The first annual BUILDINGChicago/Greening the Heartland conference and expo kicked off at 8:30 a.m. CDT today (September 9) at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza. Over the next three days, more than 125 speakers and panelists will deliver 72 continuing education sessions to more than 500 AEC industry professionals.
The BD+C editorial team is here en masse to bring you this real-time report from the show. Here’s our recap of the education sessions from Day 1:
“We wanted to be green on all our projects, not just when someone else said let’s do it,” according to Robins & Morton’s  Jackie Mustakas. To that end, the Southeastern U.S. contactor developed a sustainability education program for its workers, along with a Sustainable Job Sites Policy.
Among the “wild but feasible ideas” that resulted: using LEDs for temporary lighting, putting nozzles on hoses to reduce water waste, prohibiting smoking on the job site, and watering job sites to keep dust from getting into workers’ lungs.
“Our next step is to track the dollar savings we’re achieving from these practices, to document the financial benefit to building owners,” said Mustakas.
John Kemp, of Big-D Construction , a Utah-based contractor with 56 LEED APs and 58 LEED-rated buildings in its portfolio, said: “We contractors tend to focus on the things that are important to us as contractors, but we really need to look at the needs of the whole team, and also understand which LEED credits the owner wants, not what we think is good.”
Kemp listed the “Four Contractor Pitfalls” related to sustainable construction:
1. Lack of consistency in subcontractors’ familiarity with LEED requirements—e.g., the earthwork contractor not knowing the site requirements for controlling dust
2. Not understanding the schedule requirements for LEED credits—i.e., the amount of time, the seasonal parameters, and the required volume of air for a flushout
3. Failing to exercise caution when going over your submittals—e.g., letting a painting contractor prime the whole building with high-VOC paint before flushout
4. Substituting products that may not meet your LEED requirements—for example, substituting low-grade materials for high-recycled-content flooring.
Flintco’s  Terrell Hoagland, a veteran of 51 LEED projects, told the BUILDINGChicago/Greening the Heartland audience that his Tulsa-based firm has been working with local waste haulers on construction waste diversion from landfill.
As a result, Harley Hollan Cos. , has achieved an 87% C&D diversion rate. Now, every project Flintco does in the Tulsa area is at or above 75% C&D diversion rate.
“A lot of C&D is economy of scale—asphalt shingle, wood, gyp board, PVC piping,” said Hoagland. “The more you do, the more products the haulers find to recycle. We used to pay $325-350 for a 30-yard pull, and now we’ve got it down to $170, because the waste haulers are making so much money recycling those materials and not paying the landfill tip fees.”
Minnesota’s GreenStep Cities Program was established by the state’s Pollution Control Agency to help cities choose from 28 best management practices (BMP) related to sustainability.
As architect Rick Carter, of the Minneapolis-based firm LHB, noted, “How do you know that the BMPs are working? What’s the comparative data?”
Those are the questions that the Regional Indicators Initiatives set out to answer for 20 municipalities in the seven-county Twin Cities area. Carter was joined by Debbie Goettel, Mayor of Richfield, Minn., one of the participants in the study.
The initiative has been measuring energy in Btu and water use (for commercial and residential buildings) as well as vehicle miles traveled, municipal waste in pounds, GHG emissions, and cost in dollars.
So far, the data for energy use reflects the downturn in the economy in 2008-09, with a definite increase starting in 2010. GHGs in the study averaged 14-15 tonnes of CO2e/year, vs. the U.S. average of 17.3. Residential water use ranged from a high of 120 gal/person/day in one city, to a low of 40.
“Minnesota cities are engaged in measuring their performance and reducing emission,” said Carter. “It is possible to measure communitywide data and normalize by jobs, population, households, and weather. Data collection helps cities establish a baseline to enable action.”
Carter’s advice to others wishing to track regional environmental data: “Don’t try to measure everything. Pick the things you can measure readily, and start with those.”
Mayor Goettel, an engineer by training, said her city of 36,000, which borders Minneapolis on the north, has been experimenting with a geothermal system for its public works building (a winner) and porous pavement (not so good—freeze/thaw problems).
Richfield has had one of the best BMP records among the 20 municipalities in the regional initiative, even though it does not certify LEED for city buildings due to cost considerations.
Her advice to public officials: “Set measurable and obtainable goals for energy use and carbon reduction. Consider alternative energy sources and sustainability measures in your redevelopment projects. And look for energy efficiency for municipally owned and operated buildings.”
