Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

Cargas Office Building In Lancaster, Pa Achieves LEED Silver

Cargas Systems is a local, family run business in Lancaster that has sustainability woven throughout its culture.  This culture starts from the top down with their innovative founder Chip Cargas.  Chip believes in creating a workplace that is fun, environmentally friendly and is dedicated to customer service.  From the early stages of planning, Chip and his team at Cargas were committed to incorporating sustainability into their office.  Chip was primarily focused on energy savings, daylighting and a minimalist approach with materials.  The envelope was designed to be highly insulated and allow for the maximum amount of daylight through skylights and large windows on the south face of the building.  Also on the south face of the building are solar panel covered sunshades on the exterior and Trombe walls on the interior.  In the winter, these trombe walls act as heat sinks and absorb the winter sun and radiate that heat throughout the interior space, reducing the cost of heating the building.  In the summer months, the solar sunshade absorbs the sun before it enters the building.

 

Cargas Office Building, Lancaster, Pa

Cargas Office Building, Lancaster, Pa

The major design strategy which remained throughout the entire project was sustainability and comfort.  Chip Cargas and his company (National Award Winning Business for Sustainability through the Green Plus Program) were dedicated to this process and implementing green strategies which made sense over the long term.  Another unique aspect of the building which is truly sustainable is that the structure was built to easily add a second story in the future.  The building was completely designed for vertical expansion to limit the impact to the surrounding area which is a fantastic concept.

Early in the design process, a charette was conducted to determine the LEED Credits which were both feasible and necessary to receive the High Performance Building Grant. Through the use of an energy model we were able to determine an approximate payback cost for using a variety of systems. The team compared using water source heat pumps, rooftop VAVs, and geothermal heat pumps. We finalized on using geothermal heat pumps. We submitted for and were approved for the high performance grant, which had us on track for LEED Platinum Certification. During the design-build phase, it became apparent that the cost for achieving the high performance building was more than the grant had to offer. The HVAC system was then revised to a water source heat pump (still highly efficient) with a roof top cooling tower and high efficiency gas boiler. The final outcome was a solid and very energy efficient LEED Silver building (nearing Gold Status) that was built both within budget and on schedule.

Cargas Custom Bike Rack

Cargas Custom Bike Rack

A very important design strategy that was included in the project was the inclusion of a 50 kw Solar Photovoltaic array.  This array provides 20% of the electrical demand for the entire building which coupled with the 40% more efficient HVAC & Lighting system, reduces the overall building energy consumption by over 60%!  This is a remarkable feat for a new building.

The construction process included many different aspects for the subcontractors involved.  Training on LEED, the process, waste management, indoor air quality management and general green building practices.  The end result was a team effort from all parties involved, including the ongoing training and education which is provided by Chip and his staff to various local organizations and schools.

Trombe Walls at Cargas Office

Trombe Walls at Cargas Office

Some Of The Unique Green Aspects Of The Building:

  • 53 kw PV Solar Array which provides close to 20% of their annual energy
  • Water source heat pump system for heating and cooling (Utility bills average $.20-.50/sf)
  • Trombe walls to act as a heat sink inside the main windows of the building
  • Highly Efficient Glazing with sun shades and blinds to control sunlight and heat
  • Lighting control systems to dim entire areas when natural daylight is available
  • Flexible design for vertical expansion in 5-10 years (can add a 2nd story)
  • 100% Low VOC Materials
  • Local materials were a focus
  • Recycled content of materials was high (Over 20%)
  • Custom bike rack and shower facilities (numerous employees bike to work!)
  • Preferential parking for low emitting and high efficiency vehicles

Their new office building is located at the old site of the Lancaster Stockyards (contaminated site).

Check out some of the before photos here : http://www.behance.net/gallery/Lancaster-Stockyards/386610

Cargas is an innovative business focused on custom software and technology for a broad range of industries.

Cargas Celebrates 25 Years!

Cargas Celebrates 25 Years!

Learn more about their company here: http://www.cargas.com

Feel free to share your success stories with me on twitter!

http://www.twitter.com/leed_resource

 

Shippensburg University Student Housing Project Profile

Presidents Hall

Presidents Hall pays homage to various architectural features found across campus at Shippensburg University
Photo Courtesy of Fortune Johnson, Inc.

