Input Welcome to Make Buildings Greener

Input Welcome to Make Buildings Greener

I had a great day Wednesday . . . just learning. With so many outlets available, people now seem to have a compulsion to expound, expound, expound (guilty as charged . . .) and more decisions seem to be made based on opinion, regardless of any pesky facts that might be hovering around.

This welcome input-heavy respite came courtesy of the two-day GreenBuildingsNY conference, which ended today at the Javits Center. Admittedly, as conference chair, I put together a program full of information that I wanted to get, and I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed. I’ll cover some of the interesting sessions I attended next week, as well as provide a link to the presentation material.

Sadly, because of the GreenBuildingsNY event, I was not able to attend the Johnson Controls/U.S. Energy Association’s 21st Annual Energy Efficiency Forum in Washington, D.C., but Annie Snider’s excellent recaps are almost as good as being there (except for the part where you get to rub elbows with congressional representatives and top energy executives). Here are her posts  from yesterday and today. Behavioral scientist, Dr. Robert Cialdini from Arizona State University, presented a surefire energy-saving technique that was found to be three times more effective than several others tested. 

Earlier this week, and conducted a Philips-sponsored webinar entitled “Bringing Efficiency to Light” that described the opportunities for whole-building energy savings that can spring from the seed of lighting efficiency. Philips’ Steve McGuire noted that lighting technology is moving rapidly and described a new free online tool at that allows users to calculate their energy efficiency of their company or home as well as how much they can save by improving it.  An archive of the hour-long webinar may be accessed here.

I suppose incarceration could be considered a form of input (or certainly feedback for negative output), so the reuse and adapting of shipping containers as prison cells in New Zealand is quite intriguing, though if one fully applied an integrated approach to the question, it seems as though we would want to find ways to need fewer prison cells. Certainly, prison overcrowding is an issue in the U.S. and fully heated and cooled cells can be made from modified shipping containers (they have windows, for example) at half the price of building a new facility.

Shari Shapiro follows last week’s piece on litigation surrounding the construction problems in a LEED-aspiring project with another fascinating piece about dueling opinions regarding whether a Wisconsin high school deserved its LEED-Gold certification.  A group of citizens and engineers sponsored the first-ever third-party appeal the project’s certification on the grounds that key prerequisites were not complied with. 

In response to this appeal, the USGBC hired two independent reviewers to assess the merits of the complaint and they found that the award of LEED certification was appropriate, much to the dismay of the appellants. Having skimmed the ~150 pages of material involved, it seems that this case is as much as a philosophical one as a technical one.  

Is LEED’s role one of a collaborative market transformation tool or as a clear set of rules that must be fully obeyed to achieve certification? As I was helping shape the system in its early days, I believe that LEED’s initial job was to achieve market penetration and to then become increasingly more stringent in its technical and compliance requirements as the market became more capable.

On the building front, the Church of Scientology is about to open a new LEED certified church in Pasadena, following a string of renovations of historic buildings -- some award winning -- over the last several years.

This week’s Look-Grandpa-I-picked-up-the-$20-bill-you-said-was-fake-but-it's-real! award goes to Burger King for its new restaurant in Germany that is expected to have on-site solar and wind energy systems reduce energy use by 45 percent and CO2 emissions by 120 metric tons per year. On top of the renewable energy system, its state of the art heating and cooling system uses only 27 percent of a conventional HVAC system, while waste heat recovery will reduce water heating energy by 50 percent and interior heat loads from lighting will be reduced by over 50 percent by extensive use of LEDs. The restaurant even features an advanced broiler that reduces gas use by 50 percent and electricity by 90 percent. The broiler is already in place throughout North America. 

Rob Watson is the executive editor of You can reach him at [email protected] and folllow him on Twitter @Kilrwat.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user kevindooley.