Green Building News

Green Building News May 2007

May 9, 2007

First LEED Platinum Federal Building

photoNREL’s Science & Technology Facility is a 71,000-sq. ft., $22.7-million, state-of-the-art laboratory building located in Golden, CO.

A research facility at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory has been designated as one of the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly places to work in the United States by the U.S. Green Building Council under its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building program. 

The 71,000-sq. ft., $22.7-million, state-of-the-art Science & Technology Facility (S&TF) in Golden is the first federal laboratory building to receive a platinum rating, the highest in the LEED Green Building rating system. Only 28 other buildings in the world have achieved the LEED platinum designation. One of the 28 – the Rocky Mountain Institute – is in Boulder, CO.

LEED is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. It recognizes and measures building performance in five key areas of human and environmental health:  sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

“Our built environment uses 40 percent of the nation’s energy. As the country’s largest energy consumer, it is incumbent upon the federal government to lead by example and use energy as efficiently as possible,” Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner said. “The President’s historic Executive Order requires the government to cut energy intensity by at least 30 percent in less than a decade, promoting energy efficiency as a national priority. Consistent with our emphasis and investment at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, this building is a beacon of how we can combine innovative designs and new building technologies to minimize our carbon footprint and transform the built environment.”

“NREL is leading by example – conserving precious resources and minimizing its environmental footprint,” said NREL Director Dan Arvizu. “As we move forward with the construction of facilities at NREL that have been made possible with additional funding from DOE and Congress in 2007, we will continue to demonstrate how clean energy technologies and practices can reduce energy consumption and environmental impacts.” 

The multi-story building was designed to fit into the gently sloping side of a mesa, where care was taken to minimize disturbing the natural terrain and conserve and manage water resources. Architectural features such as daylighting, evaporative cooling and efficient motors, fans, windows and lighting reduce the building’s energy requirements, saving 41 percent in energy costs. 

NREL staff worked with the architect and construction contractor to make certain that 11 percent of the building materials were from recycled materials and 27 percent of the construction materials were manufactured within 500 miles of the building site. This minimized impact on land and air quality by reducing the amount of waste to landfills and vehicle emissions from transporting materials. 

“Indoor environmental quality and employee health and safety were high priorities,” said Nancy Carlisle, AIA, NREL senior project leader. “The building’s office area is 100 percent day lighted. That glare-free natural lighting coupled with large window views of the outdoors not only saves energy, but decreases eye strain, improves ‘see-ability’ and has been shown to increase productivity.” 

About 55 researchers and support staff work in the S&TF.  The Science & Technology Facility houses some of NREL’s solar and hydrogen energy research and was designed to help accelerate the development and commercialization of promising new energy technologies. It was completed in June 2006. The SmithGroup of Phoenix, AZ, was the design architect. M.A. Mortenson Company of Denver, CO, was the general contractor. 


Awards Honor Achievement in Green Home Building

Fourteen members of NAHB were honored for exemplary green building practices during National Green Building Awards ceremonies on March 25 in conjunction with the ninth annual NAHB National Green Building Conference in St. Louis.

Interest in the awards has surged in the last year, with the number of entries rising threefold, "an indication of explosive growth in green building and that NAHB members are at the forefront of this growth," said Ray Tonjes, chair of the association's Green Building Subcommittee and a green custom builder in Austin, Texas.

Energy efficiency, water and resource conservation, sustainable or recycled products and indoor air quality are increasingly being incorporated into the everyday process of home building, Tonjes said, demonstrating that green building is fast entering the mainstream.

"When a green home doesn't look or feel significantly different from one built using more traditional construction methods, when builders have the tools and resources to build them without significant material or labor cost increases, and when consumers readily accept the finished product, then 'green' has arrived," Tonjes said. "These winners have helped lead the way to market acceptance. They are pioneers."

The exploding market for sustainable, environmentally friendly and recycled building products, along with the greater availability of educational opportunities for builders, has accelerated the public's acceptance of green building, he said. A recent NAHB-McGraw Hill Construction survey found that more than half of the NAHB membership, which is responsible for building more than 80 percent of the homes in the country, expect by the end of this year to be incorporating green practices into the development, design and construction of their homes.