PROJECT SUMMARY:

Shippensburg University Student Services, Inc. (SUSSI) is an independent non-profit organization that serves as the voice for the student community regarding policies that govern the general welfare of students.  SUSSI hired Campus Apartments (CA) to assemble the design and construction team which consisted CUBE 3 Studio (Architect), Greenman Pedersen, Inc. (MEPFP, Structural and Civil Engineers) and Fortune Johnson Inc. (General Contractor).  The purpose of the project is to replace several on-campus student housing buildings in multiple phases.  Phase 1 consists of Buildings 1-3 (306,436 SF) and Phase 2 consists of Buildings 4-6 (284,128 SF).  A third phase is under consideration.  It was determined early in the project by Campus Apartments that LEED Certification and Sustainability would be a focus for the project.   The buildings themselves are comprised of a series of suite and semi-suite units with a bathroom shared by every 2 students.  There are main common lounges, study lounges and laundry rooms on every floor.  At the main entry level, there are a series of larger assembly areas for student interaction and for the academic portion of the University to co-utilize.

SUSTAINABLE FEATURES OF THE PROJECT:

1.  ENERGY EFFICIENCY – The buildings have provided the students with flexibility of comfort within their suites through the use of a North America’s Largest VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow) System with each suite having its own terminal unit to control temperature.  This approach allows one suite to utilize cooling while the next is heating, to meet the individual needs of the students.  VRF reduces energy usage by nearly 25% over a conventional unit by unit HVAC system.  All of the buildings are tied to a campus wide building management system which allows the University to setback all of the HVAC systems when the units are unoccupied and save nearly 20% energy on an annual basis.  Given the entire buildings envelope and HVAC system, the buildings will reduce the overall energy usage by 16% annually per the energy model required to be submitted for LEED (actual usage and savings noted below).

2.  WATER USE REDUCTION: Each building was provided with at least one water fountain that had a bottle filling function built in.  This element was used to help encourage the students to reuse water bottles, creating a smaller waste stream.  The fountain keeps a running tally of how many bottles have been saved.  Low flow fixtures were used in every possibly situation throughout the facility giving the total water use reduction of over 40% annually.

3.  REDUCED DEVELOPMENT IMPACT: The siting of the buildings was done in a way to utilize previously developed sites within the core of the campus, while not disturbing the existing residential buildings housing students, and providing the students with meaningful outdoor spaces at the conclusion of each Phase of the project.

Each Dorm Room Allows For Fresh Air, Daylight and Quiet Surroundings resulting in maximum comfort for the students

Each Dorm Room Allows For Fresh Air, Daylight and Quiet Surroundings resulting in maximum comfort for the students
Photo Courtesy of Fortune Johnson, Inc.

4. RESPONSIBLE MATERIAL USEAGE: Where possible local materials were purchased and used on the project giving it over 20% regional material usage.  The major ones included Steel, Masonry (York, Pa), Drywall (Baltimore, MD), Paint (Frederick, MD) and Acoustical Ceiling Products (Lancaster, PA). Also over 10% materials contained recycled content.

5. IMPROVED ACOUSTICS – It was a main focus of the project team to provide a high quality studying environment inside their dormitory.  Many studies show that the quieter the environment, the more productive the student and the easier it is to retain the information they are studying.  For that reason each unit was constructed with special insulation and sealants giving an incredibly high STC rating of 55 to the units.

Open Lounges For Students To Convene

Open Lounges For Students To Convene
Photo Courtesy of Fortune Johnson, Inc.

6. IMPROVED INDOOR ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY – The students are given the opportunity to control their own environment within each dormitory unit.  The HVAC, lighting and windows all enable the student to provide themselves with optimal comfort.  The buildings receive maximum ventilation (100% outside air HVAC systems).  Studies also show that productivity and alertness go up with the level of fresh air inside a building.  All low or no VOC products were used

7. STUDENT ENGAGEMENT – The design and construction team has engaged with the Shippensburg University Student body to educate them about the benefits of green building.  The students have been very excited to learn about the reduced impact on the environment their new campus will have once the entire new student housing is occupied.

Fooseball, Pool Tables, Flat Screens - Great amenities for any college student

Fooseball, Pool Tables, Flat Screens – Great amenities for any college student
Photo Courtesy of Fortune Johnson, Inc.

8. DAYLIGHTING AND VIEWS – Each dormitory unit includes a large operable window for the student to achieve the maximum amount of daylight and views of the outside.  They also have the opportunity to open these windows to give added ventilation to their space.

