Consultative Council releases recommendations to advance building industry

Natl Inst of Building ScienceThe High Performance Buildings Caucus, recognizing the unique nature of the publication, recently announced the National Institute of Building Sciences Consultative Council 2012 Report, “Moving Forward: Findings and Recommendations from the Consultative Council.”

The Consultative Council, a representative council of the nation’s building community, prepares the report annually, as required by the Institute’s enabling legislation. This year’s report is a pathway toward high-performance buildings. It offers specific recommendations, implementable in the near term, which can serve as the basis for a national buildings policy.

Representatives David McKinley (W.Va.) and Peter Welch (Vt.), co-chairs of the High Performance Buildings Caucus, hosted the briefing on Capitol Hill May 13, 2013, as the kickoff event for High Performance Building Week.

Ron King, immediate past chair and National Insulation Association representative for the Consultative Council, moderated the event, which included presentations by Pete DeMarco, chair of the Council’s Energy and Water Efficiency Topical Committee and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials’ Council representative; Richard Wright, chair of the Council’s Sustainability Topical Committee and a representative of the American Society of Civil Engineers; Sara Yerkes, Consultative Council vice chair and the International Code Council’s representative; and Ryan Colker, director of the Consultative Council.

Findings & Recommendations
Key findings and recommendations from the report are as follows:

  • The building industry and policymakers should identify baseline metrics to measure the achievement of high performance and coordinate existing efforts in this area.
  • The building community must engage with climate and weather scientists to help identify the information required to adapt buildings to climate change, and to develop the practices, standards, codes and guidelines needed to implement that adaptation into the built environment.
  • All stakeholders should work to identify areas for streamlining the regulatory process and finding and applying solutions that eliminate overlap, duplication, inconsistencies and inefficiencies in the application of regulations, processes and procedures applied to the built environment.
  • The building industry and regulatory community should identify ways to improve the current process of code compliance, as well as look for alternative processes—particularly as state and local governments are faced with shrinking budgets.
  • Building owners must recognize the value of retro-commissioning and the importance of well-qualified retro-commissioning authorities.
  • Policymakers should support the building industry in quantifying the impact of retroactive application of requirements on the existing building stock.
  • Policymakers, foundations and research institutions should provide financial, political and technical support for multi-disciplinary research that supports achievement of high-performance buildings.
  • Utilities, policymakers, code developers and the industry at large should focus on developing an approach to time-dependent valuation of energy, conducting research to support guidance on proper pipe sizing to save resources and protect human health, and determining how thermal insulation on potable and other hot water delivery systems impacts both energy and water use.

The Institute’s 2012 Annual Report, which is submitted to the President of the United States, contains a summary of the Consultative Council Report.

View the briefing agenda.

Download the Consultative Council Report.

Learn more about the Consultative Council.

Terracotta and cement roofs vulnerable in wildfires, NIST study finds

From the May 14, 2013 NIST Tech Beat.

Although made of fire-resistant materials, terracotta and cement roof tiles are vulnerable to penetration by windblown embers generated in wildfires, according to new research findings* from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

In scoping experiments conducted in the Fire Research Wind Tunnel Facility at Japan’s Building Research Institute, NIST fire scientist Samuel Manzello found that the embers—or firebrands—infiltrated gaps between certain types of roofing tiles and, once trapped, proceeded to melt the underlayment below.

Of the four roof styles studied, the flat tile terracotta roofing assembly performed best probably due to its interlocking design. For these tiles, the firebrands were observed to become trapped within the interlocking sections of the tiles and, as a result, the firebrands did not penetrate past the tiles towards the underlayment.

Manzello cautions, however, against a false sense of security with this type of roofing assembly.

“Over time, gaps can develop in roofing assemblies due to settling of the structure, aging of the materials, earthquakes or other causes,” he says. In an earlier study,** Manzello and colleagues simulated this effect and observed greatly reduced performance of ceramic roofing assemblies as compared to well-aligned Spanish tile roofing assemblies.

This infiltration of embers through gaps, he explains, ultimately could lead to ignition of materials in an attic space immediately below.

The research findings suggest that one potential approach to reducing wildfire risks would be to install continuous, fire-resistant underlayments. This hypothesis, Manzello says, requires further investigation.

