Greenbuild 60-Second Stopby: Rainwater Collection Systems – The Original Rainwater Pillow

DSCN2768The Original Rainwater Pillow (booth # 1121) is a large volume rainwater/storm water harvesting system designed to be stored in horizontal wasted space above grade.  They can create custom pillows up to 200,000 gallons. Systems can be developed for residential, commercial and industrial applications.  Typically the water is collected off of the roof and goes to a pre-filter which removes asphalt and other particles. Systems are available for potable and non-potable applications.

The Pillows can be stored under a deck or crawlspace in a residential setting. For commercial or industrial settings, the system can be stored in a basement or a parking garage.

The water can be used for irrigation, flushing toilets, laundry, drinking water and much more.

Well worth a Stopby!

An Insight from Our Green Guru Lucas Hamilton

greenbuild-nation-20x20I asked Lucas Hamilton, Manager, Building Science Applications for CertainTeed the following question: 

If you could change one thing about the way we construct homes and buildings, what would it be?

It would be the fact that our financial model or the way we value properties today does not reward long term sustainable construction practices.  Lenders are not considering the life cycle of the building in their lending decisions.  Providing for upfront costs for measures that could make the building more efficient over a lifetime are not taken into consideration.

We need to create financial models for borrowing and building that are based upon a life cycle assessment  that truly rewards the  permanent installation of energy saving and sustainable materials and systems.

LEEDv4: Empowering Consumers through Greater Product Transparency?

HPDLogoThis week, I’m in downtown Philadelphia for Greenbuild 2013, which attracts more than 30,000 building and design professionals from around the world. The event also serves as the platform for the official launch of the U.S. Green Building Council’s new LEED®v4 standard, which calls for further environmental transparency in the built environment. While much of the buzz around LEEDv4 is within the green building community, I believe that the average consumer will benefit greatly from these new standards. Why? Because increased transparency translates into a more empowered consumer base.

Take the food industry as an example. For the most part, today’s consumers are label readers and are increasingly conscious of what is deemed healthy and what is not. They are demanding more disclosure of food ingredients such as trans fat. They are thinking twice about eating foods that are impossible to pronounce. They are the reason that most super markets have growing in-store real estate dedicated to organic foods.

How can we harness this energy and apply it to the physical environment where we live, work and play? I believe that Health Product Declarations (HPDs), which play a key role in LEEDv4, are a great start. HPDs comprehensively report information about the health impacts of each ingredient used to manufacture a building product. With this, architects, designers and contractors — as well as end users and consumers­— will be equipped with valuable information about their surroundings.

Not yet familiar with HPDs? Check out www.hpdcollaborative.org or visit www.ctpressroom.com to learn more about CertainTeed’s industry-first HPDs for its ceiling products.

 

Green Building Guru: Jason Kliwinski, Green Building Center

At the Green Builder Center exhibit (#2311), the concept of resilient design was top of mind. A recently published white paper by Jason Kliwinski, LEED Fellow, sheds important light on how “resiliency” plays a role in sustainable design. Specifically, Kliwinski says that to achieve resilient design, you must:

Plan ahead and expect the worst essentially. Thinking about how you will heat and cool your building without grid power, integrating storm water management strategies on your property and in your community to handle storm surges and to protect your property and lives, considering alternative means of transportation if you have to navigate closed or damaged roads or channel get fuel…

Are these considerations already apart of your planning process? If not, check out the full white paper at www.greenlivingandbuildingcenter.com.

The Road to Greenbuild Ends at The Pennsylvania Convention Center

CT13021_GreenbuildLogoWelcome to Philadelphia!  I can say that because CertainTeed and our parent company Saint-Gobain’s North American headquarters are here. Everyone is very excited for this year’s show.

The portfolio of brands, including CertainTeed, can be found under the umbrella of our parent company Saint-Gobain North America (booth numbers 1411 and 1511).  Our products and brands work to create “Life’s Material Difference,” which means that no matter where or how you touch our products, they have a real and lasting impact on quality of life.

The Saint-Gobain North America family of brands at Greenbuild this year includes: CertainTeed, SAGE, ADFORS, and two products from Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics – GreenGlue™ and Thermalbond®.

Take advantage of our new Education Lab located along aisle 400. We are offering industry-leading courses open to anyone attending Greenbuild:

  • Solar Photovoltaic: Architectural Considerations – Wednesday Nov 20, 2-2:45 PM
  • Atypical Methods for Achieving Reverberation Time for LEED v4 Acoustic Performance – Wednesday, Nov 20 3:30-4:15 PM
  • Transparency Publications Summary: LCA, EPD and HPD -Thursday Nov 21, 9:15-10:00 AM
  • Designing High-Performance Schools: Impact of Novel Building Materials on Classroom Acoustics and Indoor Air Quality at Slatington Elementary – Thursday Nov 21 12:45 – 1:30 PM
  • Dynamic Air Barriers & Moisture Management: An integrated systems approach – Thursday Nov 21, 3:30-4:30 PM

There are still seats available. It is best to pre-register to guarantee your seat.

Not attending Greenbuild?  We will be blogging from the show. Check back for updates.