9. COMMUNITY CONNECTIVITY – Numerous bus routes are located on campus which allow for the occupants to take advantage of public transportation.  Also, naturally being on a campus, there are many amenities within walking distance for the students such as dining services, shipping and receiving, recreational areas and classrooms.

All the comforts of home right inside the new student housing facilities

All the comforts of home right inside the new student housing facilities
Photo Courtesy of Fortune Johnson, Inc.

10. RESILIENCY – Given the nature of the occupants and the usage of the facility, the design team worked closely with the maintenance team from the university to specify and use resilient materials.   Materials that were easy to replace or repair were also used such as Acoustical Ceilings and Carpet Tiles.

11. WASTE DIVERSION – 98% of the demolished buildings were salvaged through an extensive scrapping, crushing and stockpiling operation.  Nearly 12,000 cubic yards of concrete was salvaged for the future use of the University on a roadway project.  Anywhere from 75% to 98% of construction waste was salvaged during the construction project (varied by building).  Each building also has dedicated areas for the students to recycle all of their waste materials.

12.GREEN POWER – The development team offset the energy usage for the Phase 1 buildings by purchasing 70% green power (Renewable Energy Credits) for two years.  The offset is 4,117,914 kWh which is equivalent to the following:

The removal of

435.40

passenger vehicles from the road for a year

Planting

53587.25

tree seedlings and growing them for ten years

Preserving

16.14

acres from being deforested for a year

Avoiding the carbon emissions from consuming

234294.02

gallons of gasoline

Avoiding the carbon emissions from consuming

4860.24

barrels of foreign oil

Avoiding the carbon emissions from burning

8.98

railcars worth of coal

COLLABORATIVE APPROACH

Post-design and pre-construction (during the demolition and compaction grouting process) Fortune Johnson facilitated extensive collaboration using BIM software.  Use of BIM and collaborative meetings amongst the construction team allowed the team to raise potential field conflicts early in the project and identify them through the RFI and Submittal process.  This streamlined the pre-construction process and eliminated conflicts later in the project.  Pinpointing these conflicts and eliminating them early in the project reduced delays, errors in the field which would need to be corrected, extra material and waste, etc.

D13268-6778

McLean Hall II
Photo Courtesy of Fortune Johnson, Inc.

The design and construction teams work closely throughout the project to come up with solutions, on the fly, that meet the various goals of the project (schedule, budget, quality, maintenance and LEED considerations).  Also given the Phased approach and maintaining the design and construction teams, there have been many lessons learned and improved efficiencies amongst the teams moving into the second phase.  This makes for a better finished product, a more efficient schedule and improved cost savings.

CHALLENGES

Our team found a variety of different challenges, especially in the construction process.  The project consisted of major demolition, and demolishing old buildings have challenges from both a safety and sustainability standpoint.  The older buildings contained hazardous materials which were remediated appropriately and then the large structures could be demolished.  To salvage as much of the old buildings as possible was a significant challenge.  Being on a college campus, the amount of area to perform these activities were limited and there was large scale crushing and sorting operations going on around the clock to maintain the schedule.  Nearly 98% of the demolition debris was salvaged.  Metal (rebar and steel) was stripped from the old buildings and the concrete and masonry was crushed for stockpiling and reuse by the construction team on future projects.

Given the type of construction, multi family, there were varying levels of experience from subcontractors pertaining to LEED projects.  Some had zero experience and some had extensive experience.  This can always pose a significant challenge when preparing and documenting all that is required for the LEED certification.  The construction team held various training courses for the bidders and subcontractors both on the documentation and material management on-site.  This went a long way toward educating the subs who were less familiar with the LEED process.

D13268-6785

Seavers Hall
Photo Courtesy of Fortune Johnson, Inc.

Wood frame construction poses a unique indoor air quality challenge in that it can be susceptible to mold when exposed to the elements for extended periods of time.  The general contractor did enlist an environmental consultant who treated the buildings to prevent such issue but it was a constant battle until the buildings were completely dried in.  Buildings were tested for air quality prior to enclosing them to ensure the highest indoor air quality.

The soil composition in the Shippensburg region is considered “karst”.  In addition to having to blast massive amounts of rock, these karst soils can become unstable underneath of the large buildings.  Soil depressions were encountered during construction which caused delays to the project but also compaction grouting fields were constructed underneath each of the buildings to support them and ensure that settlement did not occur given the soil composition.