The wide, wild world of existing building certifications was the subject of a late-night panel Monday with Jenny Carney, of YR&G; Ari Kobb, LEED AP O+M, of Siemens Infrastructure & Cities; and Ben Bischmann, with Jones Lang LaSalle.
Panelists laid out the various requirements, prerequisites, and point systems for the three main U.S. programs for certifying existing buildings: LEED-EBOM, with about 2,000 buildings; Green Globes CIEB (Continual Improvement in Existing Buildings), 400 certifications; and BOMA 360, with 600 approvals.
Carney explained that LEED-EBOM has attracted mostly older commercial buildings seeking to move up in quality and be more competitive In specific real estate markets. With Green Globes CIEB, the single largest user is the Veterans Administration, which accounts for 75% of all CIEB-certified buildings, according to Kobb.
As for BOMA 360, virtually all registrations come through BOMA members, said Bischmann, and there is a strong tie-in to BOMA’s annual TOBY (“The Outstanding Building of the Year”) Awards. BOMA 360 only considers commercial and industrial buildings, whereas EBOM and CIEB are open to a much wider range of building types.
The panelists agreed that more work needs to be done to register and certify greater numbers of existing buildings if these programs are going to have any significant effect in reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Paul Todd Merrill, with national design-build contractor Clayco (~$800 million in annual revenues), and Benjamin Skelton, with energy modeling firm Cyclone Energy Group, urged BUILDINGChicago/Greening the Heartland attendees to dig deep to find out what the client’s real goals are—and how energy modeling may change their views for the better.
“Energy modeling allows you to show the client that an R30 roof may not be needed for a heated-only warehouse in the middle of a cornfield,” said Merrill. In one example, Clayco was able to justify reducing the wall insulation of a warehouse building through the data from the energy model, saving the client significant costs.
“What is the client asking for: 40% better energy savings than local code? With energy modeling, we can give them a program for materials, systems, and operational effects and tie it into BIM modeling for an effective EUI” (energy use intensity),” said Merrill.
Merrill’s final bit of advice: “It’s really important to stay on top of the proposed solutions that you’ve spec’d for the client. You don’t want alternative products or systems used.”
Ashlee Mras of the city of Indianapolis Office of Sustainability took some time Monday afternoon to demonstrate how the city has been using the STAR (Strategic Tool for Assessing & Rating) Communities Index to drive environmental, social and economic improvements across the city.
True sustainability, said Mras, takes all three factors into account; oftentimes, however, she said that most people only consider sustainability from the environmental and economic perspectives. This is where STAR steps it up, taking into account “the community as a whole,” Mras said.
The index was developed to try to create consistent reporting standards for sustainability across the U.S. Cities are scored in seven different areas: Built Environment; Climate & Energy; Economy & Jobs; Education, Arts & Community; Health & Safety; Equity & Empowerment; and Natural Systems. Each category contains a series of Outcomes and Actions, for which a city can earn points upon completion. Each outcome is a measurable, condition-level indicator, trend line or target that can be objectively evaluated. Actions are described as preparatory or implementation; a higher point value is assigned to implementation actions.
After describing each section in-depth and explaining the point system, Mras went on to describe the city’s current priorities in each category. Examples included planting of 31,000 trees over the last three years (Natural Systems), the Indy Connect transit improvement program (Built Environment), and expansion of youth programs across the city (Education, Arts & Community).
According to Mras, the city is about 90% of the way through the pilot. Indianapolis is one of 30 cities in North America and Canada currently going through the STAR pilot program.
“Water and energy are the two biggest factors in site design,” said Daniel Hellmuth, principal at Hellmuth & Bicknese Architects.
The Tyson Living Learning Center at Washington University in St. Louis is just one of many examples offered at the BUILDINGChicago/Greening the Heartland session on the water-energy nexus that illustrates this idea. As the first building certified to the Living Building Challenge, the net zero water and energy Tyson center maximizes the space with rooftop photovoltaic panels and a rainwater catchment system.
Water can be reused in a number of ways, and from a number of sources, said Michael Berning of Heapy Engineering. However, some local and state regulations may place extra restrictions on this water. In some states, water ownership is a factor, as the government may actually have the right to control collected rainwater. Also, many public water sources bill owners of properties based on water use if collected stormwater is not metered before being sent out for treatment.
