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Posts tagged ‘COTE’

SunShares Makes NOW a Great Time to Add 100% Renewable Electricity

By: Cate Leger, Principal, Leger Wanaselja Architecture and Commissioner, Berkeley Energy Commission

Many cities in the Bay Area have partnered with SunShares this fall to use bulk buying power to reduce the cost of photovoltaic (PV) panels and electric vehicles to an all-time low.  The program also simplifies the PV panel purchasing process, offering a short list of pre-vetted installers and free local workshops to ask questions and learn about the process.  There are even resources to sign up for 100% renewable electricity for those that can’t install solar PV.  For residential architects this is a great opportunity to share with clients.

For homeowners, now is a great time to purchase PV or an electric car.  Purchasing PV panels is a good time to consider going all electric or at least shifting some loads from gas to electricity.  One of the barriers I hear again and again to installing solar PV panels in the Bay Area is that electric use is just too low to make a difference or to interest solar installers.  Adding an electric car will dramatically increase the electrical load.  Shifting to electric heating and appliances will add more and bring projects that much closer to 100% renewable energy.

PV installation and electric vehicles still qualify for a 30% federal tax credit, even in the current political climate.  In addition, some of the costs of going all electric such as  electrical service upgrades and electric car hookups can be covered by the 30% federal tax credit.  However, these tax credits are set to expire in a few years.  Taking advantage of SunShares now ensures participation in the federal tax credit program.

Even if purchasing PV panels is not possible, shifting to a 100% renewable electricity provider makes a difference now.

Learn about SunShares: http://www.bayareasunshares.org/

Sign up for a free workshop.  There are several in-person and web based workshops around the bay area: http://www.bayareasunshares.org/events

The deadline to sign up for SunShares is November 2017.

Want to Help Restore a Healthy Climate?

By: Cate Leger, Principal, Leger Wanaselja Architecture and Commissioner, Berkeley Energy Commission

Electrify your buildings

For decades, gas has been the fuel of choice for environmental and climate conscious buildings that can’t include solar power.  However to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, not only do we need to improve energy efficiency, but building operation needs to switch entirely from gas to low-emission electricity. (1)

Even now, due to improvements in the fuel mix and technology developments,  electricity is the best option for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from our homes, apartments and commercial buildings in California.

Electricity delivered to the site is much cleaner

In the past, inefficiencies in generation and transmission of electricity meant that only about a third of the energy from the combusted fossil fuel source made it to the building.  So, when drawing power from the grid, electric resistance space or water heaters had to be 3 times as efficient as gas heaters to do the job with the same amount of GHG emissions.  Electric resistance, even though it is able to turn 99% of the electricity into heat, was no match for gas appliances.

Now, due to California’s requirements for renewable energy, close to a third of electricity provided by PG&E is currently generated by renewables.(2)  What this means is that today in PG&E territory,  the GHG emissions associated with operating conventional electric resistance appliances are close to, and in some cases lower than, those from gas appliances.  Because of continuing increases in solar and wind, gas appliances will perform worse and worse by comparison over time.(3)

The Problems with Gas

New research is showing that our aging gas infrastructure in California is leaking gas that is supposed to be delivered to our buildings—the equivalent of one Aliso Canyon blowout per year.(4)   There is also the risk of explosions, especially during earthquakes.

Gas also poses problems inside buildings, particularly as we improve the air tightness of the envelope.  Fossil fuel combustion appliances, including gas stoves, are among the primary sources of indoor air pollution.

A Revolution in Electric Heating

While electricity is getting cleaner, widespread development of heat pump heating technologies have improved the performance of electric heaters, making them vastly more efficient.  Heat pumps, the equipment used in refrigerators and air conditioners, have been deployed in space and water heaters with efficiencies as much as 3 or 4 times greater than electric resistance and gas.(5)  This is accomplished because the heat pumps are using the energy not to heat the air or water but to transfer existing heat from one medium to another.

While there are still improvements to be made in the refrigerants used in most heat pumps, when heat pumps are deployed instead of gas, GHG emissions are reduced dramatically.(6)

Electric water heaters also have the added value (which can be significant) of being demand responsive–leveling out the supply/demand cycles of the electric grid.  Heating water is responsible for about a quarter  of the state’s residential energy use and electric water heaters can be programmed to draw energy only during peak solar generation, storing that energy through the evening when electricity demand is greatest.(7,8)

Current Barriers to Electrification

While the state has set ambitious goals for reducing GHGs, several specific energy policies are in conflict.  The assumptions for title 24 energy performance analysis still favor gas space and water heating. Retail prices for gas do not reflect the GHG emissions of gas compared to electricity, or the grid benefits of flexible electric loads like electric water heaters.  And finally, state regulations prevent utilities from offering rebates under the state energy efficiency program when switching from gas to electric fuel.(9)  There are a variety of reasons for these conflicting policies, however they give the impression that using gas is better for the environment than electricity.

