Archive for LEED

Storm Water

It is ironic that when water becomes scarce, we start to look at rainwater and say, why are we letting this run off and be wasted. In some locations, like Bermuda, those limestone white roofs are more than just pretty, they help to clean the rainwater so that it can be stored in cisterns. In other words, waste not want not.

Storm Water

In many parts of this country, people are required to have paved driveways and storm water systems that force the water to run off into streams and lakes. Talk about misguided uses of resources.

Finally, California has decided to change this. Of course, this is not the first time that storm water systems have been rethought. LEED projects give credit for designing systems that capture storm water (and have for many years). Cities around the country are working to change the concept of waste water into a concept of valuable resource.

Storm water should indeed be captured, cleaned and allowed to recharge aquifers as well as be captured and used in rain barrels and cisterns.

Better late than never…

Read the full article:
Storm Water, Long a Nuisance, May Be a Parched California’s Salvation
Limited free access; NY Times subscription may be required.

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Formaldehyde in Cheap Laminate Flooring

You get what you pay for!! This old adage appears to be proven yet again based on the problems that some homeowners are experiencing with cheap laminate flooring.

cheap-laminate-flooringWhen working on a LEED certified building, we take great pains to eliminate off gassing of formaldehyde and other VOC’s. That is one of the core requirements of building a sustainable building.

Even more interesting is that we need to think about this at all. Again, European countries have faced this problem and based on the stricture of safety first, strongly restricted the use of adhesives containing formaldehyde and other VOC’s.

Sustainability is about thinking things through before you work with them. It is about using items that are proven safe…not waiting that they be proven harmful.

There are many flooring options that could prevent this problem…among them good old fashioned linoleum…now called Marmoleum, real wood, cork etc.

They may cost a bit more up front, but they are safer.

Read the full article:
Homeowners Try to Assess Risks From Chemical in Floors
Limited free access; NY Times subscription may be required.

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Natural Lighting

It is rather amazing to me that we need a study to verify that natural light makes people “happier, healthier and more productive”. Nonetheless, the Wall Street Journal article on natural lighting products remakes what is of course a logical conclusion.

natural-light-office

This article raises two very interesting points that I have had to deal with on a number of LEED certified projects and plans. Specifically, that we cannot make a cost payback argument for using products that enhance natural daylight and notwithstanding this fact, it makes sense to invest in natural daylight.

The dilemma is really one of the value engineering problem. There is nothing wrong with looking at and containing costs in any project. The problem arises when we look only at dollars as a cost rather than the holistic value of the people in the building and how certain things, like natural light, have values that may not be quantifiable, but still have significant value.

The good news that I see in this article is that companies are fighting for market share and that forward thinking companies see a value in having their workers “…working in the most natural environment they can.”

Read the full article:
Finally: Sunlight in the Office Cubicle

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Green Infrastructure, Reduce the load on Sewer Systems

UPDATE 03/13/2015: The state has issued final permits to deal with the ongoing pollution problems from hundreds of sewer systems that filter raw sewage into the Hudson, Passaic, and Delaware rivers, as well as other waterways, during times of heavy rain. Read about it here.

CSO’s have been a problem for nearly a century. The recent order to start dealing with this issue in our older urban areas is a better late than never story. When I was a commissioner on the Interstate Environmental Commission, we made very small improvements in combating this problem.

The excuse was always that it would cost too much. What that really means is that no one wanted to make the users of the system pay the real cost of the system because it was politically painful.

Finally, we are moving forward…albeit slowly.

The most interesting thing is that some of the tenants of LEED and general green building ideas are now being touted as low cost methods of reducing storm water runoff. What an idea….don’t create the run off in the first place and it is easier to deal with.

polluted-water-overflow-from-sewage

A good start.

Read the full article:
Forum aims to help towns tackle cost of N.J.’s new rules on sewage dumping

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