Green Building News

Green Building News October 2002

October 22, 2002

Study Investigates Moisture Damage in Newer Multi-level Multi-family Structures

The City of Seattle released a technical study of moisture damage in newer buildings conducted by the Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL). This research seeks to expand the knowledge base for regional builders, owners and officials concerned about significant moisture damage encountered in recently built multifamily structures.

ORNL researchers have completed computer simulations of the hygrothermal performance of 35 wood-frame exterior wall systems used in the Seattle area. Among their findings:

  • confirmation that insulation requirements have a marginal effect on wall performance;
  • the importance of controlling interior relative humidity below 60 percent for most of the year; and
  • the importance of selecting building materials that allow walls to dry to both the interior and the exterior, provided interior conditions allow drying to the inside.

The simulations mark Phase I of a continuing study, and provide a preliminary assessment of typical walls used in multifamily construction in Seattle. Phase II will develop a database of the properties of construction materials. Phase III will seek ways to improve water management capabilities of wall systems through both field work and computer modeling. Phase I of the study is available from the Seattle DCLU web site.


Green Power Sales Triple in Northwest

The amount of "green power" purchased by retail customers in the Northwest more than tripled since last year, according to a report released by the Renewable Northwest Project (RNP). Entitled, Powerful Choices, the report summarizes the retail green power programs that are allowing customers to invest directly in a clean energy future. Twenty-three Northwest utilities are offering customers a choice of an environmentally preferred power source -- wind power, solar power, landfill gas power or low-impact hydro power.

Customer retail green power purchases help to push the market forward for the construction of new renewable energy projects. During the past year, Northwest green power customers purchased the equivalent of the annual output from 94 (600 kW) wind turbines.

Since last year, the number of customers buying green power has more than doubled. New state legislation enacted in Washington and Oregon has significantly increased the number of green power programs and options being offered in each state. In addition, increased general awareness of the benefits of buying green power and more sophisticated marketing techniques have contributed to higher sales and customer participation.

The report outlines each utility offering and features strategies for building a successful green power program. The report also includes:

  • Discussion of the effect of recent legislation on retail green power programs; the importance of investing in renewable energy; the elements of green pricing programs; green power marketing strategies; and lessons learned from established programs.
  • An "at-a-glance" profile of each program – the offering, price, and marketing strategies.
  • A "snapshot" comparison of program products, prices, residential participation rates, and average monthly sales.
  • Resources for learning more about green power programs.

"Northwest customers are demonstrating their support for renewable energy by signing up for green power in increasing numbers," said Rachel Shimshak, director of RNP, a regional renewable energy advocacy organization. "Along with utility investments in renewables, customers are using their choices to help create a clean energy future," she added.


University of Colorado at Boulder Wins Solar Decathlon

The University of Colorado at Boulder took first place in the Department of Energy's (DOE) Solar Decathlon, officially bringing an end to the 10-day competition among university teams from around the country. The University of Virginia captured second place, while Auburn University took third.

The Solar Decathlon ran from Sept. 26 to Oct. 5 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Teams from 14 universities competed by building homes that blend aesthetics and modern conveniences with maximum energy production and efficiency. In appearance, the homes are a mix of traditional and modern, but all are powered entirely by the sun and incorporate state-of-the-art energy efficiency technologies.

For the competition, the solar decathletes had to figure ways to harness the power of the sun to supply all the energy for an entire household, including a home-based business, along with the transportation needs of the household and business.

Each house, limited to roughly 500 square feet for purposes of the competition, were judged on 10 criteria to determine which most efficiently employed solar energy for heating, cooling, hot water, lighting, appliances, computers and charging an electric car. The teams competed in the 10 contests simultaneously.

DOE provided each team with a $5,000 stipend toward the construction of their solar house. The teams raised the rest of the money they needed to design, construct and transport the houses to Washington, D.C. BP Solar contributed discounted solar panels as well as advice on solar power systems, money for building the Solar Village and volunteers. The Home Depot contributed free and discounted building supplies for the Solar Decathlon teams, advice on construction, money for building the Solar Village and volunteers. EDS contributed wireless communications and Internet services for the Solar Village, as well as financial contributions and volunteers. Other sponsors were the American Institute of Architects and the National Renewable Energy Lab.


