Posts Tagged ‘green building’

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?

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

Image sourced from

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

The beginning of a new year always brings thoughtful reflections on the year that has just passed. The building industry is no different, and our team of industry experts spent some of their time off around the holidays doing the very same thing. To find out what’s to come in 2012, they first had to review the most important news of 2011. Here are 5 articles that guided our thinking. It’s the great list of lists: The top 5 wrap-ups of 2011’s biggest stories.

  1. HousingZone’s top 11 stories for 2011 – HousingZone editors highlight the top housing news and trends for the year, breaking out their most popular stories based on web traffic.
  2. Curbed’s 10 weirdest, strangest houses on the market in 2011 – Curbed editor Rob Bear digs up the most eye-popping homes he saw on in the real estate listings last year. A great read for some inspiration… or maybe just fascination.
  3. BUILDER’s 10 most popular articles of 2011 – Clair Easley reveals the top 10 most popular articles from BuilderOnline’s Reader’s Choice Awards. No less than 6 of our votes made the list. Can you guess which ones?
  4. Top 10 Jetson Green Articles of 2011 – Jetson Green is always at the top of our RSS feed reader. This recap highlights the top 10 stories on sustainable building, eco-building and green technology based on retweets, Facebook shares and Google +1s.
  5.’s 10 biggest green building stories of 2011 – Paula Melton recaps a huge year for the green building industry with the top 10 most-read articles in Environmental Building News.

Help us add to our list. Post a link to a 2011 recap you read in the blogosphere over the last few weeks.

By Kelly Nowlan

Sustainability has gained a lot of notoriety in recent years, with 50% of the public believing that global warming is caused mostly by human activities. From the clothes we wear to the cars we drive, it seems everything we touch these days has the potential of bearing or failing to bear the sustainability seal of approval. But how convinced are we that all of those marketing claims about products being sustainable, are, well, sustainable?

We at IMRE wanted to know, so we engaged a formidable group of architects and interior designers to find out. Who better to ask? These opinion leaders are a litmus test to whether countless brands in the Home & Building industry are marketing their sustainable products successfully.

Over 800 architects and interior designers responded to an online survey conducted jointly by IMRE, The American Institute of Architects and the American Society of Interior Designers, which revealed the majority of architects and interior designers, 87% and 86% respectively, are in fact concerned with how products are manufactured with regard to sustainability.

But, brands who market themselves as sustainable should take heed: while most architects and interior designers pay careful attention to manufacturers’ sustainability claims, both are similarly skeptical when asked if they are confident that products referred to as “sustainable” actually are.

  • 40% of architects and 34% of interior designers are “uncertain” if products claiming to be sustainable are actually sustainable.
  • Almost 22% of architects and 11% of interior designers are “somewhat” or “not at all confident” that products are actually sustainable.
  • Only 2% of architects and 3% of interior designers are “completely confident” in manufacturers’ claims that products are actually sustainable.

Furthermore, as popular as the topic of sustainability has become in recent years among the general population, architects and interior designers alike claim their clients could use more education. Both parties agreed that only one quarter of their clients understand what the term sustainability actually means, and 88% of architects and 82% of interior designers said that their clients think sustainable products cost more.

Conversely, regardless of how architects, interior designers and even their clients feel about the viability of sustainable product claims and the cost associated with them, they are actually being used with greater frequency. More than half of architects (54%) and interior designers (55%) expect their number of sustainable projects will increase this year.

Just as many Americans are concerned about global warming, nearly 60% of both architects and interior designers state the primary reason they specify sustainable products is due to their own professional sense of environmental responsibility. In other words, they specify sustainable products because they want to, not because they have to.

The bottom line: Architects and interior designers are doubtful of manufacturer claims about sustainable products, and there is the perception – whether right or wrong – of a higher cost associated with them. But given that sustainable projects are predicted to be on the rise, the winning brands will deliver credible sustainability messaging. The question is, will your brand be a winner?

To receive a full copy of the survey results, please contact Meghann Malone at

IMRE will be offering a free, one-hour webinar on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 from 11am-noon EST with topline results from this survey and recommendations for improving sustainability communications in 2012.  To register, send your name, company name, email and phone number to

By Green Experts Team

Rob Heselbarth Expert Insight: 5 Residential Design and Build Sustainability Trends for 2012It’s that time of the year when the word ‘trend’ is actually a trending topic. Everyone is looking ahead to the next year, and beyond that. We sought out Residential Design + Build Editorial Director Rob Heselbarth to chat about the role of sustainability in residential design and construction. Learn what experts in the residential design and build space have seen in the last year, and what they are predicting for sustainability in 2012.

IMRE Green IQ: What changes are you seeing in the use of sustainable materials throughout the building process?

