SWA’s Preview of the 2015 Greenbuild Unity Home

High-quality design, engineering, and construction; the guiding principles used to assemble a team of building experts tasked with creating a demonstration project embodying cutting edge sustainability. Led by the New Hampshire-based builder Unity Homes and the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, a hand-selected team of product manufacturers and technical consultants have collaborated to develop the 2015 Greenbuild Unity Home. As the green building certification specialists, SWA’s Maureen Mahle and Karla Butterfield are managing the planning, design, construction, inspection, and testing of the modular home according to LEED BD+C Homes v4 Platinum, ENERGY STAR® v3, and EPA’s WaterSense and Indoor AirPlus certification program requirements. For last year’s conference, SWA provided similar services to verify the 2014 Greenbuild Living Home.
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Examining Green Building Rating Systems

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Earning a green building certification is a significant achievement for a project as it represents a strong commitment to sustainability principles. When pursuing certification, it is essential to select the rating system best suited to your project type and performance goals.

In this blog piece, we will examine the anatomy of five popular green building rating systems, including their applicability to building type and a brief summation of typical advantages and challenges faced by clients pursuing certification. Read more

Passive House Activist: An Interview with Lois Arena

SWA’s Senior Mechanical Engineer, Lois Arena, P.E., is one of the leading Passive House (PH) specialists in the country. Lois ArenaShe is regularly asked to speak about PH at conferences, after-hour educational events, and to firms seeking to increase their knowledge about the subject. For SWA’s clients, she provides a full suite of PH services including energy modeling and consulting to optimize energy efficiency and ensure that projects are designed and built to meet the rigorous Passive House Standard, as well as field testing throughout the construction process to aid the team in achieving the strict PH air leakage requirements.

In addition to working on multiple projects in the tri-state area, she is currently contributing to the groundbreaking Passive House project for Cornell’s new technical campus on Roosevelt Island. When completed, the residential tower will the tallest and largest Passive House building in the world!

The project has earned a lot of media coverage, from a groundbreaking ceremony that was attended by both NYC’s current Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to an article in the New York Times and other media outlets. And of course now, on our Party Walls blog, where I was able to get the inside scoop on the project straight from the source!

Was Passive House certification Cornell’s initial goal for this project or was it recommended based on efficiency goals set by the owner or developers? Read more

Tackling the DC Green Building Code: Resources for Code Compliance

With the adoption of the innovative Green Construction Code in 2013, there has been quite the learning curve for those looking to build in Washington DC. Green construction codes are a relatively new concept within the building industry. Many jurisdictions, builders, architects, developers, and contractors, have minimal experience in applying them. To support building developers and the general public in successfully designing and building  to the new green and energy code requirements, regulatory bodies such as the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) and the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) have worked to create tools, trainings, and educational resources.

Interactive Green Building Displays 

Green Building DisplaysYour next visit to the DCRA or DDOE will be unexpectedly educational, when you discover the recently added green building displays developed by SWA. With hopes of providing accessible, consumer facing green building education, the displays cover energy efficient building techniques and strategies that can be used to meet the energy and green building requirements adopted by the District Government. The displays are both visually appealing and interactive and provide examples of green building features, code best practices, as well as provoke interest in green building and sustainability for District employees, building professionals, and the general public.

DC Green Building Roadmap Tool  Read more

Transitioning to LEEDv4

LEED v4 transition

Written by Anna Speed, SWA Sustainability Consultant

After 61% of those surveyed at Greenbuild 2014 replied that that they were not prepared, or were unsure if they were prepared for the inception of LEED® version 4 (v4), the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) announced that it would allow LEED users to register projects under the LEED version 3 (v3) rating system until October 31, 2016. The original date for LEEDv3 registration to close was June 27, 2015. The USGBC made their decision to extend the deadline based on their understanding that LEED users and members needed additional time to prepare for v4, which is more stringent and requires greater cooperation from manufacturers and suppliers.

As a result of the extended deadline, the USGBC offers projects the ability to pursue LEEDv4 credits while registered under the LEEDv3 rating system. One credit for example is Materials and Resources Pilot Alternative Compliance Path 84 where project teams can pursue the entire LEEDv4 Materials and Resources (MR) Category in place of the MR credits from LEEDv3. This includes Storage and Collection of Recyclables, Construction and Demolition Waste Management Planning, Building Life-Cycle Impact Reduction, Building Product Disclosure and Optimization (Environmental Product Declarations, Sourcing of Raw Materials and Material Ingredients), and Construction and Demolition Waste Management. Read more