Greening the Emerald Isle: A Three-Leafed Approach to Sustainability?
Three-pronged approach to sustainability?.. How about a three-leafed approach? In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we’re serving up a shamrock’s worth of green facts on the Emerald Isle.
Renewable energy covered nearly 8% of final energy demand
According to a February 2015 energy report published by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, 7.8% of Ireland’s energy demand is met using renewable sources . This amount represents a 500% increase since 1990, and the halfway-point of Ireland’s 2020 binding target (16%) under the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive. The shift towards renewables has helped avoid 3 million tons of CO2 emissions and displace €300 million in fossil imports annually.
Ministry for Energy announces boost to grants for residential energy efficiency improvements
The Irish Green Building Council reports a 25-50% increase in cash value for residential energy upgrade grants offered through the national incentive program, “Better Energy Homes Scheme”. Since the program’s launch in 2009, over 165,000 homes have undertaken efficiency improvements amounting to a total Government investment of €172 million. It’s estimated that the program has delivered CO2 emissions savings of 214.7kt, along with spawning (direct/indirect) 2,120 green jobs annually.
Guinness “Storehouse” recognized by Sustainable Travel International for environmental commitment
As the average pint contains 20 gallons of embodied water, breweries seek efficiency in operation and distribution to offset manufacturing impact. Sustainable Travel International, an authority on eco-tourism, accredited Ireland’s most popular visitor-attraction with a three-star rating for their improved policies in responsible sourcing, building energy usage, and lean packaging.
What We’re Looking Forward to at Building Energy Boston ’15
Never fear, the first sign of spring is about to appear in Beantown! NESEA’s Building Energy Conference is just around the corner on March 3-5, bringing experts from around the country to share their knowledge about new trends and innovative solutions within the realm of building science and renewable energy.
We’re sure it will rejuvenate and reinvigorate Bostonians and all Northeasterners alike. Note: Northeasterners like the people, not northeasters like the storm, just to be clear.
As with most of the Building Energy Conferences, there will be many speakers from SWA there to lead workshops and sessions about improving the efficiency of buildings and their systems (You can read more about that here). Today though, we want to talk about the other presenters and topics that we’re excited to see!
Here are a few of our recommendations that we can’t wait to check out:
- We have been preaching about addressing building resiliency and energy efficiency, want to hear it from another trusted voice? Attend Alex Wilson’s session Putting Attention Where it is Needed Most – Building Resiliency In Multifamily Affordable Housing. March 4, 11am – 12:30 pm
- Codes are raising the bar, owners are seeing the benefits of building more efficient housing and more owners are addressing energy use at the time of capital upgrades and refi, all great news. The next wave we will see is the increase in multifamily Passive House construction and renovation using techniques where possible. Want to know how to incorporate passive house to your next project, you can talk to SWA’s Lois Arena, and you can also hear it from Katrin Klingenberg at her session The Building Science of multifamily Passive House. March 4, 4pm – 5:30 pm
- Water makes up a sizable portion of utility bills, we recommend attending Reinventing the Water Grid Part 1: Science, Behavior and Dollars. Water reduction strategies and monitoring can save money and reduce operations and maintenance costs through leak detection. We will be attending this session to reinforce what we are recommending and to see if there are new applicable techniques or recommendations we can incorporate into our projects. March 5, 10:30am – 12pm
To attend Building Energy 2015 in Boston, register here. We look forward to seeing everyone there!
New Year, New Beginnings: SWA Welcomes the Staff of Everyday Green!
We are thrilled to welcome Everyday Green to the SWA team! While working on green building projects in the Mid-Atlantic region over the past decade, I’ve consistently been impressed by their reputation for quality work and expertise. This is going to be a fantastic partnership at a time when the high performance buildings market is really taking off in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania!
Allow us to introduce you to our new staff in the Mid-Atlantic Region:
Andrea Foss– Director of Sustainability Services – Mid Atlantic Region
Andrea will be Director of Sustainability Services—Mid-Atlantic Region. Andrea founded Everyday Green in 2008. She gained her in-depth understanding of green building working at the USGBC supporting the development of the LEED for Homes, Commercial Interiors, Core and Shell and Existing Buildings rating systems.
Scott Pusey – Senior Sustainability Consultant
Scott is trained and certified in advanced building science and building diagnostic testing. He is an expert troubleshooting energy efficiency problems and has extensive construction and site management experience.
