Archive for the ‘Construction Materials’ category

Buy Clean California Act, the state’s latest move to curb its greenhouse gas emissions

November 24th, 2017

San Diego Skyline (under construction)On October 15th, California Governor, Jerry Brown, signed into law, the “Buy Clean California Act.” The intention of this law to prevent contractors from using material that is shipped in other states and countries with considerably lower quality than standards than required by California. At the same time, it is pushing the envelope with respect to forcing contractors to use better quality materials. Specifically, this law affects the following materials: carbon steel rebar, flat glass, mineral wool board insulation and structural steel. It only applies to contractors bidding on state projects, including its substantial state university network.

While it does only apply to state construction jobs, it is estimated that that market alone is worth $10 Billion, so it will have quite an effect on the market.

The way the law will work is that all contractors must submit an Environmental Product Declaration for each product indicating that they have chosen products that have the lowest possible impact on greenhouse gases within its category.  Maximum GHG levels for each category still have to be determined, and the law will go into effect in 2019.

This is a very progressive law and could have the effect of raising standards across the country. Most building material manufacturers located in North America already try to develop products to meet California standards.  The fallout, however, could also be that more inferior products get sucked up by other North American markets if manufacturers feel that they’ve suddenly lost a market in California and push it on other jurisdictions — especially in recent hurricane zones in Texas and Florida.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

::via Smart Cities Dive

Canada’s Greenest Home — One Year Later

March 24th, 2015

Canada's greenest home

Usually once a home is built, the builder hands the keys over to the new owner and unless there’s a problem, the builder moves on to the next project. However, in the case of a straw-bale built home in Peterborough, the home has been lived in for the past year and all water and energy consumed has been recorded. The goal was to see if, in fact, the home is Canada’s greenest home. You can read all about its features in the article I wrote last year. Chris Magwood, director of the Endeavour Centre, whose students built the home emphasizes that it’s not supposed to be a competition, it’s meant to demonstrate that building a green home is achievable using currently available technology that is locally available.

» Read more: Canada’s Greenest Home — One Year Later

Tips on Green Building Materials

February 18th, 2015

Tips on Green Building MaterialsThere are many ways green building materials can be defined, especially when it comes to taking account of their environmental impact and social results. There are quite a few materials being used today, such as engineered lumber, natural earthen materials, biomass building panels, paints with low or non-existent volatile organic compounds inside them, as well as a number of other products manufactured all around the world by companies who focus on protecting the environment and workers all around.

As the years have been going forward, a lot of manufacturers have been getting on the bandwagon concerning green building materials. There is hardly a product today that is not capable of being replaced by a type of environmentally safe and sound alternative, as well as a variety of green materials that only get better and better as time goes by.

» Read more: Tips on Green Building Materials

EuroShield Recycled Rubber Roofing System

December 16th, 2014

 

Canmore Black Shake

Canmore Black Shake

Euroshield is a rubber roofing product that has been manufactured in Calgary, Alberta for the last 13 years.  It is made from 75% recycled rubber tires and 20% other recycled material for a total of 95% recycled material. Each new roof contains between 250 and 1000 rubber tires, and any scraps produced during installation can be collected and recycled into new product (depending on location).

There are four product lines:

  • EuroSlate, mimics the look of slate. Available in Brownstone, Greystone and Blackstone colours.
  • EuroShake, mimics the look of cedar shakes — available in either the hand split or taper-sawn looks and three colours: weathered brown, grey and black.

Both the EuroSlate and EuroShake are the original products developed by EuroShield. They are about 3/4″ thick at the butt end and interlock using a tongue and groove system. They weigh approximately 3.3lbs/square foot and need no additional truss support.

» Read more: EuroShield Recycled Rubber Roofing System

Green Building Illustrated: Book Review

September 24th, 2014
Green Building Illustrated

Green Building Illustrated

Francis Ching is a well-known author and illustrator of books on design and construction, perhaps within the building sector his most well-known book is Building Construction Illustrated. Collaborating with Ian Shapiro on this latest book, the pair have developed a good introduction to green building for those just becoming familiar with the field, but it also serves as a good reference guide to green building for those of us with more experience.

“What is green building?”

The point of the question is to highlight the reality that it is really an evolving definition. Some buildings built to a high standard, have, upon evaluation, turned out to be less green than their standard counterparts because they use more energy than the comparative standard, whereas some net-zero or close to net zero buildings aren’t classified as green because the owner has decided not to go through the hoops necessary to become classified.

Further,  the authors address why building greener buildings is important, referring to climate change effects as well as resource depletion. They also delve into the different green classification systems that are available.What I like about this book is that after reading it you gain a basic understanding of all the elements involved in building a better, more resilient, lower impact building.

Hosting a Design Charette

Shapiro and Ching emphasize that with the development, design and construction of any building, there are thousands of decisions that are made. One decision affects another, so it means that there are trade-offs for every decision. Getting the design done right at the beginning can save time and money down the road and one of the best ways to do that is to have a design charette. A charette is like a round table discussion where every involved party can have a say in how the design will affect their portion of the building from plumbing, electrical, HVAC concerns, material selection, and occupant use post construction. Ideally charettes include the architect, general contractor, sub-trades, building owner and manager, in other words, all stakeholders.

The book is clearly illustrated and dedicates a good section to design and design issues. Getting the design right is one of the best ways to have the most significant impact on constructing a lower impact building. Again the book is thought-provoking: the authors ask “green buildings are lower impact than what?” In fact Shapiro gently takes LEED to task because the system fails to give points for designing a building that has a smaller surface area (therefore less exposure to the elements), than its standard counterpart. In other words, no points are given for designing a more efficiently shaped building than might otherwise be built. The authors explain the differences between the different green building rating systems out there, including LEED, Passivhaus, Living Building Challenge, and Green Globes.

Another perspective of the book is that it teaches readers to design buildings from the outside in, in layers. So, it looks at landscaping, site and orientation and how those factors affect the design of the building. Further, Shapiro and Ching highlight with detailed drawings, the importance of surface area on the energy efficiency of a building. In general terms, the smaller the surface area, the greater the energy efficiency of the building.

It takes only one brief glance at the chapter on windows to confirm that all those glass condos going up all over Toronto and Montreal are  an energy efficiency nightmare. Windows, in addition to having terrible insulation values, also pose potential leak problems between their frames and the building. If not sealed properly there is an extra source of potential drafts and water infiltration.

The chapter on building materials emphasizes the need to consider local, recycled and other materials with a low embodied energy. There is a handy table that shows the different embodied energy of different types of wall constructions.

One of the best features of this book is that it is an all in one reference guide for looking at how to build better buildings from design through to commissioning (evaluating a building’s systems to make sure they are all functioning properly). Once read cover to cover, it can be used as a reference guide to greener building and the different factors that need to be taken into account. While the book does not delve deep into any one area, it does provide a readable and approachable overview that’s easily understood by laypersons as well as professionals familiarizing themselves with green building practices. If I have one complaint, it is that for old people like myself, the spidery, handwritten style font is difficult to read.

Green Building Illustrated is available through John Wiley and Sons, or Amazon.

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