In April 2009 the U.S. Green Building Council launched LEED v3. Prior to this upgrade, any professional seeking to achieve LEED AP status had a choice of only three exam tracks: 1.) New Construction; 2.) Commercial Interiors; or 3.) Existing Buildings. Upon successful completion of the accreditation exam, you received a single encompassing designation (more…)
The Department of Energy has just completed the nation’s largest Net-Zero Energy Building. The 220,000 SF Research Support Facility (RSF) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado will hold 800 employees when it officially opens in August along with its Net-Zero and LEED Platinum status.
Achieving the essence of a Net-Zero building the RSF will produce as much energy as is consumed by the building. This was done through an integrated design approach led by passive design strategies which targeted a 25,000 BTUs/SF/year energy budget, about 50% less than a typical office. Natural day lighting and ventilation along with a 3-layer pre-cast exterior wall system serving as a thermal mass lead the conservation strategies. Other methods include radiant floor heating/cooling, electrochromic windows on the West façade which change tint in direct sunlight (more…)
Today I am going to highlight a bunch of interesting articles that have come out lately which interest me. Some of these will become future posts, but I want to highlight them as they come out to keep my readers up to date, and give you something to read in your spare time.
The Northland Pines LEED appeal (a complete history is available here) and the Deepwater Horizon spill illustrate an inherent problem in any regulatory system–there will always be people who are looking to avoid regulation and commit fraud, and there will always be regulators looking to protect the status quo of regulations.
Many people have called for the abandonment, execution and other stringing up of the LEED system because there are flaws, perhaps including the ones identified in the Northland Pines appeal. Just in the past few weeks, in addition to Northland Pines, we have seen criticism of the USGBC for its wood credits and its alleged failure to take into consideration human health issues. Frank Gehry, from his vaunted position as one of the world’s most famous architects, has fired his own shots at the LEED system, saying:
Greening America’s Capitals is a project of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities between EPA, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to help state capitals develop an implementable vision of distinctive, environmentally friendly neighborhoods that incorporate innovative green building and green infrastructure strategies. This program will assist three to four communities per year, with the first projects beginning in the fall of 2010. (more…)
In the past few weeks, the Northland Pines Third Party LEED challenge has exploded, the Washington Building Industry Association sued the State of Washington to enjoin their energy code from taking effect, and a private lawsuit which could potentially turn into green litigation emerged onto the scene. In other words, the wave of green litigation which I first predicted back in 2007 has arrived. (more…)
Last week, I posted about why the case, Gidumal v. Site 16/17 Development LLC was not green litigation. In short, the case incorporates allegations regarding the green components of the project as support for its regular construction claims, not for failure to acheive green requirements. It got me to thinking–what would legitimate claims regarding green construction defects look like? To some extent, it depends on who the parties are and what damages they are looking to require. (more…)
My good friend and savvy LEED litigation sleuth Steve Del Percio uncovered a case filed in New York that involves, among other things, an allegation of failure of the heating system to perform properly. The luxury condominium building, at One and Two River Terrace in Manhattan was advertised as LEED Gold. The complaint alleges that an energy audit conducted by the plaintiffs revealed a deviation of “49% over the USGC LEED and BPCA standards in the cumulative size of holes and cracks allowing infiltration of cold air.” (more…)
The practice of “commissioning,” in which an engineer monitors the efficiency of a building from its design through its initial operation, just may be the most effective strategy for reducing long-term energy usage, costs, and greenhouse gas emissions from buildings. So why is it so seldom used?
In a different world, it could be a reality television show — “Buildings On Trial,” with a street-savvy engineer going into skyscrapers, factories, offices and other commercial buildings to find the dumb mistakes that make them waste energy and produce a disproportionate share of the nation’s global warming emissions.
And in almost every case, even new buildings proudly displaying a LEED “green building” plaque by the front door, the engineer would come back out with a list of energy hog culprits: Here’s the ventilation system fan installed backwards, so it blows full force into another fan blowing in the right direction. Here’s the control system set up so heating and cooling systems both work at once, like driving with your feet on the brakes and the accelerator at the same time. Here are the stuck dampers that prevent the building from drawing on outside air when the temperature is right.