Elliot Seibert – Senior Building Systems Engineer
Elliot is a mechanical engineer specializing in building science and energy efficiency. With ACCA training on mechanical systems design and performance, he specializes in assisting project teams with equipment selection and design.
Michael Feldman – Sustainability Consultant
Michael is a civil engineer specializing in building science and performance. With a broad background in traditional and green building concepts, Michael specializes in on-site verification of energy efficient building practices.
Corrie Weikle— Sustainability Consultant
Corrie is a sap for all things green and sustainable. She has a passion for guiding behavior change toward sustainable practices and has worked in both the non-profit and for profit industry developing resource conservation management (RCM) and environmental education programs.
Christopher Kramer– Sustainability Consultant
Chris is a HERS Rater and specializes in diagnostic testing and site inspections for new homes. Chris is also preparing to take his EIT certification exam.
HUD’s 2015 IAH Graduate Student Design Competition: SWA Supported
HUD’s 2015 Innovation in Affordable Housing student design and planning competition has hit full stride. Building on its successful inaugural run in 2014, this year’s competition has university representation from over 20 states. Strategic teams of 3-5 graduate students and a faculty advisor, primarily from architecture, urban planning, real estate, business, and environmental engineering programs, are challenged with redesigning a 300-unit senior housing property for the Houma-Terrebonne Housing Authority (HTHA). Competitors will craft actionable solutions that consider economic, social, and ecologic issues unique to the region’s affordable senior housing sector. Successful projects will address needs of senior residents (quality of life), site and building codes, finance strategies (incl. leveraging partnerships), integrated energy efficiency technology, and community connectivity. Following a rigorous review process, select finalists will travel to Houma, LA in March for a site-visit intended to prepare competitors for refining their final submission. The winning entry will be chosen by a judging panel of industry thought-leaders, and awarded $20,000 at a ceremony in Washington, DC ($10,000 to the runner-up).
Steven Winter Associates, Inc. (SWA) recognizes the critical need for global availability of quality, affordable housing. Our support of HUD’s competition will advance studies in this emerging market by initiating a new generation of student-professionals into the industry. SWA fulfilled a lead role in competition development, outlining the competitive structure, project submission requirements and guidelines, and final judging criteria. Additionally, SWA spearheaded all marketing efforts for the competition, including a robust registration outreach campaign consisting of email blasts, phone communication, social media, and direct mailing. Work on the IAH competition demonstrates the firm’s continued support of student and professional competitions, adding to past programming efforts with the SBIC’s Beyond Green™ High Performance Building Awards and the Housing Authority of Norwalk’s Affordable Housing Design Competition. The firm’s involvement reinforces SWA’s commitment to progressing innovation in high performance building practices, and validates SWA’s reputation as an industry authority on sustainable multifamily building science.
Visit the the #IAH2015 website here: bit.ly/IAH2015
SWA’s Holiday Video: Engineering Style!
SWA’s Tips for Giving the Gift of Green
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We asked a few of our green living gurus if they could share some tips on how we can reduce our environmental impact this holiday season:
- Turn off your Christmas tree during the day. – Celeste M.
- Use LED lights, and put them on timers. – Gayathri V.
- Compost your leftovers from dinner. – Celeste M.
- Shop locally and bring your own tote bags to reduce packaging waste. I highly recommend local breweries and local farms. – Karla D.
- Make sure to unplug chargers, lamps, and other miscellaneous appliances when not in use. Always unplug electronics as soon as they are fully charged; never leave rechargeable electronics plugged into power when they are fully charged. Your brand new holiday gadgets as well as your electricity bill will thank you! – Carmel P.
- Use rechargeable batteries in new toys. – Jordana V.
- Use recycled paper for wrapping. – Celeste M.
- Recycle gift wrapping. – Jordana V.
- Buy gifts without much packaging. – Jordana V.
How are you going to make your holidays green? Do you have the ultimate green gift?
Where is it now: Greenbuild’s LivingHome
We’ve talked about this conference already this month, but we couldn’t leave out one of the coolest parts that one of our own SWArriors, Maureen Mahle, got to participate in – a modular green home assembled on the showroom floor at the 2014 Greenbuild Conference and Expo. SWA is a partner of the Greenbuild LivingHome which was created in collaboration with Hanley Wood, LivingHomes, Make it Right, and the International Cradle To Cradle Products Innovation Institute. This show home, which Greenbuild attendees got to tour, achieves an array of lofty goals that enable it to be supremely sustainable both for the environment and its owners.
