Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Green retrofits to surge in 2012

Jerry Yudelson is CEO of Yudelson Associates and a LEED fellow, and is considered a leader in sustainability planning and green building consulting. He recently issued his Top 10 trend predictions for 2012:
1. Despite the economic climate, the drying up of federal funds and construction projects, and the slump in the construction sector, green retrofits and construction will surge in 2012. 20% of new construction in 2011 was erected with LEED guidelines, and LEED project registrations were up 40% over 2010. That trend will continue.
2. The administration is committed to bolstering the greening effort, with mandates that all new federal construction projects meet a Gold certification at the minimum.
3. The green building industry has increased its attention to existing buildings, and LEED-EBOM (LEED-Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance) is one of the fastest-growing certifications. Cumulative square footage of exisiting-space green retrofits now exceeds that of new construction, and this trend will accelerate in 2012. Investors, developers, landlords and facilities managers are discovering the increased value of "greened" real estate assets over conventionally built ones, and higher lease prices and rents confirm the increased attractiveness of the ROI to retrofit older buildings.
4. Big efforts in research, design, engineering will lead to increased sensitivity to water management. Collection, use and water disposal technologies and good practice guidelines are developing all over the world, and big strides are to be expected in this area in the upcoming years.
5. The global green movement is spreading fast, with 131 of the world's 196 countries engaged in one or more LEED-based construction projects, and 90 countries having established green incentive programs and/or Green Building Councils of their own. In 2011, LEED-based programs outside the United States nearly exceeded the volume of those conducted inside our borders, growing by more than 40% over 2010.
6. The trend towards Zero-net-energy building development will strengthen, as LEED and Energy Star certifications are no longer sufficient to sustain a competitive advantage in the real estate market.
7. Building Performance Disclosures are the fastest growing trend, as highlighted by the emergence of local regulations (Seattle, California), as well as governmental mandates, such as in Australia, regulations requiring full performance reports be made available to buyers, tenants, and the public at large.
8. Building Information Management (BIM) technologies, automation, electronic controls, wireless communication will continue to develop, particularly in "the Cloud".
9. Yudelson sees at least 20 new cities developing green building mandates, with the goals of reducing carbon emission and footprint specified in an increasing number of programs. Designers and builders are more than ever required to factor in these requirements in their designs and proposals.
10. Solar and wind power will continue to grow. The phasing out of federal grants and loan guarantees will probably result in fewer large "farming" programs, but third party investors may provide the capital necessary to develop systems on the roofs of  commercial buildings and warehouses. Smaller scale programs are developing and the price point is dropping, so individual or small-community solutions will continue to develop (witness for instance the under $7,000.00 wind tunnel offered by Sauer Technologies, putting electricity generation within the reach of the average homeowner).
In summary: the green "car" is on the road, and is picking up speed. 2012 will be a year of increased public acceptance of and even requirement for more efficient buildings. Designers and builders will increase their capabilities and resources dedicated to green issues. Governments and developers will mandate more green specifications, and tenants require efficiencies to be measured and disclosed. While the main leaders are still governmental agencies and corporations, the general public is becoming more aware of sustainability issues, and there will be a "trickle down" to small communities, businesses and even family dwellings in the years to come.



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Trending: don't demolish, deconstruct!

Over 270,000 houses are demolished each year in the United States, resulting in for example over 1 billion board feet of lumber added to dumps and landfill. According to the Deconstruction Institute, it would be possible to build a wall 30 feet high and 30 feet wide all around the continental United States with all the debris of these demolished buildings!
A concept gaining momentum: rather than demolish and cart the debris off to a landfill, why not invest in a deconstrution, salvage and reuse program?
Deconstruction is a longer and more labor-intensive process, so it will cost more. However, one will save on landfill charges, possibly obtain tax rebates either through a municipal or state program (check your local tax codes) or by deduction via donation (Habitat, for instance), save by re-using certain materials in the new construction, and possibly generate some income through sales (like old kitchen cabinets, molding trim, doors, etc).
Although the movement is not new, it is still small and underdeveloped, although gaining momentum. Some localities have embraced the concept and make it attractive for owners to pursue this route, others are lagging and regulations and costs still make it more attractive to dump; this will evolve over time.
Beyond the environmental benefits, there are social gains as well: the industry is in growth mode, adding not only construction laborer jobs, but green collar jobs as well, those involved in the collection, processing and redistribution of these recycled materials; a trend to watch!


