Innovative method for implementing green construction code proposed

nibsRepresentatives from across the building industry, including code officials, building owners, manufacturers, designers and energy efficiency advocates, have come together under the leadership of the National Institute of Building Sciences to develop a new approach to meeting energy efficiency requirements. This “Outcome-based Pathway,” which the group submitted as a proposed code change to the International Green Construction Code (IgCC), appears in the monograph of IgCC proposed changes that the International Code Council released this past Friday, March 15, for public review.

The Institute’s Consultative Council highlighted the “Outcome-Based Pathway” in its 2010 Moving Forward Report submitted to the President of the United States. The approach focuses specifically on the actual energy used in the building. The report notes:

The building community needs a better baseline of actual building performance against which to measure progress. More importantly, the application and use of prescriptive criteria must be eliminated in favor of stated performance goals or expected outcomes (although, after setting those goals or outcomes, prescriptive guidance to achieve them can be developed).1

The industry group specifically focused on an outcome-based approach to address a number of challenges facing the building industry:

  • Code departments have limited resources available to enforce building codes (particularly energy codes, which are not usually seen as a life safety issue).
  • Energy use is highly measurable, yet current code pathways anticipate results from designs; they do not assess actual building performance.
  • Designers do not have the flexibility to use some of the latest technologies or practices to achieve energy efficiency requirements.
  • Not all energy-saving strategies, such as building orientation, are effectively captured in codes.
  • Energy efficiency goals increasingly rely on reductions in energy use at the systems level, but the IECC has primarily focused on a component approach.
  • A growing percentage of energy uses associated with buildings are not currently covered within the existing code framework (i.e., plug loads).

The proposed code change will be heard by the IgCC Energy/Water Committee during the International Code Council’s Committee Action Hearings, to be held this April 27 through May 4, in Memphis, Tennessee.

In addition to the Institute, a number of organizations, including the New Buildings Institute, The Institute for Market Transformation and the Colorado Chapter of the International Code Council, support the proposal.

View the proposal, a section-by-section summary and reasoning statement. For questions, or to provide additional organizational support for the proposal, contact Ryan Colker.

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1. Moving Forward: Findings and Recommendations from the Consultative Council. National Institute of Building Sciences 2010 Annual Report to the President of the Unite States, 2010. 43-49.

USDA announces partnership to promote the use of wood

usdaUnited States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently announced a $1 million U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service program to provide training for architects, engineers and builders in the use of advanced wood materials. The Wood Products Council’s WoodWorks initiative will be a partner in this program.

The program is part of the president’s goal of preserving the role of forests in mitigating climate change and meets an objective of the recently-signed 2014 Farm Bill to create rural jobs. In particular, it will create a new Made-in-Rural America export investment initiative, whose goal is helping rural businesses and leaders gain new customers and develop new markets, both at home and abroad.

Using wood from sustainably managed forests helps keep carbon out of the atmosphere because wood products require less fossil fuels to manufacture than other major building materials, resulting in less greenhouse gas emissions, and because wood continues to store carbon absorbed from the atmosphere while the tree was growing. In the case of buildings, this carbon remains stored for the lifetime of the structure—or longer if the wood is reclaimed and re-used or manufactured into other products.

To encourage further advancement, the announcement also includes plans for a prize competition to design and build wood high-rise demonstration projects.

Solatube International donates daylighting to educational facilities

solatubeResearch has shown that students benefit tremendously in daylit environments. For example, a study by Heschong Mahone Group for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. tested 21,000 in three states and found those in classrooms with the most daylighting progressed 20 percent faster on math tests and 26 percent faster on reading tests in one year than those with the least. A California Energy Commission study found a 21 percent improvement in learning between those with least daylighting to those with the most.

To support increased daylight in education, Solatube International, is continuing its highly successful program to donate Solatube Daylighting Systems to qualifying schools and colleges in 2014. The program is for PreK-12 school districts and higher education institutions interested in adding daylight to their facilities, up to 10 units per organization. Nineteen of these projects were completed in 2013.

