Costs of Green Buildings

As we showed earlier, a main barrier to implementing green buildings has been the perceived cost increases for green measures. It is true that many of the earlier green projects in the 2000 to 2005 period were more costly. This is largely because the transition to new methods of design and construction involves a lot of social learning that is accompanied by construction mistakes, poor designs, unproven new products and a myriad of reasons leading to extra costs. By 2005 and especially in 2006,...

Xeriscaping

Outdoor water uses, primarily for landscaping, consume an estimated eight billion gallons per day in the US, perhaps as much as one-third of all water use.168 Xeriscaping is a well-used term for water-conserving landscaping, the prefix denoting dry. Another term might be natural landscaping. The essential feature of xeriscaping is to employ regionally appropriate plants and planting techniques (such as mulching) that reduce or eliminate water use except from normal precipitation in the area. If...

Urban Heatisland Effect

The urban heat-island effect was first documented in the 1960s when scientists noticed that cities were noticeably hotter than the surrounding countryside. Sometime during the winter, during your morning commute, listen to the weather reports, and you'll see that the urban areas are typically 5 F to 7 F warmer than the more outlying areas. This is pretty natural, if you think about it. We pump huge amounts of energy into cities, and as every high-school physics student knows, all energy...

Rightsizing Systems

I call this the Goldilocks principle of building design systems should be the right size for the job, neither too big nor too small. This seems obvious, but since temperature complaints are a large source of occupant discomfort and criticism in most buildings, engineers have become naturally conservative in sizing systems, making them larger than they need to be, both to avoid complaints and to provide an extra cushion for extreme events and the degradation of system performance over time. This...

Photovoltaics

Photovoltaic (PV) solar electric systems (photo-voltaics means electricity from light, especially sunlight) have been around since the 1950s and have been used extensively in world's space programs to power satellites, the International Space Station and other spacecraft needing power for operations. Using semiconductor-grade silicon, solar cells convert the energy in sunlight to electricity, typically at efficiencies of 5 to 12 , or with power output of about 5 to 12 watts per square foot....

Question Authority

Green buildings represent a challenge not only to the authority of architects and engineers, but also to the codes and standards prevailing in the building industry. In many cases, building code officials in cities and counties are unaware of new technologies, putting the burden on the design professional to make a case for evaluating a new idea on a performance vs. code-prescriptive basis. In a performance evaluation, the proposed design is assessed to see if it provides the same level of...

Ventilation

Everyone knows the importance of fresh air. Just stay cooped up for a few hours in a poorly ventilated room and see how sleepy and generally out of sorts you feel. Engineers design buildings to meet or exceed building code requirements for fresh air. LEED gives an extra point for designs that circulate at least 30 more fresh air than standard approaches to encourage this simple approach to a healthier building. In many parts of the US, fresh air can also cool buildings for hundreds of hours a...

Unbridled Enthusiasm

This may seem like a strange term to include in a book about green buildings, but it is important nonetheless. I have never met a more enthusiastic group of professionals than the green building crowd. Enthusiasm is a key quality in making any major changes in existing systems. Stemming from the Greek phrase en Theos, possessed by a god or God in me, enthusiasm helps overcome all obstacles. The 19th century American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, Nothing great was ever achieved without...

Triple Bottom Line

The triple bottom line represents a new way of thinking about green buildings and sustainability truly appropriate measures need to incorporate consideration of ecology environment, economy and (social) equity (the three Es), or people, planet and profits (the three Ps). The triple bottom line contrasts with the traditional business bottom line which considers only profits. Clearly businesses have been moving away from a profits-only orientation for quite some time, as the corporate social...

Volatile Organic Compounds VOCs

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are an entire class of carbon-based chemicals that give off vapors at normal room temperatures. Thousands of products emit VOCs, including paints and lacquers, paint strippers, ad-hesives and sealants, carpets and carpet backing, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment (copiers and printers,) graphics and craft materials, and permanent markers. When I was growing up, our family got a new car every three to five years....

