Green Building News

Green Building News April 2006

April 20 , 2006

Making Energy Self-sufficient Buildings a Reality

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development announced that it is forming an alliance of leading global companies to determine how buildings can be designed and constructed so that they use no energy from external power grids, are carbon neutral, and can be built and operated at fair market values.

The industry effort is led by United Technologies Corp., the world's largest supplier of capital goods including elevators, cooling/heating and on-site power systems to the commercial building industry, and Lafarge Group, the world leader in building materials including cement, concrete, aggregates, gypsum and roofing. The WBCSD and the two lead companies are in discussions with many other leading global companies that are expected to join the project and will be announced shortly.

Buildings today account for 40 percent of energy consumption in developed countries according to the OECD. The WBCSD/industry effort for transforming the way buildings are conceived, constructed, operated and dismantled has ambitious targets: By 2050 new buildings will consume zero net energy from external power supplies and produce zero net carbon dioxide emissions while being economically viable to construct and operate.

Constructing buildings that use no net energy from power grids will require a combination of onsite power generation and ultra-efficient building materials and equipment.

The project will comprise three phases, each producing reports that together will form a roadmap to transform the building industry. The first report will document existing green building successes and setbacks, the second will identify the full range of present and future opportunities, and the third will present a unified industry strategy for realizing those opportunities by 2050, specifically in China, India, Brazil, the U.S. and the E.U.

Each report will take one year to complete and involve hearings and conferences with building contractors and suppliers, sustainability experts, government representatives, regulators, utility officials and others.

"Green" buildings already are erected in various parts of the world but current cost structure prevents widespread adoption by general contractors. The project will build on these examples, aligning costs and benefits in the building equation and by working in close collaboration with architects, builders, suppliers and building owners to promote a more sustainable approach to construction. Existing standards for energy efficiency in buildings will be the starting point for the industry-led alliance.

Björn Stigson, President of the WBCSD noted that "being smarter and more efficient about how we use energy in buildings will help us conserve energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change. We believe this initiative can provide extremely cost-effective solutions. It will also set the course for self-sufficient and environmentally sound buildings in which future generations will live, work and be entertained. Our partners are industry leaders with technological expertise and presence that no single existing organization or government could provide on its own.

NAHB's Green Home Building Guidelines Available Online Free

The "NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines" are available through a free online download to industry professionals interested in developing green building programs.

The voluntary guidelines are designed to move environmentally-friendly home building concepts further into the mainstream marketplace. Currently, there are approximately 30 communities throughout the U.S. that have green home building programs in place or that are developing them. The guidelines help facilitate the adoption of green home building practices and the formation of additional local programs in the parts of the country not currently served by these programs.

The guidelines contain six primary sections:

  • Lot Preparation and Design
  • Resource Efficiency
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Water Efficiency and Conservation
  • Occupancy Comfort and Indoor Environmental Quality
  • Home Owner Guidance on How to Optimally Operate and Maintain the House

Each section contains a set of provisions that explain how a builder can incorporate green building concepts into a project. In addition, local builders and green building program developers may apply points to the provisions to further define green building through a scoring methodology currently being developed.

The NAHB Research Center worked together in an open, public process with over 60 Stakeholder Group members from the home building industry to create those guidelines.

Click "NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines," to download a copy.

218,000 Acres of U.S. Forest Land Protected Through Historic Land Acquisition Project

International Paper, The Nature Conservancy and The Conservation Fund have reached an agreement to protect 218,000 acres of forest lands across 10 states in the single largest private land conservation sale in the history of the South, and one of the largest in the nation.

The Nature Conservancy will acquire more than 173,000 acres in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi. The Conservation Fund will acquire more than 5,000 acres in Florida and 500 in North Carolina. The two groups will jointly purchase an additional 39,000 acres in South Carolina.

International Paper will receive approximately $300 million for the land at closing, which is expected to occur in the next several months. The tracts included in the sale are some of International Paper’s most ecologically important lands. The majority of the land will remain working forests. Under the terms of the agreement, timber will be sustainably harvested from some tracts and a set amount of timber volume will be supplied to International Paper for local production. Sensitive areas will continue to be set aside from harvesting activities.

The biodiversity and ecological importance of the parcels included in the project reflect International Paper’s sustainable management of its working forests. Many of the parcels which have thrived under the company's leadership are home to bald eagles, black bear and the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. Several tracts also provide vital linkages between existing public and private conservation areas. The majority of lands being acquired by the Conservancy and The Conservation Fund are located along rivers and estuaries, such as the Perdido River on the border of Florida and Alabama, the Lower Roanoke River in North Carolina and Pee Dee and Little Pee Dee Rivers in South Carolina.

In a number of states, the conservation organizations are working closely with state agencies and other partners to ensure these lands are conserved for future generations. The acquisition announcement represents the beginning of this landmark conservation project.

The continued fragmentation of forests because of subdivision, land use change and development is one of the most pressing threats facing the American landscape today. Forests - both public and private - protect biodiversity, wildlife habitat, recreation opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts and jobs for more than 1.6 million Americans. Healthy forests protect water resources by slowing runoff, stabilizing soils, preventing erosion and floods and filtering pollutants.

Click here for more details about the transaction.

Greening the Heartland 2006: Advancing Sustainable Practices - May 17 - 19

The U. S. Green Building Council's – Greater Kansas City and Regional Heartland Chapters are hosting the Greening the Heartland Conference-Advancing Sustainable Practices. The conference will focus on innovation and the ability to implement sustainability and market these practices in the region. (Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.)

The conference addresses the following areas:

  • Commercial: This track will focus on designing, building, maintaining and assessing performance of green buildings from a corporate perspective. It will address selling sustainability to the corporate environment as well as marketing the building to potential tenants.
  • Schools/Institutional: This track will focus on K-12 and University school settings as well as other institutional entities such as Healthcare.
  • Residential: This track will focus on the leading edge in green residential design and construction practices.
  • Government: This track will focus on the political and economic issues impacting the success or failure of smart planning and intelligent, informed building efforts for both urban and rural areas throughout our region.

SOLAR 2006 - July 7-13, Denver, Colorado "Renewable Energy Key to Climate Recovery"

SOLAR 2006, the National Solar Energy Conference is presented by the American Solar Energy Society, Inc. and Colorado Renewable Energy Society and will be attended by leading researchers, scientists, engineers, architects, designers, policymakers, contractors, installers, government leaders, strategic thinkers, teachers, utility representatives and other renewable energy decision-makers from around the United States and the world. The conference offers plenary sessions, forums, technical sessions, workshops, tours, special events and an exhibit hall.

SolWest Fair is July 28 - 30

The Eastern Oregon Renewable Energies Non-profit presents Solwest Fair the last full weekend of each July. Located at the Grant County Fairgrounds in John Day, Oregon, SolWest is an occasion for learning, networking, and supporting all types of renewable energy. This three-day event offers engaging activities for all ages and knowledge levels. Participants from around the western region and beyond come and learn about energy efficiency, solar and wind energy, alternatively fueled vehicles, and more.

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