Category Archives: In Regards to LEED…

Kirkland Breaks Ground On New 7-Story Apartment Building | Kirkland, WA Patch

The new seven-story building was designed to be eco-friendly and promote healthy living, developers said.

The building was developed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Gold standards and Puget Sound Energy’s Built Smart guidelines, with construction including reclaimed materials from the warehouse that used to occupy the site.

Source: Kirkland Breaks Ground On New 7-Story Apartment Building | Kirkland, WA Patch

Why Don’t Green Buildings Live Up to Hype on Energy Efficiency? – Yale E360


Analysts call it the “energy performance gap” — the difference between promised energy savings in green buildings and the actual savings delivered. The problem, researchers say, is inept modeling systems that fail to capture how buildings really work.

Source: Why Don’t Green Buildings Live Up to Hype on Energy Efficiency? – Yale E360

Halfway There: After Making Progress in Operational Efficiency, Buildings Must Now Consider Embodied Carbon – Urban Land Magazine

Reclaimed timber—the entryway alone used more than 2,000 pieces of reclaimed timber. Art installations made from 85 percent repurposed construction waste, recycled and diverted from landfills.

Source: Halfway There: After Making Progress in Operational Efficiency, Buildings Must Now Consider Embodied Carbon – Urban Land Magazine

WorldGBC to focus on embodied carbon across construction industry

WorldGBC will highlight the need for the sustainable production, design, build, use, deconstruction and reuse of buildings and their materials Buildings and construction together account for 36% of global final energy use and 39% of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions when upstream power generation is included.

Source: WorldGBC to focus on embodied carbon across construction industry

This gorgeous LEED Platinum winery is made of reclaimed wood

long extended building with gabled roof and rows of grapes growing in front of it

The family-owned Silver Oak Cellars winery was established in 1972 and has since become world-renowned for its award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon.

Tucked into the rolling hills of Alexander Valley, the solar-powered Silver Oak winery design, which was made with repurposed materials, has already earned a LEED-Platinum certification and is on track to become the one of the world’s most sustainable wineries.

Source: This gorgeous LEED Platinum winery is made of reclaimed wood

King County’s Factoria Recycling & Transfer Station earns ‘Best Project’ award from Engineering News Record Northwest – King County

The Factoria Recycling and Transfer Station, which began operating in 2014, is certified as LEED – Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council. The designation was earned for the facility’s sustainable design, recycled content building materials, rainwater harvesting, efficient energy and water use, and more.

Source: King County’s Factoria Recycling & Transfer Station earns ‘Best Project’ award from Engineering News Record Northwest – King County

A social tool for evaluating the environmental impact of residential buildings

“We have tried to work toward the concept of sustainable construction, also taking into account concepts related to the recycling and reuse of materials, and putting this tool at the disposal of all the agents involved in the construction sector, such as students, professionals and the users of the house themselves,” adds Solis.

Source: A social tool for evaluating the environmental impact of residential buildings

Green Building Initiative Launches New Green Globes Pilot Program

The introduction of new sections and criteria such as: A section dedicated to Site and Building Resilience. A section on Resource Conservation addresses minimized use of raw materials and encourages designing for deconstruction.

Source: Green Building Initiative Launches New Green Globes Pilot Program

Solar farmhouse near Ann Arbor one of world’s greenest homes |

Almost all the wood was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which verifies it was grown and harvested in local forests in a sustainable manner. The rest of the wood was either reclaimed or salvaged, including wood from a hickory tree used for flooring and wood from a cherry tree used to make the dinner table. They weren’t able to find an FSC-certified cabinet shop in Michigan, so Beacon Springs Farm became a certified site and the Burbecks hired a carpenter to specially make cabinets and doors for the home onsite. Some of the reclaimed materials in the house include a bath tub, chandeliers and light fixtures.

Source: Solar farmhouse near Ann Arbor one of world’s greenest homes |

The New Carbon Architecture, or why we should be “building out of sky” (Book Review) : TreeHugger

Frieze building being demolished

Jim Howe: Frieze Building, Ann Arbor Michigan, 20047/CC BY 2.0

In chapter 3, Larry Strain makes a great case for renovation, noting that there are two reasons to do it: The first is to reduce operating emissions from existing buildings, and that applies to all buildings. The second is to reduce embodied emissions by renovating existing structures instead of building new ones.

Source: The New Carbon Architecture, or why we should be “building out of sky” (Book Review) : TreeHugger

Does embodied energy really matter in green building? : TreeHugger

credit: Circular Ecology

Embodied energy is the energy consumed by all of the processes associated with the production of a building, from the mining and processing of natural resources to manufacturing, transport and product delivery. Embodied energy does not include the operation and disposal of the building material, which would be considered in a life cycle approach. Embodied energy is the ‘upstream’ or ‘front-end’ component of the life cycle impact of a home.

