Dallas Goes ‘All-In’ On Green Buildings With Mandatory Regulations

by Silvio Marcacci

Dallas skyline image via Shutterstock
Dallas skyline image via Shutterstock

Looks like America has a new contender for “Greenest City” – at least when it comes to green buildings – and it’s probably not where you’d expect.

Dallas, Texas implemented mandatory minimum green building regulations on October 1st in an aggressive effort to cut citywide power and water consumption en route to its goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.

The regulations are the final step in a five-year implementation of the Dallas Green Building Construction Ordinance, cover all new residential and commercial buildings, and create a comprehensive green building standard across the city.

Green Building Tackles Energy, Water, Building Waste

All new construction projects proposed in Dallas must now meet minimum certification requirements from one of three established standards: Green Built Texas, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), or the International Green Construction Code (IGCC).

Since drought is such an important issue in Texas, the new regulations focus on water preservation – especially when it comes to single-family homes. At least 70% of the built area for homes (excluding areas under a roof) must be permeable or capture water runoff, homes must use drip irrigation for bedding areas of landscaping, and must include high-efficiency fixtures.

Commercial buildings are also expected to do their part, with a 20% water use reduction goal, restrictions on outdoor lighting to prevent light pollution, and cool roof or green roofs requirement to cut urban heat island effects.

The construction process is also getting a lot greener with requirements to divert a 50% minimum percentage of waste material is from landfills as well as source 45% of building components from recycled, recyclable, bio-based, or local materials. In addition, developers will have to attend training classes and pass a certification exam to receive green builder certification.

While the new regulations may be comprehensive, green buildings aren’t new to Dallas. The city is already home to over 140 LEED-certified buildings, including 23 LEED-certified municipal government facilities, has 59 million square feet of Energy Star-certified buildings, and Texas placed second with over 36 million square feet of LEED-certified buildings in the US Green Building Council’s 2012 state rankings.

Green Business Too?

But even though green building will help improve Dallas’ environment, the new regulations could also help boost the regional economy. Green building is expected to top $248 billion in revenue nationwide by 2016, and the green home-building market could be worth $114 billion by 2016.

Considering Texas now has the third-largest concentration of LEED professionals in America and building asset values rise when builders make sustainable investments, Dallas’ green building mandate isn’t just an environmentally friendly move – it might just be an incredibly savvy green business push, too.

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This article, Dallas Goes All-In On Green Building With Mandatory Regulations, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

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

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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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