MENU

Party Walls

About

Hi there people of the internet, I'm Heather, the current Director of Marketing for the wonderful world of SWA! I consider myself fortunate to spend each day working with a passionate, talented, and fun group of people. I earned a bachelor's degree in urban planning, but have pursued marketing in my professional career; my role at SWA has afforded me the opportunity to combine the best of both worlds to help make a positive impact on our buildings and communities. I hope you enjoy Party Walls!

Posts by Heather Breslin

Arc – A Performance Approach

“What gets measured, gets managed” – Peter Drucker. This old management adage couldn’t ring more true in the world of sustainability.

The green building industry increasingly relies on the collection and analysis of data to inform a spectrum of building improvements, including monitoring and mitigating the impact of operations and management. The GBCI has embraced this new direction by developing and releasing a new online platform, called Arc, which collects, manages, and benchmarks building performance data as projects move toward LEED certification.

Screen shot of the Arc Platform

Screen shot of the Arc Platform

(more…)

Green Homes: Consumers Follow the Money

Chris Kramer

Chris Kramer, Sustainability Consultant at SWA

By Chris Kramer, Sustainability Consultant

What Homebuyers are Looking For

A report published recently by Shelton Group has found that current and potential homeowners prioritize the value of energy efficient features over other luxurious amenities. In their annual Energy Pulse study, Shelton Group found that 85% of potential homebuyers would be willing to pay for an ENERGY STAR® Certified Home and that the ENERGY STAR appliances would be a more valuable addition to their home than a pool, state-of-the-art sound system, or home theater. These findings are illustrative of a growing trend in the homeowner demographic to seek new ways of cutting annual energy costs. With the average American household currently spending $2,150 on energy bills, upgrading old appliances and light fixtures to new ones that use less energy can go a long way in reducing this annual expenditure.
(more…)

Green Building Targets the Indoor Environment, as Health Becomes Top Priority

SWA_GreenEnergyTimes

In SWA’s second contribution to Green Energy Timeswe examine the certification programs, operational strategies, and occupant behavior trends that contribute to enhanced indoor air quality (IAQ). The full article is featured below, or on page 29 of the April-June edition of Green Energy Times.


(more…)

It Can Take Years – A Market Adoption Story

Earlier this year, at the AHR Expo in Orlando, the biggest trade show for HVAC professionals, Aeroseal’s duct sealing technology was declared the Product of the Year, the top honor of the Innovation Awards. Aeroseal was recognized as “a groundbreaking solution to an industry-wide problem.”

The unique appeal of the Aeroseal technology is that it seals ducts from the inside. Walls and ceilings do not need to be removed or damaged to gain access for traditional mastic sealing. Aerosolized vinyl polymer particles from 2 to 20 micrometers are injected into a pressurized duct system. The particles stay suspended in the air stream until they reach the leaks, where they are deposited and built up at the leak edges until the leaks are sealed.

The Aeroseal technology has been around for more than two decades. It was developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the early nineties and patented in 1997. It has received many awards over the years including the Best of What’s New award from Popular Science magazine in 1996 and the Energy 100 award from the U.S. Department of Energy.

So what’s the big deal?

(more…)

HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing (IAH) Update – Santa Barbara Site Visit

[av_slideshow size=’large’ animation=’slide’ autoplay=’false’ interval=’5′ control_layout=”]
[av_slide id=’1413′ slide_type=” video=’http://’ mobile_image=” video_ratio=’16:9′ video_controls=” video_mute=” video_loop=” video_autoplay=” title=” link_apply=” link=” link_target=”][/av_slide]
[av_slide id=’1411′ slide_type=” video=’http://’ mobile_image=” video_ratio=’16:9′ video_controls=” video_mute=” video_loop=” video_autoplay=” title=” link_apply=” link=” link_target=”][/av_slide]
[av_slide id=’1407′ slide_type=” video=’http://’ mobile_image=” video_ratio=’16:9′ video_controls=” video_mute=” video_loop=” video_autoplay=” title=” link_apply=” link=” link_target=”][/av_slide]
[av_slide id=’1409′ slide_type=” video=’http://’ mobile_image=” video_ratio=’16:9′ video_controls=” video_mute=” video_loop=” video_autoplay=” title=” link_apply=” link=” link_target=”][/av_slide]
[av_slide id=’1408′ slide_type=” video=’http://’ mobile_image=” video_ratio=’16:9′ video_controls=” video_mute=” video_loop=” video_autoplay=” title=” link_apply=” link=” link_target=”][/av_slide]
[av_slide id=’1410′ slide_type=” video=’http://’ mobile_image=” video_ratio=’16:9′ video_controls=” video_mute=” video_loop=” video_autoplay=” title=” link_apply=” link=” link_target=”][/av_slide]
[av_slide id=’1412′ slide_type=” video=’http://’ mobile_image=” video_ratio=’16:9′ video_controls=” video_mute=” video_loop=” video_autoplay=” title=” link_apply=” link=” link_target=”][/av_slide]
[av_slide id=’1414′ slide_type=” video=’http://’ mobile_image=” video_ratio=’16:9′ video_controls=” video_mute=” video_loop=” video_autoplay=” title=” link_apply=” link=” link_target=”][/av_slide]
[/av_slideshow]