In the new research, Manzello studied roof assemblies made of flat and profiled (wave-like) cement and terracotta tiles. The assemblies were exposed to firebrand showers generated by the NIST-developed firebrand generator. Devised by Manzello, the generator, or NIST Dragon, shown in the video below, is a two-meter tall, goose-neck-shaped apparatus that breathes in wood chips and exhales firebrands at a controlled rate.*** The novel device supports NIST’s program to improve the fire-resistance or hardening of structures in the wildland-urban interface (WUI), with the ultimate aim of reducing property damage and the threat to life safety associated with WUI fires.

* S.L. Manzello, The Performance of Concrete Tile and Terracotta Tile Roofing Assemblies Exposed to Wind-Driven Firebrand Showers, (NIST Technical Note 1794) March 2013. Available at:http://dx.doi.org/10.6028/NIST.TN.1794.

** S.L, Manzello, Y. Hayashi, Y. Yoneki and Y.Yamamoto, Quantifying the vulnerabilities of ceramic tile roofing assemblies to ignition during a firebrand attack. Fire Safety Journal 45 (2010), pp. 35-43.

*** See the Sept. 27, 2011 Tech Beat item, “In Unique Fire Tests, Outdoor Decks Will Be Under Firebrand Attack” at  www.nist.gov/public_affairs/tech-beat/tb20110927.cfm#fire.

Guide establishes framework for implementing COBie into building projects

Natl Inst of Building ScienceThe National Institute of Building Sciences buildingSMART alliance™ (bSa) is calling for public comment on a draft guide that establishes the framework for implementing the Construction Operations Building information exchange (COBie) standard.

As with any contract deliverable, information deliverables require specifications to set the expectations of quality that need to be met. All bSa information exchange standards are specifically designed to be contractible standards for use with building information models (BIMs). One of the first bSa information exchange standards to be included in the National BIM Standard-United States™ (NBIMS-US™), COBie identifies the minimum requirements for what digital data should be collected during design and construction so that the information is available later to manage assets throughout the life of the building.

Providing owners with a minimum national standard for capturing, updating and exchanging asset information digitally is the first step to ensuring such information is delivered by the project team. The COBie Guide sets the framework for project owners and teams to develop a practical COBie implementation strategy. Once a given owner customizes the document to meet the needs of the project, that owner’s version of the Guide becomes the reference point for the project team’s design and construction specifications. For those owners who have not previously required COBie, the basic COBie standard can be used without customization.

The basic COBie standard requires all scheduled or tagged equipment to be identified by type and location. It requires the project team to capture the make, model and serial numbers, tag, installation date, warranty and scheduled maintenance requirements (which reflects current practice in most construction contracts).

The COBie Guide results from years of developing and pilot testing the standard. Beginning July 2, the Guide will be available for a three-month review by interested buildingSMART alliance members and then updated based on consensus feedback. Once finalized, The COBie Guidewill be submitted as a “best practice” ballot to NBIMS Version 3.

The comment period closes Tuesday, October 2. Download the COBie Guide and provide comments.

About the National Institute of Building Sciences
The National Institute of Building Sciences, authorized by public law 93-383 in 1974, is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that brings together representatives of government, the professions, industry, labor and consumer interests to identify and resolve building process and facility performance problems. The Institute serves as an authoritative source of advice for both the private and public sectors with respect to the use of building science and technology.

Stratford, ON to investigate upgrade to LEDs

Stratford ON

Stratford, ON, is famous for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Perhaps they'll also become famous for their LED lighting.

The City of Stratford, Ontario, has started a pilot project that will evaluate replacing existing streetlights (potentially as many as 4,000 units) with energy-efficient LED fixtures. This project has helped earn Stratford become one of the “Top Seven Intelligent Communities for 2012″ by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) a New York-based think tank dedicated to studying the use of information and communications technology to create the community of the 21st Century.

Stratford shares the kudos with communities having populations and economies many times its size: Austin, Texas; Oulu, Finland; Quebec City, Quebec; Riverside, California; Saint John, New Brunswick and Taichung City, Taiwan. All seven communities were feted last week at ICF’s annual “Building The Broadband Economy” summit conference in New York City. The goal of the awards program is to increase awareness of the role that broadband communications and information access technologies play in shaping the economic and social development of communities worldwide.

The pilot project will include Toshiba’s LED roadway and area lighting fixtures. These fixtures are a direct replacement for conventional high intensity discharge (HID) lighting, such as high-pressure sodium or metal halide lamps. With the new LED lighting fixtures, Stratford could save up to 30% in energy costs.

