As technology in the built environment increases, the workforce demand for those who can properly operate these buildings also grows. On today’s episode, Kelly talks with Jonathan Spooner from Stacks + Joules, a nonprofit learning program in computer programming and wireless network management. Stacks + Joules helps train and employ young people to have careers in building automation and energy management systems. Kelly and Jon discuss a common gap in the industry – job training and workforce development, particularly for building operators. They consider how we can “leverage the genius that exists” in urban schools, lift out the digital gurus who know about networking and technology, and help transition them into the building industry where they can thrive.
Posts by Jayd Alvarez
Universal Design and Accessibility in Mexico City with Luis Quintana
April was Fair Housing Month – a time to recognize the importance of equal access to housing. As we celebrate the milestones we have made, we are committed to furthering equal access for every person – regardless of race, gender, nationality, socio-economic status, disability, etc. On this month’s Buildings + Beyond episode, we interview Luis Quintana to hear more about Universal Design and accessibility in Mexico City. We discuss who Universal Design is meant to help, and how Universal Design principles can allow equal access to buildings and products for everyone. (more…)
The Great Indoors: Creating a Healthier and Safer Built Environment
As humans, we spend a lot of time indoors. Studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency indicate that under normal circumstances the average American spends over 90% of their life indoors. With the spread of COVID-19 and widespread voluntary and involuntary quarantine, the rise of work from home policies and new direction to social distance has resulted in a further increase to the amount of time we spend indoors. Now more than ever, people are cognizant of the air they’re breathing and the surfaces they’re touching. The buildings that we live, work and play in impact our physical and mental health. With certain building and design considerations, we can make these impacts beneficial.
We recruited some experts at SWA to fill us in on the various considerations when it comes to the health and comfort of a building, as well as some certifications that assure these considerations are met.
A Path to Zero Waste with Celeste McMickle
We often address large-scale sustainability issues by focusing on improving building energy use, material use, and accessibility. But what about waste? According to the EPA, the average American generates 4.51 pounds of trash each day.
To learn about strategies for reducing waste, we interviewed Celeste McMickle, Director of Client Solutions for TRUE Zero Waste certification with the USGBC. TRUE Zero Waste certification supports facilities and businesses in achieving their zero waste goals by providing a clear path to certification using a point-based rating system and educational tools, such as the TRUE Advisor program. Celeste shares what large-scale companies are doing internally to make an impact via the True Zero Waste certification, how zero waste solutions help save money, and even what “wishcycling” is.
The 3 Most Important Design and Construction Considerations for Senior Living Facilities
Last year, a young New Zealand lawmaker shut down a fellow member of parliament who was heckling her climate change speech with two words: “OK, Boomer.” This simple phrase started an online wildfire and ignited a conversation about the generation known as “baby boomers.” Born just after World War II, this demographic represents a period of growth, hope, and prosperity. The building, real estate, and senior housing industry has been thinking about the boomer generation for a while now. Between the years 1946 and 1964, 76 million babies were born. Every day until 2030, 10,000 of these individuals will turn 65, which means they will likely be retiring, and eventually considering how and where they want to age. This poses the question: how are we going to meet the growing demand for housing and care for this population?
Important Considerations for Senior Living
Whether you or someone you love is considering staying in their home as they age or moving into a senior living facility, there are a few important factors to keep in mind. SWA services for senior living revolve around the following three factors:
Mission Critical: Embodied Carbon in Sustainable Design with Kai Starn and Catherine Paplin
For the past 30 years or more, when we’ve been talking about the carbon emissions of buildings, we’ve usually been talking about operational emissions – the carbon put in the atmosphere after the building is built. We now know that 30-50% of a building’s total carbon emissions are already in the atmosphere before the lights are even turned on. These emissions are referred to as embodied carbon. There is an enormous, industry-wide effort underway to incorporate accounting for embodied carbon in construction, because the realization has dawned that you can’t build ‘green’ without it.
On this episode, Robb sits down with SWA’s Kai Starn, Senior Sustainability Consultant, and Catherine Paplin, Senior Building Enclosure Consultant to hear about WHY embodied carbon is becoming a larger part of the conversation.
The Keys to Commissioning with Kelly Westby
As code requirements become more stringent around the country, the process of commissioning is more valuable now than ever before. Acting as third-party quality assurance providers, commissioning agents help building owners by improving the quality of construction and reducing maintenance and energy costs in the long run.