Lowes Foods Stores Receive Energy Star Label

Five of the Lowes Foods supermarkets have received the ENERGY STAR® label, which recognizes buildings that are among the top 25 percent in the nation in terms of energy performance. Lowes Foods has also been named an ENERGY STAR partner, reflecting its commitment to the continuous improvement of the organization’s energy performance.

“Reducing energy consumption is a priority for Lowes Foods,” said Gary Watson, vice president for business support at Lowes Foods. “It takes a tremendous amount of energy to operate a supermarket – for lights, refrigeration, and to run computerized checkout systems. By finding ways to eliminate energy use, we contribute to a healthier environment in the neighborhoods in which we do business, and operate our stores more efficiently.”

Energy conservation measures put in place by Lowes Foods include using the latest technology for HVAC, air-intake systems and refrigerated cases, motion sensors and time clocks to regulate light fixtures and appliances, and building materials that provide maximum insulation.

The conservation measures put in place by Lowes Foods will save enough energy to power 444 homes for one year and result in a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 10,000 tons annually.

The Lowes Foods stores that have received the ENERGY STAR label are located in Chapel Hill, Clayton, Cornelius, Wilmington and Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Lowes Foods is in the process of having additional stores certified by the EPA for the ENERGY STAR label. In addition, each new store built by Lowes Foods is being designed to meet the ENERGY STAR criteria. The company opened five stores this year and has plans to open another six in 2003. These stores use nearly 50 percent less power for their light systems than is allowed by current standards.


Forty-one Companies Honored for Environmental Excellence

Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker selected 41 companies for the 2002 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence. The award recognizes the best of Pennsylvania’s businesses, municipalities and organizations for their efforts to protect the environment.

"The winners of the Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence are real-life examples of how we can all work together to save the environment," Gov. Schweiker said. "These winners have brought innovative thinking to our efforts to reduce pollution and preserve our resources."

"Results like this just don't happen overnight or by themselves -- it takes a team effort," Gov. Schweiker said. "The award-winning leadership of these companies and organizations is improving the environment and improving the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians."

Among the 41 recipients were three green building material manufacturers:

    CollinsWood's Kane Hardwood operating unit received the Governor's Award for Environmental Sustainability, which is presented to the company or organization that best embodies the three elements of sustainability: environmental improvement, economic development and positive social change. Kane supports the production of wood on a sustained, renewable basis. The company is committed to the total health maintenance of the forest ecosystem on its more than 120,000 acres of forestland. The company invests in research, mapping, planning and training that promotes environmentally responsible practices to ensure an abundance of natural resources for the next generation.

    PPG Industries received their award for its Pure Performance line of Pittsburgh Paints architectural paints. Pure Performance paint was developed to meet the needs of the "green building community" while maintaining the premium performance requirements of architects, engineers, professional painters and homeowners. Pure Performance was the first premium paint to earn the independent, environmentally friendly "Green Seal Class A" certification, according to David C. Cannon Jr., PPG's vice president, environment, health and safety. The paint is a low-odor, premium interior latex coating that contains no volatile organic compounds (VOC). This permits Pure Performance paint to be applied in occupied structures, including homes, hospitals, schools, retail and commercial offices. The coating also has an anti-microbial agent that prevents formation of mold and mildew on paint surfaces.

    National Gypsum Company’s Shippingport, Pa., wallboard plant uses byproduct gypsum from nearby First Energy’s Bruce Mansfield Plant to manufacture wallboard. The byproduct gypsum is produced as the power plant scrubs its high-sulfur coal emissions.

    Instead of using gypsum rock, the Shippingport plant operates around the clock and uses 100 percent byproduct gypsum at a rate of 70-80 tons per hour. In the past, this material was dumped in First Energy’s Little Blue Run landfill. The byproduct gypsum is transferred from the power plant to the wallboard plant by a 1.5-mile conveyor system.