Source: Does embodied energy really matter in green building? : TreeHugger

Online Green Building Tool Helps Industry Choose Safer, Sustainable Materials · Environmental Leader · Environmental Management News

The American Chemistry Council’s provides the building industry with the tools needed to make “informed decisions” about materials and products that improve safety, energy savings, durability and other sustainability and performance benefits, says Richard Skorpenske, director of advocacy and sustainability at Covestro, and chair of ACC’s building and construction subcommittee.

The website includes an interactive graphic of a mixed-use residential building that highlights how chemical ingredients are used in materials, from polycarbonate panels in skylights, to plastics in piping, to nylon and polyester fibers in carpeting. Individual pages feature specific chemicals used in a range of building and construction applications, with information on where the chemicals are used and the functionality they provide.

Source: Online Green Building Tool Helps Industry Choose Safer, Sustainable Materials · Environmental Leader · Environmental Management News

“Design isn’t separate from sustainability—it’s the key to it” : TreeHugger

Lance concludes that “ Design isn’t separate from sustainability—it’s the key to it.” But you would have a hard time convincing most designers of this. Lance also mentions education as being a problem. He worries about continuing education, finding that most architects are clueless about the cost of building green; I worry about the schools, many of which are like the one I teach in, where sustainable design is an optional course taken by a third of the third year students, when it should be compulsory for everyone and baked into the program from year one.

Source: “Design isn’t separate from sustainability—it’s the key to it” : TreeHugger

Host to Super Bowl 50, Levi’s Stadium is the sustainable arena of the future |

Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

For LEED certification, the scorecards include decisions made when building—such as the 49ers’ embrace of local public transit, use of recycled materials from the old Moffett Field and sourcing of material locally

Source: Host to Super Bowl 50, Levi’s Stadium is the sustainable arena of the future |

Congress passes funding, tax incentives for green building community | Proud Green Building

The omnibus would provide $11 billion for programs under the Department of Energy, a $794 million increase above 2015. Specifically, the Buildings Technologies Office received a $28 million increase for next year. The bill also funds programs like the Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institutes at $70 million and provides $10 million for a competitive funding opportunity to achieve deeper energy efficiency improvements in small and medium-sized buildings.

via Congress passes funding, tax incentives for green building community | Proud Green Building.

Energy Star Cabin Haus For Sale- Falgstaff, Arizona – Ezra Builders

The design and placement of the house optimizes forest views, a wrap around deck on the east and south sides that overlooks the greenway, and the cul-de-sac for safe and easy garage access. The vaulted ceilings in the living room make this house feel like a cabin while affording modern comfort.

This house is ENERGY STAR certified and is working towards receiving an award for the Coconino County Sustainability Program. What’s that mean? This home will cost ~30% less to operate, be more comfortable, more durable, healthier and safer for its owners and occupants, and all around better for the environment.

Use #CabinHaus to follow this project on Facebook.

via Cabin Haus – 2367 Chof Trail – Ezra Builders.

Introducing The North American Wood Reuse and Recycling Directory

Reuse Wood Web Capture 1

“The demand for reclaimed wood products has been steadily increasing as consumers recognize and value the look, feel, functionality and cost of reused wood in products such as flooring, furniture, structural timbers and more. The North American Wood Reuse and Recycling Directory will connect demand and supply to ensure the continued growth of this reclaimed wood market, while simultaneously keeping thousands of tons of wood out of landfills,” said BMRA Executive Director Anne Nicklin.

Features of

The business directory is accessible via both map and list, with easy sorting capabilities according to target categories (location, services provided, etc).

Individual listing pages show the contact information, location and available services for each business.

The sustainable wood guide includes useful information and articles on the different wood products and the opportunities for wood reuse or recycling.

Reuse Wood Web Capture 2

Canadian Wood Council

Market for Green Building Materials Set to Soar


Erick Vickstrom, research analyst for BCC Research, said increased demand across the sector will “provide an opportunity for both existing players and new entrants into the green building materials market.”

For their research, BCC defined “green materials” as those having at least one of these characteristics:

  • Made from salvaged, recycled, or agricultural waste content

  • Manufactured with efficient, environmentally friendly processes

  • Made from rapidly renewable resources

  • Beneficial to the interior built environment

  • Recyclable at the end of their useful life

via Market for Green Building Materials Set to Soar.

Passivhaus – Ezra Builders


Ezra Builders is setting a new standard in Northern Arizona for sustainability through Passivhaus design. As a Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC), Tom has been trained by the certifying and training authority of the United States, the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS). He has had a direct involvement in two of the completed passive house projects in the Portland, OR area. At the Karuna Passive House, he acted as one of the Quality Control personnel during the insulation phase. Spending more time in the field at the Pumpkin Ridge Passive House, he worked on the structural framing, air barrier install, door and window install. Through his exposure and experience he believes the passivhaus (passive house) standard is one of the few ways to truly build sustainably and is setting out to do just that.

via Passivhaus – Ezra Builders.

Buying time – Construction & Demolition Recycling

While proponents of LEED v4 tout its emphasis on the life cycle of building products, to many in the recycling and demolition industry, it is viewed as impractical. It certainly has implications for demolition contractors if more sorting of materials is required on site and for the C&D recycling facility that counted alternative daily cover toward its diversion rate.