Stratford, Ontario is a city of 32,000 in southwestern Ontario, famous for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. The city was twice designated one of the world’s Top Seven Intelligent Communities, in 2011 and 2012, by the New York-based broadband think tank, the Intelligent Community Forum.

More Companies Join Better Buildings Challenge

Department of EnergyThe Obama Administration announced recently that six new major U.S. companies are joining President Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge, which encourages private sector leaders across the country to commit to reducing the energy use in their facilities by at least 20 percent by 2020.  Starbucks Coffee Company, Staples, and The J.R. Simplot Company will upgrade more than 50 million square feet of combined commercial building space, including 15 manufacturing facilities. Financial allies Samas Capital and Greenwood Energy will also make $200 million in financing available for energy efficiency upgrades through this national leadership initiative. Utility partner Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has also committed to offering expanded energy efficiency programs for its commercial customers, who are responsible for 30 million square feet of commercial building space.

The Better Buildings Challenge is part of the Obama Administration’s comprehensive strategy to improve the competitiveness of American industry and business, by helping companies to save money by reducing energy waste in commercial and industrial buildings.  Under the Challenge, private sector CEOs, university presidents and state and local leaders commit to taking aggressive steps to reduce the energy used in their facilities and sharing data and best practices with others around the country.  With the addition of today’s partners and allies, nearly 70 organizations have now joined the Better Buildings Challenge.  Together, these organizations account for more than 1.7 billion square feet of building space, including more than 300 manufacturing plants, and have committed almost $2 billion to support energy efficiency improvements nationwide. For more information, please visit the Better Buildings Challenge website.

The energy to operate the buildings where we work, shop, and study costs the U.S. approximately $200 billion annually. Last year, commercial and industrial buildings consumed more than 40 percent of all the energy used by the U.S. economy.  The goal of the Better Buildings Challenge is to support building upgrades to make America’s buildings 20 percent more energy efficient over the next decade, while also reducing energy costs for American businesses and local governments by more than $40 billion and creating jobs for U.S. workers.

U.S. Green Building Council Announces Changes to LEED 2012

USGBC

“LEED pushes the envelope to bring transformation to the market – that’s what we do,” said Scot Horst, Senior Vice President, LEED. “We remain committed to that, and to making sure that what we deliver is complete and can be successfully implemented.”

In addition to the ballot date change, other actions include:

  • Keeping LEED 2009 open for registration for three years
  • Continuing to ask for the market’s assistance in “test driving” LEED v4 to gain important insight during a time when improvements in usability infrastructure can be made
  • Committing to a fifth public comment that will open on Oct. 2, 2012, and run through Dec. 10, 2012 to take advantage of Greenbuild where USGBC will hold public forums and educational sessions on site in San Francisco. This will help stakeholders better understand requirements as well as any final changes that may appear in the new draft. Greenbuild will also serve as a platform to debut new forms, submittal documents and LEED Online enhancements that will help improve and enhance the user experience

Said USGBC President and CEO Rick Fedrizzi,  “This is 100% in response to our members’ desire that we give them a bit more time to absorb the changes in this next version of the rating system.  We want to do everything we can to ensure that the market can fully embrace LEED v4 because it represents significant progress on carbon reduction and human health. Greenbuild will provide us the perfect venue to experience the look and feel of the new system as an integrated package. Then we can take the first part of 2013 to make sure the consensus body has everything it needs for a successful ballot.”

For more information please visit usgbc.org/LEEDv4.

California to require ‘solar ready roofs’ on new commercial buildings

CA Energy CommissionAccording to the San Jose Mercury News, the California Energy Commission has approved new energy efficiency standards for new residential and commercial buildings. The new standards, which would take effect Jan. 1, 2014, will require new commercial buildings to have solar-ready roofs, as well as so-called high-performance windows and lights controlled by sensors.

The new standards were backed by environmentalists, major utilities and the California Building Industry Association.