On this episode, Robb interviews podcast co-host, Kelly Westby, who is also SWA’s Commissioning Director. Kelly explains the importance of quality control on any project and describes how commissioning has evolved into a process, rather than a one-off measure.
Climate Week NYC: Seven Days of Climate Action and Discussion
Last week, as I was writing this blog, I came across a New York Times article: “The Amazon, Siberia, Indonesia: a World of Fire.” By now, I’m sure most of us are aware that the Amazon Rainforest has been burning for weeks, but this deliberate act of environmental destruction will contribute to a feedback loop. These fires release carbon dioxide and kill the trees and species that not only remove greenhouse gasses from the air but are part of vital fragile ecosystems. As more climate-warming gasses fill the air, extreme weather patterns, drought, species loss, and global warming are exacerbated. These effects then accelerate the spread of infectious disease, global poverty, and human health defects. Overall, climate change and environmental degradation negatively affect both humans and the planet, which makes us less resilient and allows for climate change to accelerate even more aggressively. And the cycle continues.
So, for the sake of our (really wonderful) natural planet, and humankind, it is crucial that we try to hinder this feedback loop and make climate action a priority around the world. And, although individually we can try to have a more reciprocal relationship with the planet, our actions and voices carry more weight collectively, which is where Climate Week NYC comes in.
What is Climate Week NYC?
Organized by The Climate Group, Climate Week NYC is an annual week-long gathering for citizens and global leaders to join forces and take action to mitigate environmental harm caused by human activity. There will be a number of public events each day from September 23-29, including tours, film screenings, conferences, and more.
Fun fact: Swedish teenager and activist Greta Thunberg sailed across the Atlantic all the way from England to meet with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and to attend the United Nations Climate Action Summit, scheduled on the first day of Climate Week NYC!
20 Years of Wintergreen!
A lot has happened since the start of the WinterGreen newsletter, which was first distributed 20 years ago via fax machine. From the inception of LEED, to the Climate Mobilization Act, WinterGreen has covered it all.
1999 – Steven Winter Becomes Chairman of the US Green Building Council
As Chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council from 1999 to 2003, Steven Winter helped guide the organization through a period of immense growth. This included the launch of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, also known as the LEED® Rating System, and Greenbuild, the nation’s largest green building conference and expo.
2000 – SWA Receives NYSERDA Pioneer Award
At a gala event celebrating the 25th anniversary of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Steven Winter Associates (SWA) was presented with the NYSERDA Pioneer Award for their extensive contributions to making buildings more energy efficient and sustainable.
2001 – Green Building Guidelines Book Published for Home Builders
In conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), and the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council (SBIC), SWA staff collaborated to create “Green Building Guidelines: Meeting the Demand for Low-Energy, Resource-Efficient Homes.” The book provided green building techniques and strategies for home builders and residential construction professionals.
2002 – SWA Helps DEC Become New York State’s First Ever LEED Certified Building
Working with NYSERDA, Picotte Companies and WCGS Architects, SWA provided certification support to the design team, earning the project LEED V2.0 Silver. SWA’s services included initial LEED tabulations and goal setting, detailed LEED V2.0 evaluation reporting, and completion of the final documentation package, which led to the certification of New York State’s first ever LEED building.
2003 – The Solaire Declared Nation’s First “Green” Residential High-rise
New York Governor George Pataki dedicated The Solaire as the country’s first “green” residential high-rise building, calling it “a benchmark for urban sustainable development and for green buildings worldwide.” SWA supported the design team on this project from conceptual design phase through construction administration. The Solaire, located in New York’s Battery Park City, was the first residential building to be completed in downtown Manhattan after the terrorist attacks of September 2001, and was the first beneficiary of Governor Pataki’s green building tax credit.
2004 – SWA Joins Project Team for Oculus Terminal at World Trade Center
Led by the joint venture of DMJM+Harris and STV, as well as the internationally renowned architect, Santiago Calatrava, SWA was invited to join the project team to provide energy efficiency and sustainable design consulting services for the new World Trade Center station, also known as the the Oculus. The rebuilt PATH terminal is incorporated into the design.
2005 – USGBC Announces LEED for Homes Pilot Program
Excited to announce the first ever LEED program for residential construction, the USGBC immediately began seeking applicants to test the effectiveness of the all new LEED for Homes through a Pilot Program. LEED for Homes, which is considered a green building milestone, was made possible by a passionate committee of industry professionals co-chaired by Steven Winter.