Kristin Smith EDITOR’S FOCUS

via Buying time – Construction & Demolition Recycling.

Rammed Earth Made Easy with Watershed Blocks – By Michaela Harms

In the 1970’s David Easton began his innovative work modernizing rammed earth building techniques toMichaela Harms fit into California’s stringent building codes. Despite his success with Rammed Earth Works, David noticed that rammed earth was a hard wide-spread sell because engineers were apprehensive to understand it and upfront cost-focused contractors did not want to wait through the lifecycle for its benefits. He decided to make sustainable impact by focusing on a more familiar and lower cost alternative, which led to the development of the Watershed Block.



Image Credit Jacob Snavely

David’s company, Watershed Materials supplies low-concrete masonry blocks that are used like common CMUs, concrete masonry units, with half the embodied energy. By piggy-backing onto the already known CMU standards and uses, these blocks are an easy-to-sell green alternative. Watershed Blocks have many of the same benefits as rammed earth including long lifespan, high thermal mass, and natural material use at a much lower price.







“I like to believe we are not only reducing carbon in our atmosphere, but saving a time honored building technique” adds Watershed employee, Dan Alvarado. Revitalizing the art of masonry is a great asset of this company as they open up a sustainable job market for these skilled craftspeople. The beauty of the natural colors of the local aggregate that make up Watershed Blocks is apparent in the pixelated masonry walls they create that attract architects and designers. When speaking of his favorite building material, earth, Dan states “there is a character to earth buildings that is hard to define. You feel connected to it, protected by it.” That connection is essential to sustainable structures and truly unique to buildings of natural materials.




 Image Credit Jacob Snavely

Living roomoImage Credit Jacob Snavely

KitchenImage Credit Jacob Snavely

Watershed Blocks are still a little more expensive than their CMU counterparts but the company projects that improvement in production and inevitable larger market adoption will lower retail prices. If more companies consider full life cycle costs, the savings are apparent even now. Green materials that supply LEED points are already desirable and Watershed is clearly getting noticed, recently being selected as a finalist for SXSW’s Eco Startup Showcase Competition.  As more companies like Watershed modernize and familiarize natural building techniques the beauty and health of our built environment will benefit.


WatershedMaterials-Factory-2013-03Image Credit Jacob Snavely


PascaleImage Credit Mark Lutaringer

Demonstrating Relative Cost-Benefits for the Reuse of DoD Historic and Non-Historic Properties Using Scientifically Derived Data – EW-200931

Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) / Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP)

Based on the data from the LCCA analyses, overall findings included:

Renovation of Pre-War Buildings can be cost effective compared to new construction on a life-cycle cost basis, both with and without factoring in the monetized value of GHG emissions.

Leveraging existing building materials and original design intelligence, modernization of Pre-War Buildings can achieve comparable levels of energy consumption as new construction at a LEED Silver level.

On a life-cycle cost basis, Pre-War Buildings generate less total GHG emissions compared to new construction. GHG savings from initial construction (Scope 3) is the driver of this result.

While adding monetized GHG emissions to the project cost reflects the true economic cost, it does not have a significant impact on LLCA project NPV results. The absolute dollar values of GHG emission differences among Project Alternatives was extremely low.

Incorporating the monetary value of GHG emissions raised the total project life-cycle costs across all project alternatives by approximately 2 to 3%.

via EW-200931.

Retiring to a European vineyard estate in Dundee: Why leave the country? |

Inside, a stately limestone fireplace surround sits under a ceiling crossed by lightly white washed wood beams. Reclaimed walnut was used for the dark wood floors. Throughout the house are art pieces they have collected while traveling: Her folk and modern pieces and his classic and European-style works.

The couple did not set out to receive LEED platinum, the highest level of environmentally responsible construction recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council. Their decisions of design, quality and efficiency, however, contributed to the outcome.

via Retiring to a European vineyard estate in Dundee: Why leave the country? |

Two Years Ago on The RA: True Reuse: Designing a Park with Onsite Deconstruction Materials – Urban Times

2011 Post on the Reclamation Administration

Architects plan for building reuse in the name of sustainable design while recyclable materials are required for  LEED certification and touted in mainstream media.

But how much more sustainable would on-site reuse of reclaimed materials be than shipping them elsewhere?

This video produced by the American Society of Landscape Architects, entitled “Building a Park out of Waste” demonstrates how a building’s deconstruction can provide materials for a new outdoor urban environment on the original site. Now that is reuse for sustainability.

via True Reuse: Designing a Park with Onsite Deconstruction Materials – Urban Times.

