Green Building News

Green Building News April 2002

April 25, 2002

AIA Chooses Top Ten Green Projects

In recognition of Earth Day, The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) selected its annual Top Ten "Green" Projects, 10 examples of architectural design solutions that protect and enhance the environment. This year's winners included projects designed for the federal government, large and small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and individuals-proving the environmental, social and economic benefits of sustainable design for clients of any size.

The jury that selected the winning projects includes Randy Croxton, FAIA, Croxton Collaborative; Sim van der Ryn, Van der Ryn Architects; Horst Berger, City University of New York; and Guy Battle, Battle McCarthy. On Monday, April 29 at 6:00 p.m., COTE chairwoman Joyce Lee, AIA, will host a panel at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., to discuss the key environmental and design strategies of the winning projects.

The program, begun in 1998, recognizes projects that address significant environmental challenges with designs that integrate architecture, technology and natural systems. Projects are evaluated for their contributions to their site's and existing ecosystems, connections to the surrounding community, use of high-performance technologies, energy use and sensitive use of materials and resources.

Sustainable design is increasingly acknowledged -- by architects, their consultants, their clients and the public -- as an important characteristic of quality architecture. In the four years since the Top Ten Green Projects awards program was started, numerous projects have been realized as American firms ascended a learning curve. Winning projects in this year's groups come from firms that are well known for their leadership in sustainable design, as well as several that are just beginning to utilize sustainable principles in their approach to projects.

This award and the range of submissions it fields are representative of the growing market transformation under way in this country and around the world. Corporations and other organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of sustainable design-to people, the environment and to the bottom line. Financial benefits are realized through energy and cost-of-operations savings as well as reduced absenteeism and greater productivity in some settings.

The AIA Committee on the Environment represents more than 5,000 AIA architects committed to making sustainable design integral to the practice of architecture. The Top Ten "Green" Projects initiative was developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy. Selected projects include new construction and renovation of office, residential, academic, civic, and institutional facilities. The winning entries selected for the 2002 AIA Top Ten Green Projects are (alphabetical order):

    Bank of Astoria
    Manzanita, Oregon
    Tom Bender, Architect
    Contact: Tom Bender,, 503.368.6294

    This 7,500-square-foot bank building blends energy performance, local ecological fitness, community benefit, and economic success. The design process focused on community, cultural, spiritual and energetic dimensions of sustainability as well as the more conventional energy and material aspects. The facility benefits from significant daylighting, on-site storm-water retention and natural ventilation and cooling. Zoned high-efficiency fluorescent lighting is used during just a quarter of the building's occupied time. Local materials were used where possible and landscaping is local native coastal plants. The energy-efficient bank opened just before last summer's West Coast energy shortages, which led to a strong sense of local pride in the facility.

    Building 850, Energy & Sustainability Showcase Project
    Port Hueneme, California
    CTG Energetics
    Contact: Malcolm Lewis, PE,, 949.790.0010

    The project is home to the Naval Base Ventura County Public Works Department and consists of 10,000 square feet of renovated space and 7,000 square feet of new construction. Concepts and systems that have been incorporated into the design include: daylighting, shading, and innovative glazing elements; maximum use of natural ventilation; photovoltaic power generation; solar space and domestic water heating systems; lighting with continuously dimming electronic ballasts and occupancy and photo sensor controls; real-time energy monitoring; HVAC systems demonstrating several new technologies including prototype natural-gas heat-pump air conditioning, variable air volume under-floor air distribution, and high-efficiency pulse boilers; gray water system for capture and reuse of rain water and lavatory discharge; self-sustaining landscaping and water conserving irrigation system; indoor air quality monitoring; and extensive use of recycled building materials. Project designers used physical and computerized modeling to optimize the interaction of daylighting with building envelope, interiors, and systems.

