Tuesday, December 02, 2008

GreenBuild 08, Boston MA: Highlights – part 5

By Sonja Persram, BSc., MBA, LEED® AP
Sustainable Alternatives Consulting Inc.


Jerry Yudelson noted
[1] the increasing representation among solar companies. It would be good to see this expo segment grow, along with wind turbine providers and e.g. chilled beam manufacturers.

Suntech aims to have 1000 MW of solar PV production capacity by 2010. Their solar PV cells are at 20% efficiency; some products include Suntech See Thru™ PV glazing that can be used e.g. in curtain walls, skylights or atria; and Suntech Just Roof™ is BIPV that can be substituted for tiles, with weatherproofing, water channels. For case studies of a retrofit in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada and new construction in Hokkaido, Japan click here.

I found
Accoya interesting. It is acetylated wood, i.e. treated with acetic anhydride (derived from acetic acid, or concentrated vinegar) to change the water molecules to acetyl groups. This process hardens the (FSC certified) wood and the resulting product has been tested for ‘dimensional stability, durability, UV resistance, paint retention and in-ground conditions,’ as well as strength and hardness. Uncoated, it emitted a vinegar odour.

Airvac fascinated me. A case study of a vacuum sewer system installed in Holden Beach, North Carolina, an island community with a high water table and failing septic tanks and drain fields, indicates the benefits include the alternative to gravity-flow lines, and prevention of sanitary sewer overflows during storm surges or power outages since it runs pneumatically in comparison to gravity sanitary sewers. Small town Hooper, Utah also addressed their challenge of septic systems leaking into groundwater this way. This technical data sheet from EcoSan notes benefits of vacuum sewer system/sanitary installations (which must be separate from stormwater systems). They provided: water savings of as much as 80% since a vacuum toilet used 1 litre of water per flush; capacity for blackwater collection for biogas; 20-25% cost savings over conventional methods; and protection against nutrient and pathogen discharges due to the closed system.

ecoScorecard system is paid for by manufacturers and free to users. It is a tool intended for architects and designers at the spec process, that translates manufacturers’ data (including designer’s product lines, percent post-consumer recycled content, percent rapidly renewable materials, and environmental ratings) to provide the necessary documentation for certification.

I’ve been aware of the merits of North America’s
Island Press and New Society Publishers, and found I also liked several books by Earthscan Publications out of the UK.

I would also find value in seeing:
· Energy storage companies
[2] given: their capacity to smooth out variations and enable dispatchability; and the focus on renewables expansion in the new economy.
· A significantly greater complement of finance/insurance as well as reinsurance companies, given the mutual market transformation potential – since green buildings can enhance portfolio value and reduce risk.
· Biogas companies and closed-loop food security systems that provide solutions at neighbourhood and individual building scales.
· More Consulate/Government quasi-catalogues like the displays from the Netherlands and the Canadian governments.

As a market research analyst, I was puzzled by the number of booths that didn’t clearly identify key benefits or competitive advantages of their products and services – even those with site demos. As the expo grows, it becomes even more necessary to capture attention of visitors quickly so they stop for that sound byte that could make a sales or outreach difference.

Overheard at the conference:
· A need for sessions addressing code and regulatory barriers, possibly prior to GreenBuild, which could feed findings and conclusions into the conference. After co-authoring a project on code, regulatory and systemic barriers
[3] it is clear that there are key issues and best practices in both countries in regards to these – often significant – challenges, and this would be a useful adjunct, in my opinion.
· Opportunities for youth to engage in the conference, possibly via a separate but concurrent part-stream.

On the systems side, it also would be helpful to have a larger expo map, a hard copy of the index by booth number, and each booth’s number clearly marked.

It would be useful to hear reader feedback on the above suggestions and booths.

GreenBuild 08: an excellent event. Thanks for your hospitality. Boston, Cambridge, Concord: I’ll be back.

Green Syndicated Columnist Sonja Persram is co-author with DCAT’s David Eisenberg of a forthcoming publication on code, regulatory and other systemic barriers affecting Living Building projects, for Cascadia Region Green Building Council. She has conducted several research projects for
Yudelson Associates, and is lead author of ‘Marketing Green Buildings to Owners/Tenants of Leased Properties’ for the Canada Green Building Council (2007) with co-authors Nils Larsson (MRAIC) and Mark Lucuik (P.Eng, LEED AP). Ms Persram wrote ‘Green Buildings: A Strategic Analysis of the North American Markets’ for Frost & Sullivan (2006) addressing Energy, Water and Facilities Management; and the USA portion of ‘International Sustainable Building Policy Initiatives,’ a 2007 study for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation whose project lead was Nils Larsson. She is a member of the CaGBC Greater Toronto Chapter’s Business Development Committee and the USGBC’s Social Equity Task Force.
Contact: sonja@sustainable-alternatives.ca
Sustainable Alternatives Consulting Inc.

[1] Yudelson, Jerry, personal communication with Sonja Persram
[2] See Peters, Roger with O’Malley, Lynda, Storing Renewable Power Primer, June 2008, The Pembina Institute, http://pubs.pembina.org/reports/StoringRenewablePower-jun17.pdf .
[3] Eisenberg, David & Persram, Sonja, Code, Regulatory & Systemic Barriers Affecting Living Building Projects, for Cascadia Region Green Building Council, 2008, Forthcoming.