There are many challenges for energy providers to switching from fossil fuels to renewably generated electricity, such as energy storage.  However, solutions are also being developed at the same dizzying pace that renewables are being added.  These concerns should not obscure the significant improvements that have already been made in the electricity supply and the importance of shifting building operation from gas to electricity.

The Path Forward

Building operation accounts for approximately 40% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.  Shifting to all electric operation is an essential part of lowering that percentage and returning to a healthy climate.

Notes

  1.     “Deep carbon reductions in California require electrification and integration across economic sectors,” Max Wei, etc. Environ. Res. Lett. 8 (2013) 014038 (10pp) http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/8/1/014038/meta
  2.     California Renewables Portfolio Standard, Current Renewables Procurement Status, CPUC http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/renewables/
  3.     Greenhouse Gas Emissions Factors:  Guidance for PG&E Customers, November 2015 show GHG emissions per MWh of electricity dropped from 620 lbs of CO2 in 2003 to an estimated 349 in 2017.  The guidance projects GHG emissions to continue to drop to 290 lbs in 2020.
  4.    CARB and CPUC Joint Staff Report, January 2017 http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Efile/G000/M172/K518/172518969.PDF
  5.     Sanden CO2 heat pump water heaters https://www.sandenwaterheater.com//
  6.     Under the Kigali Agreement of November 2016 countries and corporations globally agreed to a phase out of all refrigerants with high global warming potential.
  7.    Energy use: https://www.eia.gov/consumption/residential/reports/2009/state_briefs/pdf/ca.pdf
  8.    Gurlaskie G., Duke Energy, Feb. 2017, Heat Pump Water Heaters for Demand Response http://aceee.org/sites/default/files/pdf/conferences/hwf/2017/Gurlaskie_Session7A_HWF17_2.28.17.pdf
  9.     “The Role of Electrification in Achieving Long-term Climate Goals for the U.S.” by Rachel Golden,  June 2016, UC Berkeley Energy and Resources Group

COTE Happy Hour

Thursday, August 17, 2017
6pm
Free and open to all. RSVP to events@aiaeb.org.

The Committee on the Environment would like to hear what environmental issues (existing and potential) are most important to you. We encourage all chapter members to attend this happy hour and  share your thoughts on program ideas, discussion topics, group mission and anything else you’d like to see this year.

COTE Happy Hour / Visioning Session

Thursday, July 20, 2017
6pm
Free and open to all. RSVP to events@aiaeb.org.

AIA East Bay’s Committee on the Environment is reconvening. We encourage all chapter members to attend this visioning session and help shape the future of this new group. Come prepared to share your thoughts on program ideas, discussion topics, group mission and anything else you’d like to see this year.

Photosynthetic Materials Presentation Ushers In Renewed AIA East Bay Committee On The Environment (COTE)

Bristol, UK Architect Craig White, RIBA of White Design gave a dynamic presentation to AIA East Bay members on May 4th, laying a broad-ranging and persuasive argument toward “sustainable carbon-banking bio-based material systems for the circular economy.” Their work has evolved from ModCell panelized straw bale walls to Coobio, to innovative collective financing for housing in Bristol.

Craig’s presentation was courtesy of the California Straw Building Association (CASBA) who featured him as Keynote Speaker for the 2017 Straw Building Conference that same weekend.  He also spoke at the Department of Art + Architecture at the University of San Francisco.

Philip Luo, AIA, invited attendees of Craig’s AIA East Bay talk to reconvene on June 22nd for a COTE Happy Hour, at which over a dozen members generated a good number of ideas to focus on. Among them:

  • contributing monthly articles to ArchNews
  • participation in the chapter design awards
  • assisting with pre-review of sustainability supplements
  • hosting design seminars on Embodied Carbon, Drawdown, Biophillic Design, etc.
  • featuring subconsultants with expertise in efficiency and sustainability
  • generating a list of top ten low carbon to-dos and tools for project analysis
  • partnering with local and national organizations
  • reaching a broader audience, and
  • branding AIA East Bay as the greenest chapter in the US

We note that our chapter is home to many firms with national recognition for their COTE and other award-winning work, along with many companies and nonprofits creating a better world located within our territory (Healthy Building Network, Green Science Policy Institute, Watershed Materials and the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, to name just a few).  AIA East Bay members Larry Stain, FAIA and David Arkin, AIA are respective chairs of the Reuse and Renewable Materials task forces of the Embodied Carbon Network, with many others in the East Bay community participating.