Restoration of Sites

A goal of many green building projects is to leave the land a better place than it was before. Achieving this goal requires site restoration activities, such as rehabilitating natural drainage systems, replacing wide swaths of green lawns with plants that provide wildlife habitat and replanting ornamental plants with native and adapted species that need far less water and intensive maintenance. As we complete the switch from a predominantly manufacturing economy to one based primarily on...

Sustainable Sites

If it's on a poorly selected site, can it still be a green project In general the answer is yes, but green building assessment systems such as LEED give guidance for site selection. The goal is to develop only on appropriate sites and to avoid the environmental impacts of locating on poorly chosen sites. Green building projects should avoid locating buildings, hardscape (paved surfaces for landscaping such as plazas and walkways), roads or parking areas on sites that Are previously undeveloped...

Knowledge

It's often commented that modern society is smart, but not wise, that we know how to do lots of things right, but we don't necessarily do the right things. Green buildings develop from a knowledge base not only of how to make energy-efficient buildings, but how to do so in the least harmful and most resource-efficient way. In their highly influential book, Natural Capitalism, authors Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins point out how we've learned to optimize each subsystem of a...

Green Building Terms

In this chapter, we present the guts of the book, a brief explanation of 108 of the most important (and up-and-coming) terms used in green building discussions. These terms are typically used by architects, engineers, builders, developers, local officials and building managers to describe the green building attributes of a specific development. Our intention here is not to present a complete description of each topic, but to give you a brief, technically accurate introduction, so that you'll...

Schools Green

In the late 1990s, researchers in California conducted a classic study of the benefits of daylighting. Analyzing the test scores of more than 21,000 school children in the Seattle area, Fort Collins, Colorado, area and southern California and correlating the scores with the amount of window area, daylighting and views to the outdoors, their study showed conclusively that test scores went up 7 to 21 when kids had more windows, daylight-ing and views outside.136 This study put to rest probably...

Brownfields

Most urban areas have a large number of former manufacturing, warehousing and transportation sites that have (or have had) varying degrees of pollution, ranging from petroleum-contaminated soil to places with significant pollution from lead, mercury and various heavy metals. Most of these sites can be remediated and restored to productive use. From a social viewpoint, they also typically have roads, water supply, sewerage and storm drains, valuable infrastructure that can support extensive new...

Green Roofs

Green roofs are one of the most obvious and visible commitments that a green building can make. In addition to providing habitat for plants and animals, a green roof can assist with stormwater management and can provide some additional buffering of the environment, to reduce heating demand in winter and cooling demand in summer. Green roofs are found everywhere in North America, from cold, wet northern places like Toronto and Chicago to hot, dry southern places like Phoenix. The City of Chicago...

Homes Green

What's a green home If you're in the market for a new home, you should be asking for a green home, one that, at a minimum, saves at least 30 of the energy of a conventional new home, has water-conserving fixtures and uses non-toxic finishes. Increasingly, regional and national homebuilders are offering such projects. A recently completed Northern California project by Lennar, one of the ten major US homebuilders that deliver about 35 of all new single-family homes, shows this potential. The...

Az

Understanding the Language of Green Building A catalog record for this publication is available from the National Library of Canada. Copyright 2007 by Jerry Yudelson. All rights reserved. Cover design by Diane Mcintosh. Images Alamy and iStock. Printed in Canada. First printing June 2007. Inquiries regarding requests to reprint all or part of Green Building A to Z should be addressed to New Society Publishers at the address below. To order directly from the publishers, please call toll-free...

Locally Sourced Materials

About 20 years ago in Italy, the slow food movement began, with an emphasis on the sourcing of local foods with higher nutritional content and a less rushed way to eat, certainly as a reaction to the American fast-food movement sweeping the globe. In the US, many estimates have food traveling an average of 1,200 miles from farm or fishery to table. Think about this the next time you buy Alaska Copper River salmon in Arizona or grapes from Chile in midwinter in Chicago. In the same vein of...