GreenBuild 08, Boston MA: Highlights – part 4

By Sonja Persram, BSc., MBA, LEED® AP
Sustainable Alternatives Consulting Inc.


Measuring embodied carbon impacts in commercial and industrial buildings was the topic of
dcarbon8’s Andrew Marris’ and Tony Siantonas’ presentation. CEO Marris noted the ratio of embodied to operational carbon is 20:80, however given the scenario where buildings are low energy the ratio becomes 40:60 based on benchmark data from the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE)’s carbon buzz website. Their UK carbon consultancy firm developed their Planet Positive mark which requires measuring carbon footprint of direct (operational) and indirect (embodied) activities, and of products based on life cycle analysis, committing to reduce this footprint significantly, and offsetting the balance by a minimum of 110%. Siantonas stated that 1 tonne CO2 equivalent is:
· about 2 months of an average home’s emissions from energy (gas and electricity)
· $3.50 on
CCX, $10 on VER (Voluntary or Verified Emission Reduction), $20 on regular markets, and $40 shadow cost of carbon

Some findings:
· Analysis of embodied carbon by lifecycle in one study resulted in 85% coming from manufacturing processes, 7% from delivery to site and 8% due to fuel combustion. Their conclusion in this case, which may be applicable to others: focus on where materials are from and how they are manufactured, not necessarily the delivery to site.
· In analysing carbon by building component, they found the building envelope contributed 42%.
· In steel production
[1] over 90% of GHGs were from direct emissions i.e. blast furnace energy. Less than 10% of emissions came from: feedstock GHGs (mining ore, limestone), infrastructure (tools e.g. making the blast furnace), and a small amount came from what they call ‘infrastructure squared’ or the tools for tools. Siantonas noted the latter component was hard to control, and the size of the contribution meant including such data wouldn’t add much to the analysis.

Client projects include:
· A carbon footprint analysis for Lend Lease Retail project
Somerset Central in Singapore.
· The Masdar city carbon footprint analysis: the headquarters building is energy positive, and is 103,000 m2. The building envelope was targeted for major reduction approaches.
Prologis - the largest global owner, manager and developer of distribution facilities with $40.8 billion real estate assets under management representing 548 million sf in 22 countries.

Prologis Manager of Sustainability Drew Torbin described his corporation’s rationale for carbon measurement: he “thinks of carbon as waste,” and found that value was from an embodied carbon study via the following:
· Low carbon = high efficiency. ‘Less’ is used: less energy, resources…
· Strengthening of customer relationships
· Attraction for customers and investors: ‘A’ quality assets attract ‘A’ quality customers


In discussing how to achieve sustainability and happiness, the speakers called for changing the system, not the mindset. Jim Hartzfeld, Managing Director of
InterfaceRAISE noted that personal sustainability practices were key: ‘green your routine,’ since ‘order begets order’… use a ‘practice placement’ (a re-working of ‘product placement’) since ‘every little green practice breaks down inertia and at some point they all add up to break the status quo.’ He said we could get caught up in catastrophes, when maybe what we need to do is consider ‘how could you live your best life every day.’ He uses this tactic to achieve enormous change: ‘get peoples’ stories of what they have been the absolute proudest of being associated with. Two-thirds of these memories are memorable examples of what they thought was impossible.’ Analyse – ‘what made that happen? Big goals? Not taking ‘no’ for an answer? Unbelievable planning and execution? Then they think it’s not quite as impossible (as before). He goes on to suggest that we ‘focus on what LEED buildings can do, and the power of buildings to affect the mindset of occupants.’

Dayna Baumeister of the
Biomimicry Guild foresaw that society in future would be free of white noise, and we would be wondering at times not at what we did, but what we put up with in that regard. An interesting viewpoint, especially given we often have to go ‘out into nature’ to achieve needed peace from urban noise, and noise can be considered as wasted energy.


The closing plenary presentations are available
online. Some key messages:

E.O. Wilson stated ‘four-fifths of animals on the planet are nematode worms,’ of which most species are unknown. There are ‘5,000-6,000 species of bacteria in a handful of soil – all unknown to science.’ There is great tragedy in that ‘human action is destroying countless species before even knowing what they are.’ Later in their collaborative ‘armchair’ discussion, Wilson noted the need for addressing worldwide water shortages, such as via dry land agriculture, and that we use too narrow a band of species given that ‘50,000 species of plants could be adapted to crops.’

Janine Benyus described her childhood adventures in the ‘micro-wilderness outside (her) house;’ how as a ‘dinner-bell kid’ in the morning she would ‘squirm out of my mother’s embrace to go outside,’ investigate all day in the field by her house, and her mother ‘would have to ring and ring the dinner bell to get me to dinner.’ Later, she watched from the bushes as her childhood idyll was ‘scalped’ with the incursion of bulldozers in phase II of a new subdivision, and noted: ‘if they knew differently (about the natural world there) they would treat that settled land differently’…. We ‘all have to get to know our places very well.’