Rob Heselbarth: The sustainable materials used in the home building process are related to energy efficiency and a tight building envelope. That’s where the traction is. The focus is on materials that contribute to a return on investment for the homeowner. Residential Design + Build is about to release results of its 6th annual Market Trends Survey which reveal that 84% of homeowners are more interested in green products that save them money rather than green products made with whatever they perceive as green components.

GIQ: Are you seeing any changes in the exterior design of the home in regard to sustainability?

RH: The results of our Market Trends Survey reveal the following ranking of the top five most popular “green” products:

  • Efficient HVAC equipment
  • Low-E windows/doors
  • Efficient windows
  • Added/Upgraded insulation
  • Extra insulation

What do all of these products have in common? They’re all part of the building envelope. The trend is to address the tightness of the building envelope first to maximize the efficiency of the heating and air-conditioning equipment, which of course ultimately saves homeowners money. That’s what it’s all about right now.

GIQ: What will the biggest change for residential designers be in 2012?

RH: From a design perspective there are a few trends designers should be aware of. One is including wider hallways and doorways in every home. This is what homeowners are asking for. The “stay-put” mentality will continue to gain momentum and designers must align their designs with this attitude or lose business. From a business point of view, designers should be prepared for clients to disappear without a trace, and for their clients to encounter financing problems resulting in cancelled contracts. Our research has shown that 76% of builders and architects encountered at least one client who had financing difficulties in 2011, while roughly 80% experienced cancelled projects. Furthermore, roughly 70% experienced clients who disappeared without a trace. Finally, they should be looking for remodeling work if they’re not already because roughly 45% of respondents told us they’d be doing more remodeling work in 2012 than in 2011.

GIQ: What sustainable aspect of home design has become or is becoming a commodity that was once seen as a luxury in the past?

RH: Ultra-efficient anything. Whether it’s a super low-flow toilet or showerhead, a tankless water heater or Energy Star kitchen appliances. Conserving energy and natural resources appears to be built into every new home designed and built today.

GIQ: There was a pretty large increase in demand for green and sustainable building construction in 2011 – do you see that continuing?

RH: Yes this will continue. Two forces will ensure that this happens. One is the economic slump this country remains in, which has created a collective mindset of saving money and building in ways that accomplish this. See my previous answer about the tightness of the building envelope. Just like the lessons learned from the Great Depression were imprinted on the minds of two generations of Americans (those who experienced it and their children), the lessons from this Great Recession will stick around for many years. The second force is the way manufacturers have embraced sustainability and are producing products that contribute to smart home design and construction. It’ll only get better that way.

What do you think? Do you have any additional trends to add for residential design and build professionals?

By Social Marketing Team

Top 5 Projected Green Building Trends in 2012

The holiday season is upon us! That means 2012 is just around the corner, and what better way to kick off the New Year than with a few predictions. Here are five of the top building industry trends for 2012 we’ve been reading about.

  1. The demand for green and sustainable building construction is growing and will continue to do so in the coming year. My Green Palette expects to see a 18.3% increase in revenue next year — My Green Palette (@MyGreenPalette)
  2. Green Building is on the rise and will continue it’s rise to prominence globally in 2012, in spite of economic difficulties — Sustainable Magazine (@Sustainablemag)
  3. Energy efficiency is big. According to Builder Online’s Business Trends Forecast for 2012 it will remain top of mind — Builder Online (@BuilderOnline)
  4. Commercial Building will grow 8% and multifamily housing will rise 18% in 2012 — BHC Rhodes (@BHCRHODES)
  5. Smarter neighborhood, greater transparency in building function, the proliferation of an “Internet of things,” more energy options for buildings, and real estate finance teams will become corporations’ smarter buildings teams — Smart Planet (@SmartPlanet)

Check back next week to see our 2012 predictions from our BuildIQ and GreenIQ team experts.

By greeniq

FTC Five Considerations for Becoming an FTC abiding Company

1. Support the claim, or lose it.

Green, eco-friendly, recyclable, free-of….  These terms mean a lot more than one would think. Time to make room for a long list of scientifically backed data to support these claims.

2. Original labeling requires explanation.

If you created your own-first party certification or labeling system, you must disclose that it’s original to you and substantiate the claims you make.

3. Certifications are endorsements.

If you have a material relationship with any third-party certifier, you must disclose.

4. Third party certification is not a rite of passage.

Third-party certification does not eliminate a marketer’s obligation to have substantiation for all conveyed claims.

5. Choose your message wisely.

Renewable materials, renewable energy and carbon-offset claims are all under scrutiny. Message with care.

Get involved in the discussion.  Let us know what you think, or post comments on the FTC’s site.

