the professionals blog

Energy 101: Home Energy Assessment

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A home energy assessment, also known as a home energy audit, is the first step to assess how much energy your home consumes and to evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient. An assessment will show you problems that may, when corrected, save you significant amounts of money over time.

A home energy checkup helps owners determine where their house is losing energy and money – and how such problems can be corrected to make the home more energy efficient. A professional technician – often called an energy auditor – can give your home a checkup. You can also do some of the steps yourself. Items shown here include checking for leaks, examining insulation, inspecting the furnace and ductwork, performing a blower door test and using an infrared camera.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s website ENERGY.GOV has a wealth of information as it relates to Science & Technology, Energy Sources, Energy Efficiency, the Environment and Prices & Trends. The EPA series of short videos related to Energy 101 topics are being posted on to present entry level information related to Home Energy Assessment, Cool Roofs, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Solar PVs and Wind Turbines.

Please visit the Home>Portfolio>Video Gallery to view this video.

Life in the Cubicle Village

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No fried food: Health Dept. workers cringe at new rules restricting foods, fragrances, decorations

A few days ago in the Current News & Events section I posted the link re: Your nose knows: Does your workplace pass the sniff  test, proclaiming my ignorance regarding the subject of workplaces in Canada adopting policies to control fragrances in the workplace. Well now, controlling fragrances, and much more, is coming to the U.S. of A, compliments of New York City. No overbearing perfume. No obscene pictures. And definitely no French fries for work lunches. And, employees should avoid eavesdropping. Via, workers at the new NYC Department of Health facility are being furnished with a set of guidelines. Perhaps we can term these as Green Workstyles? follow me »

BMW i Sustainable Neighbourhoods Project

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Wallpaper* and BMW i are giving six creative teams the opportunity to help write the future of their urban environment. The cities of the 20th century were shaped by transport, public and private; the challenge of the 21st is to keep Megacities moving. Over the course of six months, Sustainable Neighbourhoods will explore, chronicle and research six different city zones, with the aim of defining a new infrastructural, cultural or social project that will scale seamlessly into the future.  The cities include London, Paris, Beijing, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Berlin with populations of 13 M, 2.1 M, 22 M, 3.8 M, 13 M and 3.4 M respectively.  follow me »

If you are wondering why BMW is co-sponsoring this event, a clue may be found in their marketing tag for the new “i” sub-brand – This is BMW i. Born Electric.  As Forbes recently wrote – BMW’s Newest Model Isn’t a Car 

LEED Credential Maintenance Program (CMP)

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In 2009 the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) launched LEED  and, compared to its predecessor LEED v2, the new face put on LEED represents a major overhaul from the top down.  LEED v3 includes LEED 2009, an upgrade to LEED Online and an expanded certification model.

An overview comparison between LEED v2 and LEED v3:

The LEED Credential Maintenance Program (CMP) can be downloaded here  »

Overview Analysis for the LEED Green Associate Exam

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The material and information in this document constructs a more detailed perspective of the LEED process than what is presented in the Studio4 6 Step Study Plan for the LEED Green Associate Exam. Many exam candidates begin their exploration into the study process completely overwhelmed by the volume, perceived complexities and, on occasion, inconsistencies and contradictions with available study resources, often starting out in a confused and misguided direction.

It would be difficult to comprehend the information necessary to pass the Green Associate exam without fully understanding the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the mechanisms established under USGBC’s control – the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating Systems. Simply reading the vast amount of material defining each doesn’t necessarily provide the matrix that connects each and how this pyramid functions. As disconcerting as this may seem, perhaps it would be helpful if we developed our analysis of LEED, as a whole, as compared with something more familiar. Shortly it should become apparent the role of the U.S. Green Building Council with regard to environmental stewardship and the organized green movement.

The Overview Analysis for the LEED Green Associate Exam can be downloaded here.

