Green building

This deep dive into 10 years of LEED unearths surprises

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

The U.S. Green Building Council and Ember Strategies recently released the results of a deep dive study into the design energy efficiency of a decade of LEED buildings (PDF). Ten years of LEED data shows the evolution of the best in the architecture, engineering and construction industry — and a few industry quirks — as they strive for more efficient building designs.

Buildings are certified at varying levels in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standard — from basic Certified to Silver, Gold, and Platinum — based on the number of points they earn across the categories of green building, such as energy, water, indoor environment, location and materials. Having a LEED certification is one way commercial real estate owners prove their building is one of the best in the world as they work to attract tenants. This study looked at the New Construction rating system for building design and construction and specifically certain energy efficiency related credits.

Before digging in to the data, it is important to understand that a LEED rating system is born, grows and eventually dies and is replaced by a new rating system. This is unlike a building code or standard. The LEED rating system is tweaked in each version to raise the bar for achievement, of course, but also to try to fix credits that just aren’t working. If no one achieves a credit, there is no environmental benefit to having it. USGBC uses feedback from the market to improve the rating system over time.

The study was released at the ACEEE’s 2014 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, the biennial gathering of building efficiency nerds in Pacific Grove, Calif.

Small Towns Achieve Big Savings with Lighting Upgrades

Read the full story from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Dozens of small communities throughout Kansas and Missouri are saving big money and energy as a result of several high-impact lighting projects. Over the past three years, more than 5,700 energy-efficient lights were installed in communities with populations of less than 35,000 people. The new streetlights are expected to save 25 cities and towns a combined $25 million in energy costs and slash carbon emissions by more than 380 million metric tons, equivalent to removing 80 million cars off the road in one year. The upgrades were part of Smart Lights for Smart Cities, an energy efficiency initiative managed by the Mid-America Regional Council, a metropolitan planning organization serving the Kansas City area. The new lights—featuring induction and LED technologies—are brighter, more energy efficient, and easier to maintain than the mercury vapor and high-pressure sodium streetlights they replaced.

Industry Groups Streamline Green Building Tool Development

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

ASHRAE, the International Code Council (ICC), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES) and the US Green Building Council (USGBC) have signed a memorandum to collaborate on the development of Standard 189.1, the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) and the LEED green building program.

Central Library’s green roof takes root

Read the full story at

In May 2011, we visited the Milwaukee Public Library’s recently installed green roof, which boasted not only a couple rows of solar panels, but 33,000 square feet of rainwater capturing and temperature moderating plants.

Back then, the plants were in but they were little more than seedlings, so the roof didn’t look very green. This week, I stopped in to check on the progress.

Three years later, the roof is a lush carpet of ground covering plants, especially a variety of sedums as well as chives and some grasses. It’s mostly green — though the green refers to its eco-friendliness as much as the color of the vegetation — but there are some reds, yellows and an attractive rust hue, too.

Green roofs can reduce urban heat island effect

Read the full story at EnvironmmentalResearchWeb.

Several cities in the US are encouraging the use of green or cool roofs on buildings in an attempt to reduce the urban heat island effect. But assessing the effectiveness of this policy has been challenging. Most models look at the effect of a green or cool roof on one building but up-scaling this to a city or metropolitan area is difficult due to different urban landscapes and their effect on atmosphere exchanges.

Now researchers from Princeton University in the US have developed a new urban canopy model (UCM) that they claim is ideal for city-scale investigations into the mitigation of urban heat island effects. Dan Li and his colleagues tested their model on the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area during a four-day heatwave and found that a reduction of surface temperature of 1 °C could be achieved if 30% of all roofs in the area were green or cool roofs.

Architectural researcher to tell global conferees how ‘living roofs’ help build better cities

Read the full story from Virginia Tech University.

Hot town, summer in the city — it’s nothing new, but ways to handle the heat, humidity, and stormwater haven’t changed much since the invention of the sewer system.

One solution offered by architectural researchers is known as a “green roof” — a roof covered in living, growing plants to soften the effects of heat, flooding, noise, and stormwater runoff.

Elizabeth J. Grant, an assistant professor of architecture and design at Virginia Tech, will present ways for architects to determine the most effective depths of green roofing for stormwater control on Thursday at the International Conference on Building Envelope Systems and Technologies — also known as ICBEST — in Aachen, Germany.