By greeniq

Earlier this year, we highlighted the release of the newest version of the Living Building Challenge certification program, Version 2.0 After digging a little deeper, we learned about the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL), in Rhinebeck, NY, a state-of-the-art education center currently pursuing Living Building certification. As a model of sustainable architecture and design, the OCSL is hoping to be the first building in the United States to be certified a Living Building. Recently, we had the opportunity to interview industry expert, Laura Lesniewski, principal at BNIM Architects and Project Manager for the Omega Center for Sustainable Living. Read on to see what Laura had to say about the OCSL’s quest for Living Building certification and how they are setting a benchmark for every building embracing the notion of sustainable design.

Omega 1 Living Building Pioneer: The Omega Center for Sustainable Living

© Assassi, Courtesy BNIM

What made the Omega Center for Sustainable Living decide to pursue Living Building Certification?

For starters, the Omega Center’s longstanding history is one of shared values with the Living Building Challenge, so they’ve already inherently been acting in a way that’s consistent with its foundation and principles. When we were brought onto the project as architects, we shared the idea of this brand new grading system with the CEO, who quickly realized that the Living Building Challenge aligned very well with their values already. And so it was at that point that the project took on its current name, which is the Omega Center for Sustainable Living.

So, I guess in short what made them decide to pursue it is because we proposed it, they were already aligned with its values and they thought it was a great idea.

Is the building pursuing LEED Certification as well?

We have submitted documentation for LEED certification as well, but neither has been confirmed – we are in the process right now.

omega 2 Living Building Pioneer: The Omega Center for Sustainable Living

© Assassi, Courtesy BNIM

When do you expect the Omega Center for Sustainable Living to achieve Living Building Certification?

For Living Building certification, we’ve just recently gathered all of the year-end data. The program requires that a project go through a year of validation to ensure that it meets the defined standards. We have just submitted that documentation to the International Living Building Institute, who reviews the materials, and then sends someone out to the building for an audit. So, we’re hoping for some good news this fall.

Have you faced any challenges throughout the process of becoming a certified Living Building?

I would say that because the program is so new, and because we’re one of the first teams going through it, we’ve been the guinea pig of sorts. There hasn’t been a roadmap set before us, so we’ve been forced to forge a path of our own as we go.

Specifically to the documentation process– it’s been interesting to figure out how much documentation to have on building materials for example, because there are pretty rigorous requirements and restraints on materials. Knowing exactly what it is we need to gather and submit has been quite a challenge.

Could you highlight some features of the OCSL specific to each of the seven performance areas – site, water, energy, health, materials equity and beauty? And how do they work with the environment as a whole?

For energy, we really focused on the design of the building to make sure that the energy load requirements were as minimal as possible. All of the energy from this building comes from photovoltaics, and we have three separate arrays on the building working for us. But because this is such an expensive technology, the less energy you need to run the building the better. For this reason, all of our design efforts went into optimizing the building’s form – things like orientation, solar access, the type of glazing on the building and taking advantage of thermal mass. All of this was done to reduce the overall energy load and ultimately allows us to get to net zero energy.

For water, Omega is in a unique situation where they are not connected to a municipal utility for water. The campus uses a well system, and all of the water drawn up from the wells is put through a wastewater treatment system, called the Eco Machine, designed by John Todd Ecological Design. The Eco Machine filters wastewater through various treatment zones, until the water becomes clean enough to be returned back to the ground water. This whole system creates a closed loop, which is how we get our net zero water. It’s pretty cool!

Health is related to things like indoor air quality and the correct amount of air volume, which also relates to materials, so these two work hand in hand. All of our building materials were carefully selected for the greater role they could play in the functioning building.

The requirements can be very challenging when it comes to materials. You have to not only meet air quality guidelines, but also avoid any products that contain materials on the red material list. To meet these demands, we did a lot of research as to what was available and close to the building site, while using the purest materials possible.

Using reclaimed wood is one way to ensure that you’re building green, so we worked with a group called Planet Reuse (, who sourced salvaged materials from around the country that fit our specifications. Some of the wood used in the bones of the building was reclaimed from the 2009 presidential inaugural stage. They were a great resource in handling salvaged materials, reducing our fuel consumption and saving us money and time.

omega 3 Living Building Pioneer: The Omega Center for Sustainable Living

© Assassi, Courtesy BNIM

Moving forward, what efforts are required to ensure that the OCSL is constantly achieving its desired building performance?

By revisiting these buildings every few years, we have the opportunity to go back and look at the building post occupancy and understand how people are living and functioning within them. We can see what’s working and what’s not. We then can compile these lessons learned and make adjustments for better sustainable practices in the future.

How does this go on in the future? These buildings are our babies that we need to watch out for with an on-going plan in place, and the challenge does just that. Championing the idea of the living building can be a big risk, so it’s crucial that all parties involved, and especially the owner, are fully bought in and prepared to support the building moving forward.

Visit, for more information from BNIM on the making of the Omega Center for Sustainable Living.