Dangers Of Going Green

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Dangers Of Going Green is the title of a 2008 article written in Science Daily, where industrial hygienists found that mold, rot and corrosion are dangers that must be accounted for when builders construct energy-efficient homes. Moisture is an area addressed by green building rating systems for homes, as well as an ongoing concern for builders trying to find the right mixture of moisture/air infiltration control and, on occasion, local building codes. Improper evaluation of new products and strategies for controlling moisture and air infiltration can lead to homes being too tight, resulting in condensation, mold and rot. Most builders, for a variety of reasons, experience leaks and other unintended occurrences that cause moisture to penetrate the building envelope. Most builders are also aware of the measures required to mitigate potential issues related to wet insulation, damp interior finishes (e.g.; drywall, carpet), foundation walls, etc.    

Whether or not you are interested in green homes or green lifestyles, you should be aware that mold is a health concern and what steps can be taken to marginalize the causes.  Continue Reading →

6 Step Study Plan for the LEED Green Associate Exam

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This outline provides basic information to assist your understanding of how to begin studying for the LEED Green Associate exam: starting with the exam application process, selecting study materials, and then moving to brief descriptions for exam content such as green building, USGBC, and LEED.

The LEED Green Associate exam requires a basic, non-technical understanding of green building, USGBC and the core concepts of sustainable strategies used in designing and constructing high performance green buildings. Aside from the fact the Green Associate exam is a requirement for advancing to any of the specialty exams, passing the Green Associate exam would be sufficient for professionals such as real estate agents and brokers, sales and manufacturer’s reps., attorneys, developer and contractor mid-level managers, and other professionals who have no need to know the technical details and processes necessary to design and build high performance green buildings. This degree of knowledge is generally left to professionals who make their living with green buildings, from inception thru birth, and even until end of life.

The 6 Step Study Plan for the LEED Green Associate Exam can be downloaded here.

A Day Made of Glass…

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Can you imagine organizing your daily schedule with a few touches on your bathroom mirror? Chatting with far-away relatives through interactive video on your kitchen counter? Reading a classic novel on a whisper-thin piece of flexible glass? Corning is not only imagining those scenarios – the company is engaged in research that could bring them alive in the not-too-distant future. You can get a glimpse of Corning’s vision in the new video, A Day Made of Glass.

Corning Chairman and CEO Wendell Weeks says Corning’s vision for the future includes a world in which myriad ordinary surfaces transform “from one-dimensional utility into sophisticated electronic devices.”

The video depicts a world in which interactive glass surfaces help you stay connected through seamless delivery of real-time information – whether you’re working, shopping, eating, or relaxing.

Please visit the Home>Portfolio>Video Gallery to view this video.

A Product Is Only as Sustainable as the Sum of Its Parts

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Selecting sustainable cabinetry requires careful examination of multiple components.

One of those little inconvienences with documenting credits is tracking installed materials where their presence can involve both the Materials & Resources and Indoor Environmental Quality categories. This can become a tedious exercise when the material is acutally a component consisting of several materials, as is the case with cabinetry and millwork.

Katy Tomasulo has a good article on ebuild,     Continue Reading →

Leveraging the Landscape to Manage Water

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According to a report from the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, one inch of rainwater hitting one acre of asphalt over an hour yields 27,000 gallons of water. In many communities, this water flows into combined stormwater / sewer systems, which channel both sewage and rainwater together through underground pipes to central treatment facilities. Storms can quickly overrun these combined systems, leading to flooding with pollutant-laden water and even backed up sewage.

The term “Green infrastructure” is used to describe how networks of natural ecosystems also function as crucial community infrastructure, providing ecosystem services and improving environmental sustainability. In the context of managing stormwater, green infrastructure can be defined as man-made systems that mimic natural approaches. Green roofs, bioswales, bioretention ponds, and permeable pavements are a few key examples of local green infrastructure, and all work by turning hard asphalt surfaces into green, absorbent ones.

Source: American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), Designing Our Future: Sustainable Landscapes

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