Through the massive knowledge gaps they spoke of and damage incurred given those gaps, I nevertheless found the presentations rather relieving and engendering of hope, because of the announcement of two websites. They are:
· The
Encyclopedia of Life (launched by a global consortium of key museums and research organizations) with a goal of having one webpage on each of the estimated 1.8 million species on earth. Wilson observed that this arose out of a perceived to link ‘science and the enlightened future-oriented business that you are involved in.’
www.asknature.org aims to share biomimetic design knowledge for applications globally.
Both projects are free and open source.

This post is instalment #4 of 5. Stay tuned!

[1] Based on data he cited from the International Federation of Institutes for Advanced Study (IFIAS), 1974

Monday, December 01, 2008

GreenBuild 08, Boston MA: Highlights – part 3

By Sonja Persram, BSc., MBA, LEED® AP
Sustainable Alternatives Consulting Inc.

GREEN JOBS were one major focus of the conference.

Green For All President and Founder Van Jones gave a rousing presentation, sponsored by Dadanco:
"You are the people who the country is going to turn to… You have a president (elect) who
wants 5 million green jobs… (you’re going to be the people … who have to find a way of doing that) … and a president elect who wants to put $150 billion into clean and renewable energy. This used to be a lot of money. Now it sounds like a rounding error … There are some investments in this country that we can no longer put off…

It’s not that we have a President
(-elect) who’s black, it’s that for the first time we have a president who’s green." Continue reading Van Jones’ Master Speaker presentation

Among other excellent presenters on this topic[1] was the
Greener Good panel on USGBC Chapters’ local green job and social equity initiatives. The panel was convened by Jerome Ringo, President of the Apollo Alliance – a coalition, Ringo noted, that impacts 17 million people and is a collaboration of conservation organizations, business, industry, labour and politicians with a common, green focus. Ringo described how the Apollo Alliance’s new 10 year extensive investment Apollo program is a $500 billion strategy which they believe can create over 5 million green jobs, to “put people to work from all walks of life.” Said Ringo: “We believe we have our own moon shot mission today – we can now declare energy independence, we can now stimulate the American economy, and we can clean up the environment.” What a feat this will be, and how badly the US – and Canada – both need such an initiative.

A marvellous example of the triple-bottom-line in action was the panel presentation on her company’s initiative by
Martha Jane Murray, an architect and co-owner with her husband of Neil M Footwear - a shoe factory in Arkansas. Murray is Policy Associate with the Clinton Climate Initiative and Founding Chair, USGBC Arkansas.

In rural America, retaining both companies and employees is difficult. Murray noted the following stats:
· 7.6 million families are living under the poverty level in the US
· 400,000 household units qualify in Arkansas for federal assistance

She described how their corporate concern about profitability led to a focus on compensation to enhance employee retention. In seeking different ways to compensate employees in addition to salary and benefits, they simultaneously found means to stimulate their local (rural) economy. Unusual for a corporation that addresses their own energy efficiency, they also worked with their local utility to develop an energy benefit program for employees. In this program they work with employees to make energy efficiency upgrades to homes, while generating local jobs.

Murray and her husband finance the retrofits up front using an energy fund with payments over time arranged via payroll deductions. Employees get cash coupon incentives from their utility for the recommended measures, and then receive benefits from lower utility bills in the amount of $200-$1,500/year per homeowner. As one employee observed, “Normally people don’t go out and do this on their own. They don’t know how extensive or how little (the retrofits will be)."

These are small measures on an individual basis that make enormous differences in people's quality of life, and benefit the environment and local economies.

This post is instalment #3 of 5. Stay tuned!

[1] See also Majora Carter: http://www.greenbuild365.org/pagemaker.aspx?PID=67

Thursday, November 27, 2008

GreenBuild 08, Boston MA: Highlights – part 2

By Sonja Persram, BSc., MBA, LEED® AP
Sustainable Alternatives Consulting Inc.

The INTERNATIONAL FORUM was hosted by the USGBC, the
World Green Building Council (WGBC), and the International Initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment (iiSBE).

Of interest were the juxtapositional presentations on
Windmill West’s Dockside Green project by Joe Van Belleghem, and journalist Tim Lesle’s Frontline story on Huangbaiyu, a collaborative development between William McDonough + Partners and China.

Van Belleghem noted Dockside Green’s triple bottom line focus on factors facilitating community - such as addressing
nature deficit disorder and social equity issues related to green jobs and to the site’s formerly being native lands - has contributed to cost savings on entitlement (due to lack of opposition), construction and marketing.[1] These in turn have led to a 250% sales increase from October to November. He stated that the key to sustainable development is to “unlock the human potential that we have within us to do what is right.”

By contrast, Lesle presented his observations of how the Huangbaiyu project’s implementation fell short of their sustainable goals. And, in the Q&A session, a representative from McD+P stated that the firm acknowledged this
result, noting the detrimental impacts of the need for translation.

Some lessons learned from the two scenarios:

· “in some ways, farmers’ days are numbered” in the same way as the classic family farm in the west.
· “it’s not enough just to have translation.” It’s important to employ translators, and the translation then “must represent (the company’s) interest.”

