Archive for the ‘Green’ Category

Green & Trendy

By Green Experts Team

GreenBuilding e1359658889821 Green & TrendyEarlier this month, Jerry Yudelson, leading green building and sustainability consultant released his annual list of “Top 10 Megatrends” for the green building industry. Based on these trends, it appears green building will continue its rapid expansion in 2013, despite continuing economic challenges.

So what does this mean for brands? IMRE’s Sustainability experts weigh in on top three things brands should be aware of in 2013.

By greeniq

 Energy Efficiency = Output/Input. Or Does It?In the equation of energy efficiency, buildings, whether commercial or residential, tend to represent the subtractive component, using more energy than they produce. But the newest trend to hit green building stands this equation on its head, with net-zero buildings that produce at least as much energy as they consume. The projected “next wave” in green building, net-zero buildings have been mandated in the European Union and are making their way across the pond.

The time seems ripe for net-zero. Buildings in the United States account for approximately 41 percent of primary energy use, with homes accounting for 54 percent and commercial buildings representing 46 percent of that sector. According to, investors have devoted $4 billion to initiating green building efforts over the past 12 years, with North American startups capturing 77 percent of that investment. The stakes are high and the opportunities abound, and a few fledgling projects will soon show the reward.

The Delta Project in Brooklyn is a five-story triangular building that multitasks as a restaurant and bed and breakfast, but will soon serve as the city’s first-ever net-zero solar building. The $700,000 project will use solar panels to produce about 25 percent more electricity than it will consume, with the extra electricity being sold to the local fossil fuel power grid. The building combines energy-generating efforts, such as the solar panels and a roof-mounted wind turbine, with consumption-cutting measures like greening its hot water supply and using energy-saving LED light bulbs. The building is expected to open in September.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the residential Dunedin Project in Pinellas County, Florida, which is slated to lead the way in affordable net-zero energy townhome communities in the United States. The project broke ground this month and will feature 25 LEED-certified townhomes to be priced affordably between $135,000 and $175,000. Part of GE’s Homes Inspired by Ecoimagination program, each home will incorporate products that lower energy use, water consumption and CO2 emissions, simultaneously reducing energy costs. According to the Tampa Bay Times, more than 600 nearby residents who expressed interest in the homes were whittled down to a priority list of 59 “hometown heroes,” including firefighters, police officers, veterans, nurses, teachers and the like.

To cap it off, President Obama’s Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance Executive Order mandates that all federal buildings must achieve net-zero energy usage by 2030. With awareness and investment continuing to grow, net-zero might just add up to be the next big thing.

By greeniq

Green Homes inhabitat The Growing Popularity of Green Homes

According to the National Association of Home Builders, green homes comprised 17% of the overall residential construction market in 2011 and are expected to grow to between 29% and 38% of the market by 2016. As green homes continue to grow in popularity, it is important to consider a few things before building.

  1. Location: When considering where you’re going to build, think about what is (or was) there before. A general rule of thumb is to not build in an area that is environmentally sensitive like a forest, floodplains, or wetlands. The ideal venue is brownfield land, or land that has already been built upon with healthy bones.
  2. Building Materials: Be thoughtful about what you’re using to build your home inside and out. Think about flooring, paints and coating, cabinets and countertops, roof paneling, and lighting. There are plenty of resources available online to help in selecting the appropriate environmentally conscious and recycled materials.
  3. Energy Efficiency: There is a plethora of energy efficient product offerings and opportunities when building a green home. While initially expensive to install, the long-term benefits of having your home completely powered by solar energy panels is exponential. Additionally, comprehensive insulation can ensure that you’re not losing heat, allowing for energy efficiency. The windows you install should be double or triple glazed and positioned well in the home. Installing a green roof is another efficient building opportunity. Finally, energy efficient appliances and upcycled furniture create a green indoor environment.
  4. Water usage: Think about installing low-flow toilets, sinks and showers in your home. You can also consider reusing your grey water for your succulents and outdoor gardens.

What other tips would you add when building a green home?

LEED v4 Postponed Until 2013

By Green Experts Team

LEED logo 2 300x300 LEED v4 Postponed Until 2013 The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently announced that it will postpone plans to ballot the next version of LEED, LEED v4, until 2013. The announcement was made due to the growing concerns of architects and building industry professionals. These concerns included:

  • The proposed changes in the rating systems were too drastic (particularly during such a weak real estate market).
  • Some of the changes needed to be further developed.
  • Tools and resources necessary to obtain the credits would not be widely available until after the new LEED system would be launched in November 2012.

Although the delay frustrated many LEED volunteers who had spent years working on the proposed draft, the extra time allows building professionals time to test out the new ideas presented in LEED v4 and ensure their success in the market. Several LEED members praised the organization for being flexible in their policies and listening to the concerns of members.

