Green Building News

Green Building News December 2009

December 1, 2009

BuildingGreen Announces 2009 Top-10 Green Building Products

In November, BuildingGreen, LLC, publisher of the GreenSpec® Directory and Environmental Building News™, announced the 2009 Top-10 Green Building Products. This eighth annual award, announced at the U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild Conference in Phoenix, recognizes the most exciting products drawn from recent additions to the GreenSpec Directory and coverage in Environmental Building News.

BuildingGreen’s Top-10 product selections, as in previous years, are drawn from new additions to the company’s GreenSpec product directory. About 200 product listings have been added to the GreenSpec database during the past year. The GreenSpec database includes more than 2,100 product listings.

A major driver of the development of green products continues to be the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® Rating System (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which awards points for the use of certain product types, such as certified wood, or for the energy savings that green products can achieve. In the online version of GreenSpec, users can find products organized by LEED credits as well as by building category and the CSI MasterFormat structure.

The 2009 Top-10 Green Building Products are listed below. More complete descriptions and contact information are provided on the attached pages:


Initiative Introduces Voluntary Rating System for Sustainable Landscapes

In November, the Sustainable Sites Initiative released the nation's first rating system for the design, construction and maintenance of sustainable landscapes, with or without buildings. Sustainable Sites Initiative is an interdisciplinary partnership led by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden. The rating system represents four years of work by dozens of the country's leading sustainability experts, scientists and design professionals, as well as public input from hundreds of individuals and dozens of organizations to create this essential missing link in green design.

The rating system works on a 250-point scale, with levels of achievement for obtaining 40, 50, 60 or 80 percent of available points, recognized with one through four stars, respectively. If prerequisites are met, points are awarded through the 51 credits covering areas such as the use of greenfields, brownfields or greyfields; materials; soils and vegetation; construction and maintenance. These credits can apply to projects ranging from corporate campuses, transportation corridors, public parks and single-family residences. The rating system is part of two new reports issued from the Initiative, The Case for Sustainable Landscapes and Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009.

To test the rating system, the Sustainable Sites Initiative opened a call for pilot projects in conjunction with the release of the rating system. Any type of designed landscape is eligible, so long as the project size is at least 2,000 square feet. The call will remain open until February 15, 2010, and the initiative will work with and oversee the projects during the two-year process.


Quad-Lock Raises the Bar: R-84 and 14² Walls

Quad-Lock Building Systems, Ltd. has released a new insulation product: Extra Panel, developed to promote the fact that the best way to conserve energy is not to use it.

Since buildings are responsible for about half of our total annual energy consumption, it only makes sense to design and build them with a lower appetite for energy in the first place. The new Extra Panel is designed to provide even more insulation value to concrete walls, as high as R-84.

With Extra Panel, builders of ICF homes can magnify the best features of ICF construction by:

  • Increasing the continuous, unbroken layer of insulation surrounding the structure which protects from the elements
  • Optimization of the thermal mass of a concrete wall by placing a thicker layer of insulation on the outside of the concrete wall

Building envelope scientists agree that our old assumptions about how our buildings perform do not work as we move forward into an era where consumption is replaced by conservation.

Both the concept and the application of Extra Panel are simple: The Extra Panel (R-16) is added in one or more layers behind the exterior panel of any standard Quad-Lock ICF wall during construction. Extra Panels are specially molded to integrate with all other Quad-Lock components, but cannot be mistaken for standard panels. Extra Panels are reversible (in all directions) to make installation fast and easy.

Longer Quad-Lock standard ties (or ones extended with Quad-Lock Extender Ties) accommodate the added thickness of the insulation, without sacrificing the cavity width for concrete. This need has created the added bonus of a new addition to the Quad-Lock product offering, a 14² standard tie. (14² nominal cavity when used with two 2¼² Regular Panels). The new 14² tie accommodates both the Extra Panel and a wider range of wall sizes.

