Tag Archives: Green building

Why the White House Is Spending Millions to Promote Wood Structures


The Department of Agriculture doesn’t usually meddle in architecture, but this week at an event at the White House, it announced an unusual project: A $1 million competition for high-rise buildings built out of wood—and another million that will go to educating architects about it.

You might remember that President Obama signed a new $956 billion Farm Bill in early February. A big focus of the new bill is “Made in Rural America,” an initiative designed to help rural farmers find and take advantage of economic opportunities. Like, say, helping lumber companies develop and market high-tech wood products to architects who might otherwise spec steel and concrete in taller buildings.

Let’s back up for a second, though: Skyscrapers made from timber?? Is there really a market for wood that can be used in tall buildings? In fact, there is—though it’s very young.

Lighter, Faster, Almost Stronger

In 2009, a nine-story apartment building in London became the tallest all-timber building ever, thanks to a relatively new technology: Prefabricated, cross-laminated wood panels. In simple terms, these panels are made in a factory by stacking up dozens of pieces of natural wood in alternating directions, then pressing them into a single timber beam. The alternating grain directions make the timber super-strong:

And as to fire protection, it turns out that these timber columns could actually be better than steel in a fire. While the panels will burn, they won’t fail catastrophically like steel does when it gets very hot. Timber stays stable for longer because it forms a layer of insulating char when it’s exposed to flame. And while it’s not fireproof, it’s far harder to burn than raw wood, since it’s industrially treated and is rarely left exposed. “In Europe, cross-laminated timber has been around long enough that standards for issues like fire protection and acoustics are being incorporated into building codes,”explained The New York Times in 2012.

But it must be harder to build with, right? Nope. Because they’re lighter and take less work to actually assemble, these panels are way faster to build with. At London’s Stadthaus, a team of four put the first eight floors of structure together in less than a month. The entire building was finished in less than a year.

Clamor for more research into high-rise timber has been growing ever since: Swedish architects C.F. Møller proposed a 34-story timber skyscraper for Stockholm last year. Their design would build a timber apartment building around a concrete core:

And other architects have followed—which brings us back to this week’s event at the White House. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s announcement about the forthcoming design competition at the White House included an appearance by a team of Chicago-based architects from SOM, who have been working on timber high-rise research for a few years now.

SOM’s Timber Tower Research Project is more of a study than a design. It’s a comprehensive structural system that aims even higher than 34 stories—thanks to a combo of timber panels and concrete:

The hybrid system combines the benefits of both systems: The lightness and carbon storage of timber and the strength of concrete, which reinforce the connecting joints. SOM says the system would reduce buildings’ carbon footprints by up to 75 percent, but be strong enough to support buildings over 40 stories.

Can an Old Industry Learn New Tricks?

So American architects are thinking about timber construction. The problem the White House wants to solve is where they’ll get it from. The London tower’s timber was sourced from a company in Austria called KLH, which pioneered the manufacturing of the stuff. But the US government would like that wood to come from the US, not Europe—hence its partnership with WoodWorks, a nonprofit that aims to connect architects with stateside suppliers.

There are plenty of other things standing in the way of timber towers, as The Oregonian explains: Building codes that don’t allow the use of wood in buildings over a certain height, for example, not to mention shifting the longstanding public perception that wood buildings are weaker, more dangerous, and less durable. There’s also been a surge in lobbyists hired by chemical and plastics companies, which are waging a war against LEED and other sustainable building initiatives—which they see as legislation that harms their businesses.

So as President Obama promises to spend billions helping rural America, he’s also looking at the lumber industry—which, from the Federal Government’s perspective, could be growing the next big building material in our own back yard.

Focus On Building Core, Common Areas To Sell Owners On LEED-EBOM In Multi-Tenant Facilities

When starting a LEED-EBOM project in a multi-tenant facility, focusing on the core areas of the building offers opportunities to building owners. First is the obvious monetary benefit to the building owner through things like more efficient lighting in common areas, more water-efficient landscaping and starting the building later and shutting it down earlier, if possible. Second, LEED certification is certainly a nice selling point for a building, especially as sustainability becomes a more regular requirement for companies looking to lease space.

Another benefit is the ability to turn the situation around: If the building is sustainable on its own, then when tenants are looking to do their own LEED projects, the building can help them achieve certification.

