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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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LEED v4: Upgraded, Redefined & Ready for Adoption

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. Read more

VG’s Emily Hand Discusses the LABBC 2016 Tech Showcase

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.
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Perspectives on Net Zero – What Does the Future Look Like?

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. Read more

Verdical Group Hosts 3rd Annual Net Zero Conference: Energy + Water + Waste

Photo credit: Schuchart

Aggressive Strategies for a Changing Climate

Downey, CA— Buildings alone contribute almost 40% of total US carbon emissions, and Zero Net Energy buildings will play an aggressive role as we strive to mitigate the effects of climate change. California is leading the way with mandates that all new residential construction be net zero energy by 2020, and commercial construction to follow suit by 2030. The market is pivoting, and companies and designers are finding opportunity in these shifts. Gaining traction, Zero Net Water, and Zero Net Waste movements are taking hold across industries as well, as inefficient systems and industry waste are being more accurately seen risks and hidden costs, and value is extracted from streams previously identified as waste only. Read more

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Brock Environmental Center

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? Read more

California: Pushed to the Forefront in Sustainability

Photo credit: CA.gov & Damon Winter

Why is California so sustainable? Well, necessity really.

At first glance, California is the second largest greenhouse gas emitter in the country, with a whopping 353 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted in 2013 based on EIA reports. Taking a closer look at the per capita emissions, however, we can see that California is actually one of the lowest emitters of carbon dioxide, with only 9.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide per person compared to the national average of 16.7 metric tons per person. Interesting? In fact, according to state statistics California is 48th in the nation in per capital energy consumption, 2nd in net renewables, and 1st in solar and geothermal. California is leading the way in terms of energy efficiency and clean energy. Read more

Net Zero Buildings: Impacts on the Grid

Photo credit: Pexels

Buildings account for nearly 40% of US carbon emissions. This means that low emission buildings must be part of our clean sustainable future. Initiatives such as Architecture 2030 and California’s Title 24 are not only helping to pave the way by creating a general framework for sustainable buildings but pushing the boundary with Net Zero Buildings (NZB’s) or Zero Energy Buildings (ZEB’s) that aim to almost completely offset a building’s adverse climate change impacts. These buildings will produce just as much energy as they consume and will be commonplace by 2020 and 2030. Read more

The Business Case for LCA Indicators in Real Estate

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. Read more