One campus that is already benefiting from Solatube’s 2014 “Operation Textbook” program is Kirkwood Community College. Students and faculty working on the SHEP (Sustainable Housing for Education Project) located at the Iowa Sustainable Village on the Kirkwood Community College campus are demonstrating the latest in sustainable design and construction. The design for the SHEP has been developed by students within the Architecture, Interior Design and Construction Management departments. These same students along with many others at the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, campus have spent the fall and spring semesters building the SHEP with a completion date of May 2014.

Designers or facility managers interested in Solatube International’s “Operation Textbook” program for donated Solatube units can email commsales@solatube.com for more information.

MCA publishes two new EPDs

mca-epdTwo Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), one for Metal Composite Material Panels and one for  Roll Formed Steel Panels for Roofs and Walls, are now available free of charge from the Metal Construction Association (MCA) on its website. These documents are the second and third EPDs to be released by MCA, an organization of manufacturers and suppliers whose metal wall and roofing components are used in buildings throughout the world. In October 2013, MCA developed an EPD for Insulated Metal Panels.

Environmental Product Declarations provide LCA-based information and details about the environmental impacts of products and assist purchasers and users in making informed comparisons. As more members of the design community use EPDs, which are now included in the new LEED V4 green building rating system, MCA is responding by issuing industry-wide EPDs that report the environmental impact of members’ products and related assemblies.

MCA’s EPDs contain valuable information about product definition, building physics, the basic material and its origin, product manufacture and processing, in-use conditions, life cycle assessment results, and testing results and verifications. Environmental impacts were assessed throughout the lifecycle of metal composite material panels and roll formed panels, including raw material extraction, transportation, manufacturing packaging, use, and disposal at the end of a building’s useful life. The product configurations in the EPDs use ranges representative of all types of panels based on specific products from the primary producers that were used in the assessment and testing.

To obtain a copy of any of the MCA EPDs visit www.metalconstruction.org or contact MCA at 847-375-4718 or mca@metalconstruction.org

Workshop to Focus on Building Science Education in North America

Natl Inst of Building ScienceStudents, professors and lecturers of building science, as well as practicing architects, engineers and risk management professionals interested in building science education, should attend an upcoming workshop from ASTM International and the National Institute of Building Sciences. The ASTM/NIBS Workshop on Building Science Education in North America will be held April 6 at the Sheraton Toronto in Ontario, Canada.

Sponsored by ASTM Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings; ASTM Subcommittees E06.55 on Performance of Building Enclosures and E06.41 on Air Leakage and Ventilation Performance; the ASTM Built Environment Advisory Council; the National Institute of Building Sciences; and the Joint Committee on Building Science Education, the workshop will provide an overview of building science education as it currently exists in North America. The one-day event will offer a critical review of graduate-level curricula currently available in building science and how that curricula can be further developed and refined to more effectively educate architects, engineers and construction professionals.

Speakers who are recognized as subject-matter experts in Building Science education, training and curriculum development—representing universities in Canada and the United States—will make presentations.

The workshop will conclude with an appraisal of the ASTM/NIBS Building Enclosure Certification and Training Program currently under development, which offers a new opportunity for professional development, certification and career advancement in architecture and engineering. Talks will address how that curriculum can be developed to align with curricula at Canadian and American colleges and universities to satisfy the certification requirements being developed.

View the list of speakers lined up for the event.

Registration is $110 USD online and $135 USD onsite. (ASTM members receive a $25 discount.) Presenters and students with a valid ID get in free. Online registration closes April 2. Register now.

For additional technical information, contact the workshop chairman, Daniel Lemieux.

PNNL and PPG to develop dynamically responsive IR window coating

pnnlThe Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and PPG have been awarded up to $750,000 to design a coating that can “switch” from a solar IR-reflecting state to a solar IR-transmitting state while maintaining high levels of daylight transmittance in either condition. PPG will provide an additional $78,000 in cost-sharing.