Seventy-five AIA East Bay members are COTE subscribers and we invite all others to join us and follow both the local and national knowledge communities.  Contact AIA East Bay staff if you need assistance adding yourself to COTE and look forward to future articles and reports from other AIA East Bay COTE members.

By David Arkin, AIA – Arkin Tilt Architects

Pictured is the Nucleus Centre at Hayesfield Girls School in Bristol, UK by White Design.  The ModCell straw bale wall panels were assembled with the students at a ‘flying factory’; each wall panel sequesters over 3,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide gas; pargetting of the lime plaster finish contributes to this unique and beautiful design.

COTE Happy Hour / Visioning Session

Thursday, June 22, 2017
6pm
Free and open to all. RSVP to events@aiaeb.org.

AIA East Bay’s Committee on the Environment is reconvening. We encourage all chapter members to attend this visioning session and help shape the future of this new group. Come prepared to share your thoughts on program ideas, discussion topics, group mission and anything else you’d like to see this year.

Architects Oppose U.S. Withdrawal from Climate Treaty

Reaffirm Commitment to Mitigating Climate Change

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) today reaffirmed its commitment to climate change mitigation and announced it was opposing the Administration’s decision to withdraw the United States as a signatory to the Paris Agreement. That accord, signed in late 2015 within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), commits the international community to fighting harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

 

“The United States must remain a leader in the battle to cease harmful and needless practices that damage the planet and its climate, acting out of both environmental concerns and national economic interests. Instead of helping our economy, as the Administration contends, withdrawing from the Paris Agreement will put us behind our major global competitors,” asserts AIA president Thomas Vonier, FAIA.

 

“The AIA will not retreat from its long-established efforts to conserve energy and to deploy renewable resources in buildings. We will continue to lead in efforts to curb the use of fuels and technologies that needlessly pollute our atmosphere and harm our environment. This makes good sense economically, and it is in the best interests of those we serve: our clients and the public.

 

“We will also urge our members throughout the United States and the world to assist cities, states, organizations and citizen groups in meeting the aims of the climate accord.


“By adhering to our values as a profession that is concerned with human habitat and the health of our environment, we will help to mitigate the harm this decision will do to our economy and to America’s stature across the globe.”

My Architecture: COTE Top Ten

A Monthly Program

Wednesday, April 5, 2017    DATE CHANGE!
5:30pm-7:30pm
Early registration (by April 3): Free AIA members and employees of chapter member firms / $10 Guests. Late registration: $10 Members / $15 Guests. At the Door: $20 all.
Click here to register.

1.5 CES LUs

The AIA COTE (Committee on the Environment) Top Ten Awards is the industry’s best-known awards program for sustainable design excellence. Each year, only ten innovative projects earn the prize for setting the standard in design and sustainability.

The Exploratorium (EHDD), Jacobs Hall at UC Berkeley (LMS) and West Berkeley Library (HED) are all 2016 COTE Top Ten winners, and we’ve asked the CLIENTS to come talk about these award-winning projects from their point of view. Join us for our monthly program as a selection of owners and clients from these projects present and discuss how the architecture and design of the project affects, supports, advances and represents their work and the mission of their program. A wine and cheese reception follows the panel presentation.

Speakers:

The Exploratorium: Located in San Francisco, the Exploratorium is a public learning laboratory exploring the world through science, art and human perception. The museum creates tools and experiences that help attendees become an active explorer: hundreds of explore-for-yourself exhibits, a website with over 50,000 pages of content, film screenings, evening art and science events for adults, and much more.

  • Heidi Dolamore, Director of Library Services, City of Berkeley, on the West Berkeley Library and Elliot Warren, Deputy Director, City of Berkeley, on the West Berkeley Library

West Berkeley Library: Part of the Berkeley Public Library System, the West Berkeley Library is the first Net Zero Public Library in California. In 2016 they became a recipient of the prestigious COTE Top Ten Award.

