Second U.S. "Living Building" Home Certified

From Architect Magazine:

A recently completed home in Ann Arbor, Mich., is the second home in the country to be named to the rigorous Living Building Challenge. Certified late last year by the International Living Future Institute, the 2,200-square-foot home borrows from the characteristics of 200-year-old Tuscan farmhouses, with a 2,400-square-foot barn and workshop. The buildings sit at the center of 15 acres of depleted farm land.

A 20-person design/build team led by homeowners Tom and Marti Burbeck spent five years executing the project with primary contributors Michael Klement, AIA, principal at Architectural Resource; Bob Burnside, CEO of Fireside Home Construction; and Amanda Webb Nichols, senior project manager at Catalyst Partners, who managed the LBC certification process. The house also received LEED-Platinum certification.

The LBC certification comprises seven performance categories—site, water, energy, health, materials, equity, and beauty. These are subdivided into a total of 20 imperatives, each of which focuses on a specific sphere of influence, such as urban agriculture, net-positive water, net-positive energy, and responsible industry.

“The materials imperative was the most challenging project component I’ve come across in my 21 years in the green building industry,” says Burnside. “Multi-component mechanical, electrical and appliance products were the toughest. Working with Catalyst Partners, we vetted more than 900 products, around 500 of which we used in construction.”For example, to receive full “Living” certification from the Living Building Challenge, a building cannot use any materials on the LBC Red List, such as formaldehyde, halogenated flame-retardants, lead, mercury, phthalates, or PVC/vinyl.

Another challenging LBC imperative concerned the wood used for the project. Almost all the wood was certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council, which verifies that it was grown and harvested in local forests in a sustainable manner. The rest of the wood used for the project was either reclaimed or salvaged. The team also advocated the creation and adoption of third-party certified standards and fair labor practices for sustainable extraction of stone and rock, metal and other minerals.

Other high-performance features include:
1. A rainwater and snow harvesting system that captures runoff from the roofs to supply 7,500 gallons of in-ground cisterns, currently for non-potable water. A new well provides potable water to comply with Michigan building codes, with a future-ready potable rainwater filtration system.

2. Passive solar design with a very tight thermal envelope and a tall cooling tower that minimize loads for heating and cooling.

3. A 16.8-kilowatt photovoltaic system that provides electricity to the house and the grid using 60 solar panels covering the south plane of the barn roof.

4. A closed-loop geothermal system that provides radiant floor heating during winter, forced air heating during shoulder seasons, and potable water pre-heating.

LBC certification is based on actual measured performance, rather than modeled performance. To earn “Living” certification, projects must demonstrate compliance with stringent performance standards dictated by the 20 LBC Imperatives for 12 consecutive months of operation.

This story was originally published in Builder.

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Green buildings provide billions of dollars in additional benefits, claims Harvard study

A new sponsored study from researchers at Harvard University claims that green buildings deliver billions of dollars of social and health benefits beyond those associated with reduced energy consumption. The researchers examined a subset of green-certified buildings over a 16-year period in six countries: the U.S., China, India, Brazil, Germany and Turkey. The study identified nearly $6 billion in combined health and climate benefits. The results are published in the peer reviewed Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology.

In some countries, health and climate benefits far exceeded – in dollar amounts – energy savings. Globally, the studied green-certified projects saved billions of dollars in energy costs. The report identified how 33,000 kilotons of CO2 were avoided, equivalent to 7.1 million fewer passenger cars on the road for one year. This equates to $4.4 billion in estimated public health benefits from fewer, deaths, hospital visits, asthma attacks and other respiratory ailments and lost days at work. The total is also made up of around $1.4 billion in estimated climate benefits from reductions in carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

This is all in addition to $7.5 billion in energy savings from the green-certified buildings studied. The buildings studied included only LEED certified buildings, which are approximately one-third of the global green building stock, total benefits worldwide would be even greater.

The HEALTHfx study found that on average, for every dollar saved on energy costs by green buildings, another $0.77 was saved in health and climate benefits. In China and India, the effects were even more dramatic, with approximately $10 in health and climate benefits for every dollar in energy savings.

Dr. Joseph Allen, Assistant Professor of Exposure Assessment Science and Director of the Healthy Buildings program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, led the research. “The energy savings of green buildings come with a massive public health benefit through associated reductions in air pollutants emitted. We developed the Co-benefits of the Built Environment (CoBE) calculator in this study as a tool that people can use for understanding the health impacts of building portfolios, investments and building strategies. The decisions we make today with regard to buildings will determine our current and future health.”

