By Chuck Otto, USGBC-WM Staff Writer
Grand Valley State University Facilities Planning Department was the Sustainable Construction and Innovation Award Recipient at the 2017 West Michigan Design and Construction Expo.
The Sustainable Construction and Innovation Award recognizes construction and innovation that has proven economic, environmental and/or social benefits, contributing to sustainable building practices. The innovation will be recognized as a robust project, product or service, to which the market is responding with enthusiasm.
This year’s inaugural award was presented to Grand Valley State University Facilities Planning Department for their on-going commitment to the high green building standard of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
What is LEED? Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is an independent 3rd party verified rating system devised by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to evaluate the environmental performance of a building and encourage market transformation towards sustainable design. The system is credit-based, allowing projects to earn points for environmentally friendly actions taken during construction and use of a building.
Why GVSU Facility Planning Department:
The LEED Platinum-certified building excels in sustainable design and management. During construction, a nearby storm sewer was redirected to a storm water management complex, not only protecting habitat during construction but also reducing the need for irrigation. The library anticipates increased green energy use and has built in capacity to adapt the building to support these changes. Invisible investments yield a 54 percent improvement over minimum requirements for annual energy use, including underfloor air distribution, radiant floors, wraparound heat pipes, and high-efficiency mechanicals. Refreshed air in study zones combats drowsiness, and surprising yet carefully constructed views provide natural inspiration. A green roof mitigates runoff and supports insulation and low energy use.
“The university embarked on a journey to improve its energy signature more than 10 years ago,” said James Moyer, associate vice president for Facilities Planning. “We concentrated on making the building more energy efficient from both a basic construction perspective and an operations perspective. We had to reduce the energy signature of the buildings, then operate the buildings as designed.”
Striving always for a minimum standard of LEED Silver certification, the Facilities Planning staff work diligently to meet or exceed their goals with the team of experts they have pulled together over the years. By pursuing LEED certification for all new construction and major renovations on campus, GVSU is doing more than actively reducing their impact on the environment. They are also improving their bottom line, contributing to the health and productivity of their students, faculty and staff, and showcasing the value they place on responsible, sustainable development.
In Use: 26 GVSU LEED projects that are certified in Allendale, Grand Rapids & Muskegon for a total of 1.7 million square feet, as well as 4 additional projects either under construction or in the certification process for just under another 300,000 square feet. Here is a link to GVSU information page on their LEED projects http://www.gvsu.edu/cms4/asset/83D77566-0FCE-1482-0E85CB93ACE30B91/leedsqft102617.pdf
Managing waste has been a ball and chain on society throughout the years, and we are still in the process of ironing out systems that are efficient and sustainable. According to the EPA’s 2014 study on Waste Management, published in 2016, 258 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) were generated. With a statistic like this, it is clear that changes need to be made in order to mitigate this generation. The construction and demolition (C&D) tier of waste management is often overlooked, however, C&D materials contribute to a significant amount of this waste stream. Focusing on a tier such as this could have a substantial impact on the future of sustainable cities.
C&D materials are generated when new buildings and structures are built and when existing buildings and structures are renovated or demolished. These various materials can be diverted from disposal, separated and managed into new productive uses. C&D sites are multi-faceted with various forms of traffic flowing in and out, daily. It can be hard to enforce and track waste separation on site. Hiring a waste management company makes the process easier. They separate and track waste for you, saving time and increasing project efficiency.
Construction projects may have waste diversion goals or requirements depending on project type. Waste diversion is the process of diverting waste from the landfill. In order to divert waste, all construction materials are separated by type and disposed accordingly. Materials that are recyclable are separated from materials that are not recyclable. Both recycled and non-recycled materials are weighed and a percentage is calculated to determine how much waste overall was diverted from the landfill.
Many responsible building owners and managers are pursuing LEED building certification. Waste diversion is a part of the requirements for the certification process. Being a prerequisite, a waste management plan is put into place prior to project construction. Implementing and tracking this waste management plan during construction can help earn LEED credits, making the project that much closer to achieving the certification.
