For more than ten years now the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has been transforming the way we build through its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. This transformation has been driven by local, state, and federal government, as well as institutions. However, the past two years have seen an increasing number of private LEED projects; this trend has sparked interest in the return on investment (ROI) of LEED certification.
Third-party verification, the basic concept at the heart of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, is both its greatest strength and its greatest burden. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has long struggled to establish a practical system in which a series of independent verifiers work seamlessly together to achieve building certification.
The U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC's) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program is the nation’s leading standards-based green building program. In 2009 the USGBC released its most recent version of the rating system and embarked upon its latest stage of development.
I had the pleasure of attending the 10th annual National Facilities Management & Technology (NFMT) conference in Baltimore, Md. on March 16th and 17th. It was a great experience to reconnect with colleagues and get a sense for what Facilities Management consultants and professionals are offering and focused on these days. A few topics that grabbed my interest and which I plan to write about are centralized management of emergency egress lighting, bird control, water storage tanks, new technologies in the pavement industry, coordinated campus-wide synchronizing of clocks, diagnostic air metering, variable load air-conditioning systems, and sound-masking.
Tenants want to lease space in green buildings. Expand your design options by finding creative ways to partner with green tenants early on.In the current market, building green is a sound business practice, and it doesn’t have to require spending money on trendy green products. It is feasible to build to LEED certification standards by focusing on a few core building systems. Furthermore, cost and risks can be defrayed if everyone on the project – even the end user – is working toward the same goal, as is exemplified by the DiscoveryGreen building located in Vancouver, B.C., which achieved LEED Platinum certification.
One Step Closer to the Jetsons
In the news this week there has been talk of inanimate objects that can Tweet their status to humans via their Twitter accounts. Included in this array were a house plant that can complain about being under- or over-watered and a pair of shoes that can advertise when they take steps. Entertaining, for sure, but the one category that caught my attention was electric meters that can Tweet data.
On Tuesday of this week, President Obama announced construction plans for the first new U.S. nuclear power plant (actually two new reactors at an existing plant) in almost three decades. Touting the benefits that nuclear power offers to the environment (in particular, fewer carbon emissions as compared to similar-sized coal burning plants), the U.S. government will back $8.33 billion in loans for the reactor additions to the Alvin Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Burke, Georgia. The loans program is run by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and has previously sponsored infrastructure projects concerning wind turbines and cleaner coal burning power plants.
The tragic explosion at the Kleen Energy plant in Middletown, CT on February 7th reminds us that construction is dangerous work. Our sympathies go out to the families of those impacted by this recent accident. The explosion apparently occurred while the crew was purging natural gas lines. A nuance of this story is that this power plant was still under construction and not yet operational. Also, there’s been debate in various blogs and news articles about potential fatigue among the construction crew. Were they under too much pressure to get too much done too quickly?
As the world’s most populated nation, China does things on a massive scale. Apparently not lacking in construction dollars, China has undertaken what’s been labeled the modern world’s most expensive construction project ever: The South–North Water Transfer Project. China is mounting an effort to divert the Yangtze River, the world’s third longest river, from three locations in China’s southern provinces to industrial northern regions where water is becoming very scarce and where pollution and conflicts over water access are rampant. Various articles on the South–North Water Transfer Project estimate a potential cost of approximately $60 billion USD across its three component routes and project completion times that vary by several decades, up to 50 years.
I’d like to kick off my self-labeled “Water Week” with a historical tale about the potential hazards of allowing civil engineers to move rivers around. In grade school, I remember hearing about a big sea in Southern California, the Salton Sea. Its name sounded distinguished and venerable. I always thought it held the non-evaporated water and denizens of some ancient body of ocean water. However, up until 1905, it was a dry depression, an ancient sea bed in the stark desert of southern California between Palm Springs and Yuma, AZ.
In the news Monday were reports of a 6.0 magnitude earthquake near Guatemala City, Guatemala. This follows last Monday’s news of a 7.0 magnitude quake in Haiti, which I wrote about in my last blog. Our first concern for Guatemala might be fear of a tragedy similar to Haiti. After all, 6.0 is almost 7.0, or it’s at least 6/7 or 85% of the strength, right? Fortunately (for the people of Guatemala City), that’s totally wrong in the context of the Richter scale.
As events unfold in Haiti, our Buildipedia.com audience has been watching the news, and in many cases contributing to or assisting directly in the recovery. As the Buildipedia.com facilities and infrastructure person, the story has certainly caught my attention, not only because of the humanitarian aspects, but also because of the role that poor engineering played in creating it.