“In many instances, we’re finding that our buildings provide upwards of three-quarters of the points necessary for a tenant to reach or achieve a base-level LEED certification for their office space,” says Jay Black, director of sustainability, SL Green.

Black’s team has done base building projects as part of LEED-EBOM initiatives. When SL Green was pursuing Gold certification for one of its buildings in White Plains, N.Y., Heineken USA, one of the building’s major tenants, was looking into renovating its space at about the same time.

“Because of our discussions with them about our pursuit of the LEED certification,” Black says, “we were able to work with them to help offer information as they were redeveloping their space that also convinced them to say, ‘We’re going to go after a LEED certification for our own commercial interior office space.'”

As it turns out, Heineken’s project ended up qualifying for Gold certification itself, in large part due to the extra points earned from the base building being Gold certified.

By: Casey Laughman, Managing Editor: http://www.facilitiesnet.com/

Why the caulking gun (and the thermal imager) are the best weapons in the war against energy waste


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We have said it many times: sealing your house gives you the best bang for your buck. Take a tour of my house with a thermal camera for a real demonstration of what I mean. We’re planning a renovation, downsizing and subdividing our hundred year old Toronto house and don’t want to rip out the plaster and the lovely old windows, but do want to tighten it up a bit. Our contractor, Greening Homes, brought in a Flir thermal camera and the results were shocking. In the photos above, you can see that the single-glazed bathroom window isn’t too dark, 11.9 degrees (all in celsius). But look around the window casing: air is pouring out around it, with some parts of it below freezing. No wonder we get out of that bathroom fast.

Greening homes/CC BY 2.0

It’s often cool in the bay window with the piano; sometimes too cool for my wife to even practice.

Greening Homes/CC BY 2.0

You would think it is coming from the bay windows themselves, and it is true that there is quite a bit of hat loss there,

Greening Homes/CC BY 2.0

But the real killer is at the baseboards, where cold air behind the brick wall falls down the space between the lath and plaster and the floor and spills out there. It’s zero celsius, the freezing point. Inside the house.

greening homes/CC BY 2.0

The insulated steel door is doing a fairly good job of insulating, but look at what is leaking on top of the frame, it is actually blowing upward. That’s why replacing windows and doors is pointless or even counter-productive if the trades don’t do a good job of installing the frame and sealing it properly.

Greening Homes/CC BY 2.0

If this was the ceiling of the top floor, you might expect this kind of leakage around an electrical box. In fact, there is another occupied floor above this. The cold air is travelling from the brick wall at the end, between the joists, and falling through the electrical boxes.

Greening Homes/CC BY 2.0

The electric and cable outlets here might as well just be holes in the wall.

Greening Homes/CC BY 2.0

This is a great shot, you can see the cold air pouring out and oozing down between the floorboards.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Now the wind isn’t normally blowing through our house as if we were in a canvas tent; there is a giant blower putting the whole house under negative pressure. They are trying to figure out how many air changes there are per hour at 50 pascals of pressure differential. They never got there; the house was so leaky that the fan didn’t have enough punch, and it only got to 45 pascals, at which point there were18 air changes per hour.

What’s the point?

A lot of people have been convinced that there is nothing they can do to reduce their energy costs other than gut the joint and insulate everywhere, or change their windows. The fact of the matter is that most of the heat loss is through leakage, and if you can cut that down with effective use of caulk and minor repairs, you can save a bundle with an investment with a payback period that you can measure in months. This exercise with the thermal camera showed that the windows were performing almost as well as the eight inch thick brick walls!

But the biggest shocker for me was the fact that I have been ritually caulking my windows every fall for a decade, but because I didn’t have the camera, I didn’t know that the leaky window trim was a far bigger source of heat loss. If you don’t know where the heat is going, you don’t know what to fix.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

That’s why I thought the Flir One, introduced at CES, was so exciting. I don’t know how renovators and architects lived without these things.

Read more here: http://www.treehugger.com/

The Coppertree Ethos

The Coppertree Ethos

For more than 30 years CopperTree’s parent companies Delta Controls, one of the largest independent Building Automation System manufactures and ESC, one of North America’s largest building system integrators, have been at the forefront of creating SMART buildings.

This heritage means we combine an implicit understanding of the technology that controls buildings with practicalities of maintaining them – so you get a solution that delivers genuine energy savings.