The Quad-Lock system has long been noted for its flexibility and adaptability to any design. The Extra Panel is no exception to that principle. Reinforced concrete walls capable of the highest structural loading capacities can be built to yield insulation values ranging from R-22 to R-38, using standard Quad-Lock panels, and from R-38 to R-84 by incorporating the Extra Panel into the wall assembly.

Applications for the Extra Panel are becoming more apparent. For example, the Passivhaus (or Net Zero Energy building) concepts that originated in Germany are gaining popularity world-wide. These structures are built to standards far higher than most building codes in order to consume as little energy as possible for heating, cooling, hot water and lighting. It was the Passivhaus concept that first introduced the idea of “super-insulation” to the building trades. Extra Panel is designed specifically to fit the Passivhaus, or Net Zero Energy building, models. Other parts of the world are now recognizing that higher levels of insulation than previously thought are necessary to combat severe climatic conditions.

Rocky Mountain Institute releases Green Footstep

Rocky Mountain Institute has unveiled Green Footstep, a free online carbon calculator for reducing carbon emissions in building construction and retrofit projects. Other online carbon calculators don't address multiple building emissions over the building lifetime, but the operating costs you are saving over time. Green Footstep shows you the saved carbon.

Green Footstep also shows designers how to comply with specific design goals such as LEED’s energy credits and the 2030 Challenge, the organization that has challenged designers to make all new buildings carbon neutral by 2030. Edward Mazria, founder and executive director of Architecture 2030, says, “Rocky Mountain Institute's Green Footstep is an extremely valuable goal-setting and evaluation tool that will help building designers assess a project's carbon emission impacts with regard to site, construction and operations. Because the 2030 Challenge is integrated into the program, this tool can also help designers in their efforts to meet or exceed the 2030 Challenge targets.”

Michael Bendewald, an analyst with RMI who developed the online version, called Green Footstep a “designer’s tool” that designers can use to make specific design decisions that reduce carbon emissions on residential and commercial new and retrofit building construction projects, from pre-design through occupancy.

It’s also an educational tool that helps users understand a building’s life cycle carbon footprint. “Since we all have bank accounts, allow me to use an accounting metaphor to explain Green Footstep's way of showing a project's carbon emissions,” Bendewald explains. ”The native-state carbon storage of a site, including such things as standing timber and other vegetation that existed before development, is the amount of carbon the owner of the facility ‘owns.’ Any carbon emissions send the owner into a ‘carbon debt.’ In order for a project to be ‘carbon neutral,’ this debt must be paid off and the original amount of carbon – equal in magnitude to the native-state carbon storage – must be restored. Green Footstep allows designers to adjust design targets, such as building energy use intensity and incorporating more renewables, that will get the building out of the carbon debt, edging the building closer to carbon neutrality.”

Green Footstep’s web site provides case studies so users can explore how Green Footstep has allowed past projects to reach their carbon reduction goals. Users can also create a login that allows them to save and reload their own projects as they work on them.

The New Green Economy Conference - Jan. 20-22

Held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) presents the 10th National Conference on Science, Policy, and the Environment: The New Green Economy. The conference will bring together leaders in sustainable business, environmental policymakers, civil society, university faculty, students from across the nation and educated citizens to develop (and publish) recommendations on how to advance science and connect it with policy and decision-making.

More information


4th Carbon Trading Summit - Jan. 25-27

This conference, held in New York, is designed to cover new investment trends and strategies as well as legal and compliance issues facing investors and corporations.

More information

Canadian Institute's 4th Annual BC Power - Jan. 26-27

The BC Power conference will provide an opportunity for discussion and debate about BC’s power supply mix and future opportunities. Topics include: details on transmission inquiry, commercial wind project, latest climate change policy direction from the U.S. and Canada, updates from BC Hydro, address power reliability and demand growth, progress in alternative energies, demand-side management and moving to electric vehicles.

More information

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