Some waste management companies are taking on the challenge of waste diversion and are becoming the leaders in this beneficial process. One of these leaders is Knight Transfer Service: a waste management provider located in Zeeland; servicing West Michigan, Lansing, Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor. Along with their waste management service, Knight designed a program for sorting waste on and off site for construction projects. The program developed over time as they saw a need in the construction industry.
Since 2002, Knight has partnered with 60 project teams to divert waste at over 200 project sites pursuing LEED certification in Michigan.
Business models like Knight’s can help to achieve waste management goals on and off site. If the construction site is large enough, dumpsters are delivered and the waste separation is done on site. If the construction site has limited space, different dumpsters are brought in that host multiple materials per bin and are then separated off site.
The program helps construction projects with waste responsibility; creating more space on site, improving accuracy of sorting materials, and helping projects meet waste goals. It provides companies with peace of mind knowing that the job is getting done in an efficient and sustainable manner.
Waste is inevitable. With the right guidance, information, and leaders driving projects such as these, we can tackle the giant that is waste management.
Written by: Rebecca Holman of the USGBC West MI Chapter
LEED is a third-party verification for green buildings. Pursuing and achieving LEED certification provides independent verification of a buildings green features in design, construction, operations and maintenance.
How long does certification last?
A building can never lose its LEED certification achievement. You will always be able to say that the building was certified to the level achieved on a particular date. A project can continue to maintain up to date certification by being recertified – and demonstrate additional, important green achievements.
What is recertification?
Recertification is the subsequent application(s) for certification after a project has received an initial certification under any version of LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance (LEED EB O+M). This achievement ensures that the LEED project continues to function to LEED standards. For example: a five-year-old LEED for New Construction certification means that five years ago, the building was designed to be a sustainable building. Project teams choose to recertify buildings, because the original plaque says nothing about whether the building is operating sustainably today.
What LEED rating systems require recertification?
The LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance rating system can be applied both to buildings seeking LEED certification for the first time and to projects previously certified under any version of the LEED Design and Construction rating systems. It is the only LEED rating system that requires projects to recertify. By nature, LEED for Existing Buildings is an ongoing process, and its prescriptive and performance strategies are intended to provide operational benefits throughout the life of the building. If the strategies are sustained, the building can maintain and even improve its performance over time.
LEED O+M projects have two options to maintain their certification:
When using Arc for ongoing O+M certification, the team does not need to complete any LEED credit forms. Instead, the team will enter data in Arc under the five categories – Energy, Water, Waste, Transportation and Human Experience. This data will determine the project’s performance score. A previous LEED certification contributes up to a maximum of 10 base points, depending on previous credit achievement in the initial certification. The base score is static and is not impacted by the data entered into the platform. Find out more at http://arcskoru.com/.
For some time Zero Net Carbon (ZNC) was not clearly defined, but ten Green Building Councils (including United States & China) worked to change that. They convened in New York City on September 30, 2016 with the goal of aligning their ZNC definitions. Architecture 2030, a non-profit dedicated to combating climate change through innovative design, led the discussion by putting forward the ZNC definition they developed in collaboration with Rocky Mountain Institute and New Buildings Institute.
Today, a ZNC building is defined as:
A highly energy efficient building that produces on-site, or procures, enough carbon-free renewable energy to meet building operations energy consumption annually.
ZNC buildings = Energy Efficiency + Renewable Energy
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) consisted of scientific studies that illustrated the next decade is a critical time. They also emphasized that the only way to stabilize our climate is to reach zero total global greenhouse gas emissions by 2060 to 2080. To meet this timeframe, our entire building sector must shift current building design, construction, and operations towards ZNC, and our solution must bring every building – new and existing – into the fold.
In 2012, there was approximately 85 million square feet of new buildings built in the United States. Today there is over 275 billion square feet of existing building space in the U.S. This translates into incredible potential to transform existing buildings into more sustainable, healthy, and profitable buildings. Traditionally, buildings have contributed about a third of climate change-causing global carbon dioxide emissions, more than any other sector, because of their heavy reliance on fossil fuel resources.