CopperTree works to make a difference to our customers. Everything we do is aimed at enabling you to take control, identify and solve your issues and to help you make the most of your time, budget and your building. By making them easier to manage and eliminating inefficiency, we are doing precisely that.

Want to learn CopperTree_Corporate_Brochure_V3

Do you want to maximize your buildings potential?

Let’s Connect: info@setpointsystems.com

Bumps In The Road To Sustainability: One Hospital’s Story

The future was supposed to be brighter for the Modesto (Calif.) Medical Center. When the 670,000-square-foot complex opened in 2008, it was intended to be a green laboratory for future green-building projects for Kaiser Permanente, the health care organization with more than 600 medical facilities.

So far, the center’s medical facilities and full-service hospital have not quite lived up to expectations.

“One of the most valuable lessons we have learned over the past six years is that just because you are handed over a beautiful, brand-new building, don’t assume that everything is going to run as designed,” says Ed Gonzales, the medical center’s chief engineer. “My team and I have discovered that new isn’t perfect, and that once you figure out how to work out all the bugs, there are always more creeping around.”

Many of the medical center’s issues relate to the ongoing challenge facing most maintenance and engineering managers to push the energy efficiency of institutional and commercial facilities.

“We’ve had issues regarding maintaining efficiency with many of our systems,” Gonzales says. “Energy conservation is now a top priority locally and at a regional level. We’ve discovered that from the original build, there were many systems that were value engineered, which means two things. One, sometimes things look good on paper when in reality, it’s the end user that has to find ways to keep a system running. Two, saving money at the beginning will always cost you more in the end.”

When the medical center opened, it was the organization’s most environmentally responsible facility, boasting a range of energy- and water-saving materials, low-emitting interior products, and design elements aimed at improving the health and well-being of patients and staff.

“It’s really difficult to pinpoint one system that has been the most challenging,” Gonzales says. “However, if I had to choose one, I would have to say maintaining proper humidity levels in our operating rooms. When this building was designed, the designers failed to take into consideration that this style building works great in the San Francisco bay area. But when you take the same template building and place it right in the middle of the Central Valley, where the temperatures can reach upwards of 115-120 (degrees) in the summer, it can be very difficult to maintain the humidity levels.

“One of the reasons is that all of our air handling units are 100 percent outside air. We as a facility team have to get very creative with our building automation system in order to maintain the state-mandated humidity levels.”

By Dan Hounsell, Editor- http://www.facilitiesnet.com/

LEED In Motion Reports Help Support Case For Sustainability

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has released a series of three LEED in Motion reports aimed at equipping green building professionals and advocates with the insight needed to make a strong case for sustainable building activity.

Each of the reports, available exclusively to USGBC members, examines a different facet of LEED’s effects, from its international growth to legislative action promoting green building to the development of innovative new technologies.

The first report, People and Progress, looks at the individuals and organizations that are driving and benefiting from green building. Released in August 2013 and featuring a foreword from Hines President and CEO Jeffrey C. Hines, it revealed that more than 4.3 million people live and work in LEED-certified buildings, while more than 6.2 million people experience a LEED-certified project every day. The report also examines the nearly 13,000 USGBC member organizations, ranging from Fortune 100 corporations to small neighborhood businesses, representing 13 million employees and $1.8 trillion in combined revenue. People and Progress also details the community of more than 186,000 LEED credential holders who are actively applying their specialized knowledge of LEED to advance the green building rating system while adding value to the firms that employ them.

The second report, Places and Policies, was released in October 2013, detailing the global, regional and local growth of LEED and outlining the policies and mechanisms supporting it. Featuring a foreword from Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, the report notes that there are nearly 60,000 LEED green building projects across the globe, spanning 10.6 billion square feet. The report showcases in-depth statistics and graphics on LEED projects and areas of growth, examining domestic and international policies and partnerships that support the framework of LEED and drive global progress. Currently, more than 400 localities have LEED-specific policies in place, and there are nearly 100 green building councils in various stages of development as well as a LEED International Roundtable with members from 30 countries.

The final report, Impacts and Innovation, was released in November 2013 at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Philadelphia. The report details key impact areas and results of the thousands of projects that are utilizing LEED, as well as innovation highlights related to LEED and green building technologies. With a foreword from Bridges to Prosperity Executive Director Avery Bang, the report looks at the impacts of LEED through the lens of both business and human health.