Why Jason McLennan created the toughest green building ratings |

Why Jason McLennan created the toughest green building ratings

“All of the green building programs that exist in the world are built around a notion of doing less harm, so we turned that on its head and we’re trying to define what ‘good’ looks like, which is a very different thing,” McLennan says. “Instead of buildings that are less likely to give you cancer, how about buildings that can’t give you cancer? Instead of buildings that produce less pollution than the average building, how about a building that produces no pollution? So, it’s a very different way of thinking, and it is a very challenging program because of that.”

via Why Jason McLennan created the toughest green building ratings |

LEED brings Cradle to Cradle into green building certification |

Members of the US Green Building Council (USGBC) voted overwhelmingly (85 percent) to include Cradle to Cradle certification in LEED V4, which will even more stringently enforce the environmental qualities of materials used in green buildings, the opposite of what industry interests want.

Developed by preeminent architect Bill McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart, Cradle to Cradle certification begins as part of LEED in November.

“We salute the USGBC’s courageous leadership in making material health a priority in the face of immense challenge from industry,” says McDonough. “The stand they have taken will help continue their meaningful input as an agent of market transformation.”

Those seeking LEED certification will get credits for Materials & Resources for disclosing and optimizing where building materials are sourced and purchased.

via LEED brings Cradle to Cradle into green building certification |

Waterfront Toronto Diverts 86% of Construction Waste · Environmental Management & Energy News · Environmental Leader

For construction-related waste, Waterfront Toronto requires that all construction and demolition projects divert a minimum of 50% of waste, with a target of 75%, according to the sustainability report. This requirement is included in the Environmental Management Plan and is a credit achieved as part of its LEED for Neighbourhood Development Gold certification.

“With landfill space at a premium, waste management is a critical issue for the City of Toronto and Waterfront Toronto has addressed this in several ways,”



via Waterfront Toronto Diverts 86% of Construction Waste · Environmental Management & Energy News · Environmental Leader.

Bill targeting green building projects overhauled ::

This is just an excerpt from the entire article.

Under an amendment offered by Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Union, the bill would allow state and local government agencies to pursue LEED certification if an analysis shows that it would save them money in construction or in the first 10 years of operating costs. Also, buildings could use such ratings systems if they don’t “put North Carolina materials at a disadvantage.”

Several people spoke in favor of the amendment, including representatives of the U.S. Green Building Council, steel manufacturer Nucor, the Carolinas Ready Mixed Concrete Association and the American Institute of Architects.

However, some criticized the lack of definition for the term “disadvantage,” and some said the 10-year limit when calculating cost savings would adversely affect contracts that major firms like Honeywell and Johnson Controls enter, where cost savings are calculated over 15 to 20 years.

Tucker said he understood that “disadvantage” means using specifications that would preclude North Carolina products from being used. He added that he is willing to work with the industry on possibly adjusting the 10-year limit before the bill goes to the Senate floor.

But House sponsor Rep. Michele Presnell, R-Yancey, balked at extending the limit.

The amended bill passed on a voice vote.

via Bill targeting green building projects overhauled ::

States Fight Green-Building Leader Over Local Wood – ABC News

This is just an excerpt. Please read the entire article here.

In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal last year used an executive order to ban state government construction projects from seeking LEED certification. Alabama, Maine and Mississippi also enacted bans, while a similar measure has passed the North Carolina House and awaits a Senate vote. South Carolina stopped short of prohibiting LEED certification, instead banning state projects from earning points for sustainable wood. Florida passed a bill, awaiting the governor’s signature, requiring use of local wood when possible.

Deal used a speech to the Southern Group of State Foresters meeting in Savannah last week to urge foresters from government agencies across the Southeast to push the issue with their own governors back home.

“Prior to my executive order, some 99 percent of Georgia’s forests were unfairly excluded from consideration as being an appropriate green material for building,” Deal told the group.

The state backlash comes as LEED stakeholders are voting this month on a revised version of its green-building standards, which are voluntary but have become increasingly desirable for private companies and government agencies looking to burnish their environmental credentials.

The Green Building Council says the ruckus has been drummed up by industry groups trying to pressure it into giving LEED sustainability credits for wood that hasn’t earned them. The push is being led by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, or SFI, which certifies more than 60 million acres of U.S. timberland including forests owned by corporate giants such as Weyerhaeuser and Rayonier. The group and its standards were created by the timber industry, though SFI says it’s been independently governed for the past decade.

via States Fight Green-Building Leader Over Local Wood – ABC News.

AR News, March 2013 | LEED change impacts C&D recycling

A new rule expected from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) this summer will stop giving construction and demolition recyclers credit for the recycling technique most widely used to win green certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building rating system.

“That’s thrown our industry into a tizzy,” said Jason Haus, chief executive officer of Dem-Con Companies, a Shakopee, Minnesota, recycling and disposal company. Haus said the new draft of LEED has some improvements. However, he is concerned that less material will be recycled as a result.

The new USGBC rule is part of a recent revision of the LEED ratings system. The revision was supposed to have been issued last year. But after critical response to an early draft from the recycling community and other stakeholders, it was delayed.

Recyclers still aren’t happy. “We disputed it but it doesn’t do any good,” said William Turley, executive director of the Construction Materials Recycling Association (CMRA), a national industry group based in Aurora, Illinois. Turley said the result of the rule change will be that some recyclers and some projects will be unable to claim the LEED credits they could have in the past.

