Archive for the 'LEED' Category

Sweaty Trigger Finger

This came to mind today when a colleague wrote and just needed to be talked off the ledge a bit.  She was about to hit the submit button to GBCI for the project she represents.  This is not the first time I have heard of LEED Coordinators being apprehensive about the actual submission.  Think about it we spend a long time watching over our respective projects.  Organizing, neurturing, team building and then if finally comes down to one last push.

Why are we so apprehensive about pushing the button that we have worked towards for so long?  Is it the moment of truth?  hero or villain? Perhaps it is because now the finger pointing can begin and it usually points toward the one that leads.  Whatever the reason, the honest truth is that after so much talking and preparation it is hard to face the truth.  Some credits will succeed and some will fail; even ones that you are 100% sure will sail through. Regardless someone must push the button.  So LEED Coordinators my best advice is buck up and hit the button!

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LEED 2009 Comparision

Have you had the opportunity to use the new rating systems yet?  I have.  Because so many of our jobs start in one year and actually get notice to proceed in another, I suspect this will be a regular occurrence for a few projects to come. The differences can be summed up briefly but the details hold the most changes.

Water, Regionality and Tiered Points changes. Water was the victim of it own success.  Water fixture manufacturers are to be congratulated in this category.  Basically, the products are saving so much that we were all getting the maximum credits through water efficiency.  So the new rating system ups the ante.  All the percentages have been increased by 10%.

Regionality is a cool concept that I just now understand.  I wish they had just called it Regional Bonus credits because that is exactly what it is.  Bonus credits/Extra points for credits that you are already achieving but that are just regionally important.  That is cool.  Know these going into your LEED design charettes and help guide the credits to these few for extra credit.

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Greater tiering of the points is the biggest change in my book.  It does several things… align the credits for better point distribution.  This makes it more fair – economically and effort wise.  Also within the some of the credits tiering is now making the credit more user friendly by allowing a lower entry point.  Optimized energy and on site renewable for example.  Check them out.

Here is a chart I created for a tangible look at the points.  LEED 2009 is on a 100 point s scale but just like the cool teachers in high school there is a chance for extra credit bonus points. So for that purpose, this chart is on a 110 point scale.  Feel free to copy it and use it.  Mainly it demonstrates the higher bar that is LEED 2009.

Asbestos and the US Human Condition

Occasionally, I write about the human condition and how things are going in the world around me.  Most of the time I am talking about some condition like the lack of good sanitation or harmful processes that occur abroad.  Well this time I want to bring to light a condition that exists around us in many forms – sometimes obvious and sometimes not.  It is the continuing problem of asbestos and asbestos removal. 

anthophyllite_asbestosAsbestos was used for many years as an excellent heat and fire resistor.  It also turns out to be a major cause of deadly cancer, mesothelioma, when inhaled.  This has been known for years.  It is amazing to me the number of products it can be found in and the building situations that still contain the deadly toxin.  When products that contain asbestos remain whole and intact then all is OK, but when the product deteriorates or crumbles asbestos particles are released into the air and easily breathed.  To make matters worse, schools (k-12) and industrial factories turn up a large amount of the known asbestos in buildings.

As far as LEED is concerned, it is encouraging to know that a credit for Sustainable Sites 3 Brownfield Redevelopment is possible for asbestos and lead abatement in renovations of existing buildings in lieu of a redeveloping a brownfield site.  This is a great credit that is somewhat undiscovered.  A project doesn’t have to give up this credit just because it isn’t moving dirt and reclaiming land.  It can be attained by safely removing asbestos and lead from insidean contaminated existing building as identified by an ASTM E1903-97 Phase II Environmental Site Assessment.  This is good building practice and the law in most places.

The very nice people with the Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center, were kind enough to share their very important information with me.  Their website is packed full of information on the subject.  If you have a need to understand the importance of asbestos abatement and the detrimental effects on the human body this is a great resource.

January SWVA USGBC – Firehouse #3

engine-10The Southwest Virginia Chapter of the USGBC kickoff meeting for 2009 was held at a newly built #3 Firehouse on Williamson Road.  This is a relocation of the airport firehouse #10 and the old old #3.  The location is smack dab in the middle of  the Williamson Road activities.  Coordination with the transportation department on signal controls seems to have worked out.  Traffic briefly stops when calls are answered. 