Notably, Impacts and Innovation also features new LEED project energy data, revealing that 450 LEED projects that reported data experienced an energy use intensity (EUI) that was nearly 31 percent lower than the national median source EUI over a 12-month period. Additionally, 404 LEED projects indicated an Energy Star score of 85 in the same period, well above the level required for the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Top Performer” designation.

The green building movement has made tremendous progress in the last 13 years, and the LEED in Motion report series stands as a powerful testament to those achievements. However, rather than being merely celebratory, they also impel action to spur further transformation. As USGBC President, CEO and Founding Chair Rick Fedrizzi notes in his foreword to People and Progress, “Though its end result is better buildings and communities, LEED is really about not settling for a passive status quo, but delivering with intention a built environment that actively partners with us on our health and well-being and our future. It’s about leadership.”

By: Jacob Kriss: http://www.facilitiesnet.com/

Building Information Helps Drive High-Performance Operations

When it comes to high-performance operations, one of the first places to start is with building information. This information can help drive better operations and better building performance.

As demonstrated in a recent energy management study conducted by the NRDC at three buildings owned and operated by The Tower Companies — a real estate development and management firm in Washington, D.C. — those smarter approaches at the core of the BOMI International High-Performance Program (see “BOMI’s High-Performance Program” on this page.) can produce tangible, sustainable results. The study showed how a better-informed building operations team could work together to provide actionable recommendations that optimize energy use.

The initiative, which involved three large, multitenant commercial buildings Tower owns and operates in Washington, D.C., focused on operational improvements — measures that do not require construction, disruption to occupied buildings, or substantial capital investment. The goal was to discover what could be gained by a closer examination of the building automation systems in real time. What resulted, as detailed in a recent case study released by NRDC, was a model for building owners, tenants, efficiency programs, and others to conduct their own energy management initiative.

Two outside firms were brought in to help analyze the buildings’ automated systems, pinpoint problems, and recommend fixes and improvements. Note Phillip Henderson and Meg Waltner, authors of the study, “The three buildings in this case study were high-performing buildings before the energy management initiative began — the buildings had high Energy Star scores and were good facilities.”

In fact, 1707 L Street had an Energy Star score of 71, 1828 L Street had a score of 78, and 1909 K Street had a score of 86 in September 2011. Yet, at the end of the study period, the scores for all three buildings had improved substantially — to 91, 87, and 88, respectively. The fact that these already high-performing buildings realized substantial savings during the initial 12-month study period suggests that even greater gains can be achieved in typical buildings. In fact the buildings have continued maintain and even improve performance as Tower approaches the end of the second year of this initiative.

What the building operations team realized through the analysis and improvements was significant electricity savings: 23 percent in 1707 L Street, 7 percent in 1828 L Street, and 17 percent in 1909 K Street. Electricity use was reduced by 13 percent across all three buildings during the study period. The reduction in electricity expenses averaged $72,901 per building ($218,703 across all three buildings) in 2012.

A key element of the initiative was detecting and correcting operational stray. When a building is well managed, there’s an assumption that stray is not happening. But, as the study revealed, in even the best-managed buildings, building systems stray from optimal; Tower’s initiative showed how better information can minimize stray and reveal it quickly. For example, the review of electricity use in 1909 K Street uncovered an unusual pattern. Both of the building’s chillers were cycling on for a few minutes at a time, then shutting off. The building engineer was alerted and, working together, the team found and corrected faulty variable air volume controls that were signaling the chiller to turn on even though the building management system called for the chiller to remain off. Write Henderson and Waltner, “While this problem might have been discovered eventually without the comprehensive energy-use analysis, it could have continued undetected for months. This delay would have resulted in wasted energy, wear and tear on the building equipment, and possible disruption to tenants when equipment failed.”

At the same time, recommendations were made to implement best practices, such as regularly auditing controls to confirm that the temperature deadband is set at 4 degrees. This means the HVAC system would cool the building to, say, 72 degrees, then remain off until the temperature rose to 76 degrees. A larger deadband allows the HVAC system to remain off while the building is in the “comfort zone,” resulting in energy savings and reduced wear and tear on equipment.

Another important element of Tower’s initiative was creating a detailed alarm service for building systems. Procedures were established to remotely monitor certain system settings, such as chilled water temperature, and to send messages to the building engineer if system conditions were outside defined parameters.