The results from this plan will help to create a fifth public comment draft, which is scheduled to run from Oct. 2 to Dec. 10, 2012. USGBC assert that LEED will continue to support the highest standards of certification and promotion for transparency and avoidance of questionable chemicals will not be lessened during this extended process.

What do you think about the postponement of LEED v4? Does this affect your products or services? Do you think the U.S. is in a position to delay environmental efforts?

By greeniq

A big problem with renewable energy sources today is that there’s no good way to store power for when you actually need it. It is no secret that there are days that the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, or worse, you have sunless and windless nights. So, how do we effectively tackle the need to collect energy when we can for use when we want? There are endless opinions on the issue and technologies being developed. Too much in fact, to make heads or tails of whether we have a real crisis on our hands, or, if this is an opportunity for businesses developing technologies to become the hero in solving the issue.

peter kelly detwiler 100x100 Energy Storage: Crisis or Opportunity?To help us weed through some of the clutter and narrow in on the heart of the issue, we spoke with Peter Kelly-Detwiler, an expert with over 20 years experience in new energy technologies and sustainable solutions. As former VP of Technology Services for Constellation Energy, Detwiler has helped companies of all shapes and sizes become more energy efficient, and also led the team that developed and patented an industry-leading, real-time energy use and automated load control platform.

Q: Why is renewable energy storage important?

A: Energy storage is important because renewables are intermittent and in many cases unpredictable. Winds blow at different times of the day; solar is generally a good peaking resource, but still in no way represents firm and reliable capacity. Storage can help even out the peaks and valleys, and increase the overall reliability and value of renewables to the power grid.

Q: Why is energy storage so important for the sustainability movement?

A: Since storage can help improve reliability of renewable resources, it will be critical to have sufficient storage to support the rapid growth of renewable power resources on the grid. Too many renewables – in the absence of storage technologies – can cause the grid to be inherently unstable. So at some point, the lack of cost-effective storage is likely to pose a limiting factor.

Q: Why is it important for commercial buildings and manufacturing facilities?

A: Storage is important for certain types of commercial and manufacturing facilities, in particular those, which have a need for high levels of reliability and power quality. This is not an issue directly related to renewables, but it does serve as another market for storage, which helps increase scale and brings prices down. Types of industries relying on such a high power quality are often high tech such as server farms or chip manufacturers.

Q: What are some of the energy storage technologies that exist and what is your take on them?

A: It’s important to think about this issue broadly. Storage is, in essence, any location or facility where energy can be stored or dispatched, often taking pricing differentiation into account. So, for example, water behind a dam can be conceived of as storage, particularly hydro pump storage. Compressed air is another form. Originally it involved compressing air in caverns during off peak periods.  Now it involves a variety of new technologies, with many start-ups working with smaller systems.

One company is working on storing energy through a rail system, whereby they bring mass to altitude during off peak periods, and harvest the energy during pricier hours.  And then of course you have a multitude of emerging and competing battery technologies, with no clear winner yet emerging. My sense though, is that we will eventually see winners. There is a potent combination of money, smart people, a market need, and the computation capability to learn more quickly than ever before. That is likely to yield success.

Q: What do companies need to know about energy storage and how it impacts their business?

A: Companies don’t need to focus too much on the storage issue just yet, unless they live in a very volatile priced market.  But they need to stay aware of developments and understand how they may benefit in the future.

Q: How far away are we from grid parity for renewable resources?

A: We are moving towards grid parity for solar and wind. In one sense, we are there, in that the kWh may be cheaper than grid power at certain times. But we are not there, in that these resources cannot stand independently. Combined with storage technologies, they have a way to go to be considered on par with generation, if one does not take externalities such as pollution into account. We are getting close here, and it is something companies concerned with sustainability need to keep an eye on.

By Building Experts Team

Similar to people, buildings need to undergo annual check-ups, eat healthy and keep up with personal hygiene. According to Dave Bartlett, VP of Industry Solutions at IBM, the upkeep of buildings isn’t different from that of people at all. Bartlett is leading the charge on this theory he calls ‘the physiology of buildings’ where he treats each building like a living organism.

It’s no secret the demand for commercial building retrofits and renovations is growing. In fact, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced in December 2011 that LEED-certified existing buildings were outpacing LEED-certified new construction by 15 million square feet. For a variety of reasons, including lower energy costs for the building owner or a lower impact on the environment, upgrading an existing building to make it more green and sustainable is a trend that’s here to stay.

Empire State Building Extreme Makeover: Building Edition

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One of the most notable buildings undergoing a green “makeover” is the Empire State Building. The refurbished building earned LEED-Gold certification in 2011 and will cut energy consumption by more than 38 percent. Though costly ($550 million total and $13 million for the energy-specific measures), its benefits are surely worth it. The upgrades are expected to reduce energy by more than $4.4 million annually and will provide payback in a little more than three years.

