Monday, March 16, 2009

Building to Maintain and Sustain: LLA Preconference

The first speaker was James Evans, LEED certified Architect who currently works for NASA. He spoke about LEED certification and the LEED process in general. LEED is a program of the USGBC to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, economically viable, and healthy for their occupants. The official definition of LEED is : Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – a leading edge system for certifying design, construction and operations of buildings around the world.

Buildings are judged on site planning, water management, energy management, material use, indoor environmental air quality, innovation and design process. There is a triple bottom line:
Environment, Economics, People.

The USGBC is now working with code officials to encourage adoption of the standards. Orange County FL has gone even further and now puts LEED certified buildings to top of the list for reviews and inspections.

The certification is on a point system and includes the following:
  • Sustainable sites: includes erosion, light pollution, transportation, etc.
  • Water use: landscaping, innovative wastewater management, etc.
  • Energy: performance measure, documenting cost impacts, etc.
  • Materials and resources: construction waste management, sustainable cleaning products, occupant recycling, use of alternative materials []
  • Indoor environment quality: outside air exhaust, CO2 levels, thermal comfort, controllability of systems, daylighting and views, green cleaning materials, etc.
  • Additional points can be earned for innovations.

There are four levels of LEED certification (from highest to lowest): platinum, gold, silver, certified

LEED buildings have an average savings: energy 30%; carbon 35%; water use 30-50%; waste cost 50-90%.

It is simple to go online to register and complete the checklist. The certification process is completely online.

A study of California LEED buildings as done over the past 10 years; it included 33 diverse buildings. The study found that the increased cost for LEED requirements was 1.8%; five buildings had no increased cost. Green improvements, on the average, pay for themselves in 3 years. What was once a trend, now is the mainstream. The ROI (return on investment) is 25-40%. By LEED level the added construction cost were: platinum 6.8%, gold 2.2%, silver 1.9%, certified 0.66%.

Result is an improved bottom line: 30-70% energy savings, verified performance, increased value, reduced liability & improved risk management and enhanced productivity.

Mr. Evans then presented several case studies. He noted that he has been working with Chevron on building in Covington which is gold certified. In 2006, nationwide, there were 4,500 registered projects of which 610 certified. Now there are 10,000 + new construction projects registered and over 1700 certified. This is not just a US, Dubai requires all new buildings to be at least silver, and many European countries are the same.

Other groups standards are involved. ASHRAE Standard 189 and 90.1 both apply. They also work with AIA and IESNA, and are starting to work with BOMA (building operators)

The reference guide which people study to be certified as a LEED AP is about 250 – 300 pages. As of April 1, 2009 there is a new testing process with different test for different fields.

Denelle Wrightson, Director of Library architecture at PSA-Dewberry in Dallas, was the second speaker. She is both a librarian, and interior designer. Her topic was “Green initiative which you can do in your building.” She noted that even if not going for certification, most libraries are adopting aspects of green. She spoke about several topics.

Site selection. Need not only location, but orientation and paying attention to both the east/west axis and the north/south access. Here want to shade from the hot summer sun. Here, can do an overhang, and need to pay attention to the deep overhang since gathering “solar gain” is not as important as in the north. Want north-facing diffuse light, but need to also pay attention to late afternoon sun. East and west are harder and can be done inside. Outside needs to be movable. Pay particular attention to west light. Also pay attention to new technology which can control light. Another part is transportation. Can get points by location on a public transportation route. In EBR working with transit to re-route buses so that they go past the site. With transportation, can do less paving and parking (get points on the paving, save money on the parking). In densely populated can do adaptive re-use. North Garland Texas renovated an existing site at $20/square foot. For South Garland, used former supermarket, and cost was $80 sq foot (plus $15 for furniture).

Pedestrian friendly: Points for bicycle storage and shower for staff. Project in Virginia came in 20% below year ago bid even after adding LEED. Parking for high efficiency vehicles (Smartcar, Prius). Landscape with xeriscape which is an ongoing cost saving. Green roofs – reduce heat island effect, long life-span, reduce water run-off, $10-15 sq foot higher initial cost. Rainwater harvesting systems collect excess water from rain and use it for irrigation, toilet flushing, etc. Can range in cost $50,000 – 600,000.

Porous pavement and paving systems: “Grass-crete” is popular and saves on water run-off issues with minor cost impact.

Energy: 70% of electricity is used in office buildings (including public buildings). Solar panels have been around a while, but payback is still a long time (20+ years). Initial costs are still too high. Wind harvesting is being talked about, but we are not in a good zone, need a consistent 4 mph constant wind.

Geothermal is increasing. It can be used for both heating and cooling. Significant savings, up to 70%. Paybacks are also shortening. For a 50,000 square foot building in Tulsa cost is $500,000 – 600,000 but with a payback of 3 – 4 years.

