One of Verdical Group’s offices are located in the inspirational Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) in Downtown, Los Angeles. This sustainable business hub is filled with dozens of start-ups, non-profits, and established companies working to create a better world. We were recently fortunate enough to catch up with one of LACI’s major players — Pick My Solar. This blog post covers the interview we conducted with Kyle Cherrick, Head of Business Development at Pick My Solar. Pick My Solar is one of the best solar companies in the county and we are very excited to have had the opportunity to speak with Kyle.
Photo credit: Perkins+Will
Concrete is the second most consumed substance on Earth after water. Now, that statement may not come as a surprise to you if you work in design, construction, or real estate. After the Industrial Revolution, the majority of the Western world’s buildings have been erected with concrete and steel. And, as urban populations grow over the next 30 years (L.A. is projected to gain an additional 1.5 million people by the year 2050), the use of concrete is expected to increase rapidly to meet the demands of urbanization. But at what cost to our environment?
Cement, the primary ingredient in concrete, accounts for around 5% of global carbon dioxide emissions, which are associated with climate change. As we build out our cities, making room for future populations, that percentage will only continue to grow. Cement production increases 2.5% annually, and is expected to rise from 2.55 billion tons in 2006 to 3.7-4.4 billion tons by 2050. In order to moderate the enormous greenhouse gas emissions associated with these urbanization projections , more efficient, economical and sustainable building construction materials must be developed.
Is there a superior alternative?
Photo credit: Ratcliff Architects
As we’ve noted in previous articles covering commissioning (Cx), it is an important key to the green building design process that should never be left out. For a little recap: commissioning (Cx) is the continual process during planning, design, construction, and building operation that aims to make sure quality is up to par, design is meeting its expectations, and systems are performing as they’re supposed to. This last part is crucial. Why spend the time, money, and effort on installing high-performance heat pumps in your structure only to later find out that they are improperly installed and thus wasting energy instead of saving it? Verdical Group’s very own commissioning agent (CxA), Frank Hooks, recently discovered within one of our projects that all of the economizers were completely shut (they were never set up to be operational) while a LEED flush out was supposed to be in progress—meaning there was no way the flush out was performed correctly. The quality control work that commissioning agents complete helps to find all sorts of errors in building systems—as large as the example formerly described or as minor as a toilet improperly flushing.
The USGBC clearly recognizes the importance of commissioning buildings; the energy and cost savings resulting from it are too great to ignore. The new LEED v4 rating system significantly improves upon LEED v2009’s fundamental and enhanced commissioning credits. In the proceeding paragraphs below, some of the major commissioning updates that have been incorporated into LEED v4 are discussed.
Photo credit: USGBC
The last day to officially register a project under the LEED v2009 rating system is on October 31st, 2016. That means projects failing to register before Halloween will have to sign up for LEED v4 by default. (If your project is already registered under LEED v2009, do not fear—you have until June 2021 to submit for certification under this rating system). So, what can we expect from LEED v4 that has some critics clearly spooked? Is it really all that scary? Keep reading below to find out more about the soon-to-be normal for USGBC’s LEED rating system.
With the rapid rate at which sustainable building technologies surface into the market, how can building owners and property managers possibly know what to choose from? Where can busy engineers, facility managers, and real estate professionals get a quick download of the latest energy and water efficiency building products? The annual Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge (LABBC) Building Technology Showcase is the answer to these questions and more. VG’s Project Manager Emily Hand, who planned and managed this “Real Estate & Technology Event” was asked a few questions regarding their 4th Annual Tech Showcase on August 26th.