OUTCOMES

Phase 1 was completed on-time and within budget with students occupying the building in December of 2012.  Phase 2 began in January of 2013 and is slated for occupancy in August of 2014.  Each building was fully occupied after they opened and upon completion of Phase 2, the project will house 2,688 students during the school year and various visitors throughout the summer.  In the first year of occupancy (2013) the University projected that they saved 7,500,000 gallons of water and 1,500,000 kWhr of energy usage.  These are truly high performing green buildings.  While the energy modeling was only able to capture/project 16% savings from baseline/code energy usage, what we have seen from real usage of the buildings incorporated with the universities set back of the buildings, the savings are much greater as seen below.  The buildings are saving between 37% and 51% compared to what is required by code.

Energy Consumption Summary Based on First Year of Occupancy (2013)

Energy Savings By Building (Percentage) Energy Savings – Actual usage vs. baseline code (As Buildings Are Being Operated) Actual Energy Usage Measured by SU Projected Energy Usage in LEED Energy Model (16% better than code) Projected Energy Usage Required By Code

45%

577,674.26

694,684.50

1,096,861.00

1,272,358.76

37%

401,792.12

681,105.00

933,532.00

1,082,897.12

51%

540,382.67

516,347.18

910,974.00

1,056,729.84

SETTING A PRECEDENT

The projects will become the first LEED Certified (Certification of Phase 1 anticipated Q1 of 2014) on campus. The engagement with both the Staff & Students has shown Shippensburg University that Green Buildings can be aesthetically pleasing, resilient, healthy for the occupants and energy efficient.  They also can be really fun spaces for the students to live in.  All of these aspects engage the occupants on a higher level.  The hope is that the students, occupants and staff understand how buildings can in fact improve the environment and improve our life.  Ultimately this is the goal for green building and we feel that these student housing projects speak to what is possible in terms of sustainability in the built environment.

Shippensburg University

Shippensburg University
Photo Courtesy of Fortune Johnson, Inc.

GreenBuild 2013 – Tips for your Philly visit!

This year I will be attending my third GreenBuild Conference & Expo.  With the previous two experiences I have learned a couple of tips & tricks which may make your trip even more memorable!

1.) Schedule some time before or after the conference to take in the local scenery - My last trip to Chicago unfortunately I missed out on this and still regret it to this day.  Philadelphia is full of art, culture and exciting venues to check out – I highly recommend any of the following activities during your visit:

Eagles-Go-Green1

2.) Take advantage of the exclusive tours made available to you through the conference – Yes they may have a fee associated with them but they may be exclusive, once in a lifetime tours that shouldn’t be passed up http://dvgbc.org/greenbuild/2013Tours

Take a half day tour of Philadelphia’s Navy Yard and learn how they are reinventing their campus into a sustainable model for the 21st century

3.) Take the train – There is nothing cooler than the train.  Free wifi, a comfortable seat, great views, food and beverages… Not to mention, it’s about the most sustainable way to travel.  Also, pricing is very reasonable when you compare against driving/parking and flying.  http://www.amtrak.com/home

4.) Enter to win the prizes - At my first GreenBuild Conference I won a TV, the second I won an iPad… Enough Said!  The conference offers a fun scavenger hunt called “Passport to prizes” which I encourage you to try and many of the vendors have great giveaways.  It’s fun, it’s a conference, it’s about the free swag… Enjoy it.

5.) Find a cause - GreenBuild isn’t all about shameless promotion of the vendors.  MANY non-profits and small organizations will be in attendance sharing their mission and their vision and looking for support.  Here is a list of “Partners” who are involved in this years conference http://www.dvgbc.org/our-partners.  Do yourself a favor – Find a cause that resonates with you and get involved.  When you return home, feel free to find your local chapter and volunteer your time or money to helping the cause.

6.) Treat yourself to at least one good meal – If you are in seminars or on your feet on the expo floor all day, the chances are you don’t get to eat very well during the day.  Take the time to research the local scene and find a good restaurant.  Treat yourself to one good meal when your there and make sure to invite some friend you have met at the conference.  Book in advance!  Here are some good spots around the convention center: http://www.urbanspoon.com/ps/21/9019/philadelphia-pennsylvania-convention-center-nearby-restaurants

All in all, I hope that you have a fantastic conference and it leaves you motivated to take what you have learned and your new found connections back with you to propel the movement of sustainability.