At the Milton Union School, a K-12 facility in West Milton, Ohio, water is collected from a partial roof and courtyard drains and used for water closet and urinal flushing. A packaged system collects the water in a 75,000-gallon cistern, and treats and repressurizes it. Some of the water is also used for irrigation.
The system cost $170,000, and the school initially experienced a savings of $12,000 per year. However, the city required the water to be submetered, cutting the annual cost savings in half. But the significant water savings are a testament to the system’s success. All toilet/urinal flushing uses the reclaimed water, saving 1.5 million gallons per year. Overall, the school is seeing a water savings of 84% annually.
Berning left the audience with a final thought: “You can’t manage what you don’t measure … and monitor.” The data recorded from real-time water and energy systems is only useful if it is monitored and maintained proactively.
“Sustainability means something different to distressed people,” said Ryan Evans and Jeremy Knoll of Historic Green in their Monday morning session, “Eye on Equity: Embracing Social Agendas at the Local Level.”
The Kansas City-based nonprofit organization helps under-resourced communities help themselves grow through sustainable design and development. Often working alongside the local USGBC chapter, Historic Green helps to organize the local rebuilding efforts, supplying manpower and training by expert professionals in numerous fields.
Evans and Knoll described Historic Green’s very first project, reaching out to the residents of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, one of the worst-hit areas in the path of Hurricane Katrina. After talking to the city and determining its needs for rebuilding this historic neighborhood (85% of the homes are on the National Register of Historic Places), Historic Green began bringing in working professionals with experience in sustainable practices to help jump-start the process. This included experts in deconstruction for recycled materials, landscape engineers to create rain gardens and energy experts to advise on window restoration and radium barrier installation.
“We’re able to leverage professional networks to get resources that would be otherwise unavailable,” said Knoll. Historic Green is committed to employing these resources in New Orleans for the long-term as well, helping them achieve their goals of reducing carbon neutrality by 2020.
The presentation concluded with a look at some of the other work Historic Green has done over its six-year existence, including a community garden project in a low-income neighborhood in Kansas City and a sustainable weatherization retrofit of eight homes.
Architect and Certified Passive House Consultant Tom Bassett-Dilley explains the basics of the Passive House Standard.
In a recent study , Energy Center of Wisconsin researchers hypothesized that buildings would miss out on significant energy savings due to daylight systems control failures, such as improper photosensor location or uncalibrated photosensor gain. Upon implementing comprehensive commissioning strategies, researchers thought savings could be captured.
Putting this theory into practice, researchers pinpointed 20 buildings in the Twin Cities (Minn.) and Madison, Wis., areas. In these office, public assembly, and education buildings, researchers installed monitoring equipment and monitored the existing daylighting systems as-is, disabled, and then recommissioned.
According to Scott Hackel, energy engineer, Energy Center of Wisconsin, researchers measured the ideal light levels versus the actual light levels to determine performance. Before commissioning, the median lighting savings across buildings was 20%; a library monitored in the study saved as much as 74%. Four buildings in the study had implemented daylight systems but were not experiencing any lighting savings. Then the systems were commissioned.
A commissioning strategy, Hackel said, is most effective when it begins in the pre-design phase. Commissioning should be assigned as a task with an identifiable goal. The agent should have clearly defined responsibilities and should be well aware of project requirements before construction begins. The agent should verify installation is done correctly through testing during both construction and after occupancy, ensuring users are properly trained in the daylighting control system.
Calibration of the system is key and should be done after furniture is moved in, or even after occupancy so the calibration is done in the natural working environment. The sensor should face the work surface, not direct sunlight, and gain should be adjusted during the day, under two levels of daylight if possible.
As for the research study, after commissioning was in place, the library reached 92% lighting savings. The median lighting savings was 55%, with the least amount of energy savings at 14.2%. This indicates, Hackel explained, that there may be a new market for recomissioning in daylighting systems to ensure controls are used effectively.
Lafayette, Ind.’s historic North Street was considered a prime candidate for green infrastructure street reconstruction and stormwater management repairs. Poor drainage uprooted sidewalks, limiting ADA accessibility, and a gas line runinng down the middle of the street caused bumps and cracks in the road. A study found that the street would provide the greatest capital investment per annual gallon of stormwater removed.