    Camp Arroyo
    Livermore, California
    Siegel & Strain Architects
    Contact: Henry Siegel,, 510.457.8092

    This environmental education camp, which serves middle-school as well as critically ill children and other guests, was designed to demonstrate a series of ecological design principles as part of the curriculum. Bathhouses are made of stabilized earth, the cabins are efficient wood structures, and the dining hall is a straw-bale building. Low-tech solutions to heating, cooling, and water treatment were favored over more complex mechanical technologies for energy efficiency, lower cost and simplicity. The bathhouses are open-air, seasonal structures with natural ventilation and no mechanical system. The cabins and dining hall depend on shading strategies and operable clerestory windows to keep them cool. The cabins have south-facing sunrooms for winter heat gain and solar panels for water heating and backup radiant heat. The biological wastewater treatment system will treat water with minimal energy input, demonstrating that there is no waste in nature.

    Edificio Malecon
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Contact: Ripley Rasmus, AIA,, 314.421.2000

    This 125,000-square-foot office building was built on a reclaimed brownfield site (its garage was built within the foundations of a 19th century warehouse) at Puerto Madero, a redevelopment area in Buenos Aires. The building was developed as a long narrow slab to minimize solar gain on the structure, the east and west ends of which are "pinched." The broad northern face, the primary solar exposure, is shaped to track the sun and is fully screened with deep sunshades that virtually eliminate direct solar radiation during peak cooling months. The south face, which reflects the geometry of the northern façade, is equipped with the same high-performance curtainwall system as the other facades, minimizing solar gain. A "Green Roof" helps insulate the 40,000-square-foot podium from solar radiation and manages stormwater runoff. Open floor plates and raised floors provide flexibility for multi-tenant office or alternative future uses.

    Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities
    Ankeny, Iowa
    RDG Bussard Dikis
    Contact: Kevin R. Nordmeyer, AIA,, 515.288.3141

    This 13,000-square-foot facility, the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities (IAMU) Office and Training Headquarters, was conceived as a teaching tool. Designed and built within a modest budget, its energy consumption is 48 percent less than a conventional design and it is 98 percent daylit. The building uses a geothermal heat pump system for heating and cooling. Building occupants enjoy multiple views of the landscape and sky from any point inside the building. This project has also restored a suburban farm field, destined for commercial development, into a native Iowa tall-grass prairie. Soil erosion had been plaguing the site, harming nearby Carney Marsh, a 40-acre protected wetland. The reconstructed prairie, wetlands, and siltration ponds have recreated habitat for flora and fauna.

    National Wildlife Federation Headquarters
    Reston, Virginia
    Contact: William Hellmuth, AIA,, 202.339.8700

    The new 85,000-square-foot headquarters serves 300 employees and guests. The National Wildlife Federation made a commitment to build a headquarters facility that would demonstrate sensible stewardship of its financial resources. They accomplished this through a rigorous payback analysis to select "state-of-the-shelf" construction technologies and materials. Native plantings support local wildlife and reduce the need for irrigation and frequent mowing. The building's orientation capitalizes on solar energy sources to reduce energy expenditure and increase natural light. The facility's north side, which overlooks the park, is a curtainwall of glass that offers beautiful vistas and floods the interior spaces with light to create a welcoming atmosphere. The southern facade has a vertical trellis planted with deciduous vines that leaf out in summer to provide shade and fall off in winter to allow sunlight to help heat the facility. The plantings also provide a vertical habitat for indigenous wildlife.

    Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, Oberlin College
    Oberlin, Ohio
    William McDonough + Partners
    Contact: Kevin Burke, AIA,; 434.979.1111

    Designed to be restorative, the center celebrates the interaction of human and natural environments. With a goal to be a net-energy exporter, the teaching and public space integrates natural energy flows while blurring the distinction between indoors and out. The light-drenched two-story atrium serves as the primary organizing feature and the southern campus' "town hall." Daylighting and natural ventilation enhance the atrium's feeling of an "outdoor room." The center project demonstrates how state-of-the-art thinking applies to readily available state-of-the-shelf materials and building systems. Throughout, the design team remained mindful of how even the most advanced systems still must serve the needs of the building's occupants.