The winners were:

  • Single-Family Custom Home of the Year - The W.H. Hull Company; Bend, OR
  • Single-Family Luxury Home of the Year - Durano Construction; Bernalillo, NM
  • NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines Home of the Year - Stitt Energy Systems; Rogers, AR
  • Single-Family Concept Home of the Year - Sun Mountain Construction; Albuquerque, NM
  • Multifamily Project of the Year - High Point, Mithun; Seattle, WA
  • Land Development Project of the Year - Pringle Creek Community; Salem, OR
  • Green Product Marketing Project of the Year - Arch Wood Protection, Inc.; Smyrna, GA
  • Green Development Marketing Project of the Year - Wonderland Hill Development Company; Lyons, CO
  • Green Home Marketing Project of the Year - Suncadia, CMI Homes, Inc.; Roslyn, WA
  • Green Building Program of the Year - Built Green, Master Builders of King and Snohomish Counties; WA
  • New Green Building Program of the Year - Green Building Council of the Home Builders Association of St. Louis and Eastern Missouri
  • Builder Advocate of the Year - Don Ferrier, Ferrier Custom Homes; Forth Worth, TX
  • Remodeler Advocate of the Year - Carl Seville, Seville Consulting; Atlanta, GA
  • Group Advocate of the Year - Cherokee Investment Partners; Raleigh, NC


AIA Names Top Ten Green Projects

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) have selected the top ten examples of sustainable architecture and green design solutions that protect and enhance the environment. The project descriptions highlight both the design innovations and sustainable strategies, along with the metrics achieved in terms of reduced carbon emissions, reduced energy consumption and improved building functionality.

The 2007 COTE Top Ten Green Projects program celebrates projects that are the result of a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology. They make a positive contribution to their communities, improve comfort for building occupants and reduce environmental impacts through strategies such as reuse of existing structures, connection to transit systems, low-impact and regenerative site development, energy and water conservation, use of sustainable or renewable construction materials and design that improves indoor air quality.

The jury included: David Brems, FAIA, Gillies Stransky Brems Smith PC; Alisdair McGregor, PE, Arup; John Quale, LEED AP, University of Virginia School of Architecture; Traci Rose Rider, LEED AP North Carolina State University; Anne Schopf, AIA, Mahlum Architects and Susan Szenasy, editor-in-chief, Metropolis.

"Both the number of submissions and level of sophistication have increased dramatically since the AIA COTE Top Ten Green Projects program's inception in 1997. This program examines a metrics that address context, transportation, energy, water, light and air and other characteristics," said Kira Gould, Assoc. AIA, chair of the AIA Committee on the Environment. "We are pleased to see design teams getting increasingly comfortable with such metrics, which suggests that performance standards are being effectively integrated into the design intent, rather than being understood as something separate."

The 2007 Top Ten Green Projects are shown below with links to a detailed case study on the AIA Web site.

Artists for Humanity
Boston, MA
Arrowstreet Inc.
Notable Features: LEED Platinum, PV, rainwater collection system for irrigation, passive solar, daylighting, zero refrigerant-based cooling

photoGlobal Ecology Research Center
EHDD Architects
Stanford, CA
Notable Features: salvaged, recycled and certified materials, passive solar, daylighting, sunshading, natural ventilation

photoGovernment Canyon Visitor Center
Lake/Flato Architects
Helotes, TX
Notable Features: natural ventilation, passive solar, daylighting, site integration

photoHawaii Gateway Energy Center
Ferraro Choi and Associates
Kailua-Kona, HI
Notable Features: PV, induced stack ventilation, daylighting, shading, renewable cooling from deep seawater, copper roof acts as the "engine" that triggers a thermo-syphon

photoHeifer International
Polk Stanley Rowland Curzon Porter Architects, Ltd.
Little Rock, AR
Notable Features: Gray water and rainwater collection, energy efficiency, recycled construction waste, low VOC interior

photoSidwell Friends Middle School
Kieran Timberlake Associates
Washington, DC
Notable Features: natural ventilation, daylighting, storm water management, energy efficiency

photoWayne L. Morse U.S. Courthouse
Morphosis & DLR Group
Eugene, OR
Notable Features: efficient cooling, water-saving fixtures, daylighting

photoWhitney Water Purification Facility
Steven Holl Architects
New Haven, CT
Notable Features: site integration, daylighting, fluorescent fixtures, geothermal system

photoWillingboro Master Plan & Public Library
Croxton Collaborative Architects, PC
Willingboro, NJ
Notable Features: conservation of original structural steel frame and concrete foundations, daylighting, gas/bio fuel heater/chiller

photoZ6 House
LivingHomes, Ray Kappe
Santa Monica, CA
Notable Features: natural ventilation, radiant heating system powered solar hot water collector, PV, environmental monitoring system



The Home Depot Introduces Eco Options

The Home Depot has identified more than 2,500 Eco Options products, including all-natural insect repellents, cellulose insulation, front-load washing machines, organic plant food and vegetables in biodegradable pots. Also included are compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, programmable thermostats and certified wood.