Justice Social

One of the more heartening events of the past two years has been the response of the design community to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, showing how equity considerations are a vital part of the triple bottom line for green buildings. At the November 2005 Greenbuild show in Atlanta, held annually by the US Green Building Council, many of the best minds in the world of green architecture dedicated themselves for three days to holding an eco-charrette on how to respond to Katrina's...

Density

Recently I visited the largest green home development in the country, Civano, in Tucson, Arizona. Started in the late 1990s, it consists now of some 600 homes developers expect to eventually construct 1,500 homes. The Civano development operates by a strict energy and water conservation code that cuts annual bills for electricity (think hot, dry, desert-climate air conditioning) by 50 and annual water use by 60 , compared with similar suburban developments in the area.40 Civano is also denser...

Bicycle Commuting

In addition to giving access to public transportation, green buildings very often provide accommodations for bicycle commuters, since the cost of doing so is typically small relative to overall project costs. In many cities that are bicycle-oriented, increasing numbers of people are commuting to work in this healthy, friendly, non-polluting way.3 In my former home of Portland, buses and light-rail cars were outfitted to hold bicycles for the long trek home, especially in darkness (evening...

Stormwater Management

A basic principle of sustainable design is that buildings should be able to supply all their water needs from the annual rainfall on the project site and from recycling the wastewater generated by a project, effectively getting several uses out of the same amount of rainwater. At the present time, it's not always possible for projects to use all of the rainfall on a site, so they need to reduce the impact of new development on downstream flows from stormwater running off a site. The problems...

Design

In architecture, celebrity designers such as Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano and Santiago Calatrava are international icons. Management guru Tom Peters began talking about the design decade several years ago he says, Design is the seat of the soul.41 In his view, every business needs to incorporate the essence of design thinking elegance with economy. With noted architect Michael Graves designing for Target and Martha Stewart for K-Mart, and stores such as Design...

Wind Power

The wind blows everywhere on the planet. You might think, why not harness it for power in buildings Typically, average annual wind speeds of 11 miles per hour are needed for commercial applications, while lower wind speeds can be used for water pumping and battery charging. Now, most cities are not built in places where the average wind speed (every hour of the year) is 11 mph that's not really very comfortable. So the best wind resources are located away from cities, and the most...

Rainwater Reclamation Reuse

One of my favorite green building technologies is rainwater harvesting the capture, treatment and use of rainwater for uses inside the building such as toilet flushing and cooling-tower makeup water (to replace water lost by evaporation and back-flushing). This is such a simple and obvious thing to do in much of the country that one wonders why it has taken so long to be considered. In addition to water conservation, rainwater harvesting can help reduce stormwater runoff from building sites. At...

Ecoefficiency and Ecoeffectiveness

Architect and sustainable design expert William McDonough exhorts green building designers not to be content with just doing less-bad designs that put off the day of reckoning for excessive energy and water use, but to design buildings and cities that are positively good. When our focus is primarily on eco-efficiency, that is, reducing our negative impacts, we are not likely to achieve design breakthroughs. For example, saving 20 of the energy of a standard building is a virtue, but energy use...

Paints LowVOC

In 2006 I moved into a home that needed repainting. Since my wife is a miner's canary, in terms of her sensitivity to all chemical emissions, we went in search of paint that wouldn't leave a strong odor. After some looking, we found an ecological paint from a major manufacturer with only 3 grams per liter of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), versus 127 grams per liter for their conventional paint. Thinking that would be just fine, we added the color we wanted and took it home. Guess what The...

Permeable Pavement

Permeable pavement is one of those great innovations about which everyone says, Why didn't they come up with this sooner In parking lots, its purpose is to allow water to infiltrate directly into the ground, instead of running off into the streets, storm drains and eventually into rivers and oceans, polluting them with oil and grease. EPA states that used oil from one oil change can contaminate 1 million gallons of fresh water.117 The main source of this runoff is the incredible amount of...

Feng Shui

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese system for the harmonious placement of buildings on a site and for the placement of rooms and objects within a building or office. The goal is to allow the free movement of a subtle energy called chi that permeates the world. (Most martial arts systems are based philosophically on the movement of this subtle energy.) In Feng Shui, cities and homes are seen as intimately linked with both the landscape and the cosmos. According to one expert, in China, Every...

