Resiliency + Why it matters in Green Building Today

What does resiliency have to do with Green Buildings?

It’s a great question… and here is the answer… You have to take a step back and look at the big picture.

Buildings that last have less of an impact on the environment because they deplete less natural resources.  Most buildings have a 20-30 year life span and depending on the use of the building, heavily trafficked materials need replaced every 5-10.  When design/construction teams focus on resiliency, we are looking at not only the long term durability of the building and the materials but also the flexibility of the space over time.  Here are some critical aspects which contribute to the resiliency of the facility.

Green Infrastructure

Solar + Green Roof

The most resilient building is one which does not rely on any outside infrastructure to operate.  In essence, it would be net zero in every aspect.  Net zero energy, water, waste water, storm water, waste, etc.   This means you generate your own energy, manage your own waste water and handle storm water on-site.  Some various techniques are available to handle this tall task.

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Steps to accomplish Net Zero:

1.) Conserve: Reduce overall consumption of the building by maximizing the insulation, fenestration and envelope performance.  Invest heavily in items which conserve energy.

2.) Design: Design/Integrate high efficiency building systems which rely heavily on natural resources such as sunlight, natural airflow, etc.  Limit the amount of artificial lighting, air conditioning and heat supplied to the space.

3.) Construct/Test:   Construct the building to the exact specification of the design.  This includes the exact design for thermal performance (air and heat transfer) of the envelope and the systems inside the building.  Various tests are used for this such as the blower door test.

4.) On-Site Renewable Energy:  Generate on-site renewable energy equal or greater than the amount of energy to be used by the building occupants and operations.

Living Machine handles waste water on-site

(Download their brochure here)

Green Roofs Handle Stormwater Onsite

Resilient Materials

Materials of resilient buildings are not only built to last longer but they can be deconstructed and reused in the event of a catastrophic event.  Fires, Floods, Earthquakes, Hurricanes are all increasing in numbers and causing massive damage in our communities.  Resiliency looks at where and how those communities are built and how they can withstand the most extreme situations.

Some examples of resilient materials & systems are as follows:

  • High performance sprinkler systems
  • Seismic innovations (pendulum powered, shock absorbing, rocking buildings)
  • Concrete
  • Cement coatings
  • Rubber coatings
  • Epoxy coatings

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Design for Flexibility

Designing open floor plans with movable walls (aka demountable partitions) and furniture that can adapt over time to various uses and applications is the future of building design.   Creating a floor plan which is essentially open or has areas which are easily converted to meet a multitude of needs.  This could include a large meeting space which can be divided into smaller meetings spaces, work rooms or offices depending on the need at that time.  More schools and places of worship are using these ideas to maximize their facilities year-round.  Some urban apartments are built to be small but extremely flexible with convertible walls, cabinets and spaces.  It is quite remarkable.  See some examples below:

Deconstruction

If and when damage is incurred by a facility, it would be ideal to be able to deconstruct and reuse any materials that can be salvaged.  Detroit is in the midst of a renaissance and a resurgence.  Amidst the massive amounts of redevelopment occurring there, many old, abandoned buildings are being deconstructed in lieu of demolished and sent to landfills.  Many organizations have found that deconstruction can create jobs and cash flow by selling the salvaged materials.

Some FAQ’s from one of Detroit’s deconstruction specialists:  http://reclaimingdetroit.org/faqs/

Weather concerns 

Certain regions have more concerns than others.  For example the western united states have severe drought concerns and water limitations whereas the south east united states have hurricanes to contend with.  Many debates surround what to do in these areas.  Do you leave the area and move to a more suitable environment?  Resiliency in building design can be a key to making the best of these climates.

Rainwater capturing is a great way for a facility to become resilient to periodic drought.

In areas of potential flooding, architects are now designing homes/buildings with:

  • more cementitious materials (concrete, cement siding) which is more weather resistant
  • raised lower levels for parking or limited storage (buildings on stilts)
  • Developments with higher rate of storage of storm run off with emergency

Trade-Offs

With any decision that gets incorporated into a building’s design there are trade offs.  There’s a balance to be found in cost, quality, resiliency and sustainability (impact on the environment).  You could build the most resilient and sustainable building in the world but currently it would cost 10 times the cost of a conventional building.  The next five to ten years, more and more developments in communities will arise with improvements in all of these areas.  Ultimately with hopes that we have safe, resilient, healthy, sustainable communities that last and that are integrated.

