Author Archives: CS Editor

Landscape design guide released

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) 2012 General Design Award of Excellence was given to “A Green Sponge for a Water-Resilient City: Qunli Stormwater Park” in Haerbin City, Heilongjiang Province, China. The association has released a guide examining benefits of green design features. Image courtesy ASLA

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) 2012 General Design Award of Excellence was given to “A Green Sponge for a Water-Resilient City: Qunli Stormwater Park” in Haerbin City, Heilongjiang Province, China. The association has released a guide examining benefits of green design features. Image courtesy ASLA

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has released an online guide that examines the benefits of green infrastructure and design.

The applications included are green streets, parks, urban forests, wildlife habitat, and vegetated walls or roofs. Communities can benefit from green infrastructure by managing stormwater and reducing flooding and mitigating the heat island effect.

This resource will also provide information regarding the cost-effective aspects of green infrastructure compared to traditional concrete assemblies.

“At all scales, green infrastructure provides real ecological, economic, and social benefits,” said the group’s executive vice president and CEO, Nancy Somerville. “Cities need as much green infrastructure as possible, and landscape architects are implementing it in communities across the country.”

The online resource is part of the organization’s new series of guides and toolkits and includes numerous studies and articles in regards to innovative uses of green infrastructure from large scale to small scale. Additionally, sections are included touching on forests and nature preserves, cities, and constructed wetlands. This information will be useful to landscape architects create these types of systems.

The benefits design professionals and specifiers will learn about green infrastructure include:
● absorption and sequestering of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2);
● filtering air and water pollutants;
● stabilizing soil to prevent or reduce erosion; and
● reduce energy consumption through passive heating and cooling.

As the guide is a ‘living document,’ users are encouraged to submit case studies or articles regarding green infrastructure. Click here to access the guide.

New Arkansas Music Pavilion Opens on a Good Note

This photo shows a view of the Arkansas Music Pavilion at night. The polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) cone structures come to life with lighting, while at the same time protect concert attendees. Photos courtesy Birdair

This photo shows a view of the Arkansas Music Pavilion at night. The polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) cone structures come to life with lighting, while at the same time protect concert attendees. Photos courtesy Birdair

by Doug Radcliffe

Walton Arts Center (WAC) purchased the Arkansas Music Pavilion (AMP) in February 2011 with the goal of expanding the venue to serve a broader and more diverse audience. The AMP operated at the Washington County Fairgrounds after moving from the Northwest Arkansas (NWA) Mall in 2012. However, after seeing a 200 percent increase in ticket sales in 2012, it was clear a permanent site was required to meet the region’s growing need for arts and entertainment. Further, the lack of a roof meant numerous event cancellations due to weather.

In 2013, the Walton Arts Center council approved plans to build a mid-sized, permanent outdoor amphitheater to attract headlining artists and bigger audiences to Northwest Arkansas. As part of a multi-campus expansion in the region, the new Pinnacle Hills venue serves as a major stop for touring concerts in the mid-south.

The new location, in the city of Rogers, has everything WAC was looking for in a permanent venue, including proximity to a major freeway, multiple access points, ample parking, and a supporting infrastructure. This improvement, as well as the 519-m2 (5590-sf) stage, upgraded technical capacities, an artist lounge, and production offices, is expected to attract bigger acts to the venue. The new AMP will also draw in larger crowds with its seating capacity of more than 6000 people, parking, upgraded concessions, and air-conditioned restrooms.

A look up at the three PTFE cone structures supported by steel.

A look up at the three PTFE cone structures supported by steel.

An orchestrated effort
Architecture firm CORE, Tatum-Smith Engineers, general contract consultant David Swain, and Crossland Construction worked to complete this project. A tent-like, weather-resistant covering for the stage was specified. The three-cone and four-inverted-cone-shaped structure is made of a fabric polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) fiberglass membrane, with steel supports. PTFE coats a woven fiberglass to form a durable, weather-resistant membrane.

Raising the roof
The AMP’s three-cone shaped structure creates an open, inviting space. PTFE fiberglass membranes can be used to construct roofs, façades, freestanding buildings, skylights, or accent enclosures.