This latest study builds on the team’s 2015 COGfx Study which looked at the brain’s cognitive function – which showed 101 percent improvement in cognitive function test scores when workers spent time in an office with high ventilation, low CO2 and low volatile organic compounds, compared to when they were in a “conventional” office environment. In 2016, the team expanded the experiment and found that, in green-certified buildings, employees scored 26 percent higher on cognitive function tests, reported 30 percent fewer sick building symptoms and 6 percent higher sleep quality scores. With HEALTHfx, it’s been shown that better health is found not just inside better buildings – but outside those buildings as well.

Read the story at Workplace Insight.

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ASHRAE releases energy design guide for school buildings

A new publication aims to improve energy savings at K-12 school buildings, titled Advanced Energy Design Guide for K-12 School Buildings – Achieving Zero Energy.

“This comprehensive guide was developed by a team of zero energy experts that bring building science and practical application together to create an achievable goal of zero energy schools,” said Paul Torcellini, project committee chair.

Those experts include ASHRAE, the American Institute of Architects, the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and the U.S. Green Building Council.

The free guide builds upon the 50 per cent Advanced Energy Design Guide series, with updated recommendations.

It provides guidance for on-site renewable energy generation, design team hiring, simulation in design and construction and how process decisions affect energy use.

Performance goals in the guide are provided for all ASHRAE climate zones, in both site and source energy.

How-to tips are broken into specialty areas: HVAC, building and site planning, envelope, daylighting, electric lighting, plug loads, kitchens and food service, water heating and renewable generation.

Case studies and technical examples aim to illustrate achievable energy goals under typical construction budgets, as well as the technologies in real-world applications.

The guide also includes recommendations for conceptual phase building planning and siting, as well as strategies to reduce and eliminate thermal bridging through the building enclosure.

Read more HPAC Mag online.

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New Haven releases Climate & Sustainability Framework

On February 1st, New Haven released its Climate & Sustainability Framework, which sets a bold goal of reducing carbon emissions by 55% of 2001 levels by the year 2030. The report challenges the city, the community, and local organizations to do their part in becoming more sustainable and mitigating climate change.

CTGBC Board Member Melissa Kops was credited for participating in the drafting of the plan.

Read the Framework here

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Green Building Initiative Acquires Global Rights to Green Globes

The U.S.-based non-profit Green Building Initiative (GBI) announced earlier this week that it has completed acquisition of the global rights to Green Globes, a leading sustainability rating system for commercial and multifamily buildings. This acquisition from JLL now allows GBI to support existing Green Globes users in Canada, in addition to the United States, and to expand the reach of the rating system globally.

“This acquisition is a clear win for GBI and our growing base of Green Globes users,” stated Vicki Worden, President & CEO of GBI. “Consolidating Green Globes under GBI was a logical and natural next step to further our mission to accelerate the adoption of green building best practices in the built environment.”

JLL is a global professional services firm specializing in real estate and investment management, and offers sustainability consulting to its vast client base. JLL purchased the global rights to Green Globes in 2008 as part of its acquisition of ECD Energy and Environment Canada, the entity responsible for developing the underlying technology. GBI first licensed the U.S. rights to Green Globes in 2004 from ECD.

“As a nonprofit, GBI is in a better position to grow the sustainability movement as the sole owner and promoter of Green Globes, and we have every confidence in GBI’s ability to do so,” stated Bob Best, Executive Vice President of JLL. “We value Green Globes as a tool we use with our clients and property managers, and because of this acquisition, GBI can continue to grow Green Globes as a global assessment program.”

According to Worden, GBI has experienced significant growth over the last two years and has certified 1,594 buildings or almost 300 million square feet of real estate since its founding in 2004 — 1,328 buildings through its Green Globes program and 266 buildings through its Guiding Principles Compliance program for U.S. government buildings. Green Globes has garnered significant attention recently, and counts major national brands such as Whole Foods, Fidelity, and MGM Resorts as part of its expanding customer portfolio.

“Green Globes is filling a gap in the market,” stated Rich Mitchell, Managing Principal at Portland, Ore.-based Mackenzie and elected Chair of the Board of GBI. “It’s comprehensive and flexible, as well as time- and cost-effective. Design and operations teams are finding it a beneficial tool for their sustainability-minded owners.”

GBI has established a Canadian non-profit subsidiary — GB Initiative Canada — to support the growth and previously established use of Green Globes in the Canadian marketplace.

For more information on GBI or Green Globes visit and

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