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BUILDINGChicago eShow Daily – Day 2 coverage

The BD+C editorial team brings you this real-time coverage of day 2 of the BUILDINGChicago/Greening the Heartland conference and expo taking place this week at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza.
September 10, 2013 |

The first annual BUILDINGChicago/Greening the Heartland conference and expo kicked off yesterday at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza. During the show, more than 125 speakers and panelists will deliver 72 continuing education sessions to hundreds of AEC professionals.

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 2 (read our report from Day 1):



Chicago Park District turning up the heat on building automation

The Chicago Park District put its newest ventures into the world of building automation on display at BuildingChicago, detailing the ongoing conversion process that has already seen 52 buildings brought up-to-date.

The impetus for better building automation came from concerns about heating of CPD buildings, according to chief operating officer Patrick Levar and deputy director of natural resources Ellen Sargent. Several park district buildings were already automated, but each building’s system could only be accessed from that building. With the new system put in place by AMI Automation, “an engineer can get on a laptop in one building and check on any one of 52 buildings,” Sargent said.

CPD Chief Operating Engineer Daniel Dust demonstrated this new accessibility, showing session attendees the status of heating equipment at several park district facilities. Users are given a graphical representation of each individual piece of equipment, allowing them to quickly assess its status.

One of the primary goals of the system update was to reduce the number of emergency maintenance events caused by utility outages and other unforeseen circumstances. “When you look at all this time that was spent having a guy go out to a building because it was cold, that could be a three- to four-hour solution,” said Levar. “Now we can accomplish the same thing in a much shorter time.”



Managing green liability risk not so different from 'normal' risk mitigation

Worries about legal liability have long dogged the sustainable building movement, but insurance expert Karen Erger (Locton Companies) and attorney Eric Singer (Ice Miller LLP) say sustainability lawsuits are caused by the same types of issues that have always prompted clients to sue AEC firms. "The 'new' risks of green design are the same as in any kind of design," says Erger. Suits tend to center around four areas:

  • Client expectations unmet (desired level of certification not achieved, project failed to qualify for incentives, energy savings not realized, sustainable elements increased cost or caused delay).
  • Elevated standard of care.
  • Uninsurable guarantees or warranties.
  • Problems caused by new products or systems (didn't work as advertised, weren't installed properly, weren't operated or maintained properly).

The best tools for managing such risks are well-established, according to Erger and Singer:

  • Define and document the client's goals. (Don't guarantee that goals will be achieved; set and reinforce reasonable expectations throughout the project; don't assume risk of factors you can't control.)
  • Set a reasonable standard of care. Don't allow elevated language about your performance to creep into the contract (such as incorporation of marketing language from your initial proposal).
  • Don't warrant or guarantee outcomes (specific level of a standard, specific energy savings, etc.).
  • Do due diligence when specifying products. (Get the owner's informed consent for using new products, and document your research -- even if most if it is digital. Print it or take screen shots, and put it in a project file that you can find later.)

Singer says the AIA's Guide for Sustainable Projects (D503-2011) is "a really good guide for contract language modification and risk protection." The 2012 AIA Sustainable Projects (SP) forms incorporate model language into existing AIA contract documents (A101, A201, A401, B101, C401). Singer and Erger placed particular emphasis on not guaranteeing achievement of specific sustainability goals, on avoiding unduly elevating the standard of care beyond the ordinary level of professional practice, and on avoiding taking responsibility for functions that are being performed by other parties, including the contractor, subs, and the owner.  

The AIA's form B101-2007 SP offers language protecting the architect when untested materials and equipment will be used, and the association also offers "Client Waiver and Informed Consent to use an Experimental Green Product." Since a manufacturer may no longer be in business months or years later, if a problem arises, management of legal liability for the use of experimental green products is important.



Loyola University tackles retrofits using inspiration from new construction

Having opened four new LEED-certified or LEED-targeted buildings on its Lake Shore campus in the past year alone (including the Center for Sustainable Urban Living, which opened just last week prior to BUILDINGChicago), Loyola University Chicago has been on an aggressive construction campaign in the last decade or so to reduce its energy usage intensity (EUI), said Kana Wibbenmeyer, Associate Vice President for Facilities, Loyola University Chicago, in a Tuesday morning session.