Here are some quick stats about this years conference:

Greenbuild-at-a-Glance

Green Apple Day Of Service

Image

Mark Kurowski (K&W Engineers) and I taking part in the Green Apple Day Of Service

What is the Green Apple Day Of Service?

USGBC and The Center For Green Schools created this annual event to engage people around the world and give them an opportunity to give back to their community.  The goal is to educate children/students about sustainability in their very own backyard.  They have a fantastic website (www.mygreenapple.org) which has tracked, organized and reported on the thousands of service projects that have been going on around the world on September 29, 2012.

Who was involved?

Our local Green Apple Service event was coordinated by The Emerging Professionals Committee of USGBC Central Pennsylvania.  In just a couple of weeks, Sarah Knehr and Justin Kovaleski were able to secure over $1500 in donations for trees/mulch/tools and round up 30+ volunteers to help.  People of all backgrounds came out to chip in… Professional engineers, occupational therapists, construction workers, parents, children and college students.  It was great to see such a positive response to the event and really inspired me to do more projects like this on an ongoing basis.  Penn State Harrisburg and their newly founded USGBC Student Group was there with numerous volunteers.  Penn State Harrisburg also visited with Middletown Area Middle School students this week to teach them about green buildings and the environment.

Penn State Harrisburg USGBC Student Group

What did we accomplish?

We accomplished many things today…  We connected people… We improved City Island by planting 15 trees… We supported a struggling city in need (Harrisburg)… We educated students about giving back… and most of all We Had FUN!  People really do enjoy rolling their sleeves up once in a while and getting dirty.  It was great to see so many smiling faces and people really looking to help each other with this project.  I even got to see a mom teach her two middle school age children how to plant a tree… quite remarkable!

How can you get involved and support future projects like this one?

Become a volunteer with your local chapter of the US Green Building Council… Our website in Central Pennsylvania is www.usgbc-centralpa.org.  Our chapter covers 37 counties throughout Central Pa and includes large areas such as State College, Lancaster, Berks, York, Harrisburg, Carlisle and Chambersburg.  We have many great committees doing good work and fun interactive events on a monthly basis.  Check here for upcoming events!

Donate now… Non-profits like USGBC Central Pa need financial resources in order to continue to provide community service projects, educational programs and to advocate for sustainability to local and state government.  Please consider donating today to ensure this organization can continue to support sustainability in your community for years to come.

Zero Energy Buildings: Myth Or Must?

As the immediate needs for more environmentally friendly and energy efficient buildings become more and more apparent, a logical question begins to come into focus: Where does it end?

Many in the design and construction community believe the answer is Zero Energy Buildings.  Zero Energy is a term used to describe a building that consumes as much energy as it generates in a given year or net zero.  Conversely, carbon emissions, which are directly related to the energy consumed, are zero. This is not to be confused with the notion that the building consumes zero energy all together.  This would be nearly impossible given all of the HVAC, Lighting, and Life Safety System demands that are needed to operate a building, especially a commercial one.  The key is to reduce the amount of energy consumed to the lowest possible amount and then create that amount of energy on-site by renewable means.

Here is a DOE’s database of Zero Energy Buildings in the US Today: http://zeb.buildinggreen.com/

Science House (Minnesota) is a Net Zero Building Used as A Teaching Tool

It all starts with the building envelope and conservation: 

This encompasses the entire surrounding perimeter of the building including the roof, the walls, fenestration (windows/glass), and the foundation below.  The envelope is the first building system which must be optimized to achieve the most efficient building possible.  Several new building envelope concepts have emerged, most notably the use of air/vapor barriers and insulation on the outside of the building in lieu of the traditional installation on the interior of the building.  Driving this concept is the fact that thermal bridging has been found to drastically reduce the functional R-Value of an exterior wall when substrate and exterior finishes are attached directly to the framing of the building with no layer of thermal protection on the outside.  Not only must a building envelope be well insulated but it must also need to be sealed well enough to prevent air leakage.  Air leakage is one of the top reasons for energy loss in existing buildings today.