The development of such a coating would represent a major advance compared to current thermochromic window technology, which involves coatings that darken and block visible light when exposed to high volumes of IR energy, and existing electrochromic window technology, which relies on external power sources such as electricity to balance tinting and light transmittance.

The new PPG/PNNL coating technology also has the potential to be inexpensive, which will help ensure that dynamically responsive IR windows are an economical option for use in residential and commercial retrofit applications.

The two-year project is designed to develop dynamically responsive IR window coatings on a laboratory scale. If development is successful, the product could be scaled up and potentially commercialized within several years. PPG also collaborated recently with PNNL to develop and study waste-heat recovery technologies to save energy in the glass manufacturing process.

AGC to build equestrian center for Horses 4 Heroes

agc-charitiesConstruction charity organization AGC Charities, Inc. announced today that it will build a new equestrian center for a local charity group that provides equestrian programs and activities for veterans, their families and local first responders. As part of its annual Operation Opening Doors effort, contractors will donate their time, expertise and money to create a new facility for Horses 4 Heroes.

Since its establishment in 2006, Horses 4 Heroes has been operating out of the back yard of the woman who founded the group, Sydney Knott. But thanks to AGC Charities, Inc. and the help of many member firms, the group has received permission from Las Vegas to build a new facility at the historic Tulley Springs Ranch on the northern end of town.

Las Vegas-based Martin-Harris Construction has volunteered to serve as the lead contractor for the charitable effort. The AGC of Las Vegas has also committed to recruiting many of its members to participate in the effort. The new facility will have an area for farm animals, riding arena and Mare Motel, as well as new fencing. In addition, the team will renovate one of the Ranch’s old cottages into a residence for the horse caretaker and perform significant site-prep work. The facility is scheduled to open on Thursday, March 6.

Clemens said the AGC Charities group is currently fundraising to support the soon-to-be renovated facility. He noted that the charitable group was established six years ago to channel and support the charitable efforts of the construction community. He added that the group held previous national Operation Opening Doors projects in Washington, D.C., Honolulu, Orlando and Palm Springs.

Click here for more information about Horses 4 Heroes, AGC Charities, Inc. and its Operation Opening Doors projects.

LVDC guidelines now available for comment

nibsThe National Institute of Building Sciences Low Vision Design Committee (LVDC) has released a draft of Design Guidelines for the Visual Environment for public review and comment. The 60-day review period closes April 4.

The first of its kind in the United States, the Guidelines will provide assistance to design professionals and others in accommodating a growing segment of the population who live with the spectrum of vision disorders contributing to low vision. All stakeholders are invited to provide comments on the document.

The Guidelines address planning and design of a building and facility site, including features used to access the building or facility, such as walkways and pathways, stairs and ramps; interior spaces, including finish materials and fixed and moveable furniture; and lighting design, including the use of daylighting and electrical lighting. It contains chapters on general design principles; site and landscape design; and architecture, interior and lighting design.

“Through the Institute’s process of public review, the Low Vision Design Committee expects to be able to refine the Design Guidelines for the Visual Environment before its official public release for use by designers,” said James E. Woods, PhD, PE, the committee’s chairperson. “We encourage everyone to make comments, suggestions and edits to the draft. We also hope that reviewers will be able to contribute supporting information, such as published data, to help us validate the accuracy of the content.”

The Guidelines were developed by the LVDC with generous support from the Hulda B. and Maurice Rothschild Foundation and the James H. McClung Lighting Research Foundation.

Persons interested in reviewing the Guidelines can obtain a copy on the Institute’s website. Please submit comments by using the “Track Changes” function in Word, marking up the draft or providing other written forms of comments to Stephanie Stubbs on or before April 4, 2014.

Download the Guidelines.

