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Links for May 26th through May 31st

by Mel Starrs on June 2, 2011

in News

These are my links for May 26th through May 31st:

  • Reducing our carbon footprint requires kicking our carbon diet – Interesting piece on the complexity of carbon accounting and incentives: “In the policy debate about the carbon price (or tax), the focus has been on the fact we have to do something about climate change and whether we want to do it. The carbon price makes it very transparent what we are doing as opposed to direct targeted programs that don’t. As we move forward, transparency is something we should value and it performing on it is something we should hold out policy-makers to account on.”
  • Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition Reveals the Secret Dirtiness of the Solar Power Industry | Fast Company – “Even the most sustainable companies have some work to do. Only two of the solar companies listed on the scorecard–Sunpower (score: 85) and AXITEC (score: 64)–have managed to eliminate toxic cadmium and lead from their supply chains. And there is no green supply chain standard for the industry (the electronics industry has a code of conduct, and the auto industry offers common training for its suppliers). “Companies are doing things on their own, but there are not any across the board standard that they are following in a lot of areas, especially in chemical use and supply chain management,” explains Davis.”
  • gulfnews : Green rating systems must be sustainable – “It is unfortunate that rating systems such as LEED have converted architecture into an accounting exercise. This has completely digressed from what could have been a healthy exercise in coming out with good architecture.
    We are allowing these statistical procedures to dominate our logical thinking and creativity. The potential benefits of solely achieving a certification should not be the motive of a design process.
    The world needs green buildings a lot more than green buildings need Leed or a Breaam certification. If certifications continue to cost too much money, time and effort, we will not stop building green projects, we will just stop certifying them.”
  • George Monbiot – Underground Movement – A post about underground cables, but George’s conclusions are bang on: “So this is where the UK stands. We can’t keep burning fossil fuels without cooking the biosphere. We don’t like nuclear power. We don’t like onshore wind. We won’t like the costs of the other technologies. We reject all the means by which electricity is generated. Yet no one’s volunteering to stop using it.”
  • Sustainability of Workers’ Rights | Features | Archinect – The LEED 2009 credit rating system makes frequent mention of occupant comfort, while it completely lacks a section for workers’ well-being. Many who are unfamiliar with LEED’s infinitely detailed credit system may believe that the USGBC is only interested in issues of energy savings, carbon emissions, or renewable materials. Yet designing for occupant comfort is rewarded in everything from tobacco smoke control, air delivery monitoring, to individually controllable lighting systems. LEED however, only makes mention of worker safety in one credit (IEQ credit 3.1) which seems to be an afterthought. No section comprehensively tackles the issues that are specifically relevant to construction workers. As such, the “health performance” promoted by the mission statement only refers to future occupants. Including construction worker safety in the LEED purview would more justly fulfill its own stated goals.
  • AECB presses for recognition of Passivhaus in 2013 Regs – AECB and the Passivhaus Trust are participating in the 2013 Part L1 Working Group, an all-sector industry group which is making technical recommendations to the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC) and hence onwards to DCLG. They are recommending to the group that it pushes for Passivhaus certification to be formally recognised within the revised building regs.
  • Making the most of using less | Ecoinomy – via friend of the blog, Andrew: “We help organisations reduce the environmental impacts of everyday behaviours like travel, printing and energy use. Employees use our handy list of actions that make a difference. They record any changes they manage to make. Our system calculates how much money was saved by the organisation as a result. And – as a way to motivate and reward these changes – a fraction of these savings are then given to the employees chosen causes. Which they collect for in self organised groups. We call this whole approach Fundsaving (fundraising for causes by saving energy and waste).”
  • BREEAM celebrates 21 years with awards for ten top Assessors – Carol Atkinson, Chief Executive of BRE Global, said: “21 years of BREEAM is an important landmark. In this time BREEAM and, importantly, the network of BREEAM assessors has helped to improve environmental performance, and paved the way for innovative products and designs that enhance buildings and reduce their costs and carbon footprint. Like us, BREEAM assessors are passionately committed to tackling the challenges facing the built environment. In making these awards we particularly want to celebrate and to recognise extremely high achievement in the provision of assessor services and the contribution that BREEAM assessors have made to driving sustainability for over a million buildings that are registered.”
  • ASHRAE Seeks Public Comment on Standard for Existing Buildings – “The standard addresses major and minor modifications for both residential and commercial buildings, single and multiple activity buildings with variable occupancy periods and identifies an energy target for 53 building types in 16 climate zones/sub-zones.
    The revised standard also identifies energy efficiency requirements for buildings without energy targets – mostly industrial, agricultural, data centers and special laboratories – and provides multiple levels of compliance.
    Recognizing that the type of occupancy, operation and the use of a building plays a key role in its performance, the standard establishes the requirement for developing an energy management plan and an operation and maintenance plan, according to Hermans.”
  • Economics of energy efficiency for existing buildings | Consulting-Specifying Engineer – “The report states that owners perceive high performance as higher cost and higher risk. Invest in marble and it stays marble. Invest in energy efficiency, but to what end? Will the equipment work? Will staff be able to operate and maintain it? Interviewees were much less articulate about the benefits of high-performance buildings than the risks, indicating more documentation and communication of success stories and benefits needs to happen. Accordingly, education and documentation scored as highly as financial incentives for owners to invest in high-performance buildings.”