Click here for a link to a great resource, the passive haus institute on more information to maximize envelope efficiency: http://www.passivehouse.us/passiveHouse/PassiveHouseInfo.html

System Optimization & Proper Sizing: 

The next step to achieving net zero energy consumption in a building is through the optimization of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems that operate the building.  Virtually on a monthly basis new mechanical, electrical, lighting and plumbing equipment are released to the market with increased efficiencies.  Designers are finding new ways to integrate these systems and make them efficient as possible.  Also, these systems need to be engineered to be properly sized and configured based on the envelope and the anticipated demands of the occupants.  After occupancy, the use of building management systems, smart controls and variable settings on equipment have all helped to integrate these systems and provide constant feedback on the amount of energy being used at a given time.  The proper sizing and smart usage can combine to reduce the energy consumption by nearly 50% by using highly efficient systems and equipment.

For more information and great articles on optimizing energy efficiency in buildings:  Check out the M-Files Blog http://blog.mcclureco.com/

Note:
Studies and energy models have shown that maximizing both the envelope and the major building systems can reduce the energy consumption of a building by 70% (over the baseline energy usage established by ASHRAE 90.1).   Where does the remaining 30% come from?

On-Site Energy Generation:

The final step of achieving net zero energy consumption is through the generation of on-site energy for use by the building or the purchase of renewable energy through a green power provider.  The plausibility of generating your own energy or using renewable energy sources has increased recently due to a heightened awareness and a drop in costs (avg solar array runs between $3.50 and $5.00 per watt).  Systems that incorporate energy recovered from these various systems are becoming more of a common place for those planning to construct a new building: Solar, Geothermal, Cogeneration, Energy Recovery, Micro turbines, Wind and hydroelectricity.  Utilizing this energy locally first, at the building location, is where the remaining 30% reduction occurs.

Whether Net Zero is Feasible or Not, Raising the bar is a Must:

Buildings and optimizing their performance must be a focus for the design and construction communities because they have the single largest impact on the environment today (and the costs of operating our buildings).  Our collective commitment to creating buildings that perform optimally from a comfort, consumption and generative stance is imperative.  Finding creative ways to reduce energy (as much as fiscally possible) and then operating these buildings in an optimal manner is a must.  I am confident that the technologies and the strategies will continue to evolve and netzero will eventually become commonplace.

The Living Futures Institute (Creators of the Living Building Challenge) has now implemented a Net Zero Certification Program, for more information, go here: http://living-future.org/netzero/

Join us for GREENCon – March 15, 2012 – Messiah College

Early Bird Rate is $40 Until 2/22

Join us for a great conference & expo!

USGBC Central Pennsylvania will be hosting GreenCon – A Green Building Conference & Expo on March 15, 2012 at Messiah College.

The day will feature national and local experts on green building technologies, systems and philosophies.  There will be plenty of opportunities to learn, network and witness sustainability up close and personal as Messiah College gives tours of their numerous green initiatives.  There will be several guest speakers discussing exciting, relevant and innovative topics.  You can earn credential maintenance hours and promote your business through exhibiting or sponsorship.

If you are interested in learning more about this conference, please comment below and I will be happy to send you information regarding registration/exhibiting/sponsoring.

Happy New Year!

The Future of Green Building… The Living Building Challenge

Last month in New York City, I was fortunate to attend the first east coast workshop for the Living Building Challenge. The challenge was created in 2006 by The Cascadia Green Building Council (http://cascadiagbc.org/), one of the three founding chapters and pioneers of the US Green Building Council. The Living Building Challenge has now become part of the Living Futures Institute and has no specific affiliation with LEED. It is a stand alone program that looks to push the boundaries of design, material usage and building efficiency all while focusing on true beauty and being one with nature. I wanted to introduce you to the challenge and give you some insight as to where things are headed in the world of green building.

The Living Building Challenge is exactly that… a serious CHALLENGE. For even the most savvy of green builders and designers it will serve as a formidable foe… The benchmarks are far beyond LEED… Far beyond where any of us think about when it comes to conventional design and construction. This challenge will force you to abandon your comfort zone, your means & methods and think outside of the box. For this, I love the challenge. The challenge has two large hurdles in my mind: Net Zero Water Consumption and Net Zero Energy Consumption.

It is certainly not for everyone. In my estimation, the upfront costs are significant, projecting anywhere from 10-50% more than conventional buildings, but there are virtually no utility costs and you will be among the few, the proud, the pioneers. There is something to be said for being Net Zero both from an efficiency and technology standpoint. It is not easy but just imagine all those dollars saved throughout the lifespan of the building.