According to Neil Meyers of Williams Creek Consulting, the goals of the project were to fix the street, including making the area ADA-accessible; manage stormwater effectively; and revitalize what is generally a low-income neighborhood made up of historic homes turned into rental properties.
Part of this community revitalization effort included involving members of the community in every step of the design process. The St. Boniface Church located on North Street hosts numerous community events, including the GermanFest street fair held in early September. Jennifer Leshney of the City of Lafayette explained that construction of Phase One had to be completed in time to welcome 10,000 visitors to the street.
The historic street was made of bricks and in the reconstruction process the team used permeable pavers to mimic the look of the original street. After the street was deconstructed, the original bricks were saved from landfills and used in landscaping along the sidewalks in the new design. Recognizing the importance of variety, Meyers recommended communication with paver suppliers and installers to ensure the historic look of the bricks is preserved.
Now, North Street will collect and store stormwater beneath the surface in storage cells ranging from 1 to 8 feet deep, depending on the slope of the land. Landscaping along the side of the street doubles as bioretention cells for additional water storage.
The first phase of the project saw the reconstruction of six miles of roadway. The Building Team is currently seeking funding for the second phase, which consists of the three most difficult blocks of construction.
Increasingly, commissioning of building systems is a common aspect of ongoing sustainability. Building envelope commissioning (BECx), which assesses performance of air, moisture, thermal, and vapor barriers, is the next wave, according to Jeff Crowe, PE, Pie Consulting and Engineering. Heat, which Crowe characterizes as the “heart and soul of BECx," represents about 30% of building energy costs, demonstrating the importance of a quality envelope. In addition, according to a 2007 study of 17,000 construction defect claims, nearly 70% were the result of moisture-related defects in the building envelope. Obviously the opportunity for risk-mitigation is also significant.
Though standards and codes have been somewhat vague, the new ASTM E283-12 standard provides a solid outline for the practice, labeled by Crowe as “the gold standard of BECx.” It spells out good practices in the areas of predesign, design, preconstruction, construction, performance testing, and occupancy. Though a good building enclosure commissioning agent will be involved at each phase, Crowe emphasized participation in design reviews and in QA observation as the most important phases of work. A good BECx agent will provide a fundamental or enhanced review of construction documents, will consult on owners’ project requirements and the BOD, formulate procedures for performance review, and participate in constructability analysis. Excellent QA observations should consist of photo-based reports, not just a series of checklists. The new ASTM standard provides a long list of applicable tests, but clear stipulations for pass/fail criteria and repeat testing should be determined for each project.
“Education is still needed for owners with respect to the benefits of a BECx program,” says Crowe. Estimated costs of building commissioning are 0.1% to 0.5% of the total construction budget, with Crowe’s experience indicating that 0.2% is common. Given the great potential benefits in energy savings, cost reductions, and risk management, this is certainly “not a huge amount,” he concludes.
As the city of Chicago moves toward a more sustainable future envisioned by the Sustainable Chicago 2015 Action Agenda, collaboration will be the key to all successful efforts, according to Nootan Bharani, AIA, managing director at CB&I.
The plan itself sprang from the combined efforts of the city and CB&I predecessor The Shaw Group, focusing efforts on seven categories: economic development and job creation; energy efficiency and clean energy; transportation; water and wastewater; parks, open spaces and healthy food; waste and recycling; and climate change. From those areas, 24 goals were generated, with specific action steps geared toward achievement of each goal.
Shaw sought input from civic and business organizations around the Chicago area to assess where priorities should be focused. The ability to measure progress through some kind of metric was crucial in determining goals. In the process, according to Bharani, the design team discovered several unpublished initiatives that helped inform their process.
In the year since its release, the action agenda has fostered partnerships between the city of Chicago and a variety of organizations, ranging from the CTA on increasing transit ridership to the Alliance for the Great Lakes on improving water quality and expanding access to Lake Michigan.
From a big-picture global perspective to zooming in on Chicago’s sustainability goals, Monday’s “21st Century Chicago” session at BUILDINGChicago/Greening the Heartland gave the audience a look into the green movement’s future in the city.
Luke Leung of Skidmore Owings & Merrill presented a global picture of sustainability. According to Leung, by 2025 the world population will be eight billion, with 10 million of those people residing in Chicago. With this population increase comes environmental challenges.
“Civilization does put stress on the environment and sometimes it does cause damage,” Leung said. Although cities take up only 2% of the Earth’s space, 53% of the world’s population lives in cities.