The total cost of the project for the three buildings was $144,320, and the electricity use savings was $218,703. And because the costs in 2012 included the installation of the new systems and procedures, the annual operating cost to achieve those same electricity savings going forward will be significantly lower: $65,520. The assumption that these improvements are expensive to implement was refuted by the study’s conclusion that they can be a profitable venture for the owner or operator.

Article By: David Borchardt

Singapore Takes the Lead In Green Building in Asia

Singapore's Parkroyal on Pickering hotel displays its green credentials in the form of an artfully tiered façade dotted with tropical ferns and creeping vines. Along with an efficient cooling system, its green perks include rainwater harvesting, lighting sensors, and high-performance window glass and hot water pumps. (Photo credit: Patrick Bingham Hall)

Singapore’s Parkroyal on Pickering hotel displays its green credentials in the form of an artfully tiered façade dotted with tropical ferns and creeping vines. Along with an efficient cooling system, its green perks include rainwater harvesting, lighting sensors, and high-performance window glass and hot water pumps. (Photo credit: Patrick Bingham Hall)


Singapore Takes the Lead
In Green Building in Asia

By encouraging the adoption of innovative architectural design and energy-saving technologies, Singapore has emerged as a model of green building in Asia — an important development in a region that is urbanizing more rapidly than any other in the world.

by mike ives

At street level, 313@somerset looks like any other glittering mall in downtown Singapore. But on closer inspection the eight-story building has skylights, solar panels, energy-saving elevators and escalators, highly efficient air-conditioning units, and software that monitors the building’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Across town, a new hotel, Parkroyal on Pickering, displays its green credentials in the form of an artfully tiered façade dotted with tropical ferns and creeping vines. Along with an efficient cooling system,  its green perks include rainwater harvesting, lighting sensors, and high- performance window glass and hot water pumps. Entering the wood-paneled lobby, which has a wall of tropical mosses, a visitor is reminded of a rainforest — no matter that the building lies in the heart of the banking capital of Southeast Asia.

These structures underscore Singapore’s commitment to greening its built environment through generous incentive schemes and a building-rating tool that encourages such improvements as sun-shading exteriors, water-efficient fittings, computer modeling of energy flows and carbon emissions, and highly efficient air conditioning and ventilation systems. Since the rating tool launched in 2005, Singapore’sBuilding and Construction Authority (BCA) has certified 1,534 new buildings and 215 pre-existing ones. Together they account for more than a fifth of gross floor area in this island city-state, which has a population of five million and is roughly half the size of New York City.

“As we become more and more urbanized, we want to make sure our built environment is sustainable,” says John Keung, the BCA’s chief executive.

There is wide agreement among development specialists that promoting green building in Asia has the potential to produce large energy savings and make polluted cities more habitable while partially mitigating the impacts of global warming. The United Nations reports that 40 percent of people in the Asia-Pacific region already live in cities, and by 2050 the figure could reach two thirds. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted that in the coming decades Asian countries will lead increases across the developing world in building-sector emissions from energy use. In China alone, according to the global consultancy McKinsey & Company, the urban population may expand from 572 million in 2005 to 926 million by 2025, requiring the construction of four to five million new buildings.

Against this backdrop, Singapore has emerged as a model of green building for planners and developers across much of the Asia-Pacific region, where poor design reigns and developers have historically seen little incentive to invest in sustainability, according to Asia-based architects and sustainability experts. Singapore’s BCA is now marketing its rating tool,Green Mark, as a brand in Southeast Asia, China, and parts of tropical Africa — even in countries, such as neighboring Malaysia, where local rating tools offer competing certification systems. Some consultants say the rise of Green Mark is a direct challenge to LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, the rating tool of the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED also is expanding in Asia.

In the fight to reduce carbon emissions, the economic boom in Asia underscores the importance — and the limits — of reducing energy use in commercial and residential buildings. Even with Singapore’s aggressive push in the green building sector, non-industrial electricity consumption in Singapore increased by roughly 23 percent between from 2005 to 2011. That growth was due largely to robust economic expansion, with Singapore’s GDP doubling during that time. The government aims to achieve a 35 percent reduction in the energy intensity of its economy by 2030, which — depending on the rate of economic growth — does not necessarily mean the city-state will be using less electricity overall by that date.