There are 7 major Categories within the Living Building Challenge which they call petals. Within each petal category there are imperatives which must be met, 100% in order to receive the petal. If you are able to receive all 7 petals for your building then you will receive the Living Building Challenge Certification. They have just unveiled a lower tier of recognition which is the Petal Recognition for achieving 3 of the petal categories. My impression is this has been well received because of the rigorous and almost impossible demands of all 7 petal categories.

Here are the 7 petals and their imperatives (requirements):

I.) Site

01 – Limits to growth

02 – Urban Agriculture

03 – Habitat/Land exchange

04 – Car Free Living

II.) Water

05 – Net Zero Water

06 – Ecological Water Flow

III.) Energy

07 – Net Zero Energy

Note: No combustion allowed

IV.) Health

08 – Civilized Environment (fresh air and daylight are priorities)

09 – Healthy Air

10 – Biophilia (Reference – http://biomimicryinstitute.org/about-us/what-is-biomimicry.html)

V.) Materials

11 – Red list (DO NOT USE List)

12 – Embodied carbon footprint

13 – Responsible industry

14 – Appropriate Sourcing – FSC Pure, Salvaged or Timber from on site

15 – Conservation + Resource

Note: Only petal which currently requires significant documentation

VI.) Equity

16 – Human Scale + Humane Places

17 – Democracy + Social Justice

18 – Rights to nature – Do not impede others access to natural light, water, etc.

VII.) Beauty

19 – Beauty + Spirit (Nature, delight, joy)

20 – Inspiration + Education

A New Horizon:

I am extremely encouraged by this challenge and the fact that there is someone raising the bar on the design and construction industry. USGBC did this with LEED some 15 years ago. When LEED first arrived, people complained about how hard it was to have 5 different material containers on-site for recycling and how it was impossible to get people to sort their waste. Now it is virtually impossible to find a job that doesn’t recycle its waste. We must continue to push for net zero and challenge people to think outside of the box to get it accomplished. We have a tall task ahead of us and limited resources which are being depleted more every day… let us not forget this.

Photo Of Omega Center, NY

More Information:

For a more in depth look at the Living Building Challenge imperatives/requirements, please go here: https://ilbi.org/lbc/LBC%20Documents/LBC2-0.pdf

For a look at the cost comparison of a living building vs. LEED Gold, please review this extraordinary cost matrix: https://ilbi.org/education/Resources-Documents/Reports-Docs/ProcessDocs/LB_FinancialStudy_Comparison_Matrix.pdf

If you would like a presentation, please contact me for more information and we will be sure to assist you with this.

Campus Square Building Wins National Award

It was truly a pleasure to be involved in the design and construction process of one of the most sustainable buildings in the region. Campus Square is located in Midtown Harrisburg which has undergone a complete revitalization in the last 5 years.  The revitalization has been the vision of GreenWorks Development and their commitment to responsible development has definitely paid off. Campus Square has gone on to win a USGBC Central Pennsylvania Project Of The Year Award, ABC Keystone Chapter Project of The Year Award and most recently an ABC National Pyramid Award. These are all landmark achievements for this project.

Campus Square is a great example of blending high performance technologies, urban revitalization, flexibility and sustainable building products.

Some of the green building aspects of Campus Square include:

  • Geothermal (Ground Source) Heating & Cooling – 46 Geothermal Wells Under The Building – Designed & Installed by McClure Company
  • 42kw PV Solar Array with battery backup for emergency power – Designed by groSolar and installed by GR Sponaugle
  • White TPO Roofing by Carlisle Syntec Roofing installed by Houck Group
  • Energy Star Windows provided by Pella installed by Wohlsen Construction
  • Over 30% of all the materials used in the building is recycled content
  • Over 40% of materials were made within 500 miles
  • Over 98% of the construction debris was recycled

The Green Center of Central Pennsylvania is located in Campus Square as well. The Green Center is open to the public and teaches people about the various aspects of sustainability.

Here is a great video which tells the story about the building and the transformation of Midtown Harrisburg:

If you have questions or comments, feel free to post them.

What is green architecture?

Green architecture is definitely not black and white.   Green architecture is inherently organic and integrated.   There are currently many varying approaches and schools of thought behind this.   I am no architect but I do have a huge appreciation for the art.  I thoroughly enjoy the very few times in my day job as a construction manager when I’m able to sketch out details in the field or use my architectural drawing skills to get my idea across to the team.

I have started to notice the following trends in the green architecture arena.