If you are at the show, please stop by and see us at  Booths 1411 and 1511.

Opening the Door to Better Classroom Acoustics

Slatington Elementary ClassroomLast year, I was presented with a unique opportunity to apply our building science research into a real-life application — the renovation of an elementary school in northeastern Pennsylvania. Originally built in 1973, the school was transformed from an open concept interior space into individual state-of-the-art classrooms. Superior acoustical comfort, which can contribute to improved student performance and teacher retention, was a top priority in this field study as well as an analysis of the overall indoor environment that included air quality, thermal comfort and visual comfort measurements.

Our goal was to investigate the impact of installing different, high-performing interior acoustical ceiling and gypsum wallboard system solutions in six new classrooms constructed in the third grade student wing. Acoustical tests were conducted in each classroom to determine sound absorption and interior partition sound transmission levels, as well as major sound flanking paths.

As a leading manufacturer of ceilings and wall products, our team is well versed in the myriad of product specifications and configurations for our products. However, during the testing, I had an a-ha moment of sorts regarding the doorways to the classrooms.

Specifically, I realized that even though it is well known that acoustically isolated, airtight door assemblies improve classroom acoustics when used in conjunction with high-performance gypsum board and ceiling products, these elements are often specified independently rather than a comprehensive acoustical system. This is a challenge that I have always been aware of, but seeing it so clearly in this study led us to ask: what could we do about it?

Our curiosity led us to ASSA ABLOY, the global leader in door opening solutions. Through our alliance, we’ve uncovered easily accessible solutions found in door and frame systems, to address acoustical challenges and reduce the sound reverberation that further complicates noise issues in classrooms.

We look forward to sharing more detailed findings during Greenbuild 2013 through a dedicated education session at the Saint-Gobain Learning Lab. Please join us at the session or leave us a comment below to continue the discussion.

Can We Pick Our Future Rather Than Repeating Our Past?

The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Version 4 (V4) has been approved and will be become official at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in November 2013.  But even after the new version comes out in November, you can register and begin LEED 2009 projects up until the summer of 2015.  This means that for the next two years we will have LEED 2009 projects coexisting beside LEED V4 projects.

These programs are very different especially with regard to transparency issues.  For example, Health Product Declarations (HPD’s), Environmental Product Declarations (EPD’s) and Life Cycle Assessments (LCA’s) are moved in V4 from where they were in LEED 2009. In LEED 2009 they are classified as pilot libraries but now have been moved to materials and resources, credits two, three, and four. This represents a significant change to the materials and resources credits.

The co-existence of two different programs could, potentially, cloud the issues for the end users.  But making incremental steps can help to keep people focused on a sustainable future without feeling that they have to start all over. But does the potential exist for the momentum of LEED to stall because we are not looking far enough into the future?

Consider the Living Building Challenge which is the gold standard for what some advocates envision for the sustainable future. Have they thrown the target so far down the field that it doesn’t need to be continually updated because the goals are not highly achievable today? It sets the bar very high but it does give us a long range goal for future development.

If you want to change the future you can’t do it based upon the past.  Psychologists tell us that our default reaction to a challenge is based on our experience and history. When presented with a situation we tend to lean on the past.  This causes us to repeat the past and impedes our ability to get to a desired better future.

If you want to get to a future that is different than the past, you have to imagine a future not based on the past.  You have to set your target not based on incremental changes because that just builds on the past.  Let’s start by saying “in 10 years, I want to be over there”- now work back from there until now and NOT forward from now until then. I think you’ll find that you end up much closer to where you want to be this new way than you did with the old way.

I, for one, would not want to see our efforts to move toward energy efficient, sustainable buildings stalled or worse, abandoned, because we failed to see a clear path to that future. If we get too caught up in the process, we could lose sight of the purpose.

Setting the “Green” Bar Very High

Hat’s off to Mayor Michael Bloomberg for throwing down the gauntlet and launching a Carbon Challenge to the most populated city in America. The Mayor’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent over the next 10 years. In order to accomplish this, he created a task force charged with identifying large footprint tenants and their real estate representatives.  To date,10 commercial office partners, 17 universities and 11 hospital systems have joined the New York City Mayor’s Carbon Challenge.

 For some buildings, upgrading the windows and mechanical systems provided a great starting point in meeting the Challenge.  New York, like most east coast cities, has a great deal of old construction, some of which does not easily lend itself to energy upgrades because of the materials and construction techniques.

 Much of what the Mayor is going after is workplace tenant practices and behaviors and that’s a good place to start.  A great deal of energy can be saved simply by learning to operate the buildings we have more efficiently.  Adding sensors to turn lights on and off, for example, help to change people’s habits. This also helps to amend people’s habits when they go home as well. The combination of workplace and home energy saving habits will go a long way to curbing our thirst for energy.

Carbon Calculator

Carbon Calculator

 Here at our company we face the same hurdles and we have started to engage and challenge our employees in all our locations to identify ways to be more efficient with energy, water, recycling, and waste management– and it is paying off.  Are we net zero? Not yet but we have received the Energy Star Sustained Excellence Award for three years running. The key is getting everyone on the cart together and challenging each other to do better. 