Jamie Ponce, Chicago city director of C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, gave the audience an idea of what the group and its leaders are doing to ensure the world’s cities are moving toward better sustainability.
“Cities really are on the front line of climate change,” Ponce said. C40 represents 63 cities—42 megacities with populations of 3 million or more, and 21 additional “innovator” cities. The cities in the organization represent 8% of the world’s population, 5% of GHG emissions, and 21% of the global GDP. The organization works with city mayors and other leaders to implement programs and ideas that are often shared among cities. Among the C40 cities, there are currently 4,734 climate actions underway.
Karen Weigert, chief sustainability officer for the City of Chicago, zoomed in even further, highlighting seven areas where the city hopes to make sustainability improvements. The Sustainable Chicago 2015 plan includes improvements in: economic development and job creation; energy efficiency and clean energy; transportation options; water and wastewater; parks, open space, and healthy food; waste and recycling; and climate change.
Weigert offered a number of examples of ways in which the city is accomplishing these goals. The Greencorps Chicago youth program, for example, is a summer job-training program that engaged 600 Chicago Public School students in sustainability projects. Also, the Retrofit Chicago commercial building initiative encourages building owners to reduce their energy use by 20% and report the results to the city. Thirty-two buildings are currently participating in the program, which the city facilitates by offering 5-day permitting times and partnerships with utilities.
The Divvy bike sharing system, blue cart recycling program, the closing of two large coal plants and the creation of the Bloomingdale Trail (also known as The 606), all contribute to the city’s 2015 sustainability plan.
Building Teams around the world are using wood systems to build well over the usual limit of four stories—with significant environmental benefits. That was the message from Cheryl Ciecko, AIA, ALA, LEED AP, CSI, Midwest Regional Director for Design & Construction Services for Woodworks/Wood Products Council, to an audience at BUILDINGChicago/Greening the Heartland.
In the U.K., said Ciecko, WaughThistelton Architects designed a nine-story wood building where the use of prefab wood systems cut 23 weeks off the construction schedule. Lend Lease developed a 10-story condo, Melbourne Victoria Harbour at Docklands, that attracted immediate attention from homebuyers.
“The wave of the future” in wood products, according to Ciecko: cross-laminated timber, which is essentially pieces of sawn lumber set across each other and laminated into solid structural sheets that can be up to 40 feet in length.
“Wood is not the answer for everything—it can be used in combination with other materials, like steel and concrete,” said Ciecko. LVL—laminated veneer lumber—and fiber-reinforced glulams are other options.
“We’re losing thousands of trees to the mountain pine beetle epidemic, but that wood can still be used,” she noted, pointing to the use of this remnant wood in the roof of the Richmond (B. C.) Olympic Oval, the speed skating venue at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Cincinnati has the nation’s most ambitious municipal green tax abatement, according to City Council member Laure Quinlivan, Green Cincinnati Education Advocacy staffer Chuck Lohre, and Paul Yankie of Green Build Consulting. In 2007 the city passed its tax-abatement ordinance for LEED construction, supplementing a state act subsidizing real estate taxes for construction and renovation in Community Reinvestment Areas (CRA). City officials credit the LEED incentives with encouraging construction of 164 projects since the law was passed, including single-family residential, multifamily residential, and commercial.
Currently, the incentive for single-family projects consists of tiered limits, all for a 15-year period. Certified projects include abatements of taxes on 100% of new construction value up to $275,000, with increasing dollar amounts allowed with higher LEED levels and no cap on the dollar amount of Platinum projects. For renovations, the dollar limits are the same, but the abatement lasts only for 10 years.
Incentives for commercial projects (including multifamily of four units or more) are somewhat less generous. “Certified” projects get no LEED abatement. For projects designated Silver and higher, 75% of real estate taxes are abated for 12 years (renovations) or 15 years (new construction).
The state CRA program also provides generous abatements, but going LEED allows owners and developers to bypass some of regulatory hoops and guarantees acceptance. (Acceptance is not guaranteed with CRA, and the abatement periods are shorter.)
Financial analyst Yankie says “start big,” “make it easy,” and “promote well, promote often” are some of his watchwords. He also argues that picking a standard (some municipalities just incentivize “green” without forcing a particular standard) lends critical mass and makes it easier to create a clear promotional message. Benefits for the municipality include reduced resource consumption (and ability to delay or eliminate infrastructure improvements); improved health of the community; perception of being forward-thinking; an increased property tax base due to development that would not otherwise have occurred; and, ultimately, better schools and other city services funded by the new development.