Van Belleghem noted some market transformation indicators:
· “local developers want to participate.” “Large developers initially come for solutions” e.g. about technology – but leave with more understanding of the values shift underpinning
· They’re “getting rid of the stigma that green costs more”
· The “suburban lifestyle will die.” “We need to have a conversation about how we fix suburbia.”

John Hynes, President & CEO of
Gale International, described the company’s master plan for Songdo City, a joint venture with POSCO E&C in a $20 billion private development in South Korea. The project’s goals: 42 million sf LEED-ND certified, with cogen hydrogen, 75% construction material recycled, low VOCs, and a city-wide procurement/recycling initiative. One of the turning points for transformation was the need for enhanced infrastructure as many in the nation’s rural communities migrate to cities. The project is intended for multi-national firms which would be expected to hire about 95% Koreans and 5% ex-pats from other countries. A cost premium of 5-15% is budgeted for the project.

Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, UAR, is intended to be the first zero-carbon, zero-waste, car-free city. 6 million sf is under development at a cost of $22 billion over 8 years, for 50,000 residents and 40,000 commuters, with a 135 person/ha density. The project is being conducted with the support of WWF and One Planet Living, with a goal of being a global hub for “cleantech education, R&D, and production,” according to Director of Property Development Khaled Awad.

Wang Shi, founder of China’s largest home builder company China Vanke Co. Ltd., presented real estate data interspersed with images of his mountain climbing achievements (he scaled Everest and Kilimanjaro, among others). Chinese currency is the China Yuan Renminbi; 1 CNY/RMB is $0.146372 USD,[2] consequently the 2007 China housing market revenue at 2.5 trillion RMB is $365.93 billion USD. He also noted that 10% of China’s rural population migrates to cities annually.

I posed some questions in relation to recognition of value in a Deutschebank initiative, which will be addressed separately, post-GreenBuild.

A poignant moment at the
Lend Lease international reception was a serenade by incoming WGBC chair Tony Arnel of GBC Australia with GreenBuild chair Jerry Yudelson and ‘outgoing’ WGBC chair Kevin Hydes (known for his songfests).

This post is instalment #2 of 5. Stay tuned!

[1] See also: http://docksidegreen.com/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1
[2] http://www.xe.com/ucc/convert.cgi

GreenBuild 08, Boston MA: Highlights

By Sonja Persram, BSc., MBA, LEED® AP
Sustainable Alternatives Consulting Inc.

City of Boston has been deemed by Popular Science Magazine to be the “3rd Greenest City in North America” and was a beautiful locale for the conference. In cold and sunny November, Boston’s stunning architecture, beautiful harbour views, and friendly folks added much to the experience. Being in Boston also brought to life some of my favourite books[1] that were set in the city and its surrounds. Kudos – and thanks - to Conference Chair Jerry Yudelson, the USGBC, Kimberly Lewis, Vice President of Conferences and Events and her organizers, Ashley Katz for facilitative media relations and all the speakers, exhibitors, attendees and volunteers.


Strategic Plan for 2009-2013
Fostering Social Equity was added to the USGBC’s Guiding Principles and is imbued within the
Strategic Plan. Another key strategic issue: “lack of capacity in the building trades to meet the demand for green building.”

CEO Rick Fedrizzi reported that 30,000 were registered for GreenBuild from 80 countries, with over 15,000 people logged in worldwide. Some quotes from his inspirational opening presentation:
· Green collar workers will be the backbone of this economy that we will help create. It will transcend the financial mess we find ourselves in.
· Martin Luther King said we need to move ‘from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society.’ Our values have to include fostering social equity in everything we do, and everything we choose. We are at the beginning of a seismic shift in priorities.
· We must say to those who pollute our land… this will never happen again, not on our watch.
(The new paradigm) is not about Washington, or Wall St. but about us. Change comes from us. We are the people that we have been waiting for. We are revolutionary green.

Leadership Awards
Some of this year’s outstanding winners were Alex Wilson, Executive Editor of Environmental Building News for education, and Davis Langdon for research.


The energy and courage of the
African Children’s Choir was a joyful opener – and closer - for 1984 Nobel Peace Price winner/2007 Gandhi Peace Prize winner, most reverend Archbishop Desmond Tutu. A winsome, formidable speaker, he fed spirits we didn’t know were starved for his brand of radiant insight. He marked the opinion turnaround in response to people concerned about the environment – from being considered a ‘lunatic fringe’ about whom people would ‘nudge-nudge, wink-wink’ to (providing hope). His words are here.

This post is the first instalment of five. Stay tuned!

[1] Apart from works by the renown philosophers and naturalists of the region, here are some by more contemporary authors: http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/l/jane-langton/; http://www.nealstephenson.com/zodiac/

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Book Review: Choosing Green: The Homebuyer’s Guide to Good Green Homes

Choosing Green: The Homebuyer’s Guide to Good Green Homes, is written by Jerry Yudelson, 2008, New Society Publishers

Book review by: Sonja Persram, BSc., MBA, LEED®AP
Sustainable Alternatives Consulting Inc.