Monday, December 12, 2011

Accoya Wood Performs Well in 5-Year Tests

The link is to an article in Woodworking Network that describes the very positive results testers obtained in comparing a technologically-modified wood to either untreated or chemically treated lumber species. In all cases, this new wood surpassed the others in durability and resistance to decay and rot.

Accoya is a technologically modifed wood, engineered and produced by Accsys Technologies.
There are traditionally two major concerns with wood as a building material:
-dimensional stability
Wood is characterized by an abundance of chemical groups called free hydroxyls. These absorb and release water according to the environmental conditions they are exposed to, and this causes dimensional variations. Further, the free hydroxyls are where breakdown by enzymes begins the process of decay and rot, not to mention attack by organisms seeking food.
A process called acetylation changes these free hydroxyl groups into acetyl groups, which are far more impervious to variation in water content, hence are much more dimensionally stable. This acetylation process uses a naturally-occurring compound called acetic anhydride, which comes from acetic acid (vinegar in its liquid form). In addition, these acetyl groups are not digestible, hence are invisible" to enzymes and other organisms, so resistance to decay is multiplied.
As a result, acetylzed woods offer the following performance characteristics:
-Dimensional stability:
 -Swelling and shrinkage are reduced by 75% or more;
 -Manufactured elements (such as doors and windows) function better and experience longer life;
 -Finishes have longer lives (less prone to cracking or crazing)
-Improved coating abilities: -Easier to coat: less preparation and sanding required;
 -Less grain-raising;
 -Greater UV resistance.
-Machineability: -A more homogenous material machines well;
 -Improved tolerances for parts and components.
-Sustainability: -Uses sustainably-sourced woods, and regionally produced certified species;
 -The acetylation process is environmentally friendly, does not rely on toxic chemical compounds to improve the durability of the timbers;
 -Acetylated woods can obtain guarantees of up to 50 years in an outdoor usage, 25 years for in-ground uses; this exceeds the performance of traditional chemically-treated lumbers.
 -Scraps and sawdust can be recycled or put to further uses, which is not always the case for chemically-treated woods;
 -Because locally-grown timbers can achieve and exceed the durability of exotics, costs of remote-area logging, transportation to ports and intercontinental shipping can be curtailed.
In summary, for architects, builders, manufacturers and end-users, consideration of acetylzed woods can alleviate concerns of environmental and/or performance compromises when compared to other building materials.
For further reading about acetylzed woods, the acetylation process, and Accoya, see www.acoya.com

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Our vision and mission for this blog

Ah, the thrill of launching into a new venture!
Welcome, readers, to Stephen & Carolyn's new blog page.
This blog is, as its name states, about Green/Design/Works. Each word contains a subset of concepts we will endeavor to promulgate throughout the life of this blog.
Green:Green is fast becoming a primary driver for 21st century living.
Issues of sustainablity, footprint, renewability, community, local-sourcing, all of course come immediately to mind when one encounters the word "green" these days. However, we take a more holistic view of green, one that also involves a person's choices regarding lifestyle, physical and mental health, relationships, spiritual as well as material pursuits, community inclusion and participation, ethics. Green is a mindset.
Design:Design is what we're about, what we do and strive to do well. This effort is not only individual, and this page is far from being limited to the showcasing of our ideas. If there is one resource that is inexhaustible in our world, it is the creativity of its inhabitants. There is no limit to the power of imagination, and we propose to be a vehicle, a forum for the creative expression of responsive solutions to people's needs. Ideas, people, trends, technologies: we desire to become a sounding board for innovative concepts that will serve our neighbors and the globe.
Works:Works involves the venues of creative green design. Individuals, associations, companies, products: any and all entities and things that contribute to the physical, psychological and environmental well-being of our readers and the diverse communities they belong to deserve highlighting here.
We hope to provide stimulating content to you, dear readers, content that will give you ideas, food for thought, inspire you, engage you. We look forward to a stimulating and rewarding relationship with all of you, who like us seek new paradigms for living responsibly in our changing 21st century landscape. So, welcome, and enjoy; we're here to serve you, and look forward to your comments and suggestions as to how we can do this in a way that focuses on your needs and aspirations. Thank you!