Daylighting is the practice of using natural light to illuminate building spaces. People are drawn to natural light, and it is healthier. There are new technologies including LED lights that fit in fluorescent fixtures with a ballast change. Daylight helps people to be able to “read” the space.

Daylight harvesting. Low-e glass is good in the south; it lets in a portion of the light, but reflects the solar gain. With lighting, most foot-candle measurements are at table height, but in the stacks it is important to get floor level measurements. It is possible to have 35 foot-candles at the top of the stack, but as low as 6 for the bottom shelf. Pay attention to color and how it will reflect or absorb light. Need a brightness ratio.

Maintenance people always say to not use skylights. However, they can be done well. Tubular skylights can work well, or you can use technology and have vanes to reflect. Clerestory windows are a good way to bring in natural light, but need to pay attention. Use light shelves to reflect the light in.

Computer models can allow for estimates, and to see if you are doing the right treatments in the right areas.

Use technology to balance artificial and natural light. Use sensors to turn on lights, and gradually turn them on. Occupancy sensors can help save electricity.

Recycling is important. While we may use it in the library, we have the opportunity to educate the community on the importance and value of recycling. Can used re-cycled materials. Carpet can be recycled, and companies that sell new carpeting often will take the old. The cost of recycled materials is coming down. For many libraries it is possible to certify with the only cost that of registration. Often there is very little added cost for “Silver LEED.” Timberglen Branch Library in Dallas has an interactive kiosk which lets the public see what is happening with the various building systems.

About 70% of the libraries are doing the certification process. The biggest cost is the cost of the consultant to prepare the documents for certification. But the cost is going down; current cost is about $20 – 30,000. There are grants to help cover the cost of certification. Most grants are state-wide initiatives, and there are none in Louisiana.

Maureen Arndt spoke on Going Green through re-design. She is an architect and interior designer. She started by asking the question: “Green—why?” The answer is rising utility bills, the fact that there are stimulus funds tied to green, and libraries have less funds for additional staff.

Recycling – recycle during the building project and beyond. Coca-Cola has a grant program to start a recycling program. Closed loop recycling is the process of using a re-cycled product in the manufacture of a similar product of remanufacturing for the same product. Post-consumer is using recycled material. Post-industrial content is waste material from the manufacturing process that is reused. Re-purposing is cleaning or refurbishing something for a different use.

She then discussed some specific interior features and handed around samples of several of them:

  • Floors – green issues include: Where does the raw material come from? How much transportation is needed? What is used in the manufacturing process? How is it packaged? How hard is it to use? How hard is it to recycle? With carpeting, look for companies that will take your carpet back. Now, 5 billion pounds of carpeting winds up in landfills. VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are in some carpet products or adhesives. Look for a label. “Walk off carpet” is where people walk before you get into the main part of the building. Benefits of carpet include improved acoustics, capturing dust, reduction in airborne particulates, is recycled and recyclable. Color has improved in recycled carpet. What’s next? Polyactic acid made from corn. Cork is durable and is quiet. Much is dyed, so watch for fading from the sun. Not good for places with moisture. Needs a backing to help it stay flat. Bamboo has become really popular. It grows really fast, installs like hardwood floor. Grows naturally, and does not need pesticides. Use natural colors, and heated it can dent. Linoleum is an old material which has see a resurgence. Made from linseed oil (a natural product). Easy to care for. Stained concrete is louder, but be sure to specify non-acidic, water-borne stains. Have to seal it (at least every couple years), and have to clean it often.
  • Walls: paint – Harmony paint, low VOC, inhibits mildew growth, durable. Recycled wall covering, 20% recycled, 10% post consumer. Vinyl wall covering is a moisture barrier. Low VOC but need to spec adhesive. Recycled acrylic panels are 40 – 100% recycled. No landfill waste.
  • There is recycled material for cabinets. Some made from sunflower seeds, wheat, MDF dust. Can be used for end-panels, substrate for cabinets or counters.
  • Ceiling – tiles…light ceiling to reflect ceiling, hypo-allergenic, resistant to moisture.
  • Lighting – appliances look for Energy Star appliances which saves 30% on energy bill and reduces CO2. Light fixtures. Accounts for 30% of electricity. Lamps on tables to increase task lighting. Replace T12 bulbs with T8. Install dimmers. Auto dimmers do not work really well in bigger rooms, fine in smaller ones.
  • Furniture – pay attention to manufacturing process and LEED. Using wind power, eliminating waste and emissions, and building showrooms which are LEED certified. Shipping….minimize boxes and use blankets (blanket wrapped and shipped). Furniture can “off gas” which release VOCs. Can ask to have it “off-gassed” before delivery. FSC certified means that the forest being harvested is being re-forested. What to do with existing furniture? Reuse, recycle, or donate. Can specify re-cycled fabrics. 100% post-consumer recycled, but look at the spec for “double rubs” 75,000 is a good number. Smell absorption, can get charcoal liner or Gore-tex backing. Also look at leathers or faux leathers, the latter does not absorb moisture.