A recent poll[1] found only 4% of adults in the U.S. are aware that buildings are a major GHG emission source in the nation.

This represents an enormous potential for market transformation. What the public doesn’t know about, they don’t want. But, by what means will the industry address this with target markets? And, how can it be done effectively?

Choosing Green is a useful tool to achieve this goal, in my opinion
Jerry Yudelson ably addressed the awareness gap in his book for U.S. and Canadian homebuyers, and I believe it also should be required reading for: realtors, the home building industry – including the financial, investment and insurance services sectors. As well, I think it’s a must-read for influencers and folks in all levels of government – including municipal councillors and staff. And, it’s useful for gifts in our personal goals of market transformation.

As previously with my reviews of Jerry Yudelson’s books, here’s my disclosure: he is a friend, a client, … and my senior editor! And, while I received a review copy several months ago, it was entirely my decision to review this just prior to GreenBuild.

Why this book is a helpful resource

For homebuyers:
Jerry walks the reader through the
issues using everyday language. He describes in detail different valuation systems and tools: HERS, the NAHB National Green Building Program, Energy Star (and Energy Star Canada), LEED for Homes, local programs from utilities, government and non-profits (like EarthCraft House and the American Lung Association Health House Program). He helps optimize home/condo selection by discussing the green rationales and using jargon-free descriptions of measures and benefits (e.g. ‘glass’ not ‘glazing’). He talks about financing and incentives and value using clear examples, and provides checklists to personalize the ‘green choice.’ He addresses ‘blue’ - energy vis-à-vis ‘green’ issues. He includes experiences of folks who’ve gone the green homebuyer route, to make the possibilities real for readers. He presents a host of information on where to find green developments in both countries. And then he talks about what to do after purchase – how to keep one’s home green, how to make it greener. A glossary and resources list rounds out the smorgasbord of provisions. Jerry’s dedication to education is laudable.

But, this is not just a boon for buyers. It’s for developers, realtors, the home building industry, the services sectors, and government representatives and staff. Here’s why:

  • Developers can use it to educate realtors on what’s available, and the competitive advantages of their propert
  • Realtors who are new to the sector can read it … and understand the how and why of green homes and condos. Realty companies will need to educate their professional associates.
  • The home building industry can apply it in presentations and workshops – so different trades can understand how their work fits within a whole-building approach
  • Leaders in real estate services sectors (financing, investment, actuaries, insurance) can use it to enable understanding of how green measures should be adding to home value and lowering risk
  • Government representatives and staff need to be able to understand the criteria, measures and benefits that green homes can bring to society, to more effectively provide incentives and supports to their constituents

The awareness gap means we all have much to do, to bring about market transformation. Choosing Green is a thoroughly readable journey to a green home, and a major step toward enabling this market greening.

It’s another gift from Jerry Yudelson, who leveraged his knowledge into a meaningful tool at a low-unit-price. I recommend we pay this gift forward.

[1] Statistic from a recent poll by Harris Interactive for Autodesk; the full study will be launched at GreenBuild next week.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Hyatt Regency Enrolls in PowerPay! WNY Energy Conservation Program

Hyatt Regency Enrolls in PowerPay! WNY Energy Conservation Program


Buffalo, NY, October 22- Hyatt Regency, located in Buffalo, NY, is pleased to announce its enrollment in Energy Curtailment Specialists, Inc.'s (ECS) demand response program, PowerPay! WNY. The Hyatt has agreed to participate in the program in order to earn extra revenue for reducing their energy usage just a few times a year. 


PowerPay! WNY comes into effect in times of peak demand, usually on the hottest days of the summer, in which the hotel will cut back their electricity usage to help keep demand and energy prices low, as well as avoid peak power plants from being built. ECS' program was designed in an effort to help WNY businesses earn money during the economic hardship and help them become energy conscious at the same time.      


"Hyatt Regency has joined the ranks of other high-end hotels by enrolling in PowerPay! WNY," said Michael Marsch, general manager for Hyatt Regency Buffalo. "We were really interested in being a part of 'green' New York and ECS' program was the best way for us to achieve that goal."


In order to make the most of its participation in PowerPay! WNY, when an event is called, the hotel plans to pre-cool the air conditioning in common areas, reduce lighting and enforce a housekeeping plan to turn off lights and air conditioning when rooms are unoccupied.


"We are excited that the Hyatt Regency has chosen to participate in PowerPay! WNY," said Paul Tyno, executive vice president, program development of ECS. "We are pleased that they have decided to give back to the community and become a part of 'green' New York."


About Energy Curtailment Specialists, Inc.

