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Posts tagged ‘COTE’

Build Positive: Carbon Positive Buildings and the Global Impact Initiative

A Committee on the Environment Presentation

Thursday, September 20, 2018
6-7:30pm
Free and open to all.
RSVP to events@aiaeb.org.

Build Positive: Carbon Positive Buildings and the Global Impact Initiative sponsored by Carbon Leadership Forum. Larry Strain, FAIA will give a brief presentation and lead discussion on decarbonizing the built environment, mostly focusing on building reuse and upgrading existing buildings – the big picture on why this is what we need to be focusing on. Also, he will report on the Global Climate Action Summit – week of September 10.

Larry is a founding Principal at Siegel & Strain Architects and co-author of the Total Carbon Study in 2016. He is on the research team for the Embodied Carbon Benchmarking project.

March for the Climate – Meeting the Paris Agreement Climate Goals

Cate Leger, Principal, Leger Wanaselja Architecture

Environmental organizations around the country are organizing a massive march in San Francisco September 8.

Meeting the Paris climate goals requires a lot of changes—including many changes to buildings.  Even as the ink dried on the Paris Agreement, analysts were telling us that the international commitments were nowhere near enough to keep global warming to under 1.5 or even 2 degrees Celsius.  But it was a start.  And even as Trump and his cohort walk us back nationally from these commitments, we in California and many others around the world are leaning in.

In September,  leaders pushing forward on meeting the Paris climate goals will be gathering in California for the Global Climate Action Summit  to share new commitments and challenge each other to go farther.  The Summit includes many excellent and ambitious challenges, several quite relevant to architects:

  • Net Zero Carbon Building Challenge,
  • The 30X30 Forests, Food and Land Challenge,
  • Green & Healthy Streets (“Fossil Fuel Free Streets”) Declaration, and
  • Advancing Towards Zero Waste Challenge

To support this agenda and to encourage our leaders to go further still, environmental organizations around the country are organizing a massive march in San Francisco September 8.

As architects, we have good reason to join this march.  Our everyday work is critical to solving the climate crisis.  But even as we understand what we must do–i.e. design all electric, low carbon footprint buildings, powered by renewables, and supporting zero emission vehicles–we find our efforts hampered by state level regulations.  The new 2019 Title 24 Building Standards, while improved, still include assumptions favoring gas.  In addition, energy efficiency rebates are still not available when switching fuels. See AIAEB 2-18 Newsletter for details.

At a larger scale, all of this work at designing the best Zero Carbon Buildings is inconsequential if it is not met at the same time with a comprehensive climate strategy that includes reducing fossil fuel production.  In an LA Times Op Ed, Bill McKibben argues that managing the supply side of fossil fuels works to lower greenhouse gas emissions and it is necessary to accelerate reductions enough to meet the Paris climate goals.  As a start, Governor Brown to could say no to new fossil fuel permits and take the state level equivalent stance to President Obama’s denial of the Keystone XL Pipeline.   He could go a step further and create a plan to phase out all oil and gas production in the state.

The national AIA has taken a public position in support of the Paris Climate Agreement.  Let’s ask our leaders to make our Zero Carbon Buildings more meaningful and march on September 8.

Energy Modeling for Architects

Thursday, August 23, 2018
6-7:30pm
Free and open to all.
RSVP to info@aiaeb.org.

Energy modeling is not just for engineers. Philip Luo, AIA of Shah Kawasaki Architects, will present examples of how architects can use energy modeling for achieving LEED V4 Integrative Process Credit, optimizing building envelope design, and answering critical design questions. Software used in case studies include eQuest, EnergyPlus, and Dialux. A group discussion will follow this 30 minute presentation.

COTE: Resilient by Design Challenge

Thursday, July 19, 2018
6pm
Free and open to all.
RSVP to events@aiaeb.org.

Ben Levi gives a presentation of Ratcliff Architect’s explorations into issues raised by the Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge competition.

“Resilience,” like sustainability, is difficult to define, yet everyone is talking about how to build or maintain it. So, what is resilience really, and is it a useful concept or a meaningless buzzword?

Why is it that when we talk about resilience, we immediately think scary thoughts about disaster and disturbance? Can we think about resilience in terms of renewal and innovative thinking?