  • Emily Rice, Director of Programs & Operations, Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation

The Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation is UC Berkeley’s interdisciplinary hub for learning and making at the intersection of design and technology. From their home in Berkeley’s College of Engineering, they extend broadly across campus, serving as a welcoming hub: engineers, artists, and makers of all kinds can gather and collaborate.

Sustainable Design Excellence, a Monthly Program

Thursday, June 9, 2016
5:30pm
Early-bird registration (before 6pm, Wednesday, June 8): Free AIA members & employees of chapter member firms / $10 Guests
Reg starting 6pm June 8: $10 AIA members & employees of chapter member firms; $15 Guests
At-the-door: $20 all
Click here to register.

1.5 CES LUs

Sustainability and architectural design now go hand-in-hand thanks to Cal Green; how do projects exceed building code expectations to become sustainable design award winning projects? COTE Top 10 winner Marsha Maytum, FAIA joins 2016 jurors Anne Fougeron, FAIA and Larry Strain, FAIA to discuss a variety of issues around sustainable design excellence, including:

  • In today’s context, can architectural design be excellent if it’s not sustainable?
  • How are the majority of winning projects integrating sustainability into design, and is it seamless?
  • How do firms like Leddy Maytum Stacy, Siegel & Strain Architects, and Fougeron Architecture integrate and track sustainable design in the design process?
  • What do clients value in sustainable design, and how can architects show long-term value to clients when discussing sustainability throughout the scope of the project?

Our speakers will also share lessons learned and and insights on what not to do when submitting projects for design awards. A wine and cheese reception is included with the program.

Learning Objectives:

At the end of this presentation, attendees will…

  1. Be able to state at least two sustainable design elements that are seen in most COTE Top 10 award-winning projects.
  2. Be able to state at least two aspects of sustainable design in which the return-on-investment is valuable to most clients.
  3. Be able to give examples of seamless integration of sustainable elements in award-winning projects.
  4. Be able to state new approaches to sustainability not common to most projects.

Lessons From AIA Awards for Sustainable Design Excellence

In order to examine how the architectural community is evolving in regards to sustainable design practices, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) under-took an in-depth study of nearly 200 COTE Top Ten Award winning projects encompassing
almost 20 years.

The findings have been compiled in a report, Lessons from the Leading Edge . They reviewed a variety of performance measures, including energy efficiency, water conservation and indoor environmental quality to evaluate how these exemplary projects demonstrate COTE’s mission to “enhance both the design quality and environmental performance of the built environment.” The research represents the most comprehensive study of the COTE Top Ten program to date.

“Top Ten winners are an extraordinary group of case studies from the leading edge of sustainable design over the past two decades,” said Lance Hosey, FAIA, lead author of the report and a member of the COTE Advisory Group. “The projects have been studied and published widely as individual projects, but never as a group—until now. What we found is that Top Ten winners are outpacing the industry by virtually every standard of performance, but they also exemplify the integration of design excellence and sustainable performance.”

Key takeaways from report:
■ Many project examples show extraordinary performance at very low or average costs, dispelling
the misperception that higher building performance requires higher costs.
■ Projects range in size from small houses under 1,000 square feet to community master plans at
millions of square feet.
■ The average energy savings for these projects are 54% better than industry standards. In the
past five years, the average energy savings has improved to 65%, exceeding AIA 2030 Commitment targets.
■ The average water reduction is 52% better than industry standards.
■ The majority of projects are in urban locations, while less than one fifth are found in rural
areas. One third of all Top Ten winners are located on the West Coast of North America.

COTE founding chairman, Bob Berkebile, FAIA, added, “We have seen a significant transformation in how these project examples have evolved and advanced. Initially, the design teams were acutely focused on efficiencies within an individual building and in recent years they are also looking at more horizontal and far-reaching economic, ecological, social equity, public health and resilient outcomes.”

Recommendations for architecture and design industry:
■ Embrace design before technology to improve both performance and quality
■ Study best practices for higher performance at lower costs
■ Pursue post-occupancy evaluations as standard practice to understand better how actual per
formance aligns with design intent
■ Promote more ambitious adaptive reuse projects to preserve existing building stock and con
serve resources more extensively
■ Drive greater awareness of the health impact of building materials and need for better indoor
air quality

Lessons from the Leading Edge is being released in advance of the 2016 Top Ten Green Project awards, to be announced on Earth Day, April 22nd.

A special session on the report will occur at the national AIA convention in Philadelphia on Saturday, May 26, 2016.