    As in other National Gypsum plants, the Shippingport operation recycles in several other areas as well. Waste wallboard goes back into the system, and trimmings from paper rolls are sent to the company’s paper product plants for recycling. And, National Gypsum produces its wallboard facing papers from recycled paper at its four paper mills.

    Process wastewater is recycled, resulting in zero discharge. All storm water generated at the Shippingport site is treated in sedimentation ponds prior to discharge. Dust collected in the facility's baghouse system is recycled into the process. The state-of-the-art baghouses are designed for particulate removal efficiency greater than 99.9%.

    Parts washing solvents used in maintenance activities, waste oils, spent vehicle batteries and scrap metal are sent to third-party recyclers. All combustion sources are equipped with low NOx burners to reduce emissions.

The Governor's Environmental Excellence Award was created in 1996 and honors organizations, businesses and individuals for positively impacting Pennsylvania's environment. The awards are presented in four categories: energy efficiency, land use, education and outreach, and resource protection.


Facility Managers Are Leaning toward Green

Environmental concepts are catching on with facility managers, according to a study conducted by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) for DuPont Antron®, a business unit of DuPont Textiles & Interiors.

The survey indicates that 69 percent of facility managers are implementing green building concepts and 58 percent use or plan to add environmental criteria to vendor and product selection. The statistics reveal that facility managers are moving away from evaluating sustainability simply by recycled content and are adopting a broader approach that addresses all stages of a product’s life cycle.

Fifty-one percent have implemented or plan to apply practices that consider product life cycle analysis and 94 percent believe that a product is sustainable or green if it is manufactured in an environmentally favorable manner. While facility managers are implementing the use of recycled content products in their facilities, more believe that lower total environmental impact is a better indication of sustainability. Ninety-eight percent of facility managers believe that sustainability will become an increasingly important issue for the facility management profession in the future.

The total environmental impact of DuPont Antron® nylon was evaluated by Scientific Certification Systems earlier this year, which resulted in Environmentally Preferable Product (EPP) certification of the product. Environmentally Preferable Products are defined as “products and services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared to other products and services that serve the same purpose.” DuPont™ Antron® was evaluated by the following criteria: product performance, total environmental impact of product manufacturing, use of “green energy” in the manufacturing, protection of safety, health and the environment and end-of-life responsibility.


Knauf Receives Third-party IAQ Performance Certification

Knauf Fiber Glass building insulation products (batts, blankets and Summit Blowing Insulation) have received GREENGUARD indoor air quality (IAQ) performance certification. Knauf is the first fiber glass insulation company to achieve GREENGUARD Certification, which designates low emitting products. To achieve certification, Knauf's products could not exceed a concentration of 0.05 ppm of formaldehyde and 0.50 mg/m for total Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

To gain GREENGUARD Certification, a product is tested using stringent environmental chamber methods and meets GREENGUARD’s Indoor Air Quality Standards. These standards are based on IAQ purchase requirements used by the State of Washington and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The certification is a multi-stage process that includes raw material and manufacturing facility reviews, annual certification testing and quarterly monitoring tests.


Maytag Flying Town Residents to Washington, DC for Celebration

Last month, almost the entire town of Bern, Kansas, traveled to Washington, D.C. to celebrate a landmark study showing the dramatic energy saving potential of energy efficient clothes washers.

Maytag Corporation flew Bern's residents to Washington to mark the 5th anniversary of the Bern Clothes Washer Study. In a controlled study in the water-short farming community of Bern, DOE found that 103 Maytag-donated Neptune horizontal-axis clothes washers saved, on average, 56 percent of the energy and 38 percent of the water used by the machines they replaced.

"The Bern Washer Study set a precedent by showing that energy efficient appliances -- especially those with the Energy Star label -- can benefit the nation by significantly conserving water and energy," said David Garman, the Department of Energy's Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. "This private sector/government study exemplifies the way that business and government can work together to promote energy- and dollar-saving technology."