The session focused on enhancing retrofit strategies in existing academic buildings by taking cues from innovative solutions found in new high-performance structures. It was presented by Wibbenmeyer; Ralph Muehleisen, PE, LEED BD+C, FASA, building scientist at Argonne National Laboratory; and architect Mike Stopka, AIA, LEED BD+C, of Solomon Cordwell Buenz. Rounding out the Building Team was Elara Engineering.

Two prime examples were highlighted: Cuneo Hall, a new high-performance academic building built in 2011, and Dumbach Hall, a structure built in 1908 that received minor renovations in 2006. The two buildings are similar in size and scope, and the Building Team presented results of a study that would improve the energy performance of Dumbach Hall beyond the 2006 retrofits using lessons learned from designing Cuneo Hall.

One of the innovative energy-efficient solutions at Cuneo Hall is a feature using classroom sensors to alert occupants when to open or close windows to maximize ventilation. “It’s an example of how are we leveraging the power of people in these buildings to work for us, to make it more efficient,” said Stopka.



Crate & Barrel taking the LEED on BIM

The story of how Crate & Barrel’s newest store in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., achieved LEED Gold certification was a happy accident helped along by the latest technology, according to Crate & Barrel design architect Jinyoung Jang, LEED AP, BD+C and senior construction manager Joan Adamczyk, LEED AP, BD+C in their Tuesday morning session, An Owner’s Experience with LEED: The Crate & Barrel Story.

LEED Gold certification was nowhere on the radar when the project began, both women said. It wasn’t until they realized that several of the standard design features that are hallmarks in Crate & Barrel stores were LEED-compliant that the certification became part of the discussion.

“Honestly, it sounded ok at first but I was more overwhelmed by it than anything else,” admitted Jang. She and the rest of the Crate & Barrel design team employed Revit to figure out the design schematics, as has been the case with all Crate & Barrel projects since 2007.

While the software was invaluable during the design phase, Adamczyk talked about how the contractor was able to use the Revit drawing in the field to ensure total accuracy, down to the individual outlet box. “The Revit model was laid out to such a degree that they could lay out rebar from it,” she added.

Adamczyk admitted that taking the software out in the field presented its own set of challenges and is still a work-in-progress, but was optimistic that it was a practice that would continue to grow. 



Chicago moves to mandate building energy benchmarking

The Windy City is the latest U.S. city to introduce legislation that would mandate building energy benchmarking and disclosure for owners of large commercial and residential buildings. The ordinance was introduced in June 2013 and is up for a city council vote on Wednesday, September 11. 

In developing the Chicago Energy Use Benchmarking & Transparency Ordinance, city officials reached out to eight U.S. cities that have enacted similar benchmarking legislation and adopted the best elements of each program.

During a panel discussion on Tuesday morning, Jamie Ponce, Chicago City Director of the C40 - Clinton Climate Initiative, outlined the elements that differentiate Chicago's benchmarking ordinance. The most unique element, said Ponce, is a rule that mandates the verification of building energy data every three years. The data must be checked and verified by a registered architect, professional engineer, or other trained professional designated by the city. Chicago will be the only city with such a mandate.

"We asked representatives from the eight other cities what they would add or do differently, and the overwhelming majority mentioned the need for data quality and accuracy," said Ponce. "They said they were getting some questionable data from building owners." 

Causes range from errors in data entry to owners not fully considering all aspects of the building in calculating the energy performance. "It's helpful to have an additional data check," added Ponce. The city will offer low- and no-cost verification options for building owners who cannot afford third-party data verification services.

Here's a breakdown of Chicago's  benchmarking ordinance (click image to enlarge):


Here's a comparison of the various U.S. city ordinances (click image to enlarge):

For more on Chicago's ordinance, click here.



Post-occupancy evaluation examines healthcare client satisfaction

VOA Associates has been developing a program for post-occupancy evaluation with several of its healthcare clients since 2004. The most recent iteration was used for a POE with the Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill.—a new outpatient facility and trauma center.

VOA team members Susan Heinking and Patty Looker discussed the process, with comments by Tim Bassett of Advocate Healthcare. The first section of the three-part POE that VOA is currently using consists of an Initial Project Satisfaction analysis, approximately six months post occupancy. This includes interviews with relevant executives and a web-based survey, followed by a written report.

