildings, updated HVAC systems must be achieved with a high priority on quiet operation and good air quality to complete the guest experience,” says Ralfs. “Additionally, as the director of engineering, I need to be knowledgeable of ways to reduce our energy costs and consumption; ECM motors are an excellent way to meet all of these objectives.”

 

  1. www.cpr-energy.com/energy-awareness
  2. Joel Hill, “Boosting HVAC energy efficiency,” Lodging, February 13, 2013.
  3. www.energystar.gov/ia/business/EPA_BUM_Full.pdf (accessed 10/10/13).
  4. The Staying Power of Sustainability, Deloitte Publication, 2008.

Is Your Building Conducive to the Installation of a Green Roof?

Any reason for installing green roofs on a building—whether it’s to save money or the environment—is a good reason.

By Richard Heller and Chris Psencik
View the original article here
February 4, 2014

 

According to the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) association, the North American green roof industry grew by a remarkable 24 percent in 2012. Part of this growth was spurred on by more cities recognizing the public benefits of green roofs and taking various policy measures to encourage their widespread installation. However, according to GRHC there is still enormous potential for growth of new green roofs on billions of square feet of buildings across North America.

Despite the potential, installing a green roof is not a decision to be taken lightly. There are several structural and site/location considerations to take into account. The most recent news of a probable green roof collapse at a Latvian supermarket should give one pause. Before allocating the time and resources, facility owners and managers should weigh the pros and cons of a green roof and what to keep in mind during the planning stages.

The Mental Checklist

First, you need to consider the load capabilities of the building. The space that is designated for the green roof: Is it able to sustain the weight for the items that will be designed and placed on top of the roof? If the live weight load (after snow, for example) is less than 35 pounds per square foot, it will be harder to establish a green roof.

Second, consider the design intent of the green roof. Is the space going to be an area that individuals will be able to visit and enjoy up close, or is the green roof only to be viewed from a window, door, patio, etc?

Third, take into account the location and climate of the intended green roof. A common misconception about green roofs is that they must always be green and vegetative, but there are several possibilities. However, one needs to consider the climate and the exposure. For example, the west side of a building is going to have a tremendous amount of sun and heat, so plant materials will need to be suited to sustain themselves in this environment. The north side will receive colder northern winds and can be more heavily impacted by freezing temperatures.

In many instances the natural environment is not the only factor to consider when designing a green roof environment. Microclimates will also be created from the structure surrounding the space. For instance, radiant heat will increase exponentially when planting next to mirrored glass. Overhangs will create opportunities for shade gardens. Planting soil depths and soil material makeup will determine how quickly or slowly a space will dry out in rainy or dry seasons.

Fourth, consider irrigation and drainage. Drainage is key in making sure that rooftop gardens do not become pools. Rock gardens are commonly used in situations where irrigation cannot be provided and temperatures are determined to be too extreme in a green roof environment. Draining and irrigation issues can be solved with construction, but this will add costs to any budget.

Finally, one must ask if a green roof is the best choice for achieving goals. Many of the functions of a green roof can be achieved through other means. For example, rainwater from roofs can be recycled for irrigation. Heat can be mitigated by shade trees, which are the backbone of the ecology and support far more beneficial insects than most green roofs ever will.

In an urban environment, where there is almost no ecology and nature has been paved over, green roofs can play a vital role. In a suburban environment, however, the functionality of green roofs may become harder to justify when one looks at other alternatives.

Green Roofs Expand Green Spaces

According to the Environmental Health Research Foundation, each day a 50-foot by 50-foot green space releases enough oxygen to support a family of four, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points to the positive mental health benefits of being exposed to parks and green spaces.

Green roofs offer various opportunities for owners and employees to experience a little bit of nature. For example, the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Dallas developed a vegetable garden green roof, which allows the kitchen to provide fresh, locally grown herbs, spices and seasonal vegetables that go straight from the garden to the plate.

 

At the University of North Texas (UNT) Business Leadership building, a series of outdoor green roof spaces created by Southern Botanical and Lindsey White of Caye Cook and Associates allows students and faculty an opportunity to leave the classroom and office to take a break to reflect and study.

These spaces also help with the conservation of energy for the facility by increasing natural lighting within interior rooms and corridors. In turn, the increased natural light offers an opportunity to save on energy and lighting costs for the facility.

But there are also some concrete reasons for installing a green roof.

Green roofs can protect the roof membrane from elements that can be destructive, such as extreme heat and cold, water, mechanical damage and ultraviolet rays. In some cases, a green roof can double or triple the life of the membrane when properly installed and maintained.

Additionally, there are energy savings since a green roof acts as an insulator. Green roofs can also mitigate the heat island effect, reduce rainwater runoff, and to some extent, replace the flora that was destroyed by the footprint of the building.

For many cities, a compelling reason for green roofs is to offset the underlying, weak urban infrastructure that is overwhelmed by rainwater runoff.

New York City, for example, has an antiquated sewage system which, when overwhelmed by rainwater, forces the city to dump raw sewage into local bodies of water and makes New York beaches unusable for several days thereafter. In this instance, green roofs absorb 80 percent of the water that lands on them, so they can be a strategy to reduce the amount of water that reaches urban infrastructures.

Expecting Positive Growth for Green Roofs

The USGBC and its LEED certification program are spurring on the design and installation of green roofs all over the country. There are some regional variations, but that is often tied to climate. In Texas, for example, extreme temperatures can be somewhat of a limiting factor.

The increase in green roofs is often a matter of education, cost and technology, but signs indicate that they will become more productive and/or habitat-oriented. Green roofs will become popular as a site for food production, a habitat for beneficial insects, a way station for migratory birds and so on. This is a trend that is already happening in some cities and will continue to expand as food prices rise, and natural habitats continue to be reduced by population pressure.

And green roofs will continue to grow as a market segment as they establish track records and are supported by legislation.

For example, New York City gives a tax rebate for green roofs more than a certain square footage because the city recognizes that every square foot of green roof means less money it will have to spend upgrading the sewer and rainwater infrastructure.

In the end, consider function first and make sure your building and location are amenable to a green roof, or be clear on the extent of changes that need to be made and costs that need to be incurred for it to function properly and safely. Then be clear on the “why.” If the “why” is that you want to reap the qualitative benefits for employees and the environment, that is okay, too.