Typical oppositional arguments, according to Yankie, center around “lost” tax dollars. However, he says, this is a misperception, based on the feedback the city receives from those who are building LEED projects. “This is a program involving no cash out of the city’s pocket, and it is funding projects that would not have otherwise have happened,” Yankie says.
The Victory Centre South Chicago project is a two-phase low-income senior housing development on the far southeast side of the city. According to Chauncey Hoffmann of Harley Ellis Deveraux, the project complies with LEED New Construction Version 2.2 and the Illinois Housing of Development Authority’s Green Housing Initiative Program.
Hoffmann said the building’s fresh air requirements had to comply with ASHRAE 62.2, which meant the facility could not rely on corridors and undercuts in doors to circulate fresh air among the units.
Sanyog Rathod from Sol Design & Consulting explained the difference between ASHRAE 62.1 and 62.2. ASHRAE 62.1 applies to commercial buildings where the building is treated as one space. The residential version of the standard (62.2) applies to homes and other low-rise residential buildings (three stories or fewer) where each unit is addressed separately.
According to Rathod, this is the common reference standard for most green building certification programs and he recommended that everyone become familiar with 62.2 when LEED version 4 goes into effect.
Ted Krasnesky of Pepper Construction noted that when a team gets together to work on a project, “the contractors usually understand what things cost.” Krasnesky presented several aspects of the high-performance building and illustrated the financial benefits for each. For example, installing a high-performance building envelope cost $58,000, but led to $14,462 in annual energy savings and a 24% return on investment.
Laura Weyrauch of Pathway Senior Living provided the owner’s perspective on the Victory Centre Project. “My focus is not just the cost of all of these items,” she said, “but how do I keep 100-plus seniors warm and happy?”
These methods include eliminating cold dumps of air in the hallways, eliminating tricky HVAC controls, and providing sufficient lighting for seniors with failing eyesight. Senior housing also employs sustainable strategies such as single-room HVAC zones, occupancy sensors for lighting in common areas, and shading details in architecture and landscape design.
Marge Anderson, Executive VP with the Energy Center of Wisconsin , kicked off the first annual BUILDINGChicago/Greening the Heartland expo and conference this morning with a talk about the critical role the Midwest region plays in the nation's green building movement.
Anderson said the region, with its agricultural- and manufacturing-heavy economy, is ground zero for the environmental obstacles the country is facing, including climate change and energy production.
"No business sector is more directly affected by climate disruption than agriculture," she said. "It has an impact on food prices and food supplies for much of the country."
And even in a down economy, the Midwest remains a manufacturing powerhouse, and, therefore, plays a vital part in the energy-efficient manufacturing movement taking hold.
Equally significant, Anderson said, is the region's "political muscle." With more battle-ground states than any other region in the country, the Midwest will have a powerful voice in the 2016 national election. "Your activism and political voice is more important than in other states," Anderson told the crowd.
A retail/office building designed in 1929 for a hairpin manufacturing company has been reborn as a mix of apartments (mostly affordable housing), an arts center, and ground-floor retail in Chicago’s transitional Logan Square neighborhood. The 45,000-sf Hairpin Lofts building was the subject of a LEED Gold adaptive reuse and addition (4,300 sf), consisting of a gut job and a façade renovation that preserved period details. The building had been vacant for 20 years, except for a single retail tenant. The city of Chicago acquired the building in 2007, created a redevelopment RFP, and selected a Building Team led by Hartshome Plunkard Architecture.
Special features include a hybrid geo-exchange system, extensive envelope improvement, and limited installation of solar thermal on the rooftop. Engineering consultant Sachin Anand of dbHMS reviewed the strategies, which have led to actual energy consumption savings of 30% annually, compared with the baseline ASHRAE 90.1-2007.
Paul Alessandro of Hartshome Plunkard discussed principles for creating buildings that will be transformative to urban neighborhoods, including designing on a human scale, providing use choices (retail, office, residential), encouraging uses that can be an anchor for a neighborhood and can fill missing niches, and preserving existing urban centers. Adaptive reuse may cost 1.5 to 2.5 times more than a comparable new building, but a deeper analysis can reveal that it may take more than 60 years to equalize the value of embodied energy lost in a demolition. Reuse also typically produces more jobs than new construction, and at higher wages (due to the need for specialty labor).