Last year CertainTeed developed a Carbon Calculator that tracked the CO2 saved by our installed products. We equated those calculations to the number of trees that were saved or the number of cars taken off the road – things that the employee could relate to.  This has had a real impact on behaviors.  Now they can “see” the impact their work has on America. We are currently in a challenge pledge for GreenBuild 2013, which will be in Philadelphia, to reduce our employees’ carbon output by 10,000 gallons through carpooling and a work-from-home program. Like the old saying goes… when you see a turtle on a fence post you can be sure he didn’t get there alone… and you can be sure he isn’t getting off of there alone either.

 Are there great things that you are doing to encourage behavior changes at your businesses to improve energy efficiency?

 

 

Greenbuild 2013: Ready, Set, Schedule

greenbuild-nation-20x20Throughout the year, I crisscross the country for a wide array of meetings and events, and the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo is most definitely a highlight in my travels — even more so this year since it’s in my home town of Philadelphia.

The USGBC posted the full schedule for the conference, which features a healthy roster of thought-provoking, forward-thinking sessions. I know that sessions fill up fast, so I was quick to plan out my itinerary. Here’s a few sessions that caught my attention:

Philadelphia Eagles – Go Green Program Overview

Last year, I was fortunate to take part in a behind-the-scenes tour of Lincoln Financial Field and was wowed by their sustainable achievements — operating a nearly net zero waste facility and leveraging renewable energy sources. Regardless of your NFL team of choice, the story behind the facility will offer valuable insights and lessons in establishing an environmentally responsible business operation.

Biophilia: Moving from Theory to Reality

In my opinion, biophila is one of the most fascinating design trends in the green building industry. Based on the instinctive connection between humans and nature, biophila tends to excite at a philosophical level, but can be challenging to implement in the built environment. In this session, a team of esteemed architectural and building industry experts will outline specific project requirements, design guidelines and performance metrics for real-life biophilic applications.

Atriums: Challenge or Asset to High Performance?

As a building scientist, I enjoy digging in to the technical nuisances of even the most granular aspects of a structure. While daylighting, aesthetics and pathways for natural ventilation often drive the decision to incorporate atriums into building design, these spaces can also offer a passive solution for smoke control that is energy efficient and cost effective.

The Navy Yard as a Sustainable Business Campus

The Navy Yard in Philadelphia has become a hotbed of sustainable construction, research and development. Through a robust team of public and private sector entities, the campus features LEED-certified buildings, innovative stormwater management practices, and industry-leading design and research projects for smart-grid technologies. CertainTeed has been involved in the GridSTAR project, one of the components of the campus focused on net zero energy in residential construction and alternative energy training, and look forward to getting a more holistic view of the initiative.

Life Cycle Safety: How it Supports Social Equity Goals

As a building products manufacturer, “life cycle” is a part of our daily vernacular. However, the overall health of a building goes beyond its physical components and occupants. While fewer in number, employees who construct, operate, renovate, repair and eventually dismantle green buildings typically face disproportionately higher risks from building hazards. Led by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, this session will demonstrate how these risks can be proactively minimized in the design phase.

Greenbuild is shaping up to be an incredibly hectic, but invigorating week. Headed to the show? Let us know what’s on your “must see” list.

 

Changing the Sustainability Game in Philadelphia

GridSTARHouseBackPhiladelphia is making great strides when it comes to sustainability. The world’s largest green building event — Greenbuild 2013 — will attract more than 30,000 building industry leaders to Philadelphia in November. The city has received national recognition for its recycling programs. New codes and tax credits are fostering more sustainable building practices. And, there’s a hotbed of research and innovation underway at The Navy Yard in Philadelphia.

With our North American headquarters just outside of Philadelphia and as a sustainable manufacturer, we fully embrace the city’s push to become “America’s Greenest City”. We have invested time and resources into a game-changing, smart-grid project that can move the needle on Net Zero Energy in construction.

Led by a collaboration of researchers, manufacturers and economic development officials, the GridSTAR Center will roll out in three phases — the GridSTAR Net Zero Energy Demonstration Structure, a solar training center and an electric vehicle (EV) charging station. These buildings are powered by an energy storage system that captures the power and disperses it as needed.

For more than a year, I have been involved in the planning and construction of the Net Zero Energy Demonstration Structure, which will be a hub for CertainTeed Building Science testing and research on energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality. The structure also offers a valuable platform to further understand and optimize how our products work together — including photovoltaic roofing, solar reflective roofing, fiberglass and spray foam insulation, foundation drainage and waterproofing systems, insulated vinyl siding, water resistive barrier and gypsum board.

From a broader perspective, the GridSTAR project is a testament to the power of public-private partnerships. In this case, the project includes a consortium of representatives from Penn State, the U.S. Department of Energy, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, DTE Energy and five leading building product manufacturers.

This truly is a landmark project that will influence how we build and power our homes in the future. If you plan to attend GreenBuild 2013 in Philadelphia, I recommend that you take the tour of the Navy Yard which includes this project. It is truly changing the sustainability game in Philadelphia.

Watch for future blogs on this project as we begin performance testing of the systems.