ECS offers turnkey, administrative, and a la carte demand response services. Energy Curtailment Specialists is currently serving markets in all of New York, California, New England, Kansas City, PJM territories, and Ontario, Canada. For more information, please call 877-711-5453, or visit us on the web at www.ecsgrid.com


About Hyatt Regency

Global Hyatt Corporation, headquartered in Chicago, is one of the world's premier hotel companies. The hotels owned, operated, managed or franchised by its subsidiaries provide authentic hospitality to guests in 45 countries through a passionate commitment to personalized service, cultural relevance, and the environment. Global Hyatt subsidiaries own, operate, manage or franchise more than 365 hotels and resorts worldwide under the Hyatt®, Hyatt Regency®, Hyatt Resorts™, Grand Hyatt®, Park Hyatt®, Hyatt Place®, Hyatt Summerfield Suites® and Andaz™ brands with additional properties under development on five continents. Global Hyatt Corporation is also the owner of Hyatt Vacation Ownership, Inc., operator of Hyatt Vacation Club®. The success of Global Hyatt is driven by the commitment and energy of the approximately 90,000 men and women around the world who provide exceptional service to hotel guests. From the U.S. and Canada, reservations for any Hyatt hotel worldwide may be obtained by calling 1-800-233-1234 or visiting www.hyatt.com.

Third World Steel Association Sustainability Report 2008 published

Third World Steel Association Sustainability Report 2008 published


Washington DC, 7 October 2008 – A new report released today by the World Steel Association (worldsteel) outlines the challenges faced by the industry, reaffirms its commitment to sustainable development and presents the industry's progress. 


The 2008 Sustainability Report is based on a survey of 500 stakeholders located in Europe, North America, South America, Australia, Asia and Africa. The report captures indicator data from 38 companies and two regional associations in 2006, representing 520 million metric tons of steel, or 42% of world production, and US$ 410.3 billion in annual revenues.

Speaking at the steel industry annual conference, Director General Ian Christmas said "We are faced with a broad range of sustainable development challenges and it is our responsibility to help meet the growing demand for steel in a sustainable way.


This report underlines the actions that we, individually and together as an industry, are taking to address these challenges".

The industry's three key sustainable development priorities are:


·        Safety and Health: the safety and health of the people who work in our industry is our top priority. All injuries and work-related illness can and must be prevented.

·        Climate Change: CO2 emissions from the steel industry will inevitably increase with projected increased volume of steel production in the future. To address the challenge of CO2 emission reduction we are developing an intensity-based global steel sector approach.


·        Adding Value: the recyclability of steel is one of its most valuable properties. We are shifting our focus from increasing the volume of steel in use to maximising the contribution of steel over product life cycles.


 "Sustainable development is aimed at improving the quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come.  For the world steel industry it means valuing the interdependence of environmental, social and economic aspects in all decision-making" concluded Ian Christmas, Director General.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Shifting Into the Mainstream: first CaGBC summit highlights

by Sonja Persram, BSc, MBA, LEED® AP
Source: Sustainable Alternatives Consulting Inc.

The first summit of the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) in June 2008 provided a variety of useful info and action possibilities. Some presentation highlights follow from Shifting Into the Mainstream:

CaGBC President Thomas Mueller stated that Canada’s current GHG emissions were 124% above Kyoto targets, hence the ambitious CaGBC targets for Canada, including a 50% reduction in energy and water use from 2005 baselines by 2015
[1] and an estimated 50 MT reduction in GHG emissions by 2015. Using the new performance-based Canadian Rating System, the CaGBC is aiming for substantial energy and water savings from existing commercial buildings and homes. There are two major initiatives: the LEED Canada Initiative (targeting the top 25% market leaders) and the Green Building Performance Initiative which is establishing a database of building performance, and aims to improve performance of existing buildings by setting benchmarks (with continuous improvement) for energy use, GHG emissions and water use via pilot projects. This is a voluntary mechanism aimed at market transformation – that will be supported by carbon trading system[2] [3] in development.

Kevin Hydes, Chair of the
World Green Building Council noted that a major challenge to implementing green buildings is the siloization[4] imposed by the regulations imposed by different segments of the construction industry, which arose independently.

Sandy Wiggins, immediate past Chair of the
USGBC observed that Chapters have been overwhelmed by homeowners seeking advice and information.

Rich Coleman, the Province of British Columbia’s Minister of Housing and Social Development, discussed the province’s GHG reductions target: 33% by 2020, and 80% by 2050... and that their new
BC Building Code addressing energy and water efficiency, developed in one year, comes into effect in September 2008 with ongoing aggressive upgrades.

Chris Higgins, CaGBC Coordinator of LEED Canada for Homes noted the schedule for the rating system:
o The initiation of the case study on Canada-sited US projects was Fall 2007.
o The rating system adaptation for Canada is in Summer 2008.
o The rating system goes to ballot in the Fall of 2008.
o Launch of the Canadian Rating System in Spring 2009.

Peter Busby of Busby Perkins + Will described an
ecodensity method[5] of transforming the City of Vancouver, British Columbia - from regions with differing carbon footprints ranging from 1.5 to 6 tonnes CO2 per person – to a system of nodes throughout the city by 2031, which emit one-half the CO2. These nodes include proximate jobs, amenities and transit access; district energy; parks; localized water and wastewater treatment; buildings that are carbon neutral; and walkable communities within 5-10 minutes. Busby also showed other interesting national and city emissions statistics.

Joe Van Belleghem of
Windmill West presented updates on Windmill West’s Victoria, BC project Dockside Green. These include:
  • In combining a consideration for First Nations ancestral heritage of the Dockside Green lands - and with a concern for social equity, employment training and local economic development - First Nations cultural and job training initiatives are underway, as well as support for similar regional opportunities.
  • Blackwater treatment using a GE ZENON system, with water reuse mostly for toilets and irrigation, as well as for recharging the development’s naturalized waterways… in which an otter was recently sighted.