Michael Roane of Brinshore Development, who was a reviewer with the City of Chicago when the project was planned, discussed the complex mix of funding strategies required to make the job a reality. On the residential side, these included tax-exempt bonds and low-income housing credits, “soft” financing (TIF assistance, an Enterprise Green Communities Grant, and the city’s write-down after selling the building to the developer for $1). Historic tax credits were used for both the commercial and residential construction.
Achieving a zero net energy building in the central U.S. can be a tough proposition, especially when cloudy winters limit the output of PV arrays. Nevertheless, Sherrie Gruder of the University of Wisconsin Extension  and engineer Manus McDevitt, Sustainable Engineering Group , say the difficulties shouldn't dissuade teams from seeking extreme levels of green.
Gruder points out that numerous viable interpretations are available, including basic zero net energy (a building or community that produces as much energy as it consumes on an annual basis, aided by on-site renewable energy generation and the minimization of energy consumption through design). Variants include net zero site energy (renewables all generated at the building site), net zero source energy (energy accounted for at the source, including energy for extraction, generation, and distribution), net zero cost energy (the amount the owner pays the utility for energy is less than or equal to the amount the utility pays the owner for renewable energy exported to the grid), net zero emissions energy (the building offsets all greenhouse gas emissions, via use of renewable energy and/or carbon offsets), net zero ready or capable, and "net plus."
Codes and standards driving clients to adopt net zero approaches include Architecture 2030's 2030 Challenge , the Living Building Challenge , and municipalities that have instituted 2030 districts. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers  has also taken a strong leadership role with net zero design. Policies with the force of law include the European Union's directive that all new construction will be zero net energy by 2020, several federal laws with somewhat limited applicability, and state laws in California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Illinois, New Mexico, and Washington, mostly based on some variant of the 2030 Challenge. A few municipalities have also moved toward a net zero standard. Gruder maintains a Zero Net Energy website  that tracks applicable policies, projects, R&D, and resources.
McDevitt reviewed typical projects in the Central U.S. In general, practical measures for getting to net zero include tweaking the envelope (building orientation, thermal performance, external overhangs/shading depending on climate, continuous air/vapor barrier, cool roof depending on climate). Lighting is also emphasized (daylighting, switching technologies, lighting levels, efficiency). HVAC is a focus (improve system efficiencies, improve equipment efficiencies, turn equipment off), and O&M is an area of increasing attention (best practices, commissioning and metering). Early energy modeling is important to most net zero projects, and optimization studies can be helpful for identifying the sweet spot with products that offer a range of "green" characteristics, such as wall insulation, windows, and roofing. Life cycle cost analysis is essential for making sound financial decisions as well.
Example projects discussed by McDevitt, which implemented strong sustainability plans aiming toward net zero (with varied degrees of success), include the US Army Corp's Fabens (Texas) Border Patrol station; the Outagamie Airport General Aviation Terminal  (Appleton, Wis.); the Madison (Wis.) Fire Station 12 ; and broad upgrade measures taken by the Fort Atkinson (Wis.) School District . Gruder reviewed additional projects of interest, including the Rieselfeld  and Vauban  districts in Freiburg, Germany; NREL's Research Support Facility ; Richardson Elementary School  in Bowling Green, Ky. (America's first net zero K-12 project); and the Aspinall Federal Building and Courthouse  in Colorado, a LEED Platinum retrofit of a 1918 building.
In summary, says Gruder, zero net energy design requires looking at the big picture of a project's energy systems as well as the availability of renewables (geothermal, PV, biomass). These buildings are becoming more common, and the strategy has been embedded in certain federal mandates. The Living Building Challenge requires zero net energy as one "petal." Numerous useful analytical tools and design methods are available to the Building Team.
The BD+C editorial team brings you this real-time coverage of the BUILDINGChicago/Greening the Heartland conference and expo taking place this week at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza.
The first annual BUILDINGChicago/Greening the Heartland conference and expo kicked off this morning at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza. The BD+C editorial team is here en masse to bring you this real-time report from the show. Here’s is our recap of the education sessions from Day 1.
The first annual BUILDINGChicago/Greening the Heartland conference and expo kicked off this morning at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza. The BD+C editorial team is here en masse to bring you this real-time report from the show. Here’s is our recap of the education sessions from Day 1.