Green Building News

Green Building News June 2006

June 13, 2006

BASF opens its Near-Zero Energy Home in Paterson, N.J.

BASF, along with more than 150 of its customers and strategic allies, built the Near-Zero Energy Home-Paterson, N.J., to exemplify how BASF chemistry helps further energy-saving, durable, sustainable and affordable building practices. The project is designed to achieve a 95.5 HERS ENERGY STAR® score, an unprecedented accomplishment in New Jersey ENERGY STAR history, and is a prototype for the U.S. Green Building Council’s newly launched rating system for the energy efficiency and environmental impact of homes. The demonstration home is 80 percent more energy efficient, more durable and faster to construct than conventionally built homes.

The Near-Zero Energy Home in Paterson, N.J., will be the site for a number of seminars and tours to architects, builders, government officials, homeowners, realtors, financial institutions and other interested parties throughout the summer of 2006.

Once the demonstration phases are completed, the home will be donated to St. Michael’s Housing Corporation. This organization will then turn over the home to a local family with a quadriplegic boy to occupy. As such, the project is also designed to showcase elements of accessible design.

This project is part of BASF’s international Better Home, Better Planet Initiative aimed at creating similar models of excellence in building and construction worldwide.

Environmental futurist and architect, William McDonough has specified BASF chemistry to help him with his biggest project yet: China. Contracted by the China Housing Industry Association, McDonough has been charged with overseeing the design of seven brand-new cradle-to-cradle cities with enough housing for 400 million people. In the next 12 years, many of these homes will be built using the basic BASF technologies featured in the Near-Zero Energy Home to help China achieve a reduction of energy use by 65 percent by the year 2020.

Strategic allies of the BASF Better Home, Better Planet Initiative: Near-Zero Energy Home -Paterson, N.J., include: Chrisner Group; City of Paterson; Environmental Design + Construction; GRAD Associates; Green Ideas™; Insulspan; KBI Contractors; MBDC; New Jersey ENERGY STAR Program; American Polysteel; St. Michael Housing Authority; Steven Winter and Associates; Sustainable Buildings Industry Council; New Jersey Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council; U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s PATH Program and the U.S. Department of Energy. More information can be found at

USGBC's Member Circles

The U.S. Green Building Council encourages employees of member companies to participate in a dialogue of best practices and lessons learned relating to green building and LEED through their Member Circle listservs. Listservs are available for the following ten industry sectors: Contractors/Builders, Product Manufacturers, Educators, Government Professionals, Architects, Engineers, Site Designers and Planners, Interior Designers, Real Estate Professionals and Facilities Managers. USGBC plans expansion of the Member Circles to include a web page for each industry sector with the listserv, a calendar of events, and featured articles.

To sign up for a Member Circle, log in to myUSGBC and visit the Member Resources section.

AIA Selects Eight Communities for Community Assistance Program to Promote Long-term Sustainability

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Center for Communities by Design has selected New Orleans, Syracuse, N.Y., Longview, Wash., Guemes Island, Wash., Lawrence, Kan., Northeast, Mich., Northern, Nev., and Hagerstown, Md. as the eight communities to receive technical assistance under the Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT) program in 2006. The collaborative SDAT brings together architects and other professionals assembled from across the country to provide a roadmap for communities seeking to improve their sustainability – as defined by a community’s ability to meet the environmental, economic, and social equity needs of today without reducing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. “More cities are placing a priority on sustainability and community revitalization, and the feedback from planning officials and mayors of communities that have already participated in the SDAT program has been extremely positive,” said David T. Downey, Assoc. AIA, managing director of the AIA Center for Communities by Design. “The forward-looking program is intended to help address challenges that communities face, such as transportation design strategies, air and water quality improvement possibilities, local economic development,
brownfields issues and how to manage growth associated with increasing and shifting populations.”

A team of professionals including architects, planners, hydrologists, economic development specialists and others will be selected based on their credentials and the specific needs of each community. The SDAT will work in conjunction with local stakeholders to help shape the community’s strategy to increase sustainability. To provide the most objective assessment, team members volunteer their time and expertise and are selected from areas outside the project communities.