    Pier 1
    San Francisco, California
    Contact: Dan Cheetham, AIA,, 415.546.0400

    This adaptive reuse project transformed a dilapidated warehouse on San Francisco's waterfront to 140,000 square feet of class A office space and an acre of new public open space. The design reflects the history and nature of the site, uses green materials garnered from green sources, and provides clean air and natural light for occupants. Pier 1 is surrounded by water, which flows through radiant tubes in floor slabs for heating and cooling. This system moderates the interior climate according to each zone's location and orientation. Generated heat is rejected into a submerged condenser water loop under the building, dissipating energy into the bay within a tightly prescribed temperature range.

    Puget Sound Environmental Learning Center
    Bainbridge Island, Washington
    Contact: Bert Gregory, AIA,, 206.623.7005

    The 70,000-square-foot facility includes an interpretive center, a great hall, offices, learning studios, dining hall, art studio, maintenance building and visitor accommodations. Wastewater is treated on site and reused. Rainwater is collected for irrigation and other uses. Photovoltaic installation provides more than half of the power for the learning-studio building. Rooftop solar hot water panels reduce hot water demand at lodges and dining hall by 50 percent. Ventilation replaces air conditioning, with operable skylights providing maximum through-ventilation. High-efficiency fluorescent lighting with photocells reduces energy use. High-quality metal roofs and metal clad windows will provide long life in the heavily wooded Northwest environment.

    Tofte Cabin
    Tofte, Minnesota
    Sarah Nettleton Architects
    Contact: Sarah Nettleton, AIA,, 612.334.9667

    The renovation of a 1947 cabin resulted in a 950-square-foot soul-satisfying retreat that is a model of sustainable design. The cabin's original site and adjacent trees were retained to shelter the cabin from winter winds and open it to sun and wind from the east and south. The locally quarried granite's color echoes the color of the spruce and the lake as it references the granite bedrock beneath the house. Natural stack ventilation through low and high windows cools the cabin. An air-to-air heat exchanger provides ventilation. A super-insulated thermal envelope minimized the load on the geothermal heat pump in-floor heating system. The heat pump provides domestic hot water as well. Built with long-lasting materials and careful details, the cabin is a beautiful retreat that will serve for generations.

Online Marketplace Connects Buyers and Suppliers of Certified Forest Products

ForestWorld recently launched a first-of-its-kind Certified Forest Products Marketplace on its newly redesigned web site.

The Marketplace connects buyers and suppliers of certified forest products through a sophisticated Request-for-Quote (RFQ) system. Buyers of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forest products submit RFQs for specific products that are then blast faxed or emailed to FSC-certified producers around the world who can meet the buyer's needs. ForestWorld's staff tailors each RFQ to match exactly the product, species, grade, and geographical restrictions of the buyer's needs. Registered suppliers are then able to quote directly to the buyer's email in-box or fax.

According to Mark Comolli, ForestWorld President, "ForestWorld's new Certified Forest Product Marketplace is designed to reduce the time lost and frustration in finding FSC products. There is no other system like it in the FSC marketplace today."


Building Greener, Building Better Publication Available Online

The NAHB Research Center and NAHB must think that green building has a future. They recently collaborated on a new publication entitled, "Building Greener, Building Better: The Quiet Revolution," that outlines the "next wave" in home building and land development -- green building. "Revolution" is probably too strong a word for the contents of the booklet, but it does promote green initiatives that could more easily become a part of mainstream building.

The publication, which was unveiled at the National Green Building Conference in Seattle, presents a comprehensive overview of green building trends and includes insights on green building issues from 17 NAHB members with related experience.

In addition to case studies on wetlands, open space, and storm water management collaborations, the publication also covers:

  • Green Building and Community Planning
  • Green Building Trends in Land Development and Site Design
  • Urban Infill Redevelopment
  • Green Building and Multifamily Construction
  • Brownfields Reform
  • Water Resources and Water Quality
  • Building with Trees
  • Energy and Environmental Advances in Housing Construction


T.R. Strong Receives Outstanding Green Product Award

T.R. Strong Building Systems was selected for the Outstanding Green Product Award by the attendees of the National Green Building Conference in Seattle. This award is presented to the exhibiting company that attendees feel has the greatest impact on advancing the cause of resource- efficient home construction. Conference attendees submitted their ballots and selected from among the products of 10 of this year's exhibitors. T.R. Strong distributes several green building materials and products, including the GFX Drainwater Heat Recovery systems and RASTRA insulating concrete forms.

