News

Blog Post

Buildings need renewables—but we need to look beyond the site.

April 25, 2018

No man is an island, and neither is a building.

And yet there is increasing movement for buildings to reach net-zero energy (NZE) or net-zero carbon (NZC). Architecture 2030 wants all buildings there by 2030. Many in the LEED community want this as a requirement for achieving LEED Platinum today. And California has stated it as a goal... Read more

News Analysis

This year’s AIA COTE winning projects combine small ecological footprints with big social benefits.

April 19, 2018

The American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Awards recognize innovative and inspiring projects that demonstrate how to combine architectural excellence and environmental performance.

Beginning with last year’s awards, the criteria AIA COTE uses to define sustainable design was updated and redeveloped... Read more

News Brief

HUD new rules for disaster recovery funds reinstate floodplain building standards established by Obama and revoked by President Trump.

April 4, 2018

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has set stricter elevation requirements for the construction of new or substantially renovated buildings in flood-prone areas using HUD funds after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. The goal is to reduce future flood risks to people and to properties when rebuilding is paid for with... Read more

News Brief

Many towns in Japan are shifting to independent, decentralized power systems to better prepare for disasters.

April 4, 2018

The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, and the tsunami that followed, destroyed three-quarters of the homes in Higashimatsushima, a town of about 40,000 people located in the Tohoku region of Japan. More than a thousand of the town’s residents were killed.

In the time since the disaster, the city, in partnership with housing developer... Read more

News Analysis

A Japanese company aims to promote large-scale mass timber construction with plans to build a wooden “supertall” in Tokyo.

April 4, 2018

The Japanese construction company Sumitomo Forestry thinks a city could reduce its carbon footprint by building with wood. To demonstrate this vision and bring attention to the possibilities of mass timber construction, the company plans to build a 1,148-foot (350-meter) tall wooden tower in Tokyo by 2041.

Developed by Sumitomo Forestry... Read more

Product Review

Kingspan and Centria IMPs are using halogen-free flame retardants, resulting in less toxic, better performing insulated cladding.

April 4, 2018

In 2013, Kingspan quietly became the first company to eliminate halogenated flame retardants (HFRs) from its insulated metal panels (IMP). IMPs combine cladding and insulation in one product, and their use can save resources, labor, and time, but their insulation typically contains HFRs that have a high risk of environmental persistence and... Read more

News Brief

Washington, D.C. is developing a tool to assess affordable multifamily housing for resilience to climate change.

April 4, 2018

Two years ago, when Washington, D.C.’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) was developing a plan to prepare the district for a changing climate, Kate Johnson recalls a series of meetings with people from the utilities and those who work in the district’s affordable housing sector. Johnson, the chief of the green building and climate... Read more

News Brief

Carpets and rugs with stain-repelling “PFAS” chemicals could be the next priority product designated by the State.

April 4, 2018

The State of California is taking steps toward regulating carpets and rugs with common stain-resistance treatments.

A new draft report from the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) implicates perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in a variety of toxic effects, and recommends listing carpets and rugs with... Read more

News Analysis

A Q&A with Laurie Schoeman, senior program director of resilience and disaster recovery, Enterprise Community Partners

April 4, 2018

When the floodwaters of Superstorm Sandy receded in the fall of 2012, they left behind a trail of devastation. Among those hardest hit were people who lived in affordable housing.

At the time, the mainstream guidance for architects was simply “to elevate your building to deal with flooding, but for multifamily housing sites that was not... Read more

Blog Post

UGL Drylok Extreme, Koster NB1 Grey, Xypex Concentrate: Do these interior waterproofing systems really work?

March 27, 2018

Back in May 2017, I wrote a blog post about negative side waterproofing (NSW). But I was still feeling troubled. The standardized test for NSW from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“Standard Test Method for Water Permeability of Concrete”) is really complicated; the schematic seems impossible to decipher (see Image #1 in the slideshow... Read more

News Brief

A National Institute of Building Sciences study shows mitigation saves money, buildings—and lives.

