New Sustainability Rating System Set to Launch
Are you aware of the new sustainability system being developed for infrastructure?
The non-profit Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI) is developing an infrastructure ranking tool called envISIon. The new ISI rating system will be founded on the “triple bottom line” concept of sustainability, which includes environmental, economic and social considerations. It will include an option for third-party verification, and will be applicable to a wide range of infrastructure projects, from roads and bridges to energy and water systems.
As of earlier this week, Version 1.0 of the sustainable infrastructure ranking tool has been accepted by the ISI Board and, after a sixty day technical review, will be placed on the ISI website for public comment starting in July 2011.
Following the public comment period, which will last as long as six months, envISIon will be made available as a commercial product. In the meantime, ISI and its Founding Organizations, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the American Public Works Association (APWA) and the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), will be focusing on identifying and certifying assessors.
By the end of 2012, projects assessed as “sustainable” will be eligible for public recognition by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure.
Are you interested in the new sustainability system? If so, check back with ISI in July to obtain your copy of Version 1.0 to review. If you would like to share your comments with blog readers here, just give me a shout out.
A group of local citizens, designers, and school board Building Committee members in Eagle Ridge, Wisconsin has issued a statement expressing their belief that LEED certifications are now suspect, following the failure of the USGBC to withdraw LEED Certification from the Northland Pines High School. The group had appealed a decision to dismiss their claims that the LEED Gold certification for the school should be revoked, despite clear evidence which, they claim, shows that the building did not meet specific ASHRAE Standards, which are prerequisites to getting a LEED (green) building certification.
They call into question the value of LEED certification if there is no verification of a purported building’s “green” credentials.
You can download their statement of concern “USGBC and LEED Credibility Destroyed”.
For more information relating to the case, Stephen Del Percio’s article “Wild Week for Green Real Estate Law” is an excellent summary.
UPDATE: This afternoon, the USGBC has issued a statement standing by their findings:
LEED’s intent, and USGBC’s mission, is about helping people learn about and understand how to design, build and operate better buildings. Buildings are complex systems of systems and any of the 100,000 of decisions associated with design, construction and operation can always be second-guessed. We are confident that our due diligence has been more than sufficient to put these issues to rest, and we are moving forward to focus our efforts where they do the most good — advancing the market uptake of green buildings and communities that is at the heart of our work
The full statement and commentary can be reviewed at Chris Cheatam’s article “Breaking: USGBC Stands by Its LEED Challenge Decision.”
[tweetmeme source="melissabrumback" only_single=false http://constructionlawnc.com/2010/06/10/green-credibility-challenged/]
Two commercial “green” roofs have been in the news this week. One involves a collapse; one involves energy savings.
Green Roof Collapse
The green roof at the Aquascape, Inc. warehouse in Illinois collapsed over the weekend, likely due to melting snow and ice. A 50 foot wide section of th 256,000-square-foot roof (allegedly the largest sloping green roof in North America) collapsed on Sunday, although no injuries were reported. A team of structural engineers from the building’s design firm is investigating the cause. As noted in a company press release, St. Charles, IL, where Aquascape Inc’s head office is located, had been recently hit with a major snow storm where 20.6 inches of snow had fallen in less than 24 hours, followed by above freezing temperatures causing a quick thaw. An ice damn at the base is suspected to have backed the water up over the parking structure causing its collapse.
Solar Roof goes “live”
While Aquascape’s engineers are investigating their roof collapse, there is some good green roof news closer to home. Raleigh-based marble company David Allen Company has recently “flipped the switch” on a photovoltaic solar energy facility that it claims is one of the largest rooftop photovoltaic systems in the Triangle, with 700 solar modules covering 23,000 square feet of the rooftop of the company’s warehouse. The company hopes to offset at least 35% of its current electrical costs, and sell energy to Progress Energy as well, according to Triangle Business Journal. Check out these photos of the installation by Peak Solar Investors, LLC.
Legal Implications related to Roof Design?
Both of these roofs bring up legal issues. Was the Aquascape green roof designed appropriately to accommodate loads in a winter climate?
With so many roof collapses this winter (including, of course, the Minneapolis metrodome) , is there, or should there be, a duty on the building’s owner/maintenance crew to proactively remove snow accumulations?
For new solar roofs, such as at David Allen Company, who assumes the risk if the expected cost savings are not realized?
Based on the sheer number of roof collapses this winter, and the number of green projects growing steadily, there is sure to be some litigation addressing at least some of these issues in the near future. Stay tuned.
Recently I came across some good news out of Japan: their wind farms are still working, despite the calamities that nation has faced in the past week.
As I previously noted, wind power is picking up speed as a viable green energy source. The news out of Japan gives wind power another “feather in its cap”.
According to Yoshinori Ueda, leader of the International Committee of the Japan Wind Power Association & Japan Wind Energy Association, there has been no wind facility damage reported by any association members, from either the earthquake or the tsunami. Even the Kamisu semi-offshore wind farm, located about 300km from the epicenter of the quake, survived.
To read more about how the Japanese wind farms survived, read the full story from Kelly Rigg, HuffPost writer.
Ms. Riggs is also Executive Director of the Global Cool Cities Alliance (GCCA), which has a very interesting website which explains the science behind reducing Heat Island effects in cities through the use of light-colored, reflective roofs.
Photo: A wind farm in Kuzumaki, Iwate, Japan via jasohill.