Past SDAT participant reaction
Forest City, N.C. Town Planner & Downtown Development Director, Danielle Withrow said, “We are already moving ahead with both smaller recommendations and larger long-term recommendations from the AIA SDAT program that we participated in last summer. The smaller recommendations such as crosswalks in the downtown area have been implemented. The long term recommendations include creating redevelopment areas that will help to revitalize some of our deteriorating neighborhoods and expand our housing base by offering more opportunities for home ownership in a recreated mill village. An enhanced downtown service district will allow us to better utilize our existing assets, such as our town square, and provide a greater sense of community and safe, walkable neighborhoods.”

Logan, Utah Director of Community Development, Jay Nielson said, “The AIA SDAT collaboration provided the glue to focus attention on issues that everyone has known about for a long time, but had not previously been able to address. It brought together people with outside objectivity that understood our concerns regarding traffic efficiency and environmental quality control surrounding new building development. We are implementing the key recommendations from the team, including the establishment of a large coalition to closely examine the big picture as it relates to long-term planning for the entire region.”

SDAT program elements
The communities were selected after submitting an application to the 2006 SDAT review panel outlining the economic, environmental, and social equity challenges facing their region. The SDAT community assistance program provides the selected communities with six components:

  • Preliminary/scoping visit
  • Three-day visit from a multidisciplinary team
  • A report highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the community with regards to
    sustainability, along with the opportunities and obstacles to change
  • Consultations after the three-day visit (typically by phone or email)
  • A conference call six months after delivery of the assessment report to review progress
  • One-day follow-up evaluation visit a year after the SDAT report is delivered

To learn more about this program, download the SDAT information packet:

New "Green" Fraud Advisory

The EcoLogo Program(M), formerly known as the Environmental Choice Program(M), has instituted a new "Fraud Advisory" service to help purchasers–government, business, as well as consumers–make sure the products they select are indeed Green. The advisory, which has been added to the organization's Web site,, will list manufacturers and products falsely claiming product certification and bearing the organization's EcoLogo label.

The EcoLogo Program(M), formerly known as the Environmental Choice(M) Program (ECP), is Environment Canada's ecolabelling program, established in 1988 to help provide a market incentive to manufacturers and suppliers of environmentally preferable products and services, as well as to help consumers identify products and services that are less harmful to the environment.

"This is an important step not only to protect consumers and the EcoLogo but to protect the Green movement," says Scott McDougall, President and CEO of the EcoLogo Program. "Certification helped spur the evolution to Green products because buyers learned to trust the designation and know it means products have passed rigorous tests and evaluations in order to be certified."

Preventing a Repeat of History
"When the Green movement first started about 35 years ago, some manufacturers 'self-declared' their products to be Green with little or no evidence to back it up," says McDougall. "Many did so through genuine ignorance, while others did it to take advantage of a hot new trend."

The result was a lot of confusion for consumers. And when some products were later found not to be environmentally preferable, buyers lost trust in the Green movement–one reason McDougall believes it was essentially dormant for
many years.

"It is important that we not repeat the mistakes of the past," he says. "Virtually every industry from automobiles and industrial products to janitorial and office furniture is now seeking Green certification. For this to continue-and grow-consumers must know they can trust the EcoLogo label.

2006 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings - August 13-18

"Less is More: En Route to Zero Energy Buildings"
This ACEEE Conference takes place in Pacific Grove, California. Individuals interested in promoting energy efficiency and on-site generation in buildings through innovative technologies, programs, and policies are encouraged to attend. This includes: representatives from industries and utilities; architects; builders; financial and insurance professionals involved with buildings; manufacturers of building products, appliances and equipment; building owners and operators; engineers; local, state, and federal agency personnel; energy researchers and consultants.

Rethinking Sustainable Construction 2006: Next Generation Green Buildings - Sept. 19-22

Rethinking Sustainable Construction 2006 (RSC06) is the 12th Rinker International Conference and Workshop. This year's conference is in Sarasota, Florida and is hosted by the University of Florida Powell Center for Construction and Environment. RSC06 is being organized to determine the future direction of high-performance green buildings around the world. This conference focuses on the path to green buildings 10 to 50 years into the future and addresses issues facing designers, product manufacturers, builders and policymakers. Attendance is limited and priority will be given to the key stakeholders committed to next-generation green buildings. RSC06 will provide the opportunity for presenting, papers, research, ideas, extensive discussion, and collaboration to define future directions - resulting in a roadmap or summary for use as a planning document.

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