Products with the Eco Options label are either eco friendly by definition, such as solar lights that use natural power, or have met certain environmental performance criteria verified by Scientific Certification Systems, an independent standards development and certification company. Eco Options products fall into one of five categories: clean air, water conservation, energy efficiency, healthy home and sustainable forestry. As The Home Depot works with vendors and independent experts, the Eco Options line will be continuously expanded to include additional innovative products that reduce the impact on the environment.

The first Eco Options displays are rolling out now in The Home Depot stores across the country. The launch will capitalize on the growing trend of consumers embracing environmentalism and seeking ways to protect the environment.

The Company also is working to reduce its own impact on the environment. To save energy in its stores, The Home Depot has begun the process of replacing the incandescent bulbs in its Lighting department displays with CFL bulbs. The bulb replacement is under way at 200 The Home Depot stores and will be expanded to others throughout the year. Also, The Home Depot has an agreement with The Conservation Fund to offset all carbon emissions created by the Company's Atlanta headquarters and a portion of emissions created by associates commuting to work there and traveling on business. The Home Depot will fund the planting of thousands of trees across metro Atlanta as part of The Conservation Fund's Go Zero program.


EEBA Legacy Awards

In recognition of the 25th Anniversary of EEBA’s Excellence in Building Conference & EXPO, the organization will honor the 25 individuals, products, technologies and programs that have helped to “champion” better building performance.

Nominations are accepted within the following criteria:

  1. The Awards will recognize the 25 most significant contributions made to the promotion and development of building performance as it relates to the science of new home construction.
  2. Recognition will be based on contributions made from 1982-2007.
  3. Categories will include, but not be limited to the following: design, product, application, testing, technology, education, awareness, health, safety, research, publications and legislation.
  4. Decision of the judges will be final.
  5. Awards will be presented at the EEBA Breakfast Reception, October 10, 2007 as part of the Excellence in Building Conference.

Deadline for nomination: June 1, 2007. Nomination Form


Bank Plans Green Products

Bank of America currently is developing a set of products for individuals who consider the environmental impact of their purchasing decisions and want to offset or minimize their carbon emissions. The bank will announce the launch of the following new products in the next year:

  • Eco-friendly Credit Card: For every dollar spent on this new card, Bank of America will make a contribution to an environmental organization to invest in greenhouse gas reduction projects. These cards, available later this year, will have environmentally friendly incentives and features.
  • WorldPoints Rewards for the Environment: Existing cardholders may donate their WorldPoints rewards to organizations that invest in greenhouse gas reductions or redeem them for environmentally friendly merchandise.
  • The Green Mortgage Program: Homebuyers will receive a reduced interest rate or $1,000 back for each home-purchase mortgage meeting ENERGY STAR® specifications.
  • Environmental Home Equity Program: For customers who use their home equity line of credit's Visa Access Card, Bank of America will make an annual donation to a non-profit organization that focuses on environmental conservation. At launch, donations will be directed to Conservation International for land conservation and carbon sequestration. Additional non-profit organizations may be added to the program over time.
  • Timberland Investment Solutions: Bank of America is evaluating proprietary investment management solutions that incorporate forest conservation principles consistent with those defined by the Forest Stewardship Council. Reforestation, wildlife management, responsible development and the support of carbon sequestration ecosystems are important attributes that will be considered. Bank of America intends to commit its own capital to promote "green" investment solutions for its clients.

In addition, Bank of America will further promote its existing product:

  • EPA SmartWay Transport Program: Under a partnership between the Environmental Protection Agency and the freight industry, the bank provides Small Business Administration SBA Express loans with no collateral and flexible terms to small and mid-sized trucking companies to finance fuel efficient technologies. The loan program helps trucking companies purchase SmartWay Upgrade Kits that include idle-reduction devices, low-rolling resistance tires, aerodynamic equipment and exhaust after-treatment devices. The kits can improve fuel efficiency by 15 percent.

Cutting Demand and Energy Costs for Cooling Homes
New in the Oikos Library:

The NightBreeze system integrates heating, ventilation cooling and air conditioning and provides fresh-air ventilation for maintaining indoor air quality. The system circulates cool nighttime air through a home to remove the heat stored during daytime hours in the home’s thermal mass. By precooling this mass during off-peak hours, comfortable temperatures can be maintained throughout the day with little or no need for conventional air-conditioning equipment. Read the article.

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