Inspired by the recent Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge competition, which took place in our own “Bay(k)yard”, a small group of us at Ratcliff embarked on a six-month long exploration to find answers to some of these questions. We invite you to join us for this presentation/conversation to discuss some of the things we’ve learned about the overwhelming complexity of issues and many dimensions of resilience, a surface of which we feel we’ve only began to scratch.

 

Design Tour: Bishop O’Dowd High School

Saturday, May 19, 2018
10-11:30am
$5 Members / $10 Nonmembers
Click here to register.

1.5 CES LUs

Interested in seeing an educational building set in an ecological restoration of a once abandoned hillside? Susi Marzuola, AIA of Siegel & Strain Architects leads a tour of this Zero Net Energy site. Bishop O’Dowd Center for Environmental Studies was the 2017 AIA East Bay COTE Sustainable Design Honorable Mention winner.

The Center for Environmental Studies (CES) at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland serves the school’s environmental science curriculum while offering learning and gathering spaces for the campus community.The building’s two large laboratory classrooms expand onto a generous covered patio – a third classroom – overlooking the Living Lab, Oakland and the Bay.

Case Study: Center for Environmental Studies at Bishop O’Dowd High School

Thursday, April 19, 2018
6pm
Free and open to all. RSVP to events@aiaeb.org.

1.5 CES LUs

Susi Marzuola, AIA of Siegel and Strain Architects discusses the 2017 AIA East Bay COTE Sustainable Design Honorable Mention winner, The Center for Environmental Studies at Bishop O’Dowd High School. Please note: this is a presentation at the chapter office, not a design tour.

 

Natural Building for Remodels and The New Carbon Architecture

Imagine that the act of building actually helped heal the environment.  What would that look like?  Massey Burke takes on this question both in her work as a local natural builder and in a chapter in the inspiring new book The New Carbon Architecture, by Bruce King.

Massey answers questions below in conversation with AIAEB COTE’s Cate Leger. 

Cate:  Natural building is generally associated with expensive or do-it-yourself new, custom houses  in the countryside, but I have seen firsthand that natural building is appropriate and cost effective for remodels and city building.  We met when you installed natural earth finishes for an apartment building renovation I was working on.  The prices were competitive with the alternative:  wood floors and plastered sheetrock walls  and 3 years later the earth finishes are holding up well.

Why do you like working with natural finishes and materials?

Massey:  I like working with natural materials because they help me maintain a direct relationship to the landscapes that they come from, both aesthetically and practically.  Working with natural materials usually involves a much shorter and more accessible supply chain, and often means that I am sourcing and refining the materials as well as building with them.  I love this process:  it allows me to make choices about how I affect the environment through building.

Cate:  We’ve heard a lot about zero net energy buildings as a key step to reducing use of fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.  In The New Carbon Architecture, you argue that buildings can go a lot farther in solving the climate crisis.  Tell us more about that.

Massey:  Shifting to natural building materials can sequester carbon, and, done right, can make our buildings carbon sinks rather than carbon emitters.

Wood and other plant-based natural materials  are now understood to sequester carbon within a building–because plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turn it into stable non-atmospheric carbon.  As long as they do not break down, the carbon within the plants remains locked up and does not return to the atmosphere.  

While it is less common in modern construction than wood, straw has been used worldwide in building for many thousands of years.  Straw bale construction is typically the most familiar to people, but there are actually many different ways to use straw in construction.   Straw is also used in a most earth or clay building systems, like adobe, cob, earth plasters, and earth floors. 

Cate: Where will you be taking this research in the future?

Massey:   This year is a mix of building work and carbon sequestration research, which is moving me toward creating high-performance buildings that are explicitly designed to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  I’m also developing more avenues for using natural materials for remodels.  In particular I am interested in expanding the applications of clay plasters in remodels to improve humidity control and energy efficiency. 

Getting to Zero: The AIA 2030 Commitment and Other Strategies

Thursday, February 15, 2018
6pm
Free and open to all.
RSVP to events@aiaeb.org.