T.R. Strong describes the GFX graywater/wastewater heat recovery unit as a very simple plumbing device that has no moving parts, is self-cleaning, and works on existing water pressure and gravity. Some units can recycle over 60 percent of the heat in the hot wastewater going down the drain and can triple electric water heater capacity. The company also says GFX is very beneficial in commercial and industrial applications with large volumes of hot process water.


Design for the Environment Program Advances Herman Miller's Sustainability Protocol

Office furniture maker, Herman Miller, claims to be making measurable progress in its efforts to design and manufacture more environmentally responsible products as part of its commitment to sustainability.

A major component of this endeavor is the Design for the Environment (DfE) project, a program launched to establish a protocol for sustainability that creates economic value while also valuing the environment. Herman Miller has adopted sustainability as a key corporate initiative, meaning the company is striving to do business without reducing the capacity of the environment to provide for future generations.

Initiated in 2001, the DfE team was charged with three deliverables:

  • Develop an environmental rating tool for new products;
  • Create a materials database that prioritizes existing environmentally friendly materials and spurs the development of new ones; and
  • Establish a disassembly guidelines and related training procedures.

All of these initiatives have been achieved, with associated training procedures now in progress. The DfE team currently is focused on sharing its findings with designers, suppliers, product development groups and others who participate in the design and manufacture of Herman Miller products.

"We're seeing a growing amount of interest in sustainability both inside and outside of the company," said Scott Charon, commodity manager in New Product Development at Herman Miller. "Stockholders, members of the A&D community, and customers are asking more questions about product lifecycles, recyclability, and product disassembly. At some point in the future we may not have a choice regarding how we handle these issues, so we're taking advantage of the choices we can make now."

The DfE team works closely with McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC), a design firm dedicated to revolutionizing the design of products and services worldwide. William McDonough and Dr. Michael Braungart founded MBDC in 1995 to promote and shape what they call the "Next Industrial Revolution" through the implementation of eco-effective design principles. In addition to Herman Miller, the firm's clients include Ford Motor Company, S.C. Johnson, and Nike.

"MBDC has been instrumental in helping us develop our product assessment tools while providing a good reality check for our efforts," Gabe Wing, chemical engineer and DfE team member explained. "They are strong advocates for eco-friendly design, and that makes it compelling for others to join in."

Although the DfE team believes that universal sustainability standards are a long way off, "we are pleased to be developing our own product design methodologies that emphasize sustainability at their core," Charon said.

Despite the challenges the office furniture industry faces in today's uncertain economy, Herman Miller Environmental Affairs Manager Paul Murray affirmed that the company's senior management remains steadfast in its endorsement of the DfE initiatives. "Support from the top has never been in question," he said. "Herman Miller has long advocated product durability, longevity of design and other factors that tie directly to our environmental commitment. The DfE program, with its emphasis on increasing recyclable content and creating disassembly guidelines, further refines these principles while stepping up our efforts to the next level, that of selecting or rejecting raw materials based on their level of toxicity."

Charon acknowledged that designing more products with earth-friendly materials and recyclability in mind presents its share of challenges. "A lot of work remains to be done, and we won't suggest we have all the answers when it comes to sustainability," he said. "But we feel we're moving in the right direction while staying true to Herman Miller's legacy of responding to change through design and innovation."


Manville Announces Formaldehyde-Free Insulation

Johns Manville will begin manufacturing an entire line of formaldehyde-free fiber glass building insulation for residential and commercial use. All Johns Manville building insulation will be manufactured with a unique new binder that removes Johns Manville insulation as a potential source of formaldehyde in the indoor air environment and eliminates formaldehyde emissions during manufacturing. The new line of fiber glass will be naturally white in color.

