Illinois, America’s Green Building LEED-Certified Leader

by Silvio Marcacci.

America’s got a new number one when it comes to green building among the top states for LEED-certified construction, and this year’s winner may surprise you.

Illinois jumped from fifth to first in this year’s Top 10 States for LEED ranking from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), supplanting perennial winner Washington, D.C.

The list is based on a per-capita basis of 2010 U.S. Census data combined with commercial and institutional green building projects certified through the LEED certification program across 2013 – a whopping 1,777 projects and 22.8 million square feet across the top ten states.

Renewable Energy. USGBC Top 10 States for LEED chart via US Green Building Council.
Renewable Energy. USGBC Top 10 States for LEED chart via US Green Building Council

Illinois Places First, With An Asterisk

Illinois ranked fifth in 2013 and placed third in 2012, so while its ascension isn’t shocking and shows a steady increase in green building projects, this year’s top rank is largely due to a technical change in how USGBC ranks states – namely dropping Washington, D.C. from the top 10 list.

171 LEED projects encompassing 29,415,284 square feet of space were certified in Illinois during 2013, good for 2.29 square feet of per-capita LEED-certified space. Those totals were good enough to beat out all other states, but would have been swamped by D.C.’s 32.45 per-capita square footage if it had been included.

“The public and private sectors in Illinois recognize that long-term investments in 21st century infrastructure should be done in ways that reduce energy consumption and protect the environment,” said Governor Pat Quinn. “Illinois is proud to be the nation’s green buildings leader, and we are proof that smaller environmental footprint can help us step toward energy independence.”

Metro DC, New York, and California Round Out The Ranks

While Illinois may sit atop the ranks in 2013 due to D.C.’s exclusion, the nation’s capital (and federal government’s green building efforts) had a spillover effect on neighboring states, boosting Maryland and Virginia into the top three, with 119 and 160 projects representing 12,696,429 and 16,868,693 square feet for 2.20 and 2.11 per-capita square feet, all respectively.

The nation’s overall leaders in certified square footage and total certified projects, New York and California, tied for fifth in the LEED rankings due to their large populations driving down per-capita square footage.

Renewable Energy. Green building image via CleanTechnica
Renewable Energy. Green building image via CleanTechnica

This twist is due to USGBC calculating the list using per-capita figures to create a fair comparison of green building activity taking place among states with significant differences in population and overall buildings.

Interestingly, USGBC notes the continued trend toward LEED certifications of existing buildings through retrofit projects. 48 percent of all square footage in 2013 was certified under LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance, while 43 percent was certified under LEED for Building Design and Construction.

Every Green Building Boosts the Economy

Regardless of if green building projects are happening on new or existing buildings, they’re having a big economic impact. 35 percent of all US construction jobs today are in green building, according to a 2013 estimate, and industry revenue could top $248 billion by 2016.

“As the economy recovers, green buildings continue to provide jobs at every professional level and skill set from carpenters to architects,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president and CEO of USGBC.

Beyond creating green jobs, green buildings are also saving businesses money while making their assets more valuable. A recent analysis showed 58 percent of corporate America had green buildings in their business portfolios with 30 percent building green to lower operating costs.  Additionally, McGraw Hill research has shown building values jump up to 11 percent with an up-to 14 percent return on investment for green building projects.

That’s all great news, but the best may still be yet to come. USGBC notes 37,000 projects representing 7.6 billion square feet of space are in the certification pipeline worldwide, and LEED v4 has raised the bar with increased requirements for certification, meaning our buildings will continue to get greener and greener – just like our economy.

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This article, Illinois Jumps To Top Of US Green Building LEED-Certified Ranks, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Renewable Energy. Silvio MarcacciSilvio Marcacci Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

LEED Platinum Siemens Headquarters Opens in Masdar City

by Zachary Shahan.

Siemens new headquarters building at Masdar City, UAE
Siemens new headquarters building at Masdar City, UAE, is a LEED Certified Platinum building.

Masdar and Siemens just opened another cornerstone to young and exciting Masdar City. The LEED Platinum Siemens headquarters is an amazing example of how energy efficiency and quality design can offer huge benefits to the environment as well as the personnel working in the building.