The phrase “green building” suggests basic universal characteristics, such as an attention to energy use and attempts to bring a building in tune with its environment. However, it is also a somewhat fluid concept, and certifiers define green buildings differently in Singapore than in the United States or Europe. Notably, Green Mark places a comparatively larger emphasis on installation of technologically intensive cooling units, arguing that reducing energy consumption is essential in a tropical city where air-conditioning represents a large part of electricity demand. But some experts wonder if Singapore’s approach will eventually encourage an unsustainable dependence on air conditioning as an essential design component. Country-specific rating tools under development in Malaysia, Indonesia, and other Southeast Asian countries, they say, may be more effective at promoting vernacular designs that emphasize passive technologies — such as optimization of shading and ventilation — and a sensitivity to a building’s carbon life cycle.

“Ultimately the goal in these tools is to reduce the (environmental) footprint,” says Deo Prasad, a professor of architecture at the University of New South Wales in Australia who has studied sustainable building policies across the Asia-Pacific region. As Green Mark matures, he adds, an open question for Singapore is: “Are you getting hooked into the energy consumption being absolutely necessary for comfort?”

Singapore, which gained independence from Malaysia in 1965, has long styled itself as a “garden city.” The city-state was built on swampland that has few energy resources, and its founding prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, made a point of prioritizing environmental conservation. In 2005, the government extended its hands-on urban development policies to its building sector. The centerpiece of that policy shift was Green Mark, a rating tool modeled partly on LEED guidelines. But unlike LEED, which emerged in the private sector and is based on a flexible set of sustainable design principles, Green Mark was launched by a government agency and designed largely to reduce energy and water consumption.

The BCA markets Green Mark as a win-win for businesses and the environment. A recent study by the government and researchers at the National University of Singapore found that a sample of office buildings designed to meet Green Mark standards shaved about 11.6 percent off total operating expenses on average while boosting a building’s capital value by 2.3 percent. The BCA also reports that while new Green Mark buildings typically cost up to five percent more, most developers recoup their initial investment within seven years through energy savings. It helps that in 2009 the agency pledged 100 million Singapore dollars, or about $80 million, to landlords over five years to pay for efficiency audits and install energy-efficient cooling units, motion sensors, and shading devices.

Singapore-based CapitaLand, Southeast Asia’s largest developer, says investments in green-building technologies have played a central role in reductions since 2008 of 11.7 and 16.1 percent, respectively, in the company’s energy and water consumption, and a 16 percent reduction in its carbon emissions — all for a savings of about $28 million. “Our sustainability objectives are guided by the belief that lowering the environmental footprint of our developments through innovation creates value for our stakeholders,” says Tan Seng Chai, CapitaLand’s group chief corporate officer.

The BCA says it plans to certify 80 percent of the city’s buildings by 2030, and several consultants say the goal is realistic. However, the BCA has struggled to incentivize efficiency upgrades in existing buildings, and Green Mark’s success may slow when its five-year incentive scheme for those buildings ends next year, according to Ng Eng Kiong, president of the Singapore Green Building Council, a consortium of 450 building professionals and suppliers of green products and services.

Mark-certified buildings now exist in Asia and Africa, according to the BCA’s John Keung. Officers at four green building associations across Southeast Asia say Green Mark’s success has partially influenced how they developed their local rating tools. “In Singapore everything is driven by the economy,” Ng says, and a future economic downturn as serious as the 2008 financial crisis could potentially reverse some of Singapore’s green-building gains. The BCA reports that some of the city-state’s older buildings have a lifespan of just 10 to 15 years — a fact that could further deter long-term investments in sustainability.

Energy consultants say Singapore, which sits on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, has lately emerged as a testing ground for ventilation and air-conditioning technologies that Western and Asian manufacturers plan to sell in China and the rest of Asia. Green Mark’s success, the consultants add, is also a boon for some local businesses and an encouraging example for neighboring countries, such as Thailand and Vietnam, that are just beginning to green their building sectors. More than 400 Green Mark-certified buildings now exist in Asia and Africa, according to the BCA’s John Keung. Officers at four green building associations across Southeast Asia say Green Mark’s success has partially influenced how they developed their local rating tools.