Continue reading AR News, March 2013 | LEED change impacts C&D recycling

Construction: Increase Profits with Recycling and Reuse Best Practices

Construction managers’ success in recycling and repurposing materials/fixtures can make the difference on whether a construction project comes in on budget in today’s still-depressed construction industry. Two factors are driving this trend. The first is the increasing value real estate buyers and renters place upon green labeled buildings. In California a green labeled home sells for a 9 percent premium. In the commercial building market the increasing numbers of companies focused on operational efficiency has created a strong rental market for USGBC LEED certified buildings. A key feature of LEED certification and other green labeled buildings is the reuse of materials, fixtures and buildings.

Construction recycling/reuse best practices

The other major driver is a growing market in recycled materials and reusable fixtures. The construction industry uses more materials by weight than any other industry in the United States producing 325 million tons of recoverable construction and demolition materials. Approximately 8,000 lbs of waste are thrown into the landfill during the construction of a 2,000 square foot home. That is a lot of construction dollars that will either be lost to landfill tipping fees or gained by successfully selling this material for recycling or reuse.

Six-step plan for making money by recycling and reusing construction material

1. Think first.

Demolition by sledgehammer will cost you money. The first step to making money through recycling/reuse is to survey what is in the building and develop an inventory of materials that can be sold to recycling companies or can be reused. Then use the web and your phone to figure out who will pay for what in terms of reusable and recyclable material in the building industry. (See video below for a website that does this work for you!).

Also work with the architect on what can be recaptured for reuse in the new construction. This homework before the demolition crew arrives can increase a project’s margins and bid competitiveness. Many companies now target diverting at least 50 percent of their construction landfill waste and best-in-class operations like the St. Croix Habitat for Humanity Eco-Village target 90 percent landfill diversion.

2. Create a lay down area

What you plan to sell from the demolition process requires a lay down area just like new materials. And it should be similarly organized with designated areas and containers for the sorting of materials and fixtures. This will make it easier to count and take pictures of materials and fixtures, which will make them easier to sell. If your lay down area is the big mental container supplied by the waste management company, then you might as well go to the ATM and get some cash to throw in there too, since the more stuff you pitch in the dumpster the more of your potential profits go with it to the landfill.

3.Create crew buy-in

Managing waste requires the engagement of all of your trades people. If you expect them to handle your demolition materials and fixtures like the dollars they represent, then you have to train them, set performance expectations and motivate them.

4. Measure/report

If you don’t measure how your workers are doing on materials capture, then the odds are they won’t do it. Keep track of what is being done. Having a lay down area makes this much easier. Make sure to report the results to your crew.

5. Keep it local

The best place to recycle and reuse demolition material is on your job site. This is an increasingly attractive path for cost mitigation and for the potential aesthetics often conveyed through the repurposing of bricks, woods and refurbished fixtures.

A market for reusable construction materials/fixtures

The best news for construction contractors is that there is now a website where you can sell and buy reusable materials and fixtures called Planet Reuse. The following video interview with Founder Nathan Benjamin taken at the Sustainable Brands 2012 conference profiles best practices for making money through buying or selling reusable construction materials and fixtures:

See the entire article via Construction: Increase Profits with Recycling and Reuse Best Practices.

Recycled wood: the green key to a sustainable built environment | Guardian Sustainable Business | Guardian Professional

Redwood trees in sequoia national forest

Valuable wood sourced from redwood trees is being routinely wasted in the US. Photograph: Graham Whitby-Boot /Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar

Home building has long been one of the most important industries in the US, with economists viewing statistics concerning new homes as a barometer for the countrys economic performance.

Americans affinity for newer and bigger homes, however, comes with a huge environmental cost. The recent foreclosure crisis is just a reminder of all the resources waste on millions of homes that have been abandoned and, yet again, remodelled. One precious resource used for these buildings that often goes unnoticed and is then lost forever is wood.

The remodelling and demolishing of homes in the US results in the equivalent of 250,000 single-family homes being interred in landfills or incinerated each year. Among the dry wall, plastic and concrete that are disposed of is lumber sourced from Americas forests. Within this lumber, there is also wood from older homes. This is especially valuable because it is of higher quality than material used in most new construction projects.

Wood in homes built 50 years ago or earlier was often sourced from first-growth forests. Whether a small, older home being destroyed for a larger, more modern home, or a historic beach-front house being targeted for removal and upgrade by a presidential candidate, these houses are a treasure trove of sturdy wood that builders should reclaim. Entrepreneurs can find lucrative business opportunities as salvaged or rediscovered wood is in high demand.

Current construction and demolition C&D techniques, however, are destructive and render most wood completely useless. Too much wood enters the C&D waste stream and then disappears forever. Of the approximate 70m tons of wood sent to landfill annually, the US government estimates 30m tons of it could have been reused.

