News

News Analysis

The rating system, used abroad for decades, offers a flexible alternative to LEED that’s conducive to innovative approaches.

July 16, 2018

Project teams looking for tools to help them design high-performance buildings in the U.S. will soon have another option—the BREEAM New Construction standard. 

You may have heard of it. BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) has been used in countries around the world since 1990. The program has... Read more

Blog Post

Can we put to bed the corrosion concerns with this insulation?

July 13, 2018

A particularly well thought-out and thorough question from reader Aaron Birkland on the pH of phenolic foam and its possible corrosive nature prompted me to follow up my original blog post on Kingspan’s Kooltherm rigid insulation. Aaron has two main questions:

Has the issue of acidity and corrosion of fasteners or metal roof decks been... Read more

Blog Post

How the accumulation of dust, pollen, and bird droppings affects the energy production of a PV array

July 10, 2018

I was at my brother’s house in Lee, New Hampshire, recently and looked up to see that his photovoltaic (PV) panels looked a bit dull (see Image #2 in the slideshow). His PV array is easy to get to—the long north slope of his roof has a walkable 5:12 pitch—so we went up and took a closer look.

It turns out that the PV industry... Read more

Product Review

The LightFair innovation award winners showcase LED lighting’s evolving technology and how its sustainability image has changed.

July 9, 2018

The most energy-efficient LED light is cold, blue, and focused directionally on a small area; it is some of the worst light quality imaginable. Yet in the early years of LEDs, energy efficiency, or efficacy (measured in lumens produced per watt consumed, lpw), was the prime metric for judging LED performance. The industry suffered through a... Read more

News Brief

The Chemical Hazard Data Commons is a resource on toxic chemicals for geeks and newbies alike.

July 9, 2018

Curious about the toxic substances in building products? See a chemical on a Health Product Declaration that you’d like to know more about? You might want to check out the Chemical Hazard Data Commons, a free online resource from the Healthy Building Network (HBN). HBN is a nonprofit focused on reducing the use of toxic chemicals in building... Read more

Primer

How can architects and designers increase social value in the built environment?

July 9, 2018

Buildings contribute to social sustainability by providing environments that support communities in meeting their social needs. It’s generally easy to understand how the design, construction, and operation of buildings affect the environment. A building’s energy use or carbon cost, for example, are objective and quantifiable. But the building’s... Read more

Feature Article

Lighting is an essential element in quality environments that support health and wellness while reducing energy use.

July 9, 2018

The functionality of a building is largely dependent on the quality of its lighting. In order to safely and comfortably perform their tasks, occupants need lighting that provides adequate visibility without causing discomfort or distraction.

But a focus on quality is also the key to achieving sustainable lighting.

As Nancy... Read more

News Brief

Aimed at improving building performance, a new standard offers comprehensive guidance on energy modeling during design.

July 2, 2018

Building energy modeling has become more common over the last decade or so, and it’s a standard practice for projects pursuing LEED certification. But there’s a problem: the later the team waits to start modeling the building, the more potential energy-saving opportunities have been missed along the way.

“Often building energy modeling... Read more

News Analysis

With fewer requirements, more options, and a revised fee structure, WELL v2 responds to early user feedback.

June 22, 2018

If you haven’t used the WELL Building Standard because it seemed too difficult or too expensive, it might be time to give this relatively new rating system another look. And if you were just getting used to the requirements of WELL, hold on to your hat: the newly introduced version 2 is a major overhaul.

Released in May of 2018, WELL v2... Read more

Blog Post

Learn how to find products for LEED and WELL projects in this webinar.

June 18, 2018

Are you struggling to find products for your LEED or WELL project? We’ve been there, and we know how to help.

In this hour-long free webinar, BuildingGreen's Nadav Malin and our partner Anne Hicks Harney of Long Green Specs share their tips finding green, healthy products that meet the requirements for LEED and WELL.

If you want... Read more

News Brief

Powerhouse buildings are designed to offset their full life-cycle energy costs.