An initial requirement of the building was that it not cost more than the average Siemens office building of its size. That target was achieved, while also cutting energy use ~50% compared to a conventional building of its size.

The building’s facade is very carefully designed to prevent heat gain from excess light while still bringing in enough daylight to prevent the need for artificial lighting during much of the day. The building is oriented and designed to maximize the flow of cool air, especially in the public space under the building, something very helpful in Abu Dhabi’s extremely hot climate. Lighting, cooling, and other building needs are automated using Siemens’ state-of-the-art building automation technologies. Building materials aimed at maximizing energy efficiency and comfort are used throughout the building. The building is designed to minimize the use of unnecessary materials. And a tremendous amount more has gone into making this building extremely efficient, cost competitive, and very comfortable for its tenants. It would probably take days or weeks to go through everything.

Masdar City actually contracted the architecture firm and developer of this project, and is leasing the building to Siemens. However, Masdar City, Siemens, and the architects designing the build worked very closely to make sure the building achieved requirements on everyone’s end. Here an exclusive video for a little more info on the building as well as some inner and outer view:

Siemens will house employees ~800 employees in this Middle East headquarters. Along with dignitaries from the region, Siemens executives, and Masdar executives, I was able to enjoy the unveiling of the building yesterday. Sometime in the coming days, I’ll publish another video about the high-tech insides building (an interview with some high-level Siemens employees), but for now, here are some images and quotes from today’s event:

Siemens new headquarters building at Masdar City, UAE
Siemens LEED Certified Platinum building in Masdar City, UAE 1
Siemens new headquarters building at Masdar City, UAE
Siemens LEED Certified Platinum building in Masdar City, UAE 2

“This LEED Platinum certified building demonstrates that resource efficiency can be cost competitive in our market and represents the standard of buildings that need to be more widely adopted across the UAE and the region,” said H.E Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE minister of state and CEO of Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company.

The building is the first LEED Platinum building in the region, and the most efficient.

This Masdar City anchor building “has won 16 prestigious awards, including the MIPIM Architectural Review Future Projects Awards 2012 in the Offices Category and the International Property Award Winners – Arabia 2012 for Best Office Architecture,” Siemens and Masdar noted in a joint press release.

*Full disclosure: My trip to Abu Dhabi  for Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week was provided by Masdar. Nonetheless, I was not required to write on any particular topics and am free to voice my genuine opinions on everything I cover — which I do.

First two images courtesy Siemens & Masdar. Other images by CleanTechnica / Zachary Shahan.

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This article, Siemens & Masdar Open LEED Platinum Building In Masdar City (Exclusive Video), is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

 

Zachary ShahanZachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

Have You Visited Ford’s Gigantic Living Roof… Lately?

by Tina Casey

Ford’s living roof courtesy of Xeroflora
Ford’s living roof courtesy of Xeroflora

We’ve been so busy checking out Ford’s rapidly growing fleet of electric vehicles that we let this one slip under our radar, but it just so happens that the largest green roof, or “living roof” as Ford calls it, in North America has been flourishing atop the company’s Dearborn Truck Plant final assembly building at the Ford Rouge Center for the past ten years.

Ford is in a mood to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of its living roof, which is the size of eight football fields and has enough actual greenery to equal a 10.4 acre garden, so let’s check it out.

The Ford Living Roof

Some green roofs can get pretty elaborate, but the Rouge Center living roof, installed by the company Xeroflora, is more of an all-business, nuts-and-bolts green roof than a bells-and-whistles showcase. It’s planted throughout with low-growing, drought resistant sedum, so aside from its enormous size, visually it’s not much to write home about.

However, it gets the job done. In fact, it proves that even a humble-looking sedum roof can yield stunning results.

According to Ford, the roof saves five percent on heating and cooling costs at the building, which adds up in a large building. It is expected to last twice as long as a conventional roof, which piles on more savings.

As for maintenance, the roof is fertilized and weeded once a year, and it never needs mowing.