As climate change continues to evolve and extreme weather becomes more and more prevalent, resiliency is a major topic which needs to be considered in each and every community across the world.  Please come and join us for GreenCon 2016 to learn more from industry leaders on this topic.

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GreenCon: Building Conference & Expo is coming up on March 17, 2016 at Dickinson College.

If you are interested in Sustainability, Green Buildings or Resiliency, this conference is for you!

The major theme of this years conference will be resiliency.

Register Here For GreenCon 2016
See The Full GreenCon 2016 Program Lineup Here
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Leadership in Sustainability – Thank you Leo! #Oscars2016

Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar on Sunday… He also displayed great leadership by bringing attention to climate change and the effects on humanity.  Leo has been a long time supporter of LEED/Green Buildings and the environment.

Click here to see his acceptance speech:

attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.

attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.

If Leo, AN ACTOR, can speak on climate change on one of the worlds largest stages, it begs the question.

  • Are you doing enough to support the planet and future generations?
  • Do you speak up when decisions are on the table which affect the environment?
  • Are you an advocate?  or do you go through the motions?

There are certain levels of advocacy which I have grown accustomed to:

Personal

In our actions, our spending and our relationships… What we do… This is a form of advocacy.  Your dollar can be your vote.  When you support certain organizations or products, you propel their vision and their mission.  This goes for the good and the bad.  I ask that you dig deeper into the background behind where you spend your money.  Does it align with your personal goals and mission?  Put your money where your heart is…

Education

Simply educating others about the importance of the planet and it’s natural resources is a great way to start.  This could be your own children, friends or coworkers.  If you have something to share of value or that matters to you, by all means, pass it on.  This is a wonderful way to advocate for what means the most to you.  I have found that social media has such a small barrier to entry and you can hop on your favorite site and begin sharing articles or products that matter to you… Click, click, you just became an advocate… It’s that easy.

Talk to leaders in your community

Whether it is a face to face visit, phone-call or a letter, you should make your opinion known to those in the community that ACTUALLY make decisions.  I have had the opportunity to join USGBC Central Pa on several legislative initiatives at the capital in Harrisburg, PA.  We collectively sat down with legislators and discussed the issues around building codes, green buildings, conservation and laws in Pennsylvania.  If there are policies which directly correlate to sustainability, let them know they are important to you and your votes will go to those who support the causes you care about.

Here is a current list of Green Building related policies being tracked by USGBC Central Pa: http://usgbc-centralpa.org/Advocacy

Be a stand

People will push back.  People will be oblivious to the facts.  Resistance to change is human nature. Leadership involves keeping your eye on the ultimate goal: improving quality of life for all people and things.  Most people resist speaking up for the fear that they will be met with confrontation, conflict or resistance.  I contend that this exchange and dialog will leave both sides in a better place.  At the end of the day, you will both know where each other stand and quite possibly learn something new.  It’s called growth.

Next time you are in a situation where your voice should be heard or leadership is warranted. Speak up, say what is important to you.  It is called leadership.  Especially in sustainability, we need more leaders.  We need architects, engineers, builders and owners that are willing to speak up and make sustainability a priority.  If we don’t, then who will?  Actors?

2015 ForeverGreen Awards Program

USGBC Central Pennsylvania hosted their 2015 ForeverGreen Awards program on October 22, 2015.  The event was held at The Bond in York, PA.  The Bond is a beautiful old building which has been renovated by Royal Square Development in the art district of York City.  Their philosophy at The Bond is to provide a blank canvas for any event with an incredible backdrop of gorgeous finished atop a rustic, industrial framework of a historic building.

The nights top winners included:

Dickinson College – Field House

Hershey 19 East Project – Next Century 

Penn State Intramural Sports Building  

Connellsville Area Senior High School 

Educational Activities Building – Penn State Harrisburg

Ohiopyle State Park Office Laurel Highlands Falls Area Visitor Center

Brook Hill Residence

Indian Valley Intermediate School

Honorable Mentions Included:

Merck KGaA Life Sciences 

The Millworks – Harrisburg 

Prologis/Georgia Pacific – Shippensburg

Green Apple Day Of Service

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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.

Pennsylvania Green Building Advocacy Day = A Success!

Yesterday was a very exciting day for me and 50 other green building advocates as we visited the Pennsylvania State Capitol to promote green buildings and schools.  It just so happened to be the very same day that an important bill was going before the house for a vote, House Bill 193 – High-Performance, State Buildings Standards Act.  This bill would effectively mandate that state buildings over 10,000 square feet must be designed and built to meet high energy performance criteria and certified by a 3rd party.  This bill would inevitably reduce the amount of energy usage, resource depletion and environmental impact of the state and its buildings.