There are more than 60 billion square feet of existing commercial buildings in the U.S., and in New York alone, they account for 80 percent of the city’s carbon dioxide emissions. Creating new energy efficient buildings is a great practice and a trend that needs to continue.

The government, building owners and occupants are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of energy-saving upgrades. While new construction has been slightly unstable and flat over the past few years, green retrofits and renovations is a popular, moneymaking alternative, not to mention the abundance of jobs it creates.

Hopefully with such a high-profile building like the Empire State Building getting an extreme, green makeover and reaping the rewards, others will follow suit. The immediate advantages of less operation, maintenance and energy costs should draw others to treat older buildings to the upgrades they need.

Do you work in a green building? Do you think the benefits outweigh the costs of retrofits?

By Green Experts Team

Planning for the changing world presents a multitude of challenges, from climbing population to urbanization to rising sea levels. Of all the ways to mitigate these potential problems, perhaps one of the most innovative is the emerging trend of floating architecture.

The concept began with the Dutch, who have been fighting against the invasive nature of water for centuries, as one-third of the Netherlands is below sea level. The traditional strategy called for building dikes to keep water out, but a new approach allows water to infiltrate the city, and then create buildings that will float with the rise and fall of the tide (or floods).

FloatingHomes1 Floating Architecture Goes With The Flow

Netherlands-based architecture firm Waterstudio has pioneered the execution of floating architecture and is now completely devoted to building on water. Amsterdam’s traditional houseboats inspired Waterstudio.NL’s founder and principal architect Koen Olthuis. He realized that shifting the traditional land-locked notion of living to a more fluid concept would help adapt to rising sea levels and provide more opportunities to house a growing population.

One of the studio’s pilot projects installed floating homes on the Netherlands’ River Maas in 2005. The project was validated when all of the homes survived major flooding in 2011, even as other homes on the riverbanks were forced to evacuate. Since then, other flood-threatened cities have caught onto the idea, including Bangkok, Thailand, which was inundated with the worst flood season in over a century last year. Officials from New Orleans have also contacted Waterstudio for help with the city’s flooding troubles.

Dutch Docklands, a water development company also founded by Olthuis, has partnered with the government of the Maldives to construct a floating golf course, convention center, water homes and 43 private islands. The project will comprise more than 80 million square feet of floating developments, and is due for completion in 2015.

For people living in coastal and frequently flooded areas, floating architecture may be a viable solution. But for others, it may seem too far-fetched. Whether by choice or necessity, can you see aqua-architecture catching on?

By Building Experts Team

Green Squared Certified by ULE RGB multi square 300x250 Flooring Industry + Sustainability = Green Squared℠Ceramic tile is already known for being a sustainable building product. Its primary ingredients consist of sand, clay, and feldspar and it doesn’t emit VOCs (volatile organic compounds). But the demand in the building industry is changing as homeowners and architects are seeking more and more product transparency. Enter Green Squared.

Last week, the Tile Council of North America introduced Green Squared, the flooring industry’s first multi-attribute sustainability standard for tile and tile installation materials. The new standard was developed under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) process. The voluntary sustainability standard recognizes manufacturers for their environmental leadership and corporate social responsibility across a broad range of indicators. The certification process includes a general evaluation of the applicant’s organization, evaluation based on a criterion that looks at a product across all five phases of its lifecycle, and an on-site facility visit. The certification is valid for three years.

Green Squared certification applies to porcelain, pressed floor, mosaic and quarry tile. Additionally, powder installation products, paste/liquid installation products, sheet installation products and panel installation products will be standardized.

The certification offers a clear definition of what the industry defines as a “green” product, thereby making it easier for homeowners, architects and designers to identify environmentally-friendly products for their flooring needs. According to the TCNA, this new initiative is the first sustainable building material standard to encompass a full range of products within an industry.

The development of this multi-attribute standard in the flooring segment is laying the groundwork for more comprehensive evaluations of green building products across the board. The industry is moving away from self-declared sustainability for single product features and is moving toward a more in depth approach that looks at multiple aspects of a product using one industry standard.

This is a smart move by the tile industry as it continues to raise the bar, but it begs the question, “who/what is next?” Will other building products follow suit? Will organizations continue to push and promote these sustainability standards? What do you think? We encourage you to enter your thoughts in the comment section below.

Sustainable Building Materials

By Green Experts Team

Where to find them and how to work them into your job

In commercial and residential construction, sustainable building materials and products that increase efficiency are in high demand.  As the trend of sustainability grows, more eco-certifications and building codes are introduced to the construction market opening the floodgates for tons of suppliers and resources for finding eco-friendly materials and products.