Johns Manville plans to transition all building insulation manufacturing facilities to the full production of formaldehyde-free fiber glass insulation by August 2002. Formaldehyde-based resins have traditionally been used as a binder (glue) in all fiber glass insulation products. The new Johns Manville Formaldehyde-free line will utilize a technologically advanced acrylic resin as its binding agent.

Johns Manville has partnered with industry leader Rohm and Haas to develop the new formaldehyde-free acrylic binder. The new material is a specially formulated version of Rohm and Haas' Acrylic Thermoset technology developed for Johns Manville. It binds fiber glass together, providing the strength, durability and resiliency required by the insulation industry, yet does not emit formaldehyde either during manufacturing, or after installation.

Originally offered as an option for commercial use several years ago, Johns Manville Formaldehyde-free insulation can now be mass produced. All Johns Manville signature products including polyencapsulated ComfortTherm(R) and perforated EasyFit(TM) will now be available in naturally white, formaldehyde-free form.

In addition to eliminating formaldehyde, Johns Manville Formaldehyde-free fiber glass insulation is environmentally smart, containing a minimum of 25 percent recycled glass.


Hidden Pesticide Hazards Lurk in Newly Built Homes

Last year approximately 400,000,000 gallons of chemical termiticides were pumped onto American soil. That's enough chemical to fill 80,000 semi-tanker trucks. Imagine a line of tanker trucks that would stretch bumper-to-bumper from New York to St. Louis, or approximately 450 miles. That's a lot of chemical going into the ground, and environmentalists say the sad part is it's not even necessary.

The results of a telephone survey, conducted by All Cylinders research, find that six out of ten major new homebuilders in the United States are moving away from hazardous chemicals to treat new home construction. This trend is moving slower than it should be, according to environmentalists. Even though the termite insecticide chlorpyrifos (Dursban) has been banned from store shelves, builders and pest control companies can use stocks to treat new homes until 2006. "Current termite control practices are hazardous for new homeowners, who are not even required to be notified of toxic chemical use (soil poisons)," said Jay Feldman, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based group Beyond Pesticides/National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides. A 2000 square foot home requires that 380 gallons of pesticide be pumped into the ground. In a 100 home subdivision, that's about 38 thousand gallons put where children and pets play, and the family gardens.

Under pressure from EPA, Dow Chemical pulled Dursban from retail shelves at the end of 2001, but continues selling it for termite pretreatments in new home construction. Until its use as a termiticide is banned in 2006 for new home and building, it's still being used.

Feldman recommends builders use alternatives to protect homes against termites. Borates can be sprayed directly on the wood during the dried-in phase of construction, saving the builder time and money and providing termite protection for as long as the wood is in service. Borate based products exhibit low toxicity to humans and other mammals. Other alternatives include termite barriers under and around foundations.


New PV Post Office is Biggest Federal Installation Yet

The United States Postal Service recently dedicated the nation's largest federal roof-integrated solar photovoltaic installation at its Marina Mail Processing and Distribution Center in Marina del Rey, California.

The 127 kilowatt system was built and installed by PowerLight Corporation of Berkeley, California, using solar panels produced at Siemens & Shell Solar manufacturing facility in Chatsworth, California.

The system, which is capable of generating enough electricity to power 120 homes, will reduce the demand on California's power grid and improve air quality by avoiding thousands of tons of polluting nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide emissions.

The solar array, measuring 50 x 300 feet, produces clean power silently atop the roof of the postal facility, invisible to people on the ground and virtually maintenance free.

A large portion of the project's cost was co-funded by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) under its Solar Incentive Program, and the Department of Energy's Distributed Energy Resources Program.

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL), acting under an Inter-Agency Agreement with the U.S. Postal Service and on behalf of the DOE Federal Energy Management Program, provided key technical assistance on this project including guidance on site selection, system size and on the selection of technologies and contractors. In addition, LBNL assisted the USPS with applying for the rebates received by the project.


Energy Design Update Has a New Publisher

Wolters Kluwer North America has acquired Cutter Environment, a division of Cutter Information Corp., Arlington, Mass. The division, which publishes newsletters and special reports, will be integrated into Aspen Publishers, New York City, a provider of legal and business information.