DOE Announces First Product to Meet the Commercial Rooftop Air Conditioner Challenge

Department of EnergyAs part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to help American families and businesses save money on their energy bills, the U.S. Department of Energy today announced that Daikin McQuay’s Rebel rooftop unit system is the first to meet DOE’s Rooftop Unit (RTU) Challenge. Five manufacturers—Daikin McQuay, Carrier, Lennox, 7AC Technologies, and Rheem—are participating in this challenge to commercialize highly efficient commercial air conditioners that satisfy a DOE-issued specification for energy savings and performance. The companies have until April 1, 2013 to submit a product for independent evaluation according to the specification. When built to meet the specification, these units are expected to reduce energy use by as much as 50% over current standards. Nationwide, if all 10 to 20 ton RTUs met the specification, businesses would save over $1 billion each year in energy costs, helping American companies better compete on a global scale.

Manufacturers nationwide have a strong motivation to produce highly energy-efficient air conditioning units for commercial buildings. Members in DOE’s Commercial Buildings Energy Alliances (CBEA), such as Target, Walmart, and other participating commercial building owners have expressed an interest in equipment that meets the new energy efficiency specification at an affordable price. The Department of Energy is evaluating potential demonstration sites for high performing products that meet the RTU Challenge. In addition, the Department is also developing analytical tools that enable businesses to more accurately estimate the energy and cost savings of using high performance RTUs in their facilities.

The RTU Challenge, aimed at spurring the market introduction of cost-effective, high-performance commercial rooftop unit air conditioners, was announced in January 2011. The specification that underpins the RTU Challenge was developed by DOE technical experts and informed by industry partners.

The final participant list was announced by Dr. Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency, at the Energy Department’s first CBEA Efficiency Forum, a public stakeholder engagement event hosted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. In addition to today’s announcements, the forum also featured a series of information exchanges on other energy efficiency initiatives that are underway. A full meeting report will be available on the CBEA Web page in the coming weeks. CBEA is comprised of building owners, managers, and operators that collaborate with the Energy Department and with each other to develop and deploy best practices, key decision-making tools, and advanced technologies for significant energy savings.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. Learn more about the CBEA, Efficiency Forum, and RTU Challenge.

MD Governor Signs Landmark Geothermal Heat Pump Bill

Flag of MarylandMaryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D) has signed the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard – Geothermal Heating and Cooling bill (SB 652) into law, making Maryland the first state in the nation to allow utilities to claim credits for the installation of geothermal heat pumps. The measure passed the state legislature on April 13.

The legislation makes GHPs an accepted technology for utilities to use toward earning Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).

Geothermal heat pumps address one of the biggest consumers of U.S. energy – buildings. Buildings account for more than 70 percent of the nation’s electricity usage, and geothermal heat pumps have the potential to reduce energy use by as much as 40-70 percent in a typical building.

The Maryland RPS stipulates that electricity suppliers (utilities and competitive retail suppliers) use renewable sources of energy like wind, solar and biomass to generate a minimum portion of their retail sales, in annual percentage increments to a level of 20% by 2022.

Electricity suppliers demonstrate compliance with the RPS by accumulating RECs that are issued by the state for the renewable power they provide to their ratepayers. With the new law, GHPs offer yet another option for utilities to meet their renewable energy purchase requirements and earn RECs under the state’s RPS mandate.

Maryland and regional government and industry stakeholders are now forming the Mid-Atlantic Geothermal Industry Consortium (MAGIC) to educate surrounding states about the value of GHPs a compliance measure for their renewable energy purchase requirements.

GSA releases green building certification systems review

GSAThe General Services Administration (GSA) recently released its review of the Green Building Certification Systems.  Three certification systems passed GSA screening criteria: Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes, U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and the International Living Building Challenge.

Five years ago, only LEED passed the screening process.  In its most recent review, GSA determined Green Globes best advanced federal policies in new buildings and recommended LEED for existing buildings.  Out of more than 180 green building certification systems, GSA narrowed its consideration to whole building systems with a third party verification process.

The Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing (Center) has been an outspoken advocate of the federal government’s use of science and consensus-based green building certification systems.  In November 2011, the Center filed comments with GSA recommending the agency approve Green Globes based on the certification system’s “more economical approach to building certification and the implementation of a true accredited national standard using the ANSI process.”

On Wednesday, May 9th, the Center’s president Craig Silvertooth delivered testimony at a GSA sponsored meeting on the Green Building Certification Systems review in which he highlighted the potential opportunity and challenges involved in the GSA review process.

GSA oversees the leasing and construction of over 9,600 buildings in the federal building portfolio.  The agency is required under the Energy Independence and Security Act to evaluate green building certification systems every five years to ensure the federal government is using the most appropriate programs to promote its own initiatives.  A copy of the review is available on the GSA website.