Ryan Scott of Avalon Master Builder discussed technical details of Discovery III - their demonstration house for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s EQuilibrium Homes project– a 2,196 sf urban freehold single family dwelling that will be net zero energy:
o Significant insulation: R86 roof, R72 walls, R60 floor, R5.6 windows.
o Space Heating and district hot water load is 33,988 MJ: solar supplies 33,792 MJ, and solar pre-heating for ventilation accounts for 1,171 MJ.
o PV supplies 25,362 MJ grid-connected.

David Suzuki shared a tool for knowledge transfer about the critical state of the earth’s resources. Because economists treat nature and the benefits that natural systems provide as externalities, the economic system becomes destructive in assuming there should be no limit to economic growth, and that the economy must grow forever. Suzuki questioned: ‘how much (growth) is enough?’
[6] and described a means of demonstrating this as a test tube of organisms that grows exponentially, doubling each hour. At the 59th minute the test tube is half full – and in one more minute all resources in the test tube will have been consumed. Suzuki observed we have been “using our biological capital for the past 3 decades” and now are at earth’s ‘59th minute’.

Suzuki rued the lack of policy uptake of ‘one of the most important documents of the last half-century’ from the time of its publication in 1977. This report,
Canada as a Conserver Society: resource uncertainties and the need for new technologies[7] was researched by a Canada Science Council Committee chaired by eminent scientist Dr. Ursula Franklin. I recently received a rare copy of this remarkable work from a thoughtful donor and summarize below some of the recommendations, from which both Canada and the U.S. can benefit:

  • Impediments to retrofitting homes with insulation should be removed and “loans, grants, interest rates and/or tax incentives should be provided to accelerate the process”.
    Adopt and enforce new energy standards (in new building codes) in all provinces; legislate sun-rights
  • Assist homeowners by lease financing (of energy-saving equipment).
    Transition workforces “to put the creative energies of Canadians to work on conserver problems and opportunities.”
  • Research retrofits of suburbs, which “have grown as expressions of a high-energy-consumption lifestyle, with very high dependence on the private automobile. Should fuel prices become desperate, or prices rise exorbitantly, it may be useful to consider ways of modifying the typical suburban development to reduce its dependence on the automobile.”
  • Solar (passive and active methods) and wind capture must be encouraged; use of storage will address intermittency. Wind has the potential to supply base load.

A farsighted work, indeed. Other useful quotes are found here. Suzuki wryly observed that instead of action on this report, if Canadians see a problem, they form a committee: since the report was produced, “during 20 years, 5 commissions were set up to deal with energy.”[9]

I conducted an interview with Karel Valk, who is Programme Manager, Construction, in the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM) about sustainable buildings in the Netherlands. He noted:

  • Every building that is new or renovated will use 50% less energy in 2020
    NC in 2012 will be net zero energy
  • A comparative analysis conducted of Netherlands standards and LEED found that current practice for office buildings in the Netherlands is equivalent to LEED Silver.

A question overheard at the conference: should those already committed to greening take full advantage of (large) incentives?

The 2008 CaGBC summit was a great success. Next year’s summit dates (currently unconfirmed) will be June 9-12, 2009. See the Canada Green Building Council’s website and Shifting into the Mainstream for updates.

Green Syndicated Columnist Sonja Persram is co-author with lead author David Eisenberg (of DCAT), of a forthcoming publication on code, regulatory and other systemic barriers to Living Building projects, conducted for Cascadia Region Green Building Council. She is lead author of Marketing Green Buildings to Owners/Tenants of Leased Properties for the Canada Green Building Council (2007) with co-authors Nils Larsson (MRAIC) and Mark Lucuik (P.Eng, LEED AP). Ms. Persram wrote: Green Buildings: A Strategic Analysis of North American Markets for Frost & Sullivan (published 2006) addressing Energy, Water and Facilities Management; and the U.S.A. portion of International Sustainable Building Policy Initiatives which was a 2007 study for Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation whose project lead was Nils Larsson. She is a member of the CaGBC Greater Toronto Chapter’s Business Development Committee and the USGBC’s Social Equity Task Force. Contact: Sustainable Alternatives Consulting Inc: sonja@sustainable-alternatives.ca