Photo credit: The Bullitt Center
Verdical Group’s sold out Net Zero 2016 Conference, the largest net zero building design conference in the country, was hands-down the best yet. Not just because of the world-class lineup of speakers and exhibitors that captivated a packed SoCalGas Energy Resource Center in Downey, California. Not simply because all of the attendees seemed to leave the event with ambitious smiles on their faces, ready to venture out into the world to make their own mark on a net zero future. It wasn’t only due to awe-inspiring presentations such as “Net Positive Building Design for Higher Education” by Miller Hull architect Brian Court. No, the greatest aspect of the conference was the “Perspectives on Net Zero,” panel that convened gas, electric, and water utilities, municipalities, and a visionary nonprofit (the International Living Future Institute) to discern what a net zero future would look like.
How did each representative present their view on a net zero future? Below, the panelists’ various perspectives surrounding net zero energy and water will be reviewed. Based on their discussion, it’s possible to envision a future where net zero building performance is possible.
Photo credit: Hourigan Construction
When it comes to green buildings, The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is no rookie. 15 years ago, in 2001, CBF was the first in the world to claim a LEED Platinum certified building as its own. Their Philip Merrill Environmental Center, CBF’s Annapolis, Maryland headquarters, incorporates composting toilets, rainwater harvesting, and various other water-saving strategies that enable it to achieve a 90% reduction in water use compared to a conventional office building. As CBF is a non-profit whose sole objective is to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, this is certainly one organization that walks the talk (or paddles the babble?) Now, in 2016, CBF has gone above-and-beyond the status quo once again, one-upping their Maryland office with a brand new 10,000-square-foot Living Building Certified center in Virginia Beach, VA. What is it that makes their latest Brock Environmental Center one of the greenest buildings in the world?
Photo credit: Asia Green Buildings
Update (11/9/2016): The WBCSD has just published the results of the surveys sent out below in a full case study report, which is downloadable here.
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is an organization made up of over 200 companies, who represent all business sectors, all continents, and have a combined revenue of over $7 trillion U.S. dollars. From their website, the WBCSD “galvanizes the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment.” Many of the sustainability initiatives that have spurred out of the WBCSD are related to the built environment. The WBCSD’s Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EEB) project, launched in 2013, has created a building energy efficiency toolkit for organizations, which focuses on the business case for saving energy and is illustrated with good practices from companies. WBCSD called on all of the organizations involved with the EEB project to sign their Manifesto for Energy Efficiency in Buildings—by signing the Manifesto, companies can “walk the talk” and send a strong message to the market, stakeholders, and employees.
Photo credit: Solatube
There is a huge movement afoot that, unless you are in the building industry, might pass right under your nose without you even noticing it. If you walk into a newly built home, office building, or by some off-chance a Macy’s warehouse, and happen to notice the great lighting that has been installed—the probability that the sun is beaming through those light fixtures is steadily increasing. Designed to look like normal commercial ceiling lights (unbeknownst to the average person), Solatube’s “Tubular Daylighting Devices” (TDD’s) are gradually becoming the norm for high-performance green buildings. From research alone that continually shows how beneficial natural daylight is for humans, it wouldn’t be crazy to think all new construction in 10 years will come equipped with some form of TDD’s. As Michael Sather recently told Verdical Group at a Lunch & Learn held in our office, “For us, energy savings is just the ice on the cake. The cake is really human performance.”
Photo credit: Chai Energy
By now, everyone has heard of the “smart home.” Just in case you missed out on this buzzword, a home is considered “smart” if it is connected to the internet. This usually means that the appliances within a home are all wirelessly gathering data online via your Wi-Fi. They can then convert this data stream into useful information for you to use (i.e. your oven telling you the best temperature to cook a pizza). There is another interesting perk about smart home connectivity (the list keeps growing) that has just recently come to light. Through the power of smartphone apps, users can now gain information about and control certain smart appliances while they are away from their house. What is even more interesting, is that when these appliances are also connected to smart energy meters via Wi-Fi (there are about 52 million installed in the U.S. residential sector), the exact amount of energy that each one is consuming can be sent right to your phone in real-time. How can this data help the consumer in ways that traditional utility-provided energy consumption information doesn’t? What consumer-based smart energy management platforms are pushing us into a new age of energy awareness?