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Tag: Certifications & Programs

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  (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. (more…)

How to Get Started with LEED for Homes and Multifamily Midrise Certification

Step 1: Understand the LEED for Homes process

The U.S. Green Building Council developed the LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Homes™ and Multifamily Midrise™ Rating Systems to assess and validate residential green building practices.

The LEED for Homes and LEED for Homes Midrise certification process is outlined in this video provided by USGBC.

In addition to meeting the rating system requirements, every LEED Homes and Midrise project is inspected and tested during site inspections by credentialed LEED Homes Green Raters. Steven Winter maintains a team of 11 credentialed Green Raters serving 20 states including New York, Connecticut, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey. Massachusetts, and more.

How Does LEED Homes Compare to Other LEED Rating Systems? (more…)

CT Zero Energy Challenge (Part 2) – An Alphabet Soup of Certifications

Earlier this week, we posted a video about the CT Zero Energy Challenge’s first-place winner, the Benker/Wegner Residence. Today we bring you the story of the third-place winner in this year’s challenge, the Taft School’s Residence. Aside from housing faculty members, the home is serving as a teaching aid for Taft students to study the design details of a high-performance home, and to understand the experience of living in one.

After installation of a 13kW photovoltaic (PV) system, the home achieved a HERS Index of -14! The SWA team is providing certification support for a slew of exciting green building programs including the stringent Passive House US™ Certification, LEED for Homes, Living Building Challenge™, and ENERGY STAR v3.1.

Check out the video featuring the project team members: Architect, Elizabeth DiSalvo from Trillium Architects; Builder, Chris Trolle from BPC Green Builders; and SWA’s Maureen Mahle.

Question? Comment? Submit it below; we would love to hear from you!

Fannie Mae Favors Green Multifamily

Fannie Mae recently reinforced their commitment to growing the green multifamily sector with the announcement of a reduction in interest rates for mortgage loans used to finance properties certified through a recognized green building rating system. There’s detailed information available on their website, but here’s a simple breakdown of the initiative using the 5 W’s:

Who: Fannie Mae Multifamily borrowers, developers, designers, and occupants

What: 10 basis point reduction in mortgage loans for multifamily properties certified through a recognized green building rating system (LEED, ENERGY STAR®, Enterprise Green Communities, etc.)

Where: Multifamily projects nationwide

When: Immediate implementation. Through existing green initiatives, Fannie Mae has already financed $130 million in Green Loans to properties with a Green Building certification

Why: Strengthens market for high-performance building design; Reduces financial risk for property owners; Raises property value with high performance upgrades

Visit the overview page for detailed information on Fannie Mae’s entire portfolio of Green Initiatives

Mandatory Energy Benchmarking.. Coming to a City Near You?

Measurement enables Management; Transparency enables Accountability… The quintessential concepts driving adaptation of mandatory energy benchmarking legislation.

Commercial_Benchmarking_Policy_Matrix (cities) - 8.1.14 (2)

Mandatory energy benchmarking represents a pivotal step towards reforming energy usage in American cities, as it galvanizes populations through collective reduction. Like any immature “innovation”, the practice faces barriers and static hindering widespread adaptation and dissemination into the mainstream.

What factors influence proliferation?

Unique building stock and varied regulatory needs necessitate city-specific reporting plans. Until there is a scaleable model of best-practices, development will continue to be resource and time intensive for administration.

Complexity in execution threatens data integrity and program usefulness. Unintentional errors, difficulty in obtaining information, and unfamiliarity with ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager all weaken database strength. The remedy lies in educating elected reporters. Program handlers must be well versed with the operations and techniques necessary to perform their role effectively.

Stakeholder push-back during implementation deters participation and damages program reputation. Greater visibility of post-retrofit results will dispel doubts of program usefulness, while increased availability of financial incentives will quiet claims of marginalization [under-performers stigmatized as poor living options] and unfair penalization [fining of historic buildings or financially underserved properties].

Survey says.. Feedback is Fundamental.

While commissioning and utility metering provide quantitative building performance data, post-occupancy surveying qualitatively gauges tenant awareness, understanding, and appreciation of green features. Forego this step, and you miss a critical opportunity to engage end-users in the green building experience.

Recently, SWA launched an initiative to collect post-occupancy evaluations from certified projects. University Village on Colvin (LEED® for Homes™ Gold-certified, Syracuse off-campus housing) was the first to participate.

PartyWalls_UnivHousColvin

Key Survey Findings from University Village Residents:
• 94% of respondents reported being conscious of energy and water conservation
• 77% of respondents were satisfied with the green features of the buildings. Green features were defined as those that save energy, water and natural resources, and promote indoor environmental quality.
• Favorite green features among the respondents were: air conditioning, recycling accessibility, low-flow shower and aerator, and ENERGY STAR® appliances
• 94% of respondents reported satisfaction with the general building site maintenance

Surveying is an essential touch-point coupling building, management, and resident. It forces both stakeholder groups to assess their relationship with the sustainably built environment. At University Village, tenants took stock of their green living area, assigned a personal value to green features, and considered ecological impacts of their behavior. In turn, property managers can discern how their investment translates to improved quality of life, which elements of their investment carry added marketability for luring prospective tenants, and how residents interact with green features to either maximize or minimize their usefulness.

Post-occupancy surveying humanizes green building through education and exposure, demystifying what would otherwise be overly esoteric or easily overlooked technology. In an industry largely under-discussed by a green-ho public, a simple measure that improves accessibility and relatability of green building is invaluable to mainstreaming our beloved practice.