BuildingMaterials Sustainable Building Materials

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Here’s a look at some of our preferred resources when it comes to searching for sustainable materials:

  • GreenSpec & – Whether you’re looking for sheathing, windows or caulks and adhesives, this site has the information you need.  What we like about it in particular, is the fact that not only does it provide a robust product listing, but it also provides the features and benefits of all the different options.
  • – This is a great tool whether you’re the pro building the house or the homeowner, because it offers a variety of building materials and lifestyle products.  It is the Home Depot of sustainable products (it’s not just a website, check out the store locator to find one near you).
  • – While this site covers fewer product categories than the first two on our list, it is strong when it comes to these categories: paints and coatings, flooring, and energy, water and air.  This is also another great site to find educational information the pros can share with their building owners or homeowners.
  • Reused Materials – One of the appeals of sustainable building is that it offers the opportunity to give a structure a unique look, whether it’s a restaurant, office or home.  There’s a ton of outlets where you can find these materials, but we find it’s best to look on a local or regional level.  Second Use in Seattle is a great example of this type of distributor.

There’s a lot of great resources and ways you find information on the top products when it comes to sustainable building.  Whether it’s through associations like USGBC, tradeshows such as GreenBuild or blog posts on sites like Jetson Green.

Stay tuned for more information from the GreenIQ team on sustainable building products, including Thursday’s Q&A post with Bob Dazel, Architect, LEED Green Associate and marketing manager for Strategic Accounts for Dryvit Systems.

By Building Experts Team

For years, sports stadiums and arenas have been multi-million or billion dollar investments that serve as idle energy-guzzlers most days out of the year. Investing in changes that make these facilities more energy efficient and environmentally friendly has a vital impact on the city and community supporting it.

The Philadelphia Eagles are one of the latest teams to bring the trend of sustainable stadiums to the forefront. The NFL team recently announced a partnership with NRG Energy to accomplish their goal of making Lincoln Financial Field one of the greenest major sports facilities in the world.

When the addition of solar panels and micro wind-turbines are complete in December 2012, the Eagles hope to join the Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle Mariners, Minnesota Twins, Orlando Magic and many others as teams whose facilities have gone “green.”

This dramatic undertaking is something our nation has come to expect. According to a 2011 study, 88 percent of Americans think good corporate responsibility is important, and 80 percent believe it’s important for the sports, media and entertainment industry to support social and environmental causes.

lincoln financial field1 Sustainable Sports Facilities a Win For All

Lincoln Financial Field

If teams are genuine about their commitment to sustainability and convey the importance of giving back to the community in their messaging, the public will be receptive, opening up opportunities for engagement. Fans are beyond passionate about supporting their teams, so encouraging the community to adopt green practices – such as providing public transportation to games or setting up recycling bins throughout the stadium – will give fans a chance to be part of the team or a bigger cause.

In alliance with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the NBA, MLB and NHL released PSAs earlier this month to generate awareness and encourage fans to join them in the green movement. To even further increase awareness, the NBA teamed up with Sprint to kick off NBA Green Week from April 4-11, including the launch of an “Unlimited Acts of Green” Facebook application, promising discounts to fans that perform “green acts” such as donating clothes, fixing leaky faucets and planting a tree.

Other than expanding a relationship with the community, this is a huge pull for garnering lucrative corporate sponsorships with green messaging. The Atlanta Braves amped up their energy-saving initiatives in 2008 and capitalized on a sponsorship with Coca-Cola Recycling. The giant beverage company placed branded recycling containers around the stadium to encourage fans to recycle at tailgates and during games. The team increased awareness of this initiative by making uniform shirts for 2,000 gameday staffers out of the recycled bottles. This program alone kept 10,000 bottles out of landfills while increasing buzz about the team’s green initiatives.

Of course, developing a sustainable system in a million-dollar facility has its financial benefits as well. According to a recent Construction Specifier article outlining sustainable upgrades to the Portland Trail Blazers’ Rose Garden Arena:

  • Between 2008 and 2010, the Rose Garden Arena saved 4 million kWh of electricity, or $424,000 in operational savings
  • Since 2008, the arena has reduced its water consumption by 36.8 million Liters, for a cost saving of $134,000
  • Recycling receptacles throughout the stadium and waste composting efforts resulted in over 800 tons of waste removed from landfills annually, and a three-year savings of $180,000

Going green certainly isn’t a new trend, but if the sports industry continues to adopt sustainable initiatives, others will see the immense benefits for the communities and the organizations themselves. The industry offers a strong promotional platform for brands and should embrace its role as a leader in bringing more exposure around this emerging trend.

What changes do you want to see from your favorite teams? As sports organizations lead the charge, fans should play a part and encourage change. Make an effort to carpool to games and use the recycling bins in the stadiums and tailgate lots. Take a few minutes to write to your local sports teams, urging them to take even a small step toward sustainability. As evidenced by some of the promotions stated above, these initiatives can be fun for the fans while benefiting their communities.

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