It is critical that we adapt our built environment to withstand the impacts of a climate change. We are already experiencing the effects of our changing climate. In order to maintain a healthy atmosphere, it is estimated that carbon emissions must be cut by 80% by 2050.
The Paris Agreement was adopted by consensus in December 2015. This agreement within the UNFCC addresses greenhouse gas emissions, mitigation, adaption and finance starting in the year 2020. The Paris Agreement objective is to hold the increase in global average temperature at well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. While the U.S. is taking steps to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, this has not slowed the other 193 signatories on their progress toward mitigating climate change.
In response to President Trump’s announcement of the U.S. plan to withdraw from the Paris Agreement more than 2,200 leaders from America’s city halls, state houses, boardrooms and college campuses, representing more than 127 million Americans and $6.2 trillion of the U.S. economy signed the We Are Still In declaration, a commitment to the Paris Agreement. Its signatories demonstrate America’s enduring commitment to delivering on the promise of the Paris Agreement and America’s contribution to it. To date, ‘We Are Still In’ is the largest cross section of the American economy yet assembled in pursuit of climate action. ‘We Are Still In’ is a bottom-up network, supported by many individuals and organizations. Grand Rapids was an early signatory to the movement and other Michigan cities include Ann Arbor, Buchanan, East Lansing and Grandville.
Our cities are already facing climate change risks, infrastructure demands, and increased resource needs for water & energy. Many cities are creating climate change and resiliency policies and programs. Local policy and regulations will drive the building industry to address these issues. Innovative and diverse incentives, policies and partnerships will pave the way for market adoption of ZNC.
Grand Rapids is a long-time leader in climate change strategy. The city was the first signatory to the Resilient Communities for America and one of the first local governments in the nation to use the ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability’s Climate Adaptation Program: Climate Resilient Communities ™ . The program aids local governments with the tools to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
Tools & Resources are Emerging
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) helped set the federal 2030 net zero energy goals in 2007. Today, they are still making strides in energy policy and pushing for renewable energy incentives.
In June 2016 the World Green Building Council introduced Advancing Net Zero which includes an aggressive target that 100% of buildings are operating at net zero by 2050. In order to be successful, widespread adoption is critical. The consensus among Green Building Councils (GBC’s) is to create training for green building professionals and operate green building certification programs that will ensure that net zero buildings become the new norm. They have set a goal to have these programs in place by the end of 2017.
An innovative project that works to provide solutions for the built environment is the 2030 Challenge, created by Architecture 2030. “This is the first comprehensive program in the U.S. that educates the architectural profession in specific design and technology applications to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions,” said Edward Mazria, Architecture 2030 Founder and CEO. The goal of this challenge is to have all major renovations, developments, and new buildings be carbon neutral by 2030.
The New Building Institute’s (NBI) provides tools and resources for guidance, maintenance, and measurability for ZNE. NBI has developed a set of action paths for jurisdictions to support a long term commitment to ZNE Buildings. They have created Zero Net Energy policies, the Zero Energy Performance Index (zEPI) which provides a scale for measuring commercial building energy performance, as well as an online tool to guide building owners called Getting to Zero Database. Case studies and other research is also provided on the website. Learn more here.
Boots on the Ground
In December 2015 the U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan (USGBC-WM) launched the Grand Rapids 2030 District as a way to facilitate the reduction of carbon emissions in the city and lead the ZNC transition. The Grand Rapids 2030 District fosters the collaboration of property developers & owners, city leaders, community and professional partners to reduce carbon by 50% (from a 2003 baseline) by 2030 for existing buildings and a zero net carbon goal for new building projects. The goals were set by Architecture 2030 which charters 17 other 2030 districts throughout the U.S. & Canada including Detroit, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and more.
With collaboration and innovation, we will continue to push forward to a healthier, more sustainably built environment.
Written by: Morgan Price, USGBC WM Program Administrator