Tag 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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LEED and Lighting Design

Mr. Chow has written an excellent article on lighting design that anyone, whether interested in LEED or just good lighting should read as a primer. I have seen lighting considered as an afterthought on far too many projects.

Either people don’t want to spend the money on good quality lighting, or they do not receive accurate and proper guidance from their architect or contractor. In either event, I see locations that are either too bright and have glare, or end up cave like in both quality and quantity of light.

The good news is that lighting has come a long way over the years. In just the past 10 years we have gone from T-8 to T-5 fluorescent lighting with CRI’s of over 90 to now being at the point where I will not even recommend fluorescent lighting…only LED.

LED-lighting

Besides energy savings, LED’s have excellent life cycle cost benefits with regard to maintenance and end of life disposal. They are not hazardous like fluorescent bulbs…the one point Mr. Chow leaves out.

Mr. Chow’s observations on CRI and lumens, as well as his observations on sensors is right on the money.

Read the full article:
Lighting system design

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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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Healthy Building Syndrome

In the July – August edition of Greenbuild, the focus was on whether or not green buildings, specifically, LEED certified buildings are in fact healthier than non-LEED buildings. Intuitively, one would think that this must be the case.

The problem with most claims is that they have to be supported by data. As noted in one article, Fox News ran a headline that stated “Green Buildings, Hazardous to your Health?” Unfortunately, what Fox did was look at weatherization and sealing up of buildings as the limitation on what green means.

Of course, this is a gross misstatement with regard to what a green building actually means. Green buildings are not just energy efficient. Green buildings look at the entire spectrum of the building and all aspects of the building’s operation.

Green Building Fresh AirIndeed, in most of the LEED ratings systems, Indoor Environmental Quality is a major component of the building scoring system. People are encouraged to healthy and environmentally safe finishes and to think about the building as a breathing entity.

As a breathing entity, fresh air is critical. That is what makes the Fox News story nonsense. A super efficient building can still have a significant amount of fresh air pumped through it without losing energy. In other words, the building systems are looked at as they relate to one another.

The key here is that data on whether or not people do better with healthy indoor air is a bit harder to quantify. It is easy to say a building has sick building syndrome…more people out, more sick days, respiratory complaints.

But, when a building is healthy, it can be harder to say that people work or learn better, are healthier, etc. There are some studies that support the positive, and as I stated initially, intuition, or common sense would support this.

Unfortunately, the naysayers and luddites that support building as usual will take little facts and create big stories that have little bearing on reality.

My vote is for a healthier building.

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