In addition to the bottom line benefits for Ford, the living roof also supports 35 different species of plants, insects, spiders and birds.

Other environmental benefits include trapping dust, dirt and other pollutants, as well as absorbing carbon dioxide and returning oxygen to the air.

Green Roofs and Stormwater Management

A key function of the roof is stormwater management. It’s actually just one part of a stormwater makeover for the Dearborn facility to reduce pollutants going into the Rouge River. In addition to the green roof the upgrades include a porous pavement parking lot, retention ponds, natural wetlands filtration, and swales (a swale is a wetland area between ridges).

The stormwater system in turn was part of a broader sustainability makeover for the plant, which included capturing fumes from the paint shop, natural lighting, and efficiency upgrades for artificial lighting, heating, ventilation, and cooling systems.

Ford Transitions To A Sustainable Future

Speaking of Ford’s EV fleet, the company has already stepped things up to the next level with its MyEnergi Lifestyle package, which treats your EV as a major appliance on wheels, which can be integrated into a comprehensive home energy management system.

Moving things even farther along, Ford has also partnered with the major home builder KB Home to bundle MyEnergi with the company’s “ZeroHouse 2.0″ model that provides the potential for net zero energy use, with the help of solar panels.

That’s just part of the EV equation, by the way. Among other projects, Ford is looking into squeezing the last bit of juice out of spent EV batteries, with a demonstration used EV battery system in tandem with a solar array, and it’s been adding more bio-based materials to its vehicles (the company is even experimenting with rubber made from dandelion sap).

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This article, Have You Visited Ford’s Gigantic Living Roof…Lately?, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission

About the Author

Tina Casey Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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Green Buildings: A great step in the right direction!

by John Brian Shannon

Of all of the energy produced and used by humans worldwide, approximately one-third is used for all forms of transportation. This kind of energy is the ‘dirtiest-third’ contributing substantially to total atmospheric emissions when compared to other kinds of energy usage.

Another third of the energy consumed by our civilization is used by industry, which also contributes to atmospheric emission levels — and depending on where you live in the world, the environmental effects of that pollution can range from negligible to toxic.

The last third of energy consumption on the Earth is used for residential and commercial uses. When you turn on the heat, the lights, or look at illuminated signs and streetlights on your way to the air-conditioned shopping mall, these are all examples of residential and commercial energy use.

When we talk about the emissions from the three main kinds of energy users, the question arises; Which of the three can lower emissions at reasonable cost?

Another related question; Is green energy the answer, or is conservation?

It turns out that conservation beats anything else, hands down. No matter how clean your car operates for each mile you drive it — for each mile that you don’t drive it, the car produces zero emissions. The same holds true for cities that shut-off or power-down their streetlights after midnight. No matter how energy-efficient streetlights are these days, they still use less power turned OFF, when compared to turned ON.

Of course, we need energy to live in our modern world – that is a given. But it seems right to reduce wasted energy and one of the most cost-effective ways to do this is to employ conservation AND green energy in our buildings.

Until recent decades, energy wastage for commercial buildings and residential buildings was truly mind-boggling (sometimes much more than 50%) but great progress has been made and continues to be made in the fields of energy conservation and energy-efficient buildings.

Buildings which employ such technologies can become LEED certified if their architects apply for that certification — and the buildings meet the strict criteria, which confers a high level of efficient design and engineering technologies on a building, resulting in low emissions and low energy use. We call this having a Low Environmental Footprint here in North America, while in the UK such buildings have a Zero Net Building status.

Under the leadership of Mayor Vincent C. Gray, Washington, DC, is setting a great example for other cities by rapidly becoming a world leader in clean and green buildings.

The Living Building Challenge is part of numerous efforts by the city to reach Mayor Gray’s “Sustainable D.C.” initiative, which includes 11 key categories for environmental/fiscal improvement. The categories include goals such as cutting the energy consumption [of] the entire city by half, being able to bring in locally grown food within a quarter mile of the city and have it consumed by 75 percent of D.C. residents, as well as triple the number of small businesses within the city. — Carl Pierre, InTheCapital.com

JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

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