1.) Passive Design – Orienting the building so that it is able to use the natural warmth and light from the sun. Just as important is the proper insulation of the building so comfort is preserved throughout the day.  Another critical item is to make sure that the most efficient windows are used on the exterior of the building. The passive house (haus) system has become widely popular and they are able to use these methodologies to save over 80% energy usage when compared to conventional design. Here is a link to their website: http://www.passivehouse.us/passiveHouse/PassiveHouseInfo.html .

  • Trombe walls
  • Thermal bridge free construction
  • High efficiency glazing
  • Conserving resources through design

2.) High Performance Design – High performance design includes pushing the limit in all areas of the building. This includes the most efficient and typically most expensive envelope (exterior skin of the building), mechanical system, the electrical system, the lighting system, and even the plumbing system. ASHRAE publishes a truly great resource called High Performance Magazine which spotlights these types of buildings throughout the world, for more information visit here: http://www.hpbmagazine.org/

  • Geothermal (Ground Source) heating & cooling
  • Chilled beam technology
  • Integrated design
  • Technology pushing performance

3.) Smart Design – Smart design refers to the proper sizing of the building and it’s systems to fit the needs of the occupants. Traditionally buildings and their systems have been grossly oversized when compared to their actual needs and functionality. We are starting to see more homes and commercial buildings being built with this simplistic approach which can have major benefits for the environment and energy usage. My favorite local example of this is the Lofts at 909 – http://loftsat909.com/lofts/ . They used an old abandoned school and converted it into ultra modern, compact urban apartments. They look really awesome.

  • Shared spaces
  • Multi-Functional spaces
  • Easily convertible spaces
  • Emerge Alliance
  • Feel Free To Share Others!

     

Where to begin?

This is often the first question I receive when I speak to people about sustainability.  Whether they are planning a new building, greening their business or changing some habits at home… They are never quite sure of the proper steps or the first step.  My reply to them most generally is start small.  Sustainability can be an overwhelming concept at first glance.  Even the word itself is a bit of a mouthful.  There are literally millions of companies are now bombarding us with their green marketing. It is easy for people to become confused and unsure.  Hopefully these few suggestions can help you on your way to ‘green’ baby steps.

Start with Energy – Any measure you take with regards to conserving energy will pay off dividends in both the short and long term.  This will also free up some extra dollars in your budget to implement some more drastic measures later on.  Here are some very easy, low cost (under $100), every day items which you can implement to reduce energy usage.

  • Change One Lightbulb – Chances are that you have already started to do this in your home or business.  Changing out the old incandescent bulbs for new compact fluorescent or if you are really an early adopter, LED Lightbulbs.  LED bulbs have come down in price drastically in the last year because more manufactuers and big box stores are beginning to carry them.  This is very encouraging!  There are several advantages to switching out incandescent bulbs including: longer life and lower energy usage… This means changing them less often!   Home Depot has LED Bulbs for $17.97 which will last for 46 years and save you over $200 over the life of each bulb http://bit.ly/giCTcz

  • Buy & Install a programmable thermostat – They boast up to a 33% energy savings if installed and implemented properly which would result in an average savings of at least 20-30 dollars per month.  Here is a link to a honeywell 7-day programmable thermostat which costs $81.69 on amazon.  http://amzn.to/hz4EEX Estimated payback on your investment in 3-4 months (payback).

  • Unplug – With our homes becoming more and more technologically advanced electronics seem to be piling up in every room.  TV’s, Computers, iPads, Portable Phones, Video Game Systems, Baby Monitors, DVD/CD Players, Radios, Appliances, and more.  Most electronics today constantly draw electricity when plugged in.  This is often referred to as phantom loads or plug loads.  The more we can unplug these items, the more we will see a savings in energy each month.  Here is a fantastic product from Belkin to help you do just this – The Belkin Smart Plug turns off the power strip when the TV is turned off.  http://bit.ly/fuNSpyPayback is 6 months (money in your pocket every month after that)

  • Turn off AC/Heat in Fall and Spring – No one likes to be uncomfortable so I don’t suggest doing this in the summer or winter.  If the weather is pleasant enough for you to be walking around the neighborhood in a t-shirt and shorts, try opening the windows and turning off your air conditioning and/or heat in the house.  This will save a lot of energy and allow you to get tons of fresh air which is always a great thing.

These are a few quick and easy steps to conserving energy.  Look for more tips on integrating sustainability into your life. If you have others , feel free to share

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