Engineering a Sustainable World

Building design focuses so much on architecture that many people forget that it's the engineers who make all the building systems work, from structural systems to heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) to plumbing, lighting, electricity, technology systems, external water supply and waste disposal, fire protection and life-safety systems. About 15 to 20 of the construction cost of a typical commercial building is taken up by engineered systems, not by the building structure or...

Radiant Heating and Cooling

We're so used to overhead forced-air ventilation, heating and cooling systems that we neglect to design buildings with other technologies for comfort. The figure below shows the four key variables for human comfort air temperature, relative humidity, air movement and radiative temperature (the temperature of surfaces). Think of your own experience standing next to a cool brick or concrete wall on a warm day but not feeling uncomfortable because of the radiant-cooling effect of the wall. Or,...

Views of the Outdoors

The Lewis and Clark State office building in Jefferson City, Missouri, designed by BNIM Architects, is a LEED Platinum-certified building with abundant views ofthe outdoors. The Lewis and Clark State office building in Jefferson City, Missouri, designed by BNIM Architects, is a LEED Platinum-certified building with abundant views ofthe outdoors. clear glazing, so anyone can see through them to the outdoors, or to locate corridors along the building perimeter, so everyone can see outside. When I...

Thermal Energy Storage

Thermal energy storage is a simple concept make ice or chilled water when power is cheap, then avoid buying electricity to operate mechanical cooling systems when it is expensive. Just about any large office building, hospital, hotel and similar 24 7 facilities can benefit from thermal energy storage. As utilities are forced to increase peak-period electrical rates to Thermal energy storage systems can shave peak power demand by 25 in large buildings and facilities. Thermal energy storage...

Green Buildings in a Global Context

Green buildings are part of a global response to increasing awareness of the role of human activity in causing global climate change. Buildings account for more than 40 of all global carbon dioxide emissions, one of the main culprits implicated in the phenomenon of global warming. While the US and Western Europe, Canada and Japan contribute the majority of greenhouse gas emissions at the present time, this situation is going to change dramatically in the near future. The projected rapid growth...

Renovation Building

Why throw away an older building There are many great examples of buildings that have been successfully renovated and restored to productive uses, even after standing dormant for many years. In Portland I witnessed the benefits of building renovation and reuse in a number of ways, since preserving older structures there was seen as a major civic and cultural value. First, older buildings are typically part of the visual and cultural fabric of a neighborhood. By their very existence, they tell a...

Operations and Maintenance Practices

Environmentally beneficial operations and maintenance (O & M) practices are just beginning to come into use, spurred by the LEED for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) rating system. Building owners and managers are beginning to examine their use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other toxic substances, to eliminate those that pose significant hazards to people, animals and the environment. Large organizations with sustainability mission statements are beginning to see the...

Bis Picture

As our discussion of the Architecture 2030 program shows, there is a big picture of global climate change, species loss, rainforest destruction, soil erosion and a myriad of other environmental issues on the table, as human beings attempt to accommodate an estimated 9.4 billion people on the planet by 2050 (up from about 6.6 billion today) at reasonable levels of health and material well-being.4 The big picture was dramatized to many of us, in 1969 by the first pictures of the entire Earth from...

Recycledcontent Materials

When you think of a green building, if you're like most people, recycling and building with recycled-content materials would likely spring to mind as a key characteristic. In the LEED system, credit is given to projects in which recycled-content represents more than 10 of the total value of all building materials (excluding equipment). This includes structure roof, floors and load-bearing walls rough and finish carpentry insulation (sometimes cotton-batt insulation is made from recycled jeans)...

Green Building History

In the late 1980s, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) created the Committee on the Environment (COTE), which has outlets today in just about every AIA chapter across the country. All across the US and Canada, architects have led the charge toward sustainable design, working through local COTE chapters, as well as the US Green Building Council chapters. Created in 1993, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) aims to transform the building industry into a more environmentally responsible...