June 5, 2018

The Powerhouse Drøbak Montessori secondary school in Norway, equipped with solar panels and a ground source heat pump, will produce more energy over its lifetime (close to 30,500 kWh a year) than the total amount of energy that will ultimately be used for its construction, operation, and demolition.

The school, which serves 60 students... Read more

News Brief

Thoughtful analysis and spending across the portfolio can result in bigger savings, says the Rocky Mountain Institute.

June 5, 2018

Retrofitting buildings for energy savings can save money in the long run, but deciding when and how to invest can be tricky—especially if you own multiple buildings. A new report from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) offers advice on optimizing and prioritizing energy retrofits across the whole building portfolio to achieve maximum returns.... Read more

Feature Short

A housing project that replaced one damaged by Hurricane Katrina was designed high enough to withstand a flood last year.

June 5, 2018

Alphonse Ponson was only 11 years old when Hurricane Katrina darkened the skies and lashed Tremé, his New Orleans neighborhood. At the time, he lived with his mother in the Lafitte public housing project—896 units in three-story brown brick buildings.

Ponson watched from the family’s second floor window as the muddy stormwaters filled... Read more

News Brief

Recent studies explore whether school buildings designed for high performance help students learn to think and act sustainably.

June 5, 2018

Previous research has shown that schools designed with sustainability features provide an environment conducive to learning, and support student health and performance. And many such schools include programs to teach students about nature and ecology.

But can students learn from these buildings, instead of just in them? Can school... Read more

Product Review

Dow, Owens Corning, and Kingspan have joined the EPS industry in eliminating the hazardous halogenated flame retardant HBCD from their XPS insulations.

June 5, 2018

Dow Styrofoam, Owens Corning Foamular, and Kingspan GreenGuard insulations no longer contain the flame retardant HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane)—a persistent, bioaccumulative toxic chemical (PBT). With these changes, HBCD is no longer being used in either extruded (XPS) or expanded (EPS) polystyrene insulation.

HBCD was the primary flame... Read more

Feature Short

A manual on building disaster-resistant homes will be published in 2019.

June 5, 2018

As the 2018 hurricane season begins, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. and the Asociación de Constructores de Puerto Rico are spearheading a collaborative effort to write Keep Safe: Strategies for Puerto Rico Housing Resilience, a manual for building to withstand future natural disasters. Other key partners include the University of Puerto... Read more

Feature Article

At the biggest medical complex in the world, hard-won lessons learned from Tropical Storm Allison kept Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters at bay.

June 5, 2018

Just after midnight, the skies opened.

Hour after hour, for three hours, a relentless deluge hammered Houston’s Texas Medical Center (TMC), causing nearly $2 billion in damage. Hundreds of patients had to be evacuated.

No, we’re not talking about Hurricane Harvey.

It was nearly 16 years earlier, in June 2001, when... Read more

News Brief

Specially designed fitness equipment generates electricity.

June 5, 2018

Imagine going to a gym where you not only burn calories but also generate power—just by working out. That’s the case at Sacramento Eco Fitness, in Sacramento, California, where cycling classes generate electricity that helps power the building.

The fitness center has installed Eco-Powr stationary bikes manufactured by SportsArt, which... Read more

Blog Post

Air-to-air heat pumps are getting more popular as a primary heat source in colder climates. Here’s how to get the most from your system.

June 1, 2018

[Editor's Note: This guest post comes to us courtesy of Peter Talmage, P.E., an energy and design consultant and an instructor in the Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency program at Greenfield Community College. Originally published April 4, 2013.]

I have heated my various homes with wood since 1975. It was always a love/hate... Read more

Blog Post

Most leading energy experts today recommend installing a lot more insulation than is common practice. This wall for a Passive House in Seattle will hold about a foot of insulation.

June 1, 2018

Originally published February 28, 2012

I'm often asked the question, "How much insulation should I install in my house"? It's a great question. Let me offer some recommendations:

First of all...it depends. It depends to a significant extent on where you live. And it depends on whether we're talking about a new house or... Read more