The second procedure is a Warranty Walk Through about 12 months post occupancy, consisting of the same web-based survey but to a larger group of recipients (including doctors, nurses, facility staff, support staff, and other users). This phase also includes a walk-through in collaboration with the contractor, followed by a written report.

Finally, a Building Performance analysis is done 18 to 24 months after occupancy, based on the client’s water, gas, and electricity bills compared with project targets. Again, VOA provides a written report.

For the BroMenn project, the third phase revealed a much higher Energy Use Intensity than initially predicted (EUI = kBTU/sf). Discussion with the client and commissioning agent confirmed the building was operating as designed. However, the team discovered that addition of program elements had resulted in BroMenn operating more like a small hospital, including a 24-hr acute care center and advanced imaging. These elements had rendered the prior “outpatient” benchmarks relatively inaccurate for comparison. Bassett said that there had also been VE of some items that would have improved the EUI, and that the energy-intense program elements (such as imaging) were generating revenue that the owner considered to be an acceptable tradeoff for the higher than expected EUI. Discussions regarding building efficiency are ongoing with Advocate.

According to Looker, take-aways included adaptability of the POE process to other building sectors, potential integration with the work of commissioning agents, the continued need for frank life cycle discussions with clients, and the need for the POE to be part of the project schedule from the beginning, including in responses to RFPs.

Heinking invites people interested in POE development to contact her about further discussions:



Covey's advice helpful when encouraging clients to consider extreme green

Bob Berkebile (BNIM Architects) and Ralph C. Bicknese (Hellmuth + Bicknese Architects) designed the first two Living Building Challenge projects, which were both certified in 2009 (BNIM's Omega Center and Bicknese's Tyson Living Learning Center). Along with moderator Robin R. Randall (ED lab INC and Judson University), they encouraged session attendees to consider the usefulness of Stephen Covey's time-honored "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" as an inspiration to sustainable design.

Covey's advice:

  • Be proactive.
  • Begin with the end in mind.
  • Put first things first.
  • Think win-win.
  • Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.
  • Synergize.
  • Sharpen the saw (challenge yourself with inspirational activities and people).

The panelists discussed the applicability of these principles to their work. For instance, Berkebile mentioned the development of LEED as a prime example of "put first things first," in its huge impact. Though not perfect, LEED has shaped people's thinkings about priorities for green design and strongly influenced the built environment, creating baseline thinking for more ambitious standards. He spoke of the usefulness of "seek first to understand" when recounting stories of BNIM's experiences working with clients in post-disaster environments, particularly Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Greensburg, Kansas. The latter, a very conservative community, nevertheless mandated LEED Platinum as a construction standard after being leveled in a storm. Berkebile said having teams from his firm volunteer in the post-disaster cleanup, and serve and get to know the families of Greensburg before suggesting specific strategies, was a key aspect in fostering trust and a larger vision for rebuilding. "Women and children were very involved, and we have found that to be crucial in many of our projects," he says. "Having their input changes everything."

BNIM has developed the experimental REGEN tool to support regenerative design efforts—an example of Covey's emphasis on synergy, since it reflects graphically the impact of each decision on apparently unrelated aspects of a project. Berkebile mentioned that Covey eventually added more to his "seven habits," and that his Habit 9, "Leave this world better than it was when you got here," had become a guiding principle for BNIM's work.

Bicknese mentioned the importance of being proactive in taking a leadership role to encourage clients to be more ambitious about green design. Like Berkebile, he emphasizes leaving things better than you found them and designing to enrich life. He finds particular inspiration for green design in the principles of nature, which eliminates waste, operates on solar income, purifies water, creates oxygen, utilizes local materials, provides habitat, produces food, and is beautiful (though sometimes harsh).

In listening deeply to client needs, Bicknese seeks win-win solutions as encouraged by Covey. For instance, Berea College recently opened a student residence that is seeking LEED Platinum and LBC Petal Recognition, but not full Living Building certification. The client didn't want to use composting toilets or other methods for waste mangement required for full Living Building certification, or to pursue net-zero. Yet many ambitious green strategies, such as use of wood found in the college's 8,000-acre forest (which Bicknese's firm helped the college get FSC-certified), were implemented.



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