March 20, 2018

The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) has issued a report that found when federal funds are invested in mitigating hazards, in the long term, far fewer dollars are spent on disaster recovery and other costs.

The Natural Hazard Saves: 2017 Interim Report, funded by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is part... Read more

Blog Post

We sat down with BuildingGreen president Nadav Malin to discuss his Honorary AIA designation.

March 12, 2018

BuildingGreen’s president, Nadav Malin, recently received the Honorary AIA designation. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) “recognizes the notable contributions and service of people outside of the architecture profession with honorary membership in the Institute,” according to its website.

I sat down with Nadav to discuss this... Read more

Blog Post

“We don't just do cellulose; we do it better.”

March 8, 2018

 At the end of my recent blog post on Kooltherm rigid phenolic foam insulation, I mentioned that the roof and wall assemblies at an energy retrofit project in Brattleboro, Vermont, were insulated with cellulose by a company called American Installations. The company claimed that the German blowing equipment it uses delivers cellulose at a more... Read more

News Brief

Save A Sample! helps firms reuse product samples by delivering them to architecture and interior design schools.

March 6, 2018

Nearly twenty years ago, Suzanne Swift’s company, SpecSimple.com, faced a challenge.

The company sets up and maintains resource libraries for architectural and design firms. Ultimately the materials become outdated and need to be replaced.

Firms were accumulating boxes and boxes of design samples they wanted to get rid of,... Read more

News Analysis

Hampshire College predicts it will save nearly half a million dollars a year with new solar arrays and educate the next generation of students in the process.

March 6, 2018

When Jonathan Lash became president of Hampshire College, his environmental pedigree primed him to move the school closer to carbon neutrality.

He had served as a senior staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Secretary of Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources, and president of the World Resources... Read more

News Brief

GBI has acquired the global rights to Green Globes as part of a strategy to expand the market reach of the rating system.

March 6, 2018

The non-profit Green Building Initiative (GBI) has acquired the worldwide rights to Green Globes from JLL, a private real estate and investment management firm. JLL had originally acquired the rating system in 2008 as part of a larger acquisition of ECD Energy and Environment Canada. GBI had been the licensee for Green Globes in the United... Read more

Feature Article

A building doesn’t have to be falling down to fail. We share seven stories of green buildings gone wrong—along with tips for prevention.

March 6, 2018

“You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can't possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.”

            –Sam Levenson

We need to talk about failure. Because the more we talk about it, the more successful we will be.

That’s the position of Henry Petroski, Ph.D., civil engineer, failure analyst,... Read more

News Analysis

Rezoning and planning efforts can address the urban heat-island effect in a vulnerable Brooklyn, New York, neighborhood.

March 6, 2018

As climate change leads to higher temperatures, dense urban areas are particularly affected due to the urban heat-island (UHI) effect. And low-income neighborhoods like Gowanus, in South Brooklyn, New York, are especially vulnerable to the hazardous health impacts of UHI.

Now, as the city prepares to rezone the Gowanus neighborhood for... Read more

News Brief

Project teams can save time and money by involving regulatory officials earlier.

March 6, 2018

As project delivery models have evolved and become more collaborative in support of high-performance design, the role of various project stakeholders has also evolved. But this process has generally left out code officials.

By engaging code officials early, project teams can ensure that their proposed design solutions will meet code... Read more

Product Review

EPA criteria are similar to CARB’s and create a federal formaldehyde standard for composite wood. We explain the LEED ramifications of these emission standards.

March 6, 2018

Design teams looking for low-emitting interior composite wood panels for LEED 2009 used to have it easy. If the wood panel met the California Air Resources Board (CARB) requirements for no added urea formaldehyde­ (NAUF) or no added formaldehyde (NAF), then it was good to go.

Not anymore. CARB no longer recognizes NAUF, opting instead... Read more