AIA East Bay COTE members Alice Sung, AIA (Greenbank Associates) and Larry Strain, FAIA (Siegel and Strain Architects) present: Getting to Zero: The AIA 2030 Commitment and Other Strategies. Some of us have heard about Architecture 2030 and/or the AIA’s partner program, the 2030 Commitment, but how many of us are walking our talk about getting to zero energy or carbon, and reporting on performance with every project?  Whether you are already a signatory firm (it’s free!) but struggle with fulfilling your AIA 2030 Commitment, OR want to learn more about the topic and real world approaches to getting to zero energy and zero carbon, this evening meeting is for you. Come learn about the AIA 2030 Commitment and other strategies to get us to zero carbon, including: the value of embedded carbon, materials selection (2030 Palette) , district-scale approaches, and de-carbonization /electrification of our EXISTING buildings.  Share your thoughts, join in in the discussion.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand what Architecture 2030 and the AIA 2030 Commitment programs are.
  2. Understand what it means to “sign-on,” and learn best practices for reporting performance towards zero carbon.
  3. Learn a variety of approaches within architectural practice, to get to a zero carbon built environment.
  4. Better walk your “sustainable design” talk.

COTE: Center for Environmental Studies at Bishop O’Dowd High School

Thursday, January 18, 2018
6pm
Free and open to all. RSVP to events@aiaeb.org.

Susi Marzuola, AIA of Siegel and Strain Architects discusses the 2017 AIA East Bay COTE Sustainable Design Honorable Mention winner, The Center for Environmental Studies at Bishop O’Dowd High School. Please note: this is a presentation at the chapter office, not a design tour.

Does Your Building Pass the Lick Test?

Cate Leger

Energy codes have done a good job of moving California architecture to more energy efficient buildings.  However, green building needs to also include green building materials.

Back in the 1990s a great deal of attention in the green architecture community was placed on materials.  Materials were researched and compared for their toxicity, life cycle impacts on the environment and human health, carbon footprint, sustainable yield, cultural impacts of extraction and more.  However, as concern about the climate has grown and disagreements sprang up on the ‘greenness’ of various building systems and materials, the focus has generally shifted to energy efficiency and more recently shifting to 100% renewables.

While CALGreen has incorporated standards to limit off gassing of some toxic chemicals, there are many human and environmental health issues of materials these standards don’t address.  Here are some excellent resources to fill the gaps:

  • Healthy Building Network’s HomeFree offers a short, easy to use specification focused on indoor air quality and health. Healthy Building Network also has extensive database on chemical content and environmental impacts for thousands of products and great articles explaining their research. https://homefree.healthybuilding.net/reports
  • The Living Building Challenge, a third party green building rating system similar to LEED, has a comprehensive Red List of chemicals to avoid and a database with materials meeting those standards. https://living-future.org/declare/declare-about/#the-red-list
  • The Green Science Policy Institute provides guidance on avoiding toxics in the home. They also have a series of short videos breaking down the toxic chemical landscape into 6 classes, allowing the layperson to understand the general problems.  http://greensciencepolicy.org/
  • The Forest Stewardship Council provides the most comprehensive third party certification for sustainably harvested wood.

What we build with also has a significant impact on the climate.  The embodied energy or the carbon footprint of building materials varies widely.  Using low carbon materials for construction is critical in addressing climate change because the greenhouse gas emissions savings are accrued earlier, at the time of construction, when they have the biggest impact.  Prioritizing low carbon materials can significantly reduce the lifetime carbon footprint, and in some cases even reverse it!

Metal and plastics in general have a very high carbon footprint.  Concrete, while lower in embodied energy per pound, is used in such great quantities that its global warming impact tends to dwarf that of other materials used in construction.  Blowing agents used in some of the foam plastic insulations have such high carbon footprints that their addition to a building can negate the operating energy savings for decades.  For more information, The New Carbon Architecture by Bruce King offers inspiring examples and details of low carbon construction.  https://ecobuildnetwork.org/projects/new-carbon-architecture

If the health of workers, occupants and our planet are not reason enough to use healthy building materials, fire is yet another one. The toxicity of building materials and furnishings can be amplified when they are burned. Smoke that engulfed the North Bay – and blanketed the entire Bay Area – was laced with dangerous chemicals: dioxins, furans, hydrogen cyanide and heavy metals, threatening the health of all.  Sadly, firefighters are known to have some of the highest rates of cancer.  Frequent exposure to these kinds of chemicals may be a contributing factor.   Many of these dangerous chemicals are also left behind in the ash.