[av_textblock size=” font_color=” color=”]
On March 9, the four finalist teams from this year’s HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition (IAH) visited the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara, California (HACSB) project site. Multi-disciplinary teams of graduate students are competing to develop a holistic solution that would allow the HACSB to meet its goal of offering safe and sustainable affordable housing to area residents. Teams are given the option of rehabilitating the current structure, or demolishing and rebuilding. The winning project proposal will thoroughly address design, community development, and finance in their solution.

(more…)

Hotels, Motels, Reining Emissions In

I’ll save the long-winded introduction and get straight to the facts. Based on New York City’s publicly available Local Law 84 (LL84) benchmarking data for 2015, hotels emit 32% more greenhouse gas (GHG) per square foot than the average for all buildings. I also want to qualify this by making a few statements about the data:

  1. There are 13,973 buildings on the Department of Finance list; of which 2,353 did not comply with LL84 or are not required to comply.
  2. We removed the outliers. Weather-normalized source energy use intensity (EUI) over 550 and under 100 (kBtu/ft2) typically indicates erroneous data. Most likely either the building’s benchmarking activities or report filed with NYC were completed incorrectly.
  3. A significant portion of the list comprises the buildings with erroneous data: 4950. Seems a little crazy, no? Leaving us with a good topic for another day….
  4. For clarity, that means we analyzed the remaining 6,654 buildings.
2016 Emissions Map

Click to View Interactive NYC GHG Emissions Map – via CityLab. Map credit: Jill Hubley

The good news – for the sake of this post – is that the hotel market had one of the higher rates of correctly reported compliance data. Out of 187 buildings, 143 reported with numbers that were in a normal range. The average for the sector however, reflects EUI and GHG emissions per square foot that are much higher than other similar building types. Multifamily buildings, for example, have an average of 42% lower GHG emissions/ft2 than hotels (see table below). (more…)

NYC Walks the Line Toward Hurricane Joaquin

Hurricane JoaquinIt’s October and a burgeoning category 3 hurricane is forecasted to make its way up the East Coast within the coming week. Somehow this all seems familiar.

It’s been 3 years since Superstorm Sandy came ashore in the New York Metro Area. Much of the damage has been repaired and structures rebuilt, but have we done enough to mitigate the impact of a similar catastrophe? I think we can all agree that likely, we have not. However, progress has been made, and at SWA, we have been working hard over the past 3 years to improve the strength of our buildings through providing resiliency assessments and remediation planning. It’s not a fix-all for the region, but it has helped some buildings to implement upgrades that might make a big difference in the next week. (more…)

Creating a Healthier Indoor Environment

Erica Brabon

Written by SWA Senior Consultant, Erica Brabon

When close to 90% of our lives are spent inside, you would expect extensive measures would be taken to ensure our buildings provide healthy environments in which to live and work. Unfortunately, more often than not, tested air quality inside buildings is much worse than outside.

Here are some common causes of these indoor pollutants:

  • Pesticide use during regular pest control treatments
  • Pollutants (asthma triggers) from cleaning products, smoking, pets, pests, fuel use, etc;
  • Inadequate ventilation;
  • Mold and moisture build up from water leaks and inadequate ventilation; and,
  • Carbon monoxide from appliances, heaters or other equipment.

This problem is made worse by the way in which the pollutants utilize air movement pathways throughout the building. Anywhere air can move, moisture can move and pollutants can move. This presents an intersection of energy efficiency and healthy buildings; air sealing these leakage pathways in the buildings stops pollutants from traveling and saves heating energy.

Let’s revisit the common pollutants and strategies for intervention and mitigation. You’ll notice a common theme of “find the source, stop the source, seal the holes.”

(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? (more…)

Innovation in Affordable Housing Competition Results in Bicoastal Winners

On April 21st the four finalist teams from the 2015 HUD Innovation in Affordable Housing (IAH) Student Design and Planning Competition gathered at the HUD headquarters in Washington, DC to take part in the Final Four Jury and Awards Presentation (you can read more about the competition here). There, the graduate student teams presented their final submissions to the jury and audience for either the rehabilitation or redevelopment of Bayou Towers, a 300-unit residential high-rise that is home to over 500 senior citizens of the Houma-Terrebonne Parish in Louisiana.

Wayne Thibodeaux

Wayne Thibodeaux, Executive Director of the Houma Terrebonne Housing Authority speaking at HUD in Washington, DC.

(more…)