Fabric roof forms are curved between supporting elements in a manner reflective of the flow of tension forces within the membrane. With the exception of air-supported structures, these curvatures are anticlastic in nature. The curving forms of fabric roofs have dramatic appeal. Another attractive feature of tensioned fabric structures is the enormous range of spanning capability. The aesthetic features and the long-span ability of fabric are particularly appropriate for entertainment facilities like the AMP.

Fabric structures are not only visually appealing, but also environmentally responsible and economically competitive. PTFE fiberglass membrane is Energy Star and Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC)-certified. PTFE fiberglass membranes reflect as much as 73 percent of the sun’s energy, and certain grades of PTFE membrane can absorb 14 percent of the sun’s energy while allowing 13 percent of natural daylight and seven percent of re-radiated energy (solar heat) to transmit through.

The lightweight membrane also provides a cost-effective solution requiring less structural steel to support the roof or façade, enabling long spans of column-free space. Additionally, the tensile membrane offers building owners reduced construction costs and maintenance costs compared to traditional building materials.

DCRDoug Radcliffe has more than 28 years’ experience in steel, glass, and membrane manufacturing, project management, engineering, and construction business. During his career, he has been an integral member of design-build teams for high-profile construction projects of all sizes. Radcliffe is a tensile architectural systems expert at Birdair. He can be reached at sales@birdair.com.

Understanding Environmental Product Declarations

Key tools for energy-efficient product specification

by Paul Bertram, FCSI, CDT, LEED AP, GGP

This is an excerpt of an environmental product declaration (EPD) transparency brief for sprayed polyurethane foam (SPF) from the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA), filed with EPD program operator Underwriters Laboratory (UL) Environment. Image courtesy SPFA

This is an excerpt of an environmental product declaration (EPD) transparency brief for sprayed polyurethane foam (SPF) from the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA), filed with EPD program operator Underwriters Laboratory (UL) Environment. Image courtesy SPFA

Buildings designed with energy efficiency in mind are becoming the norm. In fact, according to a 2013 McGraw-Hill study, “firms are shifting their business toward green building, with 51 percent of respondents planning more than 60 percent of their work to be green by 2015.”1 As a result, design/construction professionals are constantly seeking methods to verify the ‘greenness’ of buildings.

One increasingly popular strategy to confirm energy efficiency is to use an environmental product declaration (EPD) as a way to help decision-makers evaluate and specify products with a low environmental footprint. EPDs are based on industry product category rules (PCRs), themselves developed to use environmental lifecycle assessment (LCA) data based on International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14040, Environmental Management–Lifecycle Assessment: Principles and Framework.

In an article that appeared in the March 2013 issue of The Construction Specifier, Julie Rapoport, PhD, LEED AP, described the EPD as:

a document created by the manufacturer to show results of a lifecycle assessment. It is verified by an expert and approved by a program operator, such as UL Environment (ULE) or the aforementioned MTS [the Institute for the Market Transformation to Sustainability]. …EPDs can have requirements for how often they must be renewed. For example, SMaRT EPDs used by this author’s firm must be renewed every three years. During the renewal process, aspects like energy input can be revisited and updated.

In short, EPDs report a summary of the environmental impacts of a product across its entire lifecycle, including impacts from the manufacturing process and upstream supplied materials. To reflect a product’s overall environmental impact, an EPD takes into account the energy use and environmental impact of all phases of a product’s life—from raw material extraction to end-of-life.

The EPD also provides detailed and verified data for multiple attributes of a given product such as durability, maintenance costs, use phase performance, demolition, and end-of-life disposition. This data allows construction professionals to learn about a product based on its cradle-to-gate/grave impacts.

However, having an EPD alone does not make a product ‘green;’ it is also not a statement of environmental superiority. Rather, an EPD provides documentation of lifecycle and other related data for a given product system. This allows the entire building team to compare similar products and/or additional EPDs of a similar product system, gaining a better understanding of trade-offs and product system improvement.