It was one of those nights in Roanoke that was on the verge of a monster snow/ice storm but instead we got 33 degree rain.  Gloomy night to be out, however since this was a tour I was looking forward to seeing, it was worth staying out in the yuck a little.  The great men and women of firehouse #3 were nice enough to let our group invade their surroundings for a tour and meeting, even during their dinner.  Thanks to them for letting us see part of their world.  We even got to witness a real call going out.

The firehouse is currently truck1in the middle of LEED certification, seeking LEED Gold.  Some of the very interesting sustainable features include:

A rainwater collection system for toilet flushing and firetruck washing,

On site Bio retention pond – small but effective check out the video of Steve explaining the system,

Bike Rack and Neighborhood integration,composter

LED lighting and sensors,

in kitchen composter and recycling,

Soy based insulation,

Video LEED education programs.

Overall the building is efficient and well organized.  It hopes to serve its occupants as they serve the public.

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Traffic Lights

As I am in the middle of a nice 4 day new year’s holiday break, thoughts always turn away from the everyday work to more intersectiontedious ones.  I am concerned about the time I spend everyday just sitting at traffic lights.  It is one thing to be in the stream of traffic and need to stop to let other traffic pass safely.   But when nothing is coming for miles or just one car passes by then nothing for the next several minutes, I consider it wasteful that I am sitting and waiting.

Just down from my house I have a major intersection (OK major enough for Salem).  They just recently had the whole thing under construction to install really big poles and little tiny cameras.  OK wonderful – keeping me safe as big brother keeps an eye out. 

But here is the point…. with all the wonderful and amazing technology in the world could some smart traffic engineer not be able to “see” with those new cameras and coordinate traffic accordingly?   Seems to me that the right hand is not talking to the left hand. I saw a neat camera the other day that has face recognition incorporated into its programs.  See a face and zooms it into focus.  Could this not be done to recognize vehicles? moving objects?

That is exactly what architects and engineers were in the habit of doing until the very end of construction documents to only then discover the collisions in many of the building’s systems.  Now the LEED coordination and othertraffic_lights1various 3d programs enable the teams to act more like a team and not get into those situations in the first place.  A project that incorporates LEED fully from the conceptual phase is most likely to have a holistic well coordinated building in the end.

Didn’t years ago every intersection have a sensor to detect when traffic approached?  Granted motorcycles, and probably smart cars today, would never trip the senors.  But I am sure that technology has improved with all the smart traffic engineers out there today.  So what happened to the sensors?

Shouldn’t this be the case everywhere?  Traffic light should coordinate with traffic, Empty parking spaces should communicate with parkers (Oh wait that is happening), elevators should know when someone wants a ride (oh wait this is happening too), 

Time spent at traffic lights should be minimized by “smart lights”…. we have that technology don’t we?  Wake up traffic light industry and the communities that support them!  You are wasting my time, my gas and helping to pollute the world by having me sit at a red light to watch nothing go by.

Santa brought me Cool Glass

I found a sample from CoveringsEtc on my desk.  This is one of the coolest products from GreenBuild that I haven’t written about yet.  I thought it was one of the most captivating displays and video.  The product is called BioGlass. The pictures barely capture the feeling of this great product.  Everyone that has come by my desk touches it and loves the material.100_2987

Bio-GlassTMsolid surfacing for countertops, walls, floors, and other applications is made from 100% recycled glass, heated and
agglomerated under pressure. There are no binders, colorants, fillers, or other admixtures.  Depending on color, the product is either pre or post-consumer, or a blend. The translucent, nonporous material is available as 110-inch by 47-inch slabs, about 4.7 inches thick with a lightly textured, slip-resistant surface; smooth surfaced slabs are also available, approximately 4 inches thick. The product is currently available in white and light green, with blue, brown, and dark green to follow.  This product will contribute to LEED Credit – MR Credit 4 – Recycled Content. 

It is made from only recycled colored glass.  Most products that reuse the recycled glass also use an epoxy to bind the glass.  This product is different.

The old glass is sorted by color and re-fired to just the right temperature and pressure.  The end result is stunning.  The ground polished edge revels the evoking layers of each piece’s former life.  The top is nicely surfaced, the brown glass reminds me of a leather texture, those are from beer bottle.  The green is from red wine bottles and so on.

The cost ranges from $85 – $125 per sf.  This is not cheap but comparable to a nice marble.  So instead of ripping a slab of marble from the earth consider this product for a stunning covering.