DOE awards PPG $2.1 million to help automate PV manufacturing

ppgThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded PPG Industries’ industrial coatings business $2.1 million award to help design and pilot a rapid photovoltaic (PV) module assembly process that uses automation to eliminate time and labor from the current assembly process.

PPG will use the funding, delivered through the DOE’s SunShot Initiative, to develop liquid encapsulants that will enable PV modules to be manufactured without the need for capital-intensive laminators. PPG will match each dollar committed by the DOE, resulting in a total public-private investment of approximately $4.3 million in the project.

PPG is partnering with Flextronics International, Inc., a leading global solar module manufacturer, to design and test a pilot line at Flextronics’ Milpitas, Calif., facility that will produce 60- and 72-cell modules. PPG and Flextronics expect to increase module throughput by a factor of four at half the capital expense of the existing process.

The SunShot Initiative, which is funded through the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), seeks to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade. The PPG award is part of a $13 million investment in five projects to strengthen domestic solar manufacturing and speed commercialization of efficient, affordable PV and concentrating solar power technologies.

Collaboration key to vacuum-insulated curtainwall construction

In an effort to provide better-performing building envelopes, a collaborative effort has led to the first successful testing of a vacuum-insulated high-performance thermal curtainwall system. Working closely with Dow Corning Corporation and Guardian Industries Corp., BISEM-USA recently completed independent testing of the BISEM Vacuum Wall system.

This is the first structurally glazed unitized curtainwall in North America using vacuum insulation technology to undergo industry-recognized and accepted independent performance testing for air and water resistance, and structural, seismic and thermal performance. The system was tested in accordance with AAMA 501, as published by the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA). Completion of the commercial testing provides the proof necessary to ensure that architects can specify this solution with confidence.

The collaboration began when Dow Corning Sales Representative Chris Combs introduced the new Dow Corning Architectural Insulation Module – featuring Dow Corning Vacuum Insulation Panel (VIP) technology – to Bagatelos, an accomplished curtainwall assembler and integrator and longtime user of Dow Corning brand products. Bagatelos immediately saw the potential.

With the Dow Corning insulation technology selected for the wall spandrel, Bagatelos looked to Guardian Industries for suitable complementary vision glass options. Guardian Industries – one of the world’s largest manufacturers of float, coated and fabricated glass for the commercial, residential and automotive markets – developed a prototype for the system that combined its vacuum-insulated glass product with SunGuard SuperNeutral 68 Low-E glass coating to meet the challenging requirements of commercial high-performance wall installations. While the vacuum-insulated glass product is currently under development, Guardian has plans to commercialize it in the future.

With the latest technologies from Dow Corning and Guardian, BISEM developed the new curtainwall with a system approach, providing outstanding thermal performance and also meeting industry established performance criteria for air and water resistance, and structural and seismic performance.

The BISEM Vacuum Wall system brings together the Dow Corning and Guardian products, along with frame, gasketing and thermal break. It features removable rigid components with good thermal properties. The test chamber walls also utilized Dow Corning DefendAir 200 liquid-applied silicone air and weather barrier on wall substrates, along with the Dow Corning Silicone Transition System to ensure a weathertight transition between the curtainwall and the surrounding chamber wall substrates, allowing the test specimen to be readily isolated.

BISEM contracted with an independent testing facility, Architectural Testing, Inc., to conduct performance testing on the BISEM Vacuum Wall system mockup. Actual structural tests and validated thermal modeling confirmed that the curtainwall would remain in place on the building for both specifically prescribed and overload conditions, without over deflecting, while also providing a complete envelope that defends against air and water infiltration and can meet stringent thermal performance goals.

According to Chris Dolan, director of commercial glass marketing for Guardian Industries, collaboratively designing and testing with technologies backed by proven, warranted performance led to a fully integrated solution. Successful completion of this high-performance curtainwall is a testament to the potential for energy-efficient façades and glass systems – and the potential of collaborative projects.