James Evans and John Thompson talked about Building Commissioning. Jim was the first speaker and John is the CEO of Thompson Building Energy Solutions LLC.

Design is the combination of architect ego and owner needs. Energy efficient design does not always result from this combination. Can do energy modeling of building design to see where the issues are prior to construction. These modeling programs can include factors such as wind and solar direction; it is useful in the LEED certification process; it can also factor in features such as landscaping.

Commissioning is a value added solution for standard construction. In standard construction, owners are not experts in construction; there is limited participation by specialist; profit depends on minimizing time spent; there is a lack of accountability for start-up training and project turnover. As a result building systems do not function properly.

Commissioning is the systematic and documented process of ensuring that the operational needs are met and operators trained. It is a TQM process. It is possible to re-commission a previously commissioned building. Can “retro-commission” a building which has never been commissioned before. It is a total oversight. There are different levels of commissioning which can be chosen based on budget. Work for either architect or owner, prefer to work for owner. They are involved in the design process. They suggest two peer reviews during the process. They verify the building systems are installed, tested, and perform properly.

In operation, staff training is critical. They also check building systems documentation and check out the staff for the opposite season. They film and put on DVD to include with the manuals, training includes not just operation, but also maintenance.

Benefits: reduced operating costs; reduce change orders because of the design review and presence during construction; fewer comfort problems; improved staff training; reduced contractor call backs; increased life of equipment; documented maintenance requirements.

Costs for projects less than $30 million is 1.25 – 2 % of construction costs, and less as the project is larger. Savings from commissioning are from immediate to 3 years, initial and operation 10 – 20 %; utility savings of 10 – 30%; and reduction in change orders.

LEED Commissioning is a pre-requisite from the building energy systems.

If we do everything right, your operations of the building should be much easier and b etter. No hot and cold spots, won’t “get killed” with an energy bill.

Controllability of systems is important. It is possible to run the air plenums under the floor with more controls for the small areas. Makes workers happier, and saves energy.

Charlie Chartier spoke about “Floor coverings and maintenance.”

To continue to be green you need to be sure that the cleaning companies and cleaning supply companies are aware of the green status of the building. USGBC has web based seminars on “green cleaning.” Some people have gone from 150 different chemicals in the old building and now use 4 in the new building. One of the problems is that cleaning people use too much product and do not rinse enough out.

Use enhanced commissioning. Jerry Jones (State of Louisiana) says that the one thing he will not cut out of a project is commissioning. The term comes from the US Navy process of “commissioning” a ship before taking ownership.

Albert “Jules” Tate, Director of LSU-Alexandria Library, provided a literature review. He noted that it is limited and only really starts in 2002. 20+ articles.

The day ended with a panel discussion answering questions posted during the day.

Going from print to electronic … impact on library buildings

Need to look at community and community needs. Analyze collection. Need to look
at Main vs. branches and needs of the branch community. In looking at how the
library is used. Less can be more, one library cut collection in half, and circ
went up 4 times.

Renovating a 1962 building, where do we start with the renovation and LEED process?

Start with looking at use needed. Will also have to do code upgrades for sure,
and then look at other issues. Codes could include fire code, ADA, asbestos
abatement, local rules, etc. Sounds like a major renovation. Should do a
building study, and use that for renovations like an HVAC renovation. Issues
could also include indoor air quality.

Design computer lab for energy efficiency? What does LEED say about computer conservation?

Laptops use less energy than desktops. Should shut off computer, and use the
energy functions. They also generate heat. Also need to take into account
lighting in a lab. Huge financial savings in shutting off the computer every
night. There is also data that you can save energy by actually unplugging. It is
fine to require a LEED building and to build a LEED building, but there is a
paradigm shift needed to live in a LEED building. How do you get IT &
Janitorial/Maintenance to buy in, and act appropriately? Involve them in the
planning process. The earlier the better… There may be an opportunity to involve
the children about the reason why, and about the building. Use the LEED process
as part of the education of the community.

What is the cost of LEED supervision, and how much does it cost to register an existing building?

On the USGBC web site there is a table. The cost for the Bienville Building was
about $3K for a $3 million building. Depends on the amount of the paperwork. Low
as $5K and as high as $100K for a complicated project by an inexperienced
person. Also depends on inclusion of commissioning and daylight modeling. More
and more architectural firms are delivering green buildings, the cost is in the

In sustaining a green building what will change?

Visit There is also a webinar from the USGBC found on the web site.

Stained concrete, what if you only want it in certain areas? Does it require any special construction?

It only needs to be clean. You should protect the part to be stained since if it
is dirty or has oils, it will stain differently. It is more slippery when wet.
There is abrasion figure and/or ADA number.

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