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Los Angeles Sustainable Business Programs

Photo Credit: Coalition for Clean Air

Recognizing the importance of achieving city-wide sustainability goals, the city of Los Angeles has created various programs designed to both enhance current environmental efforts and assist organizations in taking the next step towards sustainable development. These programs provide increased business opportunities as well as resources for organizations to analyze how improvement can be made to their environmental practices and policy.

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Corporate Social Responsibility Programs: B-Corps, 1% for the Planet, JUST

Photo Credit: CSR Ambassadors

The concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is increasingly changing the way that companies work and handle business. Greater value is placed on companies that commit themselves to doing business within the Triple-Bottom-Line framework, successfully balancing economic, social, and environmental expectations of stakeholders. Increased development of CSR programs has allowed for businesses to select one that matches their structure and values. Discussed below are three examples of these programs that have very different models but all strive to grow today’s most well-known companies into impactful leaders of change.

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Interview with Pick My Solar

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. Read more

How Building Energy Modeling is Used

Photo Credit: Glumac Engineering

When reviewing a high-performance building, it is instantly apparent how much time, effort, and resources went into making the project so efficient. Knowing that nearly every aspect of building operation requires extensive amounts of energy, do you ever find yourself wondering how architects design such efficient buildings? A tool known as Whole-Building Energy Modeling (BEM) is where it all begins.

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Living Walls: Putting the Green in Green Building

The green wall in our Verdical Group office at the LA Cleantech Incubator, Downtown Los Angeles. Photo credit: Dezeen

Living walls, or green walls, are self-sufficient vertical gardens that are attached to the exterior or interior of a building. They can be free-standing or secured to walls and designed to fit both new building projects and retrofits. While being aesthetically pleasing is an obvious benefit, living walls also help LEED project teams earn credits in various categories such as Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, and Indoor Environmental Quality.

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Looking further into LEED v4: Environmental Product Declarations

Photo credit: Michael Bednar

Environmental Product Declarations (EPD’s) are commonly referred to as the “nutrition labels” of the green building industry. Instead of showing fats, carbohydrates, and calories, EPD’s provide information on the environmental impacts of a certain product, such as global warming potential, water consumption, and smog formation. EPD’s take the nitty gritty of a product’s life-cycle analysis and condense it into one document. While it can take up to a year to produce an EPD, more manufacturers are releasing them as demand increases from building architects, consultants, and designers.

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LEED and the WELL Building Standard

Photo credit: International Well Building Institute

Everyone might know what is trending on social media, but do you know what is trending in the world of building design? While LEED is still the frontrunner of green building rating systems, a new standard is increasingly becoming all the rage among designers. The WELL building standard was developed by the real estate firm Delos in 2013 and takes a human-centered approach to the process of designing a building. Like LEED, the standard has various credits that projects must achieve to become certified. The seven aspects of the WELL standard are: air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind. These are centered around the concept of improving human wellness and how the office environment shapes our physical and mental health. While WELL certification may seem like just another trend to boost an organization’s brand, recent studies have shown that our office environment affects us much more then we know.

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A Discussion With Perkins+Will On Mass Timber

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?

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The Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Photo credit: Phipps Conservatory

It seems the bar for green buildings is being set higher and higher with every new project coming onto the radar. However, the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens may have set the bar at its highest level. Completed in 2012, the CSL is increasingly being referred to as the most sustainable building in the world due to the fact it’s obtained the world’s four highest green certifications. The building has met the standards for LEED platinum, Four Stars Sustainable Sites Initiative, WELL building platinum, and most recently achieved Living Building Challenge certification, the toughest of them all. Glancing into how the CSL was developed, it is easy to see how this building is earning the title of most sustainable in the world. Read more

LEED v4 Commissioning: More Requirements for Finer-Tuned Buildings

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.

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