The Assistant Secretary also presented the citizens of Bern with a DOE special recognition award, and commended them for their outstanding support and leadership in energy efficiency and water conservation.

The success of the study contributed to the widespread adoption of clothes washers certified by ENERGY STAR, a joint DOE-U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program that partners with manufacturers, retailers, and utilities to label and promote the most efficient products available in the marketplace.

Just before the study in 1997, ENERGY STAR qualified washers made up 3.74 percent of all clothes washers sold in the U.S. Now, after the second quarter of this year, that figure has grown to 16.7 percent. In 2001 alone, Americans purchased 767,737 ENERGY STAR qualified clothes washers, which will save 6.6 billion gallons of water and 199 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

Bern was chosen as the site for the original study because of its arid climate and scarcity of water. In 1997 DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory collected and analyzed over five months of data on more than 20,000 loads and nearly 70 tons of wash done in a wide range of real-world conditions. Since the study began, the 103 donated Neptunes have saved enough water each year to fill the town's water tank 17 times, and enough energy to light every house in the town for six weeks.

Maytag's Neptune washers save a significant amount of water and energy by operating on a horizontal axis, instead of a vertical axis like most clothes washers manufactured in the U.S. The front-loading tub fills halfway with water, while baffles scoop up the water and shower it down on clothes from above. Sensor technology closely monitors incoming water temperature, which comprises a large amount of the energy savings.


Portland Saves Water by Replacing Toilets

The city council of Portland, Oregon has authorized funds to replace toilets at 5,000 apartment complexes with low flow models. The pilot project has the potential to save more than 30 million gallons of water and hundreds of thousand dollars in water and sewer bills each year.

"Conservation is one of the quickest, cheapest ways to lower utility bills as well as reduce pressure on water supplies and sewage treatment capacity," said council commissioner Dan Saltzman. "This program offers owners a simple solution to reduce their water and sewer bills while upgrading their property. In many cases, the savings alone will cover the cost of the new toilet within a year."

Over the next four months, the Portland Office of Sustainable Development's Multifamily Assistance Program (MAP) will work with the owners of 5,000 apartment units to replace old toilets with new water efficient models that use two to three times less water. City program costs will be covered through an agreement with the Efficiency Services Group of Portland General Electric.

Water savings from ultra low flow toilets in a typical apartment range from 7,000 to 13,000 gallons per year, with annual water and sewer bill savings of $59 to $106. Within a year or two, owners pay for the retrofit in water and sewer bill savings. The program will run in tandem with a $45 rebate offer from the Portland Water Bureau for installation of water efficient toilets in properties serving lower income households.

The program will also promote recycling of the replaced toilets, with plans to divert the 187 tons of toilets from the landfill and into recycled, reusable road fill material.

The rebate program, "provides a great opportunity to assist our customers who do not directly pay their water/sewer bill, typically a difficult audience for us to target," said Judi Ranton, program manager for the Portland Water Bureau. "Owners and property managers will recognize the immediate benefits of providing their tenants higher efficiency toilets."


Study Shows Training and Certification Results in Substantial Energy Savings

Commercial facility operators and building managers can significantly reduce their costs for electricity, fossil fuels and water by completing courses in building energy performance, according to a new study released today by Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, Inc.

The findings were the result of an evaluation of the Building Operator Training and Certification (BOC) program, a competency-based curriculum for building operators that NEEP and its sponsors launched in 2000 to improve operation and maintenance practices that impact the energy efficiency of commercial buildings. Since its inception, the BOC has trained more than 500 students and certified over 425 of those in energy efficient building performance. In order to be certified, building operators must demonstrate competence in evaluating building energy consumption, HVAC equipment inspection, lighting surveys, indoor air pollutant sources and pathways, and facility electrical distribution.

The evaluation found that, on average, the facilities served by students who completed the BOC curriculum saved, on an annual basis: · 0.5 kWhs of electricity per square foot · 1.95 MMBtu (million British Thermal Units) of fossil fuels (gas/oil) per 1,000 square foot · 0.162 gallons of water per square foot

At current retail energy prices, those savings translate to an estimated savings of $20,000 per facility per year.