However, Green Mark is a system designed exclusively for a prosperous urban metropolis, and it may not be directly applicable in countries with different political systems, environmental conditions, and standards of living, say green-building experts. “So if you have a house made out of bamboo, it may be the greenest house ever, but using that particular rating tool, you can’t get certified,” explains Ar Sarly Adre Sarkum, vice president of the Malaysia Green Building Confederation. With this in mind, a few rating tools have emerged in recent years that attempt to capture country-specific nuances. For example, a new tool in Indonesia pays more attention to a developer’s choice of building materials, many of which are typically sourced from within the country.

Sustainability experts say that for the moment it is too early to tell how these local tools will fare, and their success will depend partly on the degree to which local governments offer related incentives to developers. Muiz Murad, CEO of Green Earth Design Solution, an environmental consultancy in Kuala Lumpur, says that in all likelihood there will be a healthy coexistence, with a few developers choosing to certify through both a local and an outside rating system. Green Mark is currently very popular in Brunei, he adds, but in the rest of the Asia-Pacific region, the international rating tool of choice is LEED. That, he says, is largely because multinational corporations have internal policies that require them to choose LEED.


5 of the Most Important Changes to the LEED Green Building Rating System

Green_Building_Reflection_310_228The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED green building certification has come a long way in more than a decade. Once criticized for lacking in mandatory energy efficiency prerequisites, the latest iteration, version 4, takes energy management one step further.

Greentech Media spoke to Brendan Owens, vice president of LEED technical development, about five updates in LEED v4 that energy geeks will want to know about.

Building level energy metering prerequisite

The new prerequisite calls for each project to measure whole building energy use, and then share that data with USGBC. Metering in and of itself does not provide energy savings, but basic tools that crunch data can provide ongoing visibility that building managers and owners can employ to manage energy use.

“All of these requirements are about ensuring that LEED buildings are operating as well as they are capable of, and that they stay optimized and efficient over the long term,” said Owens.

The best part of the new prerequisite? These days there are plenty of low- and no-cost energy monitoring services to help building owners ensure that buildings are constantly optimized.

Water use prerequisite

Two new prerequisites, for building-level water metering and outdoor water use reduction, will help projects not only get a grip on water consumption, but also save energy over the long term. The water use reduction must hit 30 percent and the water metering data must be shared with USGBC for five years.


Demand response credit

After years of piloting, demand response has graduated to the level of base credit. In its pilot iteration, demand response could be semi- or fully automated as long as it met a 10 percent load-shed requirement. The new credit requires that the demand response system must be capable of being fully automated, but can be operated in a semi-automated way, said Owens.

The new credit also adds a requirement that the demand response process is included in the commissioning scope of a LEED project. The requirement is part of a larger shift in LEED v4 to a focus on integrative design for water and energy use. Buildings that aren’t located in a utility territory with a demand response program can comply with the requirement to have the systems in place and still receive one out of two points.

Planning for demand response during commissioning could possibly mean adding energy storage along with systems that can respond to automated demand response signals, said Mark MacCracken, CEO of energy storage company CALMAC and former USGBC chair.

“The new demand response credit addresses peak electrical load reductions with two methods, namely, temporary and permanent,” said MacCracken. “Permanent methods, like thermal energy storage, make these demand reductions invisible to the occupants by shifting electrical usages permanently to off-peak hours.”


Renewable energy production credit

The renamed credit increases the number of points available for renewable energy, said Owens. Projects can also now claim credit for community renewable energy systems as long as they have a ten-year lease for the energy system and the resource is within the same utility service area as the building.


Advanced energy metering prerequisite

The new prerequisite goes one step further than basic building-level data and requires a permanent metering system that records intervals of one hour or less, and the meter must transmit that data to a remote location.

Article By: Katherine Tweed | Greentechmedia.com

Smart cities: innovation in energy will drive sustainable cities

Urbanisation makes cities a main focus for environmental policy. Digital technology and innovation will enable a better quality of life and reduced energy consumption

The Riverside Museum

The Museum of Transport in Glasgow. The city was awarded £24m funding to implement its future cities programme Photograph: Murdo Macleod

Cities represent three quarters of energy consumption and 80% of CO2 emissions worldwide, and represent the largest of any environmental policy challenge. Urbanisation is only set to increase, cities house half the world’s population today but are set to host three quarters in 2050.

To cope with this continued urban growth we will need to invent new ways to manage cities and make them more effective. The convergence between digital technology and the world of energy, or Energy 3.0, will pave the way for a new ecosystem of services which will enable both a better quality of life and reduced energy consumption.