Greenbuild LivingHome, led by California-based designer of green modular home, is the result of a unique integrated design process, utilizing designers, vendors, and building science know-how from all over the country. Today, vendors are using the home as an opportunity to showcase the latest and greatest in residential green building products, including Cradle to Cradle certified products and Forest Stewardship Council certified woods.
One of the stand-out LEED® features of the home is the commitment to durable, resilient construction. Other site features include:
- Permeable paving to maintain an almost permeable lot for managing stormwater.
- Framing was treated for pest resistance.
- Termite barriers installed at base plates, and a non-toxic termite bait system surrounding the home.
- Closed cell foam, used to insulate the elevated floor.
- Continuous drainage plane directs bulk water down and away.
So where is the home now?
On its site in the Lower 9th Ward in NOLA, owned by the Make it Right Foundation, contributing to the city’s growing stock of green affordable housing. Make it Right is working to complete the home for occupancy in the next few weeks!
A virtual tour and more information can be found here: http://livinghome.greenbuildexpo.com/
Read more about the 2014 Greenbuild LivingHomes in our WinterGreen Newsletter.
Notes from Abroad: A SWArrior in Sweden
In October, NESEA awarded SWA’s Heather Nolen with a travel scholarship through the Kate Goldstein Fund for Emerging Professionals (you can read the announcement here). Heather joined four other scholarship recipients for a two week journey to Denmark and Sweden to explore innovative sustainability methods being used in their buildings. The following is blog entry written by Heather, describing her experience at a location outside of Stockholm. (This entry was reblogged from NESEA’s blog; you can find the original post here.)
We met with Björn Cederquist who was kind enough to tell us about Hammarby Sjöstad, a new sustainable district, which he is quite proud of.
Stockholm is a growing city, with a population of 1.5 million and a serious lack of housing. The city central is quite developed, outside the city there are the typical suburbs, it is the area between the city proper and the suburbs that Stockholm is looking to develop in a planned, sustainable manner. To meet the city’s housing needs Stockholm plans to construct 8,000 units per year, mind you they have only been building at 5,000 units/year of maximum. This is a large undertaking for the city which is being planned in a thoughtful way.
Despite the need for more units of housing there is a strong tradition in Stockholm of midrise buildings which accounts for the reluctance to build higher. Hammarby Sjöstad is mostly mid-rise with one exception, a single 12 story building.
Located in this prime area between the city and suburbs, Hammarby Sjöstad is located at an old harbor and landfill turned Brownfield site. To convert this piece of land into a residential community public transportation had to be extended, both the subway and train lines. The presence of transit shows a commitment to the area, a feeling of permanence which is required to build the community. 80% of residents commute by public transit.
To meet sustainability goals in a comprehensive way the district aimed to be a healthy place for people to live that stimulates the body and soul with opportunities for exercise, sports and culture. Design began in 1990 to construct an “Environmental and Ecological City District,” which includes 11,000 units housing over 25,000 people; an additional 10,000 are projected to work within this area. In addition to the housing and transit systems, power plants were constructed to provide district heating and cooling, waste removal including organic waste, public water supply and wastewater treatment.
Renewable energy sources, harvesting of energy from the areas wastewater system, burning of waste combustibles along with harvesting energy from the sewage system allow Hammarby Sjöstad to operate their CHP plant free of fossil fuels. Central heat pumps at the district plant operate year round to extract energy which allows for district cooling, planned for 10 years the plant is the largest in the world. The wastewater treatment plant harvests both bio-gas and bio-solids. Bio-gas is used to power buses, taxis and some individual stoves. Bio-solids are used as fertilizer in forest, filling mines and soon to be used for agriculture purposed. Combined with advanced waste collection and energy efficient construction Hammarby Sjöstad is a unique community which is a product of long-term planning and collaboration. Sites underdevelopment are learning from Ham Hammarby Sjöstad to further advance eco-districts for long-term success.
Greenbuild Recap: Steven Winter Talks Building Science
As part of Hanley Wood’s Vision 2020 Sustainability Council, Steven Winter presented his thoughts on how building science can have a big impact on meeting 2020 energy efficiency targets. The presentation took place on the first day of Greenbuild 2014 (10/22) in NOLA. (I should write out the city’s proper name, but it’s a fun acronym that I don’t often get to use!)
Some great themes to watch for: Thinking about large-scale impacts, the role that new technology will play, how to motivate change.
So, carrots or sticks? What do you think’s more effective?