An excerpt of an industry-wide EPD for insulated metal panels from the Metal Construction Association (MCA) for SPF from the SPFA, filed with EPD program operator UL Environment. Image courtesy MCA

An excerpt of an industry-wide EPD for insulated metal panels from the Metal Construction Association (MCA) for SPF from the SPFA, filed with EPD program operator UL Environment. Image courtesy MCA

EPDs and better buildings
As EPDs are used more frequently to understand the environmental impacts of building products, their affect on buildings’ overall environmental contribution becomes clearer. An EPD displays statistics about environmental impacts, providing construction professionals with third-party verified reporting information about products they would like to use, allowing them to make more informed decisions. With more products being verified through the EPD process, specifiers, architects, and building owners are better able to understand the environmental footprint of their buildings by reviewing other EPDs or performing more detailed product analyses according to ISO 14044 standards.

Increasingly, this means EPDs serve a vital role. The higher the quality of information a specifier or architect has when drafting a building design, the more material-efficient and less environmentally impactful a building can be. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has acknowledged EPDs can help document the impacts of building materials. As a result, many industry professionals are calling for the incorporation of EPDs into green building codes. In response, various green building system organizations have incorporated, or are considering, EPDs as an option in their standards and recommendations.

How to use EPDs
For practical purposes, EPDs can be divided into two categories: product-specific and industry-wide.

Product-specific EPDs are completed for particular products. This type of EPD is valuable if clients or building owners want to use specific materials in a building project. Typically, the company or corporation producing the product funds the development of a product-specific EPD.

The industry-wide EPDs are based on an aggregated average of similar materials or products within a sector. For example, the Metal Construction Association (MCA) issued three industry-wide EPDs for insulated metal panels (IMPs), metal composite material (MCM) panels, and roll-formed steel panels for roofs and walls.2 This category of EPD is especially valuable to specifiers interested in choosing a generic category of product—such as sprayed polyurethane foam (SPF)—rather than requiring the use of proprietary materials.

Regardless of the type, EPDs are developed under ISO 14025, Environmental Labels and Declarations–Type III Environmental Declarations: Principles and Procedures, which define the process of developing an EPD, including the crafting of product category rules and verification requirements by program operators.

Program operators have working knowledge of the elements required by an EPD, such as:
● existing product category rules;
● how to produce a scientifically verifiable lifecycle analysis; and
● which quantitative measurements show a product’s environmental impact.

As this relatively new field is developing, additional international guidelines are being created for program operators.

In terms of formatting EPDs, some use a simplified document known as an EPD Transparency Brief. These two-page summaries boil down the essential data into an easily understandable, standardized form. The data reported on this form includes:
● the product’s ingredients or components (including a special note of any recycled content);
● cradle-to-grave environmental impacts;
● how much water and energy is required;
● end-of-life requirements; and
● any special certifications.

Product category rules (PCRs) and lifecycle analyses (LCAs) are essential pieces in the production of an EPD. Image courtesy American Chemistry Council

Product category rules (PCRs) and lifecycle analyses (LCAs) are essential pieces in the production of an EPD. Image courtesy American Chemistry Council

Many program operators maintain databases of published EPDs, and there are tools available to assist with the production of an EPD. Some examples include:
● Swedish Environmental Management Council’s searchable database;
Athena EcoCalculator, maintained by the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute, which allows construction professionals to calculate a quick snapshot of a building’s footprint using pre-defined, pre-assessed building assemblies;
● U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) lifecycle inventory database that assists with lifecycle analyses; and
● ULE’s free, searchable database of EPDs produced by the company.

In some cases, EPD information can be found in the product data sheet or marketing materials from the company producing the material.

EPDs and code officials
As EPDs are used more frequently to quantify environmental information about building products and subsequently help design professionals understand the environmental footprint of buildings, it may make sense to consider incorporating them into building codes and standards.

Currently, EPDs are accepted under the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC’s) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) v4 standard; ASTM International also recently created its own EPD verification program. Officials with the International Code Council (ICC) could also soon be looking to see whether EPD-certified products have been specified for use in both residential and commercial building projects.