Cutter Environment publishes several highly respected professional newsletters, including Energy Design Update, Oil Spill Intelligence Report, Global Environmental Change Report and Business and the Environment, as well as special reports and topical annual reports on related topics.

Wolters Kluwer is a multinational information services company with annual sales of approximately EUR 3.7 billion, employing approximately 19,000 people in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific.


California Builders Group Announces "Green Builders"

The California Building Industry Association (CBIA) announced the selection of the first two California homebuilders designated California Green Builders under a new voluntary program designed to encourage production of environmentally-friendly new homes.

Premier Homes and Forecast Homes, both based in Rancho Cucamonga, were named the first two recipients of the California Green Builder designation for projects designed to conserve energy, reduce waste, improve air quality, and conserve water.

The Green Builder program was developed during the past three years by the Building Industry Institute, an educational and research affiliate of CBIA. During that time, representatives from the building industry, state and federal environmental agencies, and the environmental community drew up standards that protect the environment and result in measurable savings to homebuyers. To qualify as a California Green Builder, a builder must:

  • Build homes that are at least 15 percent more energy efficient than California's stringent new residential energy requirements.
  • Divert at least 50 percent of jobsite waste from landfills to help cities and counties comply with State waste diversion laws.
  • Reduce water consumption by 25 percent by incorporating water- saving features inside the home and by designing landscaping that requires less water.


April 11, 2002

Research Quantifies Benefits of Roof Gardens

Roof gardens reduces building energy use for heating and cooling by increasing insulation value of the roof, shading from plants and evapotranspiration. Roof gardens increase the service life of roof membranes, add green space and increase property values. Storm water management is also improved, because roof gardens capture or delay runoff into storm sewers.

The Institute for Research in Construction, an arm of the Canadian National Research Council, has been conducting research to quantify the benefits and impacts of roof gardens and identify climate sensitivity. The study, conducted at their field roofing facility on the NRC campus, reported these findings.

  • The maximum temperature of the conventional gray membrane roof reached 70°C (21°F), while the "green roof" topped out between 25 and 30°C (77-86°F).
  • Daily temperature fluctuation was reduced from 46°C to 6°C. Extreme temperature fluctuations create thermal stresses that could affect long-term performance and reduce service life.
  • The roof garden reduced heat gain during the day by 85 percent and heat loss at night by 70 percent.

The project continues to collect data and evaluate the thermal performance of roof gardens and to quantify their storm water management potential. This information was adapted from an article in the IRC Construction Innovation newsletter.


Multi-family Project Includes 202 GFX Drainwater Units

The Troutdate Terrace development project is aimed at providing affordable housing, which naturally includes affordable utilities. The residents at this apartment complex, located in Troutdale, Oregon, will enjoy half-price showers thanks to the 202 GFX drainwater heat recovery units installed in the new project.

The GFX (Gravity Film eXchanger) is a plumbing device that replaces a section of vertical drainpipe with an all copper heat exchanger. The heat exchangers consist of 2-inch and 3-inch diameter by 60 inch lengths of copper drainpipe with half inch tubing coiled tightly around them. As hot water is used it goes down the drain clinging to the inside surface as a thin film that efficiently transfers the heat through the copper drain line to the cold water as it simultaneously flows up through the GFX coils.

Between 50 and 85 percent of the heat going down the drain can be transferred to the cold supply water without risk of contamination. The heat transfer significantly preheats the incoming water, therefore reducing the work of the water heaters and cutting the amount of energy and money spent to heat water.

With a 55 percent heat transfer from 96-degree drain water into 45-degree supply water, a full sized 60-inch GFX will save Troutdale Terrace residents 2.06 kWh per 12-minute shower. If electricity costs 7¢ per kWh, 14.4¢ can be saved on every shower. If 404 people are taking one a shower every day, the potential savings is $1,772 a month or $21,264 a year for the 202 GFX’s. The avoided energy costs means the system will pay for itself in 2-3 years. The project is also receiving Oregon tax incentives for energy efficiency.