The pathway to more sustainable cities

Marc Andreessen, co-founder of the first widely used web browser, famously said that “Software is eating the world”. Andreessen’s statement seems truer every day, digital technologies, after revolutionising the information technology sector, are now transforming all economic sectors, including energy. This sector will see increasing numbers of consumers producing their own energy, not only sharing it with one another but also customising it for their own personal use.

Innovations that marry the digital and energy disciplines are widespread, including technology that controls the energy consumption of buildings and interoperable communicating devices – such as temperature and air quality sensors, variable speed drives and robots, as well as smart meters and intensity and colour controlled LED lighting. These are examples of the technology that is changing the way we use energy.

Network Rail is one of the businesses driving forward innovation. Its newly built national centre was awarded a BREEAM excellent rating. The building blends engineering, architecture and technology to incorporate sustainable design features and energy performance metrics. Carbon dashboards have been installed throughout showing energy consumption, raising awareness and putting staff in a position to improve a building’s energy performance.

Extending the Internet of Things to create smart cities

The burgeoning field of smart cities and the Energy 3.0 era will be made possible by two technological breakthroughs, close to root of the concept of “internet of things“: more efficient and miniaturised sensors and networks that interconnect all objects to one another.

Today, the quality of air and water, the movement of people and objects, the changes in weather, the road traffic, the production and consumption of energy, can be measured by sensors, and tracked and interconnected through networks in real time. It is through interconnecting buildings, factories, vehicles, power generation plants, lighting, that cities will be “smart”.

This requires working on open and non-proprietary standards. It means training electricians, heating engineers, construction companies, facility managers, so they are able to connect the relevant equipment together. Being facilitators of energy, electrical distributors play a key role in informing, training installers in the electrical infrastructure, and in the integration of electrical devices and creation of easy-to-install, end-to-end electrical solutions. We are currently at the beginning of this revolution enabling the aggregation of energy production and its consumption, but it’s rapidly gaining momentum.

Empowering people in smart cities

In the same way that the IT revolution has been driven by consumer needs, so too will the energy revolution. As blogs, social networks and video platforms have enabled people to produce information and customise their content, new technologies will make possible energy self-production and customisation of energy usages and consumption.

Smart cities will also enable the use of open data which will create new urban services such as better transport connections, accident risk warnings and home monitoring for part-time and full-time carers. Local councils will have greater responsibility for ensuring the collection and the public availability of this data.

Furthermore, by leveraging this data, businesses will be able to offer personalised services for users, for example smart meter data could permit utilities to offer new tariffs, such as time-of use pricing which will encourage end-users to use energy in off-peak times when it is cheaper.

Cities leading the way

The UK, in common with many countries, understands the importance and benefits of a smarter and more sustainable future, and is investing, where relevant, to help drive the innovations that will enable this.

Last year, the UK government launched a £24m competition for a large-scale demonstrator in its hunt for ideas for a “future city”. Glasgow City Council was awarded the funding earlier this year.

The winning bid outlined how public, private and academic sectors can combine expertise and use cutting-edge technology to enhance day-to-day life in the city. The city’s programme covers several projects including: the creation of an integrated operations centre managing a new futuristic public space CCTV network and roads management systems; greater use of green technology such as white street lighting; and a city dashboard giving real time information on traffic flow, weather alerts, accident and emergency waiting times, rail and bus services and road gritting etc.

Glasgow isn’t the only UK city driving forward a smarter city approach. London boasts well-recognised sustainability innovations and a robust transit system. The city is also home to the Smart Cities research centre housed at Imperial College, which leverages transport, government, business, academic and consumer data in the hope of making the city more efficient and innovative

In the United States, Boston ranked first out of 34 of the most populated US cities in the City Energy Efficiency Scorecard. It was ranked on its policies and other actions to advance energy efficiency, across five policy areas: local government operations; buildings; energy and water utilities; transportation; and the community as a whole. The city of Boston has partnered with companies such as IBM and Schneider Electric to reach its smart city goals.

The urban revolution is already at work, but ultimately innovation will drive advances in technology, expansion of the internet of things and the empowerment of consumers, all of which will result in smarter and more sustainable cities.

Rudy Provoost is president of the Rexel Foundation for a better energy future, chairman of Rexel’s Management Board and author of Energy 3.0