According to Fouad Dagher, a lead senior engineer of National Grid in Northborough, Mass., one of the founding sponsors of the BOC program, the evaluation results validate the program in a way that every commercial building owner and operator can recognize and appreciate.

“It’s one thing to be able to talk about energy efficiency and all its related benefits,” said Dagher. “It’s another to be able to tangibly demonstrate that learning about building energy performance in a course like the BOC will result in substantial energy cost savings for your facility. This evaluation shows us the very real benefit of optimizing a building’s energy performance.”

Several BOC graduates lent their voices to the program evaluation, testifying to the effectiveness of the program in improving the energy performance of the facilities they operate.

“The BOC Course opened my eyes to preventative maintenance items that were being overlooked, and reinforced maintenance practices that were already in place,” noted Joe McPherson, maintenance manager at Pease International Airport / Pease Development Authority (PDA) in Portsmouth, N.H., where he is responsible for more than 58,000 square feet of facility space and more than five million square feet of grounds. “It gave me a renewed interest in the work that I’m doing, and I’ve tried to pass this on to my crew. It’s at the forefront of the individual’s mind when they come back from the course, encouraging them to dig further into the specifics of their facilities. You develop a new relationship with your facilities.”

“Since taking the BOC course, I have been able to save money, save energy, and improve occupant comfort at my facility,” added Chris Mozian, process control systems engineer for the Bayer Corporation in Berlin, Conn. “For example, I have spotted inefficient filters on new equipment and installed better ones to increase the life of the HVAC units.”

The evaluation, conducted by Research Into Action, Inc., of Portland, Ore., included telephone surveys of BOC students, qualifying supervisors, teachers, administrators and sponsors. Among students and supervisors, 80 percent were satisfied with the BOC program, while 90 percent said the training has led to improved comfort or savings of energy or money.


New York Enacts Net Metering

Governor George E. Pataki signed net metering legislation that will encourage farmers to sell excess electricity generated through the use of anaerobic digesters to utilities. This new legislation will make the installation and operation of anaerobic digesters more economically feasible for New York farmers, while providing them with an important tool to address environmental concerns and to reduce their energy costs.

Net metering laws already exist for electricity generated by solar panels on homes. The new legislation would expand those laws to include technically qualified farms as potential "net metering" customers who generate power from methane.

New York's dairy and livestock farmers face stringent federal, State and local regulatory pressures to control nutrient runoff into streams and eliminate the odors associated with manure management. Methane released from New York State's agricultural industry represents a source of greenhouse gas emissions. By anaerobically digesting the manure, capturing the methane, and combusting it to generate electricity, the result is reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Estimates indicate that with net metering rules in place, the farms most likely to operate digesters to generate electricity could reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 40,000 metric tons of carbon equivalent, or about the equivalent of removing more than 32,000 cars from the State's roadways.

Net metering offers farmers a way to reduce operating costs, while generating additional cash flow as a result of selling electricity to utilities. Anaerobic digestion also gives farmers the opportunity to profit from compost sales and the use of nutrient-rich liquids in lieu of high-cost synthetic fertilizers.


Washington State Adopts Sustainable Practices

Gov. Gary Locke signed an executive order calling for sustainable environmental practices for all state agencies. The goal is to use human, environmental and economic resources more wisely, including the use of energy efficient products, recycled materials and conservation programs.

The executive order will guide Washington state government’s long-term sustainability practices and strengthen the state’s economic and environmental vitality. This includes using the state’s $1 billion in purchasing power for environmental products and conservation.

Locke signed the executive order following the first meeting of the Governor’s Sustainable Washington Advisory Panel at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center in Seattle. The advisory panel consists of representatives from the public and private sector who will focus on developing an action plan for a sustainable Washington.

The executive order directs state agencies to establish sustainability objectives and prepare a biennial sustainability plan to modify their practices. It also calls for the Office of Financial Management to designate a person to assist state agencies in meeting their goals and establishes an advisory council to advise state agencies on how to apply sustainability measures to government operations.

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