If this project had been located in an area with electric rates of 11¢ per kWh, the annual savings would have been $30,106.

The US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimated that in 1995 residential water heaters consumed 740 billion KWh of energy and commercial water heaters consumed 320 Billion KWh. Approximately 80-90 percent of all this hot water energy goes down the drain carrying with it billions of kWh and billions of dollars. Much of this wasted heat/energy can be recovered with the GFX technology.

"There is a huge amount of energy to be mined from our waste stream" says Tom St. Louis, President of TR Strong Building Systems, Inc. GFX is long lasting, has no moving parts and requires no maintenance, so it will return the investment quickly and provide continuing energy cost reductions in any location using and draining hot water.

Troutdale Terrace is being developed by Winkler Development, Inc. and designed by Shawn Sullivan Architects, Inc. The general contractor is R+H Construction and the plumbing contractor is Tapani Plumbing, Inc. The Troutdale Terrace apartment project is the largest installation to date of GFX drain heat recovery units. Some of the other recent installations have included flight-type commercial dishwashers, commercial laundry facilities, salons and single-family residences.


California Extends Solar Shade Rebate for Second Year

With the arrival of warm weather, an energy saving incentive funded by the State of California ws extended for a second year. The California Solar Screen Rebate Program provides a $1-per-square-foot rebate for installing solar shade screens. Since shade screens reduce heat gain through windows, the program assists residents and businesses in lowering their air-conditioning demand when installed.

"There has been a sharp increase in the number of installations of solar screens since the warm weather started,'' said Program Manager Spencer Mills. "The Program has awarded over 5,600 rebates to residents and businesses throughout California. Our target is just over 23,000 installations. We believe we will reach that target by the end of summer.''

Participants report that the screens dramatically reduce their AC usage. Installation costs can be recovered in as little as two summers. Oftentimes, participants become more conscious of their AC usage once they undertake this kind of energy saving improvement.

The majority of the rebates are going to homeowners, but businesses, schools, hospitals, government facilities, hotels, senior homes, churches and apartment complexes are taking advantage of the incentive and installing solar screens.

The rebate is paying $1 per square foot of installed exterior solar screens on all south, west and east facing windows, skylights and glass doors. The rebate is offered for both residential and commercial buildings, with no limit on square footage installed. Solar screens install like regular insect screening, making the installation very affordable. With the rebate, ratepayers can save between 20 to 30 percent on the installation cost.

Funding for this rebate was provided under legislation enacted in 2001 to encourage energy conservation. The incentive for solar screens was just one project among many.

Californians may have screens installed and receive a rebate through 326 local installers statewide. For Terms and Conditions or to find a local installer, call toll-free 1-866-921-7400, or visit


Grants Fund Renewable Energy in Massachusetts Buildings

A new $14.6 million program to spur the development of "green buildings" that are highly energy efficient and incorporate renewable energy technologies was announced by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC). The program will provide grants through a competitive process to assist with early-stage feasibility studies as well as design and construction of new facilities.

Targeted funding comes from the state's $150 million Renewable Energy Trust, which was established to promote the supply and use of renewable energy sources such as wind turbines, solar, hydroelectric and fuel cells.

"This financing offers a powerful incentive that will lead to some of the most energy efficient buildings ever constructed in Massachusetts," said MTC Executive Director Mitchell Adams. "Working with developers, architects and financial institutions, the program will support the creation of prototype facilities that will provide a blueprint for future projects looking to integrate clean energy technologies as a way to reduce operating costs and help the environment."

"Through our environmental review process at the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, we encourage developers to use renewable energy technology such as passive heating and gray water systems in their buildings. I applaud the Technology Collaborative for its efforts to further these worthy goals," said Bob Durand, Secretary of Environmental Affairs. "If we are to create a sustainable future, one where we do not deplete our natural resources, or depend heavily on foreign sources for energy, we must reduce our energy consumption as much as possible using these kinds of conservation methods."

Buildings use approximately two-thirds of all electricity consumed in the United States and are responsible for at least one-third of peak electrical demand. Constructing "green buildings" will reduce the strain on current resources by maximizing the use of clean renewable energy, high performance building design and energy efficiency measures. Awards of up to $500,000 for each awardee are available for design and construction assistance. Other awards are available for feasibility studies, public awareness and public education activities.