Technology Green

During 2006 and 2007 venture capitalists finally discovered green building, investing in a wave of product innovations and renewable energy, which attracted considerable money in 2005 and 2006 when oil price hikes reached record levels. In this 1.1 trillion building industry (construction value), private-equity companies are investing in products and systems that reduce the use of toxic materials in construction make the construction process more efficient encourage green housing technologies...

Architecture 2030

Recent analyses by New Mexico architect Edward Mazria showed that buildings are the source of almost half the global greenhouse gas emissions implicated in widespread climate change. The figure below shows the growth in such emissions up to 2000. Mazria's work and that of the Architecture 2030 organization shows that stabilizing emissions in this sector and then reversing them to acceptable levels is a key to keeping global warming to approximately 1 C (i.8 F) above today's level.1 In 2005...

Furniture and Finishes

Furniture plays a significant role in green offices and homes. The life-cycle impacts of the materials used in chairs, tables, desks, partitions and similar systems, the source of the wood products and the ecological footprint of fabrics are all considerations in green interior design. One of the easiest ways in which companies can start on the journey to sustainability is to evaluate their furniture and furnishings purchases and to incorporate such criteria. The LEED for Existing Buildings...

Resource Depletion and Carbon Dioxide Emissions

According to the US Green Building Council, the annual direct impacts of all US residential and commercial buildings include 39 of total energy use, 68 of electricity consumption and 30 of greenhouse gas emissions. Add in the embodied energy in making building materials, getting them to the job site, installing and servicing them, and total energy use is closer to 48 . Buildings make a major impact on just about every aspect of the world we live in building design and construction can account...

Historic Preservation

Historic preservation and green buildings go together nicely. If green buildings are all about sustainability, what could exemplify this value better that reusing an older building, making it suitable for another 50 to 100 years of active use In Portland, the Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center is a great example of building renovation. Under the leadership of Ecotrust, a regional nonprofit, the ioo-year-old two-story warehouse was transformed into a modern office building. A partial third story...

Highperformance Buildings

Many people have begun using the term high-performance buildings instead of green buildings or sustainable buildings because they want to emphasize what is gained from these projects, not what is given up.68 High-performance also appeals to Americans we want everything turbo-charged and super-sized. A high-performance building is one in which energy and water efficiencies are high, indoor air quality is high, recycling rates are high, etc. This is a much easier concept to explain to most...

Green Power

Green buildings (as well as you and I) have the option of buying some or all of their electricity from a green power provider. In this context, green power is renewable energy produced somewhere else and then transmitted to the project site (figuratively). There are dozens of such suppliers in the US, most of which are wholesalers of wind power, some solar power and some biomass, geothermal or low-impact hydro facilities. My own local utility, Tucson Electric Power, sells two packages of...

Solar Thermal Systems

I got acquainted with solar energy systems in the mid-1970s when the first Arab oil embargo led many people to start looking to the sun as a source of free energy (as the slogan went, Four billion years without a shortage.). I participated in the development of the solar energy industry in California over the next decade, first directing the state's landmark solar-industry commercialization programs, then as a private sector participant, marketing, selling and installing solar systems for...

In Your Office or Workplace

There are many things you can do where you work to promote green buildings and sustainable design. Here are a few brief suggestions you can implement right away. In early 2007 Swiss Re, a major global insurance company, announced that it would be supporting investments and purchases made by employees that contribute to reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The new COYou2 reduce and gain program is part of Swiss Re's commitments supporting the Clinton Global Initiative. In 2003 Swiss Re declared...

Energy Conservation

This is a vast topic, so here we're just going to introduce a few key concepts. The basic notion is that energy conservation is the cheapest power we can buy, or to use Amory Lovins' term, it generates negawatts, negative demand on the power grid and fuel supply. A 2007 report from the American Solar Energy Society concluded that energy efficiency (conservation) and renewables could contribute an average of about 1,200 million metric tons per year of carbon reductions by 2030, putting the US on...