Update: HB 193 passed in the House of Representatives on a vote of 170 – 18.

As a group, we had over 20 appointments with state legislators to educate them on the benefits of high performance green buildings and discuss  upcoming legislature.   We also had students, teachers and administrators from local green schools come along for the ride.  They were able to give first hand accounts of what it’s like to work and learn in a green building environment. 

3rd Grader, Ethan gets to meet Representative DePasquale and Talk about his Green School

A Summary of Key Green Building Initiatives and Legislation at The State Level:

#1 Legislative Initiative for Better State Buildings: HB 193 (Harper) SB 1136 (Rafferty)

State Government must lead the way towards energy efficiency and sustainability in the built environment.  We spend 80-90% of our time indoors and in buildings.  Maintaining the highest quality possible in our built environment positively impacts the environment, our economy, and the health and productivity of our people.  Combined, building construction and operationsare the largestenergy consumersin the United States and the largest source of landfill waste.  Reducing these impacts will preserve our natural resources and protect the environment.  HB 193 and SB 1136 will set modest standards for building construction on certain State-owned construction projects.

 These bills will:

  • Reduce annual operating costs compared to conventional buildings;
  • Support Pennsylvania’s economy by increasing the market for green building products made in Pennsylvania;
  • Provide healthier and more productive work environments for Commonwealth employees;
  • Reduce the environmental impacts of building construction and operation on the environment in terms of energy, air quality, water and waste.

 #2 Introducing PACE: Property Assessed Clean Energy HB 1667(Galloway)
PACE is a local government initiative that allows property owners to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for their homes and commercial buildings through an assessment on their property taxes for up to 20 years.

  • PACE financing is not a government subsidy
  • Participation in PACE is voluntary and property owners opt in to the program
  • Currently, 27 different states have some form of PACE legislation
  • Long-term financing (up to 20 years) eliminates the two greatest impediments to energy efficiency improvements: upfront costs and transferability.

 #3 Support of the Pennsylvania Department of Education Pathways to Green Schools initiative
In late October, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced that it would participate in the pilot year of Green Ribbon Schools. The program, created by the U.S. Department of Education, recognizes schools that will have achieved or made considerable progress toward energy efficient buildings, healthy students and school environment, and the environmental literacy of all graduates.On average, 20% of Americans go to school every day and spend 30% of their waking hours in schools.  Greening schools is one of the most immediate and cost-effective ways to provide healthier environments for children, save and reinvest public funds in every community in our region, and create the next generation of sustainability advocates. Green schools save an average of $100,000 per year, enough to hire a teacher, or purchase many more books or pieces of computer equipment.

Teamwork:

USGBC Central Pennsylvania, Delaware Valley Green Building Council and Green Building Alliance (Pittsburgh) worked as a team to set up displays and hand out educational materials to lawmakers from across the state.  The overall effect of the day was a resounding positive experience for those that were in attendance and a great outcome in the passing of House Bill 193.  Thanks to all that were able to help and to those that support green building nationwide.

 

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:
[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/hK0Zga3kUwI]

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

Harrisburg Green Living Fair – April 21, 2011

On April 21, 2011, the Green Center of Central PA will be hosting a Green Living Fair for the public. The fair will include exhibitors from many different companies throughout the region that offer green/sustainable services. General Services Administration (GSA) is helping to put this event together in conjunction with GreenWorks Development, PPL and HACC to promote the new courthouse which is planned for construction in 2012.

GSA has been a true leader in the area of sustainability and has even mandated that all of their new construction projects must be LEED Gold or higher. For more information on their sustainable programs (including a revolutionary sustainable facilities tool) visit: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/104462

The federal courthouse to be located at 6th & Riely Streets in Harrisburg will have many sustainable features and will be a great addition to the several green projects which have recently been completed in the area.   It should also give a much needed boost to the economic development in the city of Harrisburg.

The architect for the project is Ennead Architects LLP (formerly Polshek Partnership).

They have a long list of impressive projects including the Frank Sinatra School of The Arts in Queens, NY:

More details for the federal courthouse project can be found here: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/102089

If you are interested in exhibiting at this venue, please contact Julia Knight, Executive Director for The Green Center of Central Pa, at jpknight@hacc.edu.