Green Energy Meets Sustainable Development

Wind turbine manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems will build a new plant in Portland, Oregon, to meet growing North American demand. The announcement coincided with an $59 million order from FPL for turbines to be located at the Stateline Energy Center than straddles the Oregon-Washington border. The current order comprises 175 wind turbines, with an option to buy up to 650 more in the future.

The new facility will manufacture wind blades and towers and will assemble nacelles, which house the generator, drive mechanisms and controls. Capable of producing 300 utility-scale turbines per year, the facility should start production in mid-2003 and reach full capacity by early 2004, when it is expected to employ around 1,000 employees.


New Factory for Biodegradable Plastic Expands Worldwide Supply

Cargill Dow LLC has opened a global-scale manufacturing facility capable of making commercial-grade plastic from annually renewable resources such as ordinary field corn. The new plant will exponentially increase the supply of the NatureWorks PLA product for packaging. In the past Cargill Dow has also listed building materials among the potential applications for the product.

NatureWorks uses annually renewable plant material -- at this point, corn -- as a feedstock for plastic. The carbon from plant sugar is fermented and distilled to extract carbon for use as the basic building block for commercial grade plastic and fibers. Conventional thermoplastic uses non-renewable petroleum to supply the carbon. (Using plant material to make plastic isn't new. The first commercial plastic was cellophane, made from cellulose in tree fiber.)

According to Cargill Dow, NatureWorks PLA reduces fossil fuel consumption by up to 50 percent and generates 15 to 60 percent less greenhouse gases than the material it replaces. Research also shows that technology advancements in PLA could allow up to 80 percent to 100 percent reduction in GHGs.

"While the environmental and sustainability aspect of NatureWorks PLA is a significant driver of interest in Cargill Dow’s products, what really closes the sale is the polymer’s unique range of performance attributes," said Jim Hobbs, commercial director for packaging. "We're offering a range of film, rigid and bottle applications that have physical properties equal to or better than incumbent materials".

In addition, NatureWorks PLA is approved for food contact and is compatible with all standard waste management systems. One of the key selling points in Europe and Asia Pacific has been the fact that the plastic will fully decompose in municipal and industrial composting systems

Encompassing more than 16 acres of Missouri River bottomland in Blair, Nebraska, Cargill Dow’s new facility stands on a site that was once, itself, a cornfield. The plant is capable of producing more than 300 million pounds (140,000 metric tons) of NatureWorks PLA per year and uses up to 40,000 bushels of locally grown corn per day as the raw material for the manufacturing process.


Verizon Installs Fuel Cells to Power Call-Routing Center

Seven 200 KW fuel cells will power a critical Verizon call-routing center on Long Island, New York. The seven units will also generate 900,000 Btus of usable heat.

Verizon will install the units at a 332,000 square-foot facility in Garden City that delivers local phone service to some 40,000 Verizon customers on a 24-hour basis. The facility is also home to more than 1,000 employees who handle various functions, including answering customer calls.

The fuel cells, which together will generate 1.4 megawatts of electricity, will provide primary electrical power for the facility. Verizon also plans to install four natural gas powered generators to operate in parallel with the fuel cells as a hybrid system that can generate up to 4.4 megawatts of electrical power. The generators will serve as backup power, along with the electrical grid and batteries

The fuel cells were manufactured by UTC Fuel Cells, a unit of United Technologies Corp.


EPA Launches New Greenbuilding Web Portals

The new EPA Green Building is a "portal" designed to give users one convenient gateway from which to access EPA programs and topics related to environmentally-friendly building. These programs include Energy Star, Indoor Air, Smart Growth, Environmentally Preferable Building Products and more.

EPA's new Construction and Demolition (C&D) Debris page provides information and links to extensive resources and organizations covering the characterization, reduction, reuse, recycling and management of C&D debris.

Finally, EPA has a new web page about how the agency is trying to green its own facilities.

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