Currently about 10% to 20% of wood discarded during construction projects is prevented from entering landfills. Pallets, however, account for most of that material, and hence that lower-quality wood is often shredded and used for mulch. But while aluminium, glass, paper and plastic are often culled for recycling from construction sites prior to final disposal, wood is overlooked and is about 17% of the waste that ends up in municipal dumps.

Meanwhile, valuable woods including Douglas fir and redwood, which could be repurposed for several more decades of use, are wasted. Evidence suggests that more tactical demolition practices can actually save and generate money for construction projects from reduced landfill fees and the sale of salvaged wood.

The national trade group for companies tasked with tearing down buildings, the National Demolition Association, has long claimed its member companies have been “environmentally responsible”. Rhetoric aside, however, the association now cajoles companies to consider the smarter reuse of materials and increased diversion of waste from landfill, both of which can give builders more points if they are building a LEED-certified project.

Smarter demolition can also create good business opportunities for companies that undertake such projects at a lower cost in return for the rights to all recyclable materials. Careful deconstruction of old structures also creates business for local companies that cater to consumers who want their homes to become more eco-friendly.

Read the entire article via Recycled wood: the green key to a sustainable built environment | Guardian Sustainable Business | Guardian Professional.

Salvaged oak Wine Vats Find new Life as Podium in FLCC’s Student Center

I love it when folks are blown away by reclaimed design. You can see the Frank Loyd Wright influence in the podium (I read that in the original article). More reuse of wine barrels – enjoy!

“We wanted a piece of furniture, not a library book stand; a podium, not a lectern. We were looking for a piece that would combine contemporary design and antique materials…something fitting for our new Student Center,” explained Amy Pauley, the executive director of the FLCC Foundation. Upon seeing the completed piece for the first time, Amy exclaimed, “It’s awesome!”

Crafted of white oak staves reclaimed from wine vats used at a Finger Lakes winery, the FLCC Student Center podium meets environmentally conscious requirements and offers rich history.

via Salvaged oak Wine Vats Find new Life as Podium in FLCC’s Student Center.

Architecture’s afterlife –

Dist. of Col. (Washington DC), USA – Ian Volner is a writer for Architect, the magazine for the American Institute of Architects. His article ‘Architecture’s afterlife’ discusses the ongoing obsession of recycling obsolete building materials over reclamation and salvage, and the processes and costs involved in getting into the reuse game.

Volner begins by painting a picture of the building industry today in the US, with forty percent of solid waste attributed to construction, he says ‘not only rubble and rotting beams, but also countless odds and ends from new construction such as cast off nails and packaging’.

Buildings Materials Reuse Association (BMRA) executive director Ann Niklin adds ‘ “We say it [recycling] is all very well and good, but we also say many of these [materials] could simply be salvaged”.’

There is a positive statement from architects who are using reclaimed materials consistently in their projects.

‘ “We’re really starting to get plugged into, in a much more architectural way, the stream of these materials,” says David Dowell, AIA, a principal of El Dorado Architects, also of Kansas City, Mo. Since expanding to include general contracting services, the firm has been working reuse deeper into its practice.’

Continue reading Architecture’s afterlife –

Chick-fil-A Receives Chain’s First LEED Gold Certification at Ft. Worth Restaurant – MarketWatch

FORT WORTH, Texas, Feb. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Nearly a year after opening its first restaurant built to the standards of the U.S Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification program, Chick-fil-A® is proud to announce that its Montgomery Plaza location received LEED Gold certification.


Chick-fil-A at Montgomery Plaza is the first LEED Gold-certified restaurant in Fort Worth. Based on the company’s learning and success at Montgomery Plaza, the company has committed to build four more LEED designed restaurants in 2012.

via Chick-fil-A Receives Chain’s First LEED Gold Certification at Ft. Worth Restaurant – MarketWatch.

New Study Shows That It Can Be Better to Renovate Existing Green Buildings Than Build New Ones | Ecocentric |

Phil Ashley


 A study by the Preservation Green Lab of the National Trust for Historic Preservation shows building reuse almost always has fewer environmental impacts than new construction—which means we’d be smart to spend at least as much time renovating existing buildings as we do lionizing fancy new green construction.


via New Study Shows That It Can Be Better to Renovate Existing Green Buildings Than Build New Ones | Ecocentric |

6 Tips For Green Renovation –



For architects, builders and suppliers, Greenbuild is like Thanksgiving, Earth Day and a little bit of New Years all wrapped up into one. It’s a time to exchange ideas about sustainable construction, which for me is an opportunity to talk about how to plan for the resulting waste streams that every project generates.

via 6 Tips For Green Renovation –

Demolition costs more than renting a bulldozer – Journal of Commerce

Just because you are old and you leak a little, it doesn’t mean you should be put down. I am also referring to buildings.

Charles Olfert

Architecture Matters

Charles Olfert

Most architects have heard “the greenest building is the one that already exists.” Consider how much energy it takes to create a new building.

Richard Moe, National Trust for Historic Preservation President, estimates constructing a new 5,000 square-meter commercial building releases about the same amount of carbon into the atmosphere as driving a car 2.8 million miles.

