Closer look: Tips on riding the greenwash of America
President Obama’s energy plan to implement zero-energy building codes nationwide for all new buildings by 2030, promises to boost the number of energy-efficient projects in the near future. California has already legislated a zero-energy building requirement, slated to begin by 2020.
“Sustainable building design is a growing focus for architects designing commercial, residential and government projects,” says Valerie Block, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design accredited professional, senior marketing specialist, DuPont Glass Laminating Solutions, Wilmington, Del. “Whether the project is registered for certification through one of the building certification programs, such as LEED, consideration of the elements of ‘green’ building--sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality--is critical to the design process. Building owners and building occupants are asking for sustainable solutions.”
To work on a sustainable project, a glazier needs to have “basic knowledge and understanding of what it means to be building ‘green,’ ” says Stanlee Yee, LEED AP, building enclosure consultant, Façade Group LLC, Portland, Ore. It means:
• Conserve energy in manufacturing the product
• Conserve energy in the transportation of the product
• Conserve energy in operating the building over its life cycle
• Reduce waste. Conserve and reduce dependency on valuable resources by providing a more durable and longer lasting product--i.e., make it once and make it last
• Provide a building that promotes a comfortable working and living environment.
Glaziers' role in greening
The glass industry has a significant role to play in sustainable building projects that are designed to meet the LEED system, Block says. “High-performance glazing products can provide energy efficiency, as well as daylighting benefits. New recycled content products also contribute to sustainable building design.”
Yee agrees. “The glazing contractor’s work should be considered an important and integral part of the whole certification process,” he says. “A project’s ‘green’ certification status may be affected by the quality of information, product and workmanship provided.” An inferior thermally performing framing system and/or glass may affect the thermal performance assessment of the building and may result in missing energy reduction goals anticipated at the design stage, he says. “A poorly installed system may result in air and water infiltration issues that affect many facets of the building including, but not limited to, durability, thermal performance, energy consumption and comfort.”
The built environment is a system, Yee says. “One component’s function and performance has an eventual effect on other components' function and performance,” he says. “Building ‘green’ is a team effort. The more dialogue and collaboration early in the project and carried through to the end, the higher chance of ‘green’ success.”
For more information on green and sustainable building, visit:
• US Green Building Council, www.usgbc.org
To that end, “work with your vendors, read the specifications, and recognize the importance of managing uncontrolled air infiltration and its affect when it's time for the building to be commissioned,” Yee says. “Building enclosure commissioning absolutely involves the glazier,” he says. “If uncontrolled air infiltration within--and at the perimeters of--the glazing system is not properly managed, the resulting air infiltration will be the cause of increase heating/cooling/ventilating load, energy consumption, and reduced indoor environment comfort. Building enclosure commissioning will strive toward mitigating this unmanaged air infiltration.”
LEED and its shift in focus for glaziers
LEED, the most used green rating program in the market, is developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. “LEED does not certify products, although outside certification programs are referenced in the rating system,” Block says. “For instance, suppliers of wood are required to certify their products through the Forest Stewardship Council.”
The glazing industry can tap into specific LEED credits, Block says. For example, up to two points can be awarded for daylight and views: one point if daylight reaches 75 percent of the regularly occupied areas of the building and two points if 90 percent of spaces are exposed to daylight. “The LEED program suggests strategies to consider, including lower partition heights, interior shading devices, and interior glazing,” she says. “Two points can also be awarded for recycled content, if the sum of post-consumer recycled content plus one-half of the pre-consumer content constitutes 20 percent based on cost of the total value of material used on the project,” Block says.
As LEED continues to grow, its impact and influence have spread throughout the construction industry, says Henry Taylor, manager, Architectural Services Team, Kawneer Co., Norcross, Ga. “Recently the USGBC introduced LEED 2009,” he says. “This new version is a move to accomplish four specific goals: horizontally align prerequisites to be consistent across all applicable LEED systems; maintain continuous improvement using a predictable development cycle; re-allocate points to emphasize the importance of credits; and add regional specific applications.”
The glazing industry is experiencing a shift in LEED focus from daylight and views, to thermal performance, Taylor says. “In the past, I spoke with architects about Indoor environmental quality and daylighting, asking architects to compare the visible light transmission of a 1-inch clear IG unit to a brick,” he says. “Today the tables have turned and brick manufacturers are asking the architect to compare the thermal performance of the glass and glazing to brick and block. This is clearly telling us that the market is placing more emphasis on thermal performance than daylighting. As an industry we need to work to address this shift to compete.”
The industry also is experiencing a shift from daylight and views to energy performance, Taylor says. “Because of this, the glass and glazing industry might lose square footage on the exterior glazed building envelope to other materials that offer increased thermal performance,” he says. “Glass and glazing, like many in building and construction industry, is in a critical time where maintaining maximum square footage on a project is significant. The market has raised the bar and if we do not meet the challenges placed before us, we may see a market shift from glazed systems to brick and block with punched openings.”
The changes in LEED 2009 are an indication of the challenges ahead, Taylor says. “The market is asking for energy optimizing solutions and, as an industry, we need to ensure that we provide efficient, economical and practical energy driven glass and glazing solutions,” he says. "It’s time to change the game and position glass and glazing as the preferred building skin for its attributes and as a positive contributor to the energy model. Our industry is no stranger to challenges and these challenges will be the catalyst that moves us to the next phase of industry transformations.”