[1] See article by Sonja Persram on the WorldGBC International Congress: http://www.igreenbuild.com/cd_2926.aspx
[2] Several provinces and U.S. states are working to develop a cap-and-trade system for 2012: http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSN2350125820080724
[3] Carbon trading in The Province of British Columbia is phasing in a revenue-neutral carbon tax with provision for lower-income residents
[4] Discussed in detail in an upcoming publication authored by David Eisenberg (of DCAT) & Sonja Persram, conducted for the Cascadia Region Green Building Council on code, regulatory and other systemic barriers to Living Building projects.
[5] Described in “Advancing the Sustainable Region: Issues for the Liveable Region Strategic Planning Review, Greater Vancouver Regional District 2005.
[6] Suzuki, David, presentation to Canada Green Building Council summit Shifting Into the Mainstream, June 12, 2008
[7] Science Council of Canada Report No. 27, Canada as a Conserver Society: Resource Uncertainties and the Need for New Technologies, September 1977, Minister of Supply and Services Canada. Researched by Science Council Committee on the Implications of a Conserver Society. Committee Chair: Dr. Ursula Franklin (from December 1975); John Pollock (March 1975 to December 1975). Members: Dr. Ursula Franklin, Dr. Gabriel Filteau, Dr. Ran Ide, John Pollock. Report Staff: Dr. Arthur J. Cordell (Project Manager), Dr. R. W. Jackson, Dr. J-A. Potworowski, Bruce Henry, Andrea Gerber.
[8] Issues also covered for the Canadian ‘scene’ – with more emphasis on the U.S., in the upcoming publication by David Eisenberg (of DCAT) & Sonja Persram, conducted for Cascadia Region Green Building Council.
[9] Suzuki, David, op. cit.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

New Report: Green Building is Growing Despite Down Market

Green Building is Growing Despite Down Market, According to Report from McGraw-Hill Construction

Report compares initial 2006 study to 2008 findings for residential housing market


New York – October 7, 2008 – McGraw-Hill Construction, a part of The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP), in partnership with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) National Green Building Program, today released the full update[1] to its 2006 study with 2008 green home building data. The new SmartMarket® Report, The Green Home Builder: Navigating for Success in a Down Economy, covers market opportunities, key triggers and obstacles, and trends in green home building practices from 2001 to 2007, such as the impact of the down market on this sector. Major findings include:

  • Forty percent of builders find “building green” makes it easier to market in a down economy; 16% find it makes it much easier.
  • In 2009, 21% of builders expect to be building 90% of projects green.
  • Sixty percent of builders claim homebuyers are willing to pay more for green homes. This is greater than the opinion in 2006 (56%).
  • “Quality” is the top driver behind green home building, which is a shift from the top driver in 2006, “doing the right thing.” This seems to indicate that green homebuyers in today’s market are not just “green consumers,” but are also buying a green home for investment and performance reasons.
  • Fourteen percent of builders find today’s homes overall more than 30% more environmentally friendly than two years ago. 85% think that energy-efficient features are the ones making these homes more environmentally friendly.
  • Builders use products that lead to energy efficiency far more than other elements. In particular, they focus on air sealing/tight construction, increased insulation, water-efficient plumbing fixtures, and Energy Star products.
  • The region in the U.S. with the best growth in green building is the Pacific, followed by the South Atlantic and Mountain regions. The East South Central region has the lowest growth.

“Green building has definitely reached its upper tipping point,” said Harvey M. Bernstein, McGraw-Hill Construction vice president of Industry Analytics, Alliances and Strategic Initiatives. “Builders can no longer ignore the benefits and market advantages of green building. Especially considering today’s market and current economic situation, builders need to differentiate themselves from their competitors and hold steady or prosper in the down economy. Green building gives builders that opportunity to expand their market share and ride out this economic slump.”


“Education, training, advocacy and other services that NAHB offers its members help ensure that home builders and remodelers are prepared to go green,” said Bob Jones, NAHB vice chairman/treasurer and a Michigan home builder. “This survey clearly indicates that the market is moving toward more sustainable home building practices, and our members are ready.”


The report also features special sections detailing government regulations, NAHB Green Home Rating Systems, and case studies on different types of green homes (e.g., customized, affordable, and large productions). Commentary on green-washing, product availability, brand awareness, and certification provides further background data and analysis of the market.

To order a copy of The Green Home Builder: Navigating for Success in a Down Economy, visit http://greensource.construction.com/resources/smartMarket.asp. Previous SmartMarket Reports also available online include Global Green Building Trends, Greening of Corporate America, The Green Homeowner, Green Building: Health Care, and Green Building: Education. In addition, McGraw-Hill Construction will release several reports at GreenBuild (booth #1410), including the first-ever 2009 Green Outlook Report, The Green Home Consumer SmartMarket Report, and Commercial and Institutional Green Buildings SmartMarket Report.


For more information on NAHB, visit www.nahb.org or www.nahbgreen.org.


About McGraw-Hill Construction

McGraw-Hill Construction connects people, projects and products across the design and construction industry. For more than a century, the Company has remained North America’s leading provider of construction project information, plans and specifications, product information, industry news, and industry trends and forecasts. In print and online, the Company offers a variety of tools, applications, and resources that easily integrate with its customers’ workflows. Backed by the power of Dodge, Sweets, Architectural Record, Engineering News-Record (ENR), GreenSource and 11 regional publications, McGraw-Hill Construction serves more than one million customers within the $4.6 trillion global construction community. To learn more, visit www.construction.com.


About The McGraw-Hill Companies

Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP) is a leading global information services provider meeting worldwide needs in the financial services, education and business information markets through leading brands including Standard & Poor's, McGraw-Hill Education, BusinessWeek and J.D. Power and Associates. The Corporation has more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2007 were $6.8 billion. Additional information is available at www.mcgraw-hill.com.