Architecture Matters

Charles Olfert

He also notes it takes approximately 65 years for a green, energy-efficient new office building to recover the energy lost in demolition.

Most new buildings in Canada are certainly not designed to last anywhere near that long.

I would suggest the benefits of re-development go far beyond carbon reductions. Our cities desperately need the aesthetic diversity and cultural activity supported through adaptive re-use.

Given the benefits of re-use – why are so many buildings demolished? There are three basic reasons.

First, too many politicians still feel it is better to cut the ribbon in front of a brand new, relatively nondescript, glass box than make the necessary longer term commitment towards a comprehensive, complex urban redevelopment strategy.

The second factor is more complicated. Current building codes and civic building permit policies make it very difficult to save buildings. It seems an old building is automatically “grandfathered” as a non-compliant fire hazard as long as the use doesn’t change. However, once renovated, EVERYTHING needs to be “brought up to current standards”. Many developers try this once or twice and then simply throw up their hands in frustration.

Almost everyone appreciates a century old marble staircase with intricate wood posts and wrought iron railings. These stairs can function effectively for hundreds of years, but become immediately “unsafe and non-compliant” the minute a building changes use.

The issue of course is insurance and legal responsibility. Can you be “partially compliant” – who takes responsibility?

I am not advocating unsafe buildings. In fact, I am suggesting that many older buildings could be much safer if there were some flexibility in allowing small changes in use, with incremental safety improvements.

Many landlords and developers are not prepared to spend any money on an existing building because it is too expensive to do a complete code upgrade. Also discouraging – many of those upgrades destroy some of the best features of the building. The result is many attractive, older buildings sit empty or end up with marginal, illegal or existing unsafe uses.

The third factor is related to code issues and the subtle way regulations discourage mixing uses in buildings. For example there are typically and quite logically, fire separation requirements between building uses which can be very complicated.

As we try to encourage people to live downtown, we should seriously consider changes to the interpretation and application of zoning and building code requirements to make it safe, legal and cost effective to have people living above retail and restaurant facilities using our rapidly vanishing, but extremely valuable existing building stock.

Charles Olfert is the Architecture Canada | RAIC regional director for Manitoba/ Saskatchewan. He is part of an amateur Blues Band that practices in a heritage building.

The application of regulations typically discourages upgrades of this building as well as many others in the neighbourhood.

via Demolition costs more than renting a bulldozer – Journal of Commerce.

Local building wins environmental award – WDRB 41 Louisville – News, Weather, Sports Community

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — It’s called the Green Building. The Louisville structure was recognized for the environmentally-friendly design Friday that won it the first award of its kind in the state.

State representative Steve Riggs presented the building’s owners, Gill and Augusta Holland, with an award of merit from Kentucky.

It comes after the Green Building earlier this year became the first commercial building in Kentucky to be awarded platinum level LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification.

“A lot of people worked on the design. A lot of people worked on the interior demolition. You know, we didn’t want to send anything to landfills. A lot of people then worked on sourcing materials, renewable materials, recycled materials, recycling materials from the building. And then we finally built the building and then we had to market and promote the building,” says Green Building owner Gill Holland.

Holland says he’s also proud of the impact the building has had on the design of other buildings in Louisville.

via Local building wins environmental award – WDRB 41 Louisville – News, Weather, Sports Community.

Construction & Demolition Recycling : Industry News Wastecon 2011: Raising the C&D Diversion Roof

In addition to the economics of construction and demolition (C&D) materials recycling having improved, state legislation and local ordinances also have driven more C&D recycling. That was part of the message from panelists at a session on C&D recycling at Wastecon, the annual convention of SWANA (the Solid Waste Association of North America).

Speaker Richard Ludt of Interior Removal Specialist Inc. (IRS), South Gate, Calif., noted how a number of ordinances enacted in Southern California have affected C&D scrap diversion flows in his market region.

Reacting to California Assembly Bill 939, which was passed in 1989 with the goal of increasing landfill diversion to 50 percent, municipalities enacted a variety of ordinances affecting C&D materials, Ludt said.

Ludt said some communities have required contractors to pay a deposit that will not be returned until their project is finished and they can prove they reached a specified landfill diversion or recycling rate. Such arrangements were not always well received by contractors and also tended to create extensive recordkeeping and accounting systems for the municipalities.

Ludt praised the city of Los Angeles for creating “possibly the simplest C&D ordinance I have seen.” In Los Angeles, C&D materials must be taken to certified facilities that have been audited and approved by the city. “They reach their desired recycling percentage by permitting [facilities] carefully,” said Ludt. “Builders like it because there is no deposit and city staff like it because there is no tracking of deposit payments.”

Speaker Miriam Zimms of Kessler Consulting Inc., Tampa, Fla., provided an overview of C&D recycling in several regions where municipalities or solid waste districts have tried approaches to spur recycling.

In King County, Wash., Zimms said agencies there are providing considerable technical support, have streamlined the permitting process and offer grants tied to “green building” LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) projects. These initiatives have been enough to boost the C&D materials landfill diversion rate to 83 percent in King County, according to Zimms.