New society publishers

Preface Foreword 1 Green Buildings in a Global Context 3 Resource Depletion and Carbon Dioxide Emissions 7 2 Green Building Current Situation Understanding Green Buildings Who Is Using 3 What is a Green 4 Becoming a Green Building Advocate 19 In Your Office or Workplace In Your Home or YourTown, City or State The Power of Local Initiatives 22 Your College or University 5 Green Building Terms Access to Transit Bicycle Commuting Big Building Carbon Dioxide Carbon Certification Certified Wood...

Passive Solar Design

Passive solar design refers to a number of intelligent building design techniques that reduce or eliminate the use of fossil fuels and electricity for heating, cooling and lighting buildings (during the day). The modern version of this traditional approach to building design was developed beginning in the 1970s and applied to a wide variety of building types throughout the US, with a focus on the West and Southwest.115 The term passive solar design was chosen to contrast with the more prevalent...

Biodiesel

Biodiesel is diesel-equivalent, processed fuel derived from biological sources (such as vegetable oils, even waste cooking oil from restaurants such as fast-food establishments), that can be used unmodified in diesel engines. Biodiesel is biodegradable and non-toxic and produces significantly fewer emissions than petroleum-based diesel when burned. A recent article reported that chicken fat could be used, prompting major chicken producers such as Tyson Foods, Perdue Farms and Smithfield Foods...

Renewable Energy

There's so much to say about renewable energy. You can conceive it this way imagine civilized life on Earth before the advent of the fossil-fuel era. Think of ancient Rome, the Italian Renaissance and the settlement of America, all of which took place using only sun, wind and water, along with draft animals, for power. Imagine that we could live healthy, happy and productive lives without electricity. This was reality for our great-grandparents (that is, if you're my age if you're under 30, add...

Onsite Sewage Treatment

We live in a flush without fear society, in which most of us just flush away and presume that they will take care of it somewhere downstream. Of course, for most of us, our downstream is someone else's upstream Nevertheless, for the most part, this is a reasonable presumption, since modern sewage treatment systems have been perfected over the past 100 years, and flush toilets have been around since Thomas Crapper first popularized them in London in the 19th century.104 However, a basic...

Salvage Materials

A penny saved is a penny earned, wrote Ben Franklin. We care about reusing building materials because of the energy and resources they represent. It takes energy to down-cycle them into recycled-content materials (think of old concrete from a building ground into three-quarter-inch aggregate for use in concrete or as the base material for a parking lot or roadway), so why not use them in their original form instead of throwing them away or using them in some devalued form LEED recognizes the...

Ozonelayer Protection

The Montreal Protocol came into force in 1989. It bans the production and use of chemicals that have been shown to damage the ozone layer, a concern first raised by scientists in the 1970s. Without the protective ozone layer, we all would get skin cancer Discovery of a persistent ozone hole over Antarctica in 1984 by British scientists highlighted the damage to the ozone layer and heightened public concern over the chemicals that were believed to be causing the phenomenon.109 These damaging...

Investing in Green Buildings

In 2006 real estate investment in green buildings grew dramatically with the announcement of a joint venture by the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) to fund future commercial real estate projects by the Hines development organization. A large national real estate developer, Hines is well-known for its commitment to Energy Star and LEED certification for its buildings.80 The Hines CalPERS Green Development Fund (HCG) was capitalized with over 120 million of committed...

Cradletocradle Design

Cradle-to-cradle design was introduced in 2002 by architect William McDonough and chemist Dr. Michael Braungart as a method for evaluating products that could be safely used without any harm to people or the environment, based on known data. The evaluation criteria for products include material properties, specifically toxicity and carcinogenicity, persistence and toxicity in the environment, and use of heavy metals material reuse potential, either in recycling or composting efficient or...

Vastu Shastra

Similar to Feng Shui, a design philosophy and approach known as Vastu Shastra is based on teachings of the ancient scriptures of India. Introduced into the US by the American practitioners of Transcendental Meditation TM , Vastu Shastra aims to harmonize people, buildings and land. While individual homes have been built using these ancient principles, the largest commercial expression of this approach to creating healthy work and living environments is an office building in Rockville, Maryland,...