By greeniq
dell childrens medical center202 2 LEED for Healthcare: Third Public Comment Period open until Sept. 5

Complements of Jetson Green and the Dell Childrens Medial Center

The proposed LEED 2009 for Healthcare New Construction & Major Renovation Rating System is currently open for public comment, but not for long. Aligning with USGBC standards, the draft, now in its third 20-day comment period will remain open until September 5, 2010 for any member of the public to review, raise concerns or provide further clarification. This unique process allows anyone to play an active role in the ongoing effort to create a sustainable built environment, specifically as it relates to healthcare facilities. Now is your chance to promote positive change within the healthcare architecture, building and design markets.

So how exactly does it work? The comment process begins with reviews by several groups including the USGBC, the Technical Advisory Group, USGBC’s Board of Directors and a LEED Steering Committee. Once completed, the new rating systems are opened for public review and comment. The first comment period is open to the public for at least 45 days. When this period closes, valid public comments are incorporated into the draft, and a second public comment period is opened. Since the second public comment period of LEED for Healthcare, there are several credits still up for review. Following is a brief rundown of these open credits in key LEED performance areas:

Sustainable Site Development

  • Light Pollution Reduction
  • Connection to the Natural World: Places of Respite

Energy Efficiency

  • Minimum energy performance

Materials Selection

  • Storage & collection of recyclables
  • Furniture & Medical Furnishings
  • PBT Source Reduction: Mercury

Environmental Quality

  • Minimum Indoor Air Quality Performance
  • Acoustic Quality
  • Environmental Quality Management Plan (EQMP): During Construction
  • Low-Emitting Materials
  • Thermal Comfort: Design & Verification
  • Daylight & Views: Daylight

Buildings range from inpatient and outpatient care facilities, long-term care facilities and medical offices to assisted living facilities and medical education centers. As stated by the USGBC, LEED for Healthcare addresses issues such as increased sensitivity to chemicals and pollutants, traveling distances from parking facilities, and access to natural spaces.

To architects, designers, contractors, facility managers and building product manufacturers alike, we propose the following: Healthcare facilities provide you with a unique opportunity to further enhance the relationship between our health and green building solutions. By measuring and highlighting the health benefits that result from high performance healthcare environments, we can inspire those in other markets to adopt the same principles.

Want to learn more? Visit for complete guidelines on submitting comments and a summary of the most recent changes to the draft of the rating system.

By greeniq

GreenGuides Prepping for the FTC's New Green Guides

There’s no denying the recent growth in environmental awareness among consumers today, especially in the home and building industry. From water conserving fixtures to recyclable building materials; high-efficiency windows to low VOC finishing products, consumers everywhere are aiming to reduce their environmental impact through the use of sustainable building products and practices.

Unfortunately, as the sustainable building market grows, so does the clutter of marketing claims such as green, recyclable, environmentally friendly or biodegradable, misleading consumers the true environmental benefits of a company or product. In addition, misleading environmental claims have the potential to take market share away from those products with legitimate sustainable benefits. So how can marketers protect consumers from these misleading marketing claims?

Have no fear, the FTC is taking strides to eliminate deception in the green building marketplace through its environmental marketing guides, also known as the “Green Guides.” A new, much more stringent version is due out in October (this has been a long time coming). In the meantime, here’s where the FTC Green Guides stand today:

According to the guides, unfair or deceptive acts or practices to environmental marketing claims are prohibited, giving the FTC the ability to bring law enforcement actions against any such claims. The guides explain how sustainable messages are most likely interpreted, in hopes that marketers avoid making these misleading claims in the first place.

Following is a list of five best practices we propose that marketers begin building into their practices as they prepare for the latest edition of Green Guides in October:

  • Know your products – Understand the environmental impact of your product across its entire lifecycle to avoid making incorrect suggestions about a product’s “greenness”.
  • Keep Environmental Claims Specific – As stated by the FTC, environmental marketing claims should specify whether it refers to the product, packaging or both
  • Use Seals of Approval and Certifications – Seals of Approval such as Green Seal and WaterSense® legitimize green marketing claims, providing a sense of environmental superiority over non-certified competitors. The FTC advises marketers to accompany certifications with information explaining the basis for the award.
  • Avoid Vague Claims – Add substance to claims like “environmentally friendly” by providing consumers with an explanation as to why or how that product is “environmentally friendly.”
  • Talk the Talk – Familiarize yourself with the true meanings of specific claims such as biodegradable, recyclable, compostable, refillable or ozone safe. Refer t the green guides to be sure your claims are in no way deceptive.

By following these best practices in accordance with the FTC’s Green Guides, marketers will not only establish trust among consumers, but allow true green products to prosper in the sustainable building industry.

To access the FTC’s complete Green Guides for communicating environmental marketing claims visit

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