Metro Portland, Ore., is another region where LEED projects are abundant, and in fact new Metro Portland government buildings are required to seek LEED certification, said Zimms. Builders in the region are mandated to recycle 75 percent of their scrap materials, although Zimms said only 45 percent of projects may be in compliance with this mandate.

In her home state of Florida, Zimms said C&D recycling has grown to the point where there are now more than 120 C&D recycling facilities in the Sunshine State, although Florida’s overall C&D materials diversion percentage may be no greater than about 27 percent.

Wastecon 2011 was Aug. 23-25 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tenn.

via Construction & Demolition Recycling : Industry News Wastecon 2011: Raising the C&D Diversion Roof.

Construction Executive Magazine – Going Green

The Benefits of Being Waste-Wise

By Chuck Herb

Client demands and regulatory pressures continue to drive improvements in diversion and recycling rates. Partly because of growing ecological concerns and less-than-ideal economic conditions, the cry for sustainable growth and fiscal responsibility has permanently impacted the way construction-related businesses approach waste management.

The Future of Waste Disposal

A recent report released by McGraw-Hill Construction revealed 61 percent of construction contractors rate waste management plans as the second most important aspect of green building, behind energy efficiency. The United States generated 143.5 million tons of building-related construction and demolition debris in 2008 alone, but only 28 percent (40.2 million tons) was reused, recycled or sent to waste-energy facilities. The study shows contractors are beginning to recognize the substantial impact sustainable construction waste management can have on their businesses, and a growing number are adopting practices to reduce contributions to landfills.

LEED also is driving this new sense of environmental stewardship. According to a GreenBiz Group study, LEED buildings have recycled or reused nearly 25 million tons of waste so far. These figures are expected to mushroom to more than 400 million tons by 2020 and 780 million tons by 2030.

By 2013, McGraw-Hill Construction predicts the green building market will represent 25 percent of all new construction projects by value, equating to a $140 million market. This rapidly growing green share presents extensive opportunities for waste management. Companies at the forefront of the sustainability movement are actively looking for ways to reduce, recycle and reuse materials—leading to decreased costs, increased customer satisfaction and compliance with new government regulations.

With only 28 percent of construction and demolition waste being recycled, there’s a lot of room for improvement—especially because the majority of this waste can be recycled, reused onsite or salvaged for reuse elsewhere. In the past, it was difficult to get contractors to recycle, especially where landfill rates were low, because they didn’t have many cost-effective options. Today, that scenario has changed.

Lasting Benefits

In most cases, the cost of recycling is lower than the cost of throwing materials away. When these costs are spread across an entire construction project, the savings can amount to thousands (and often tens of thousands) of dollars. If recycling costs more than waste disposal, many will choose not to recycle. But if it’s cost-competitive or less expensive, it will be considered as a practical part of every job.

Additionally, because millions of tons of construction and demolition materials are unnecessarily disposed of in landfills throughout the country every year, rebate programs are providing a financial incentive for builders to recycle debris. These programs are designed to encourage contractors to have their mixed-materials waste (e.g., wood and metals) hauled to designated material-recovery facilities, where they’re given a per-ton discount on each ton delivered.

Not only does recycling reduce waste disposal costs and material expenses, but it also helps project teams earn points toward qualifying for LEED and other green building certification programs. The more experience contractors gain in waste prevention and recycling, the better chance they have of attracting the growing number of potential clients interested in participating in LEED and other green building certification programs.

Additionally, recycling gives contractors the option to declare a tax deduction when they donate reusable building materials to a nonprofit organization. And, it lessens the environmental impact of buildings by:

reducing depletion of natural resources such as trees, oil and minerals;

reducing manufacturing and transportation-related emissions and pollution;

using less energy and water compared to many virgin material product manufacturing processes; and

decreasing greenhouse gasses by using less energy for manufacturing and transportation.

Many construction industry professionals agree recycling is one of the most visible steps that can be taken toward sustainable building. Unlike energy-efficient HVAC or certified forest products, it is something many people understand, and this awareness can generate teamwork and motivation among workers on jobsites.

Customer requirements have changed and recycling has evolved into something that carries more weight among builders. If contractors can turn recycling into a shared vision that heightens camaraderie and teamwork, they—and the communities in which they build—can derive benefits that go far beyond a rebate or reduced haul rate.

Chuck Herb is co-owner of Sunshine Recycling, Orlando, Fla. For more information, visit

via Construction Executive Magazine – Going Green.

The City of Houston’s Green Building Resource Center has a new green home – Houston green economy |


The GBRC provides free information to the public on green building through some 50 exhibits and interactive displays, as well as a library of materials and resource guides. All displays are donated, but are included by invitation only after thorough evaluation by the center’s program director. The displays are hands-on and child friendly, offering tips on renewable energy sources, lighting efficiency and sustainable building materials and practices as well as information on sustainable lifestyle strategies.

via The City of Houston’s Green Building Resource Center has a new green home – Houston green economy |