In fact, members of the ICC will be considering EPDs as an alternative compliance pathway in the 2015 version of the International Green Construction Code (IgCC). This code establishes a baseline of ‘green’ requirements for buildings, and is up for a vote in October. If incorporated into the 2015 IgCC, EPDs will give code officials, building professionals, and specifiers an additional, optional compliance pathway for materials and resources, improving the process for declaring a building ‘green.’

Notes
1 For more, see the 2013 World Green Building Trends SmartMarket Report at construction.com/about-us/press/world-green-building-trends-smartmarket-report.asp. (back to article)
2 Visit www.metalconstruction.org/index.php/education/environmental-product-declarations.(back to article)

Bertram Paul Paul Bertram, FCSI, CDT, LEED AP, GGP, is director of environment, sustainability, and government affairs for Kingspan Insulated Panels. He is a noted expert in the area of environmental product declarations. At Kingspan, Bertram is responsible for the company’s environmental and energy-efficiency strategies, supports the company’s high-performance building initiatives, and coordinates lifecycle analysis and sustainability reporting efforts. He is also a CSI Fellow and past-president. Bertram can be contacted by e-mail at paul.bertram@kingspan.com.

USGBC and ACC partnering for LEED

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) will be working with the American Chemistry Council (ACC) in developing future requirements for its rating program. Photo © BigStockPhoto/Suriya Silsaksom

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) will be working with the American Chemistry Council (ACC) in developing future requirements for its rating program. Photo © BigStockPhoto/Suriya Silsaksom

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) announced a new initiative designed to ensure use of sustainable and environmentally protective products in buildings by applying technical and science-based approaches to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building program.

LEED is regularly updated through a rigorous development process that includes public comments, technical review, and balloting. The two councils will work within that framework to incorporate state-of-the-art safety, sustainability, and life-cycle based approaches to the green building rating program.

According to the groups, this collaboration acknowledges USGBC’s success in leading the transformation of the built environment and sets up a pathway to take advantage of the materials science expertise of ACC and its members.

“USGBC and ACC share the goal of advancing sustainability in the built environment, and we will work together to take advantage of our collective strength and experience,” said USGBC’s president, CEO, and founding chair, Rick Fedrizzi. “The looming impacts of climate change and the possibilities of improving human health and well-being favor collaboration and engagement as key strategies. The goal is forward progress.”

ACC president/CEO Cal Dooley noted plastics’ contributions to windows, insulation, adhesives, and flooring.

“By combining USGBC, a leader of the green building movement, with the scientific know-how of ACC, we can develop a path to stronger, science-based standards that achieve measurable progress in sustainability,” he said.

Checking up on the Healthcare Design Conference

The 2014 Healthcare Design Conference is taking place this November for international design professionals  Photo © Eric Camden/Global Photo Associates

The 2014 Healthcare Design Conference is taking place this November for international design professionals Photo © Eric Camden/Global Photo Associates

The 2014 Healthcare Design Conference welcomes attendees from around the world to San Diego this November.

Held at the San Diego Convention Center from November 15 to 18, the conference focuses on providing information regarding the design of responsibly built environments that impact the safety, operation, and financial success of healthcare facilities. Approximately 4000 participants are expected to attend. Highlights of this year’s event include:
● more than 100 educational sessions in various tracks;
● networking events on and off the exhibit hall floor;
● new product demonstrations;
● patient experience simulation lab to demonstrate the patient-centered design approach;
● facility tours;
● top industry speakers.

The event welcomes architects, interior designers, facility managers, and design/build professionals, with educational session tracks ranging from “Advancements in Evidence-based Design Research” to “Improving the Patient and Family Experience.” Additionally, the Deep Dive Workshops provide an in-depth look at new technologies, case studies, or processes. These sessions include:
● Lean Clinic Simulation Workshop;
● Coaching Workshop: Practical Application of Evidence-based Design;
● Texas A&M University (TAMU) First Look Colloquium: Designing to Support the Human Component in Healthcare Systems; and
● Evaluation and Simulation Within Facility Design Lean Rapid Prototyping: Experiential Visit and Workshop at the Jacobs Medical Center Mockup Space.

Click here for registration and session information.