Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Energy Efficiency in Construction

When designing or planning a pre-engineered steel building for your project whether it is for your home, office, residential, or commercial we often think about how it will effect our environment. When building, most owners look for greener products and green building to improve the quality of our environment.  The benefits are usually huge allowing us to save on our energy bills cutting costs by half.  

There are so many factors that effect our environment today such as the design, construction, and maintenance of our steel buildings. More than 75 million plus residential buildings and almost 5 million commercial buildings impact our environment the U.S. today.  One third of all energy is being consumed in the United States.  The more and more buildings are being built the more energy is being consumed resulting in major energy consumption and high energy bills.  Now, we are starting to take control of this and would like to build smart.  This way we use a minimum amount of non-renewable energy as well as produce minimum pollution allowing for a much better economy.

Pollution and air quality problems come from the many industrial buildings that we have constructed. High amounts of sulphur dioxide emissions and nitrous oxide emissions are produced everyday.  This is very damaging to our air quality.  Often this is overlooked and the focus is on components, its surroundings, and its occupants. Generally, a building consumes more resources than it should which results in impacting the environment with large amounts of toxic waste.   

Most industries have acknowledged this and this is why we are trying very hard to get the word out and promote greener buildings. As an example, if 10 percent of homes in the U.S. used a solar panel roof system or cool roof system this would help reduce tons of carbon emissions per year. There are many green products out there which will help to provide much cleaner buildings. Greener buildings offer environmentally sound and resource efficient green building which uses an integrated approach to design.  Green buildings also promote resource conservation, such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation features, are considered environmental impacts and waste.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Steel Buildings and Recycling

Green is becoming popular these days and the reason for this is that they provide eco-friendly, green steel building design and a variety of selection of wall panels, metal roofing, standing seam roof system and much more.  More and more building owners are now looking into green products to add to their steel building to create a greener, eco-friendly building.  The great thing about green building is that steel building products and materials contain steel from Nucor steel mills which includes sheet metal, plate, bar and beam making this recyclable.  The average amount of steel being recycled is over 80%.

Those of you who are in the market for a steel building, you can find a variety of green structural systems which also includes clearspan rigid frame, modular rigid frame, tapered beam and lean-to.  All products can be found in standard or long span options.  Better yet if you’re looking for crane support or mezzanines, they too can also be found and included in any green building package.  The good thing about these packages is that they can be designed in any size to achieve the perfect design for your building requirements.  Most companies will design your building in a way that will meet the owner’s building needs.  Green steel building also includes code of standard practice for steel joists and steel decking as well as for roof applications.  

Waste that is created by buildings is one-tenth compared to wood.  All other steel waste is 100 percent recyclable.  There are no limits to how often steel can be recycled.  The most industries recycle steel more than any other product such as glass, paper and plastic.  Some facts about steel – every ton of steel that is produced uses one-third less energy than what industries manufactured over two decades ago.  Water being used by manufacturing companies undergoes cleaning and recycling.  It was reported by the American Iron and Steel Institute that they are trying to continually work towards reducing carbon emissions during the steel making process. This will also mean that they will replace carbon with hydrogen as fuel in blast furnaces.  Steel Buildings tend to be lighter in weight than concrete or wood buildings. They also require less space when compared to other materials such as masonry or wood. Most industries tend to construct steel by prefabrication panels which contain insulated layers of foam.  Steel buildings are great for a greener environment and a major plus for recycling!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Cost Effective Daylighting Systems

Are you looking for an innovative, cost-effective daylighting system to install in your building?  Consider a retrofit daylighting system which is compatible with a retrofit roofing system.  The daylighting systems of today feature a self-curbing and high performance lens created by Sunoptics.  The skylights that are offered by this company are energy saving products and provide natural lighting and with this, will reduce daytime demand for electrical lighting. 

Skylights are cost effective and energy efficient and will save you a ton on your energy bill.  PrisMax skylight was created by California based companies Sunoptics, Acuity Brands Co., and Varco Pruden.  This product features new daylight technologies that are different from other skylighting systems. This product in particular is built for buildings that have retrofit roofing installed more specifically standing seam roofs.  Once this system is installed you can expect to see lighting costs reduced on your energy bill, this also includes heating and cooling costs as well, especially if you own a huge building with tons of lighting, this product may be the solution to saving energy. 

If you’re wondering how much money you will save, you can expect to cut down your utility expenses from 40 to 70 percent!  By contacting the company, you can actually receive an actual number as they will calculate exactly what you will save.  The product that can calculate these numbers is called an ESP (Energy Savings Product) that will now be available for builders.  The ESP will calculate your annual energy savings as well as the projected payback from the skylighting system.

The skylighting system can be installed quickly and easily by mounted on sturdy aluminum rails and will use the seam portion of the roofs system for structural support. Saving you time and money, because of this products self-curbing design it minimizes installation, unlike the traditional skylights that are not as simple to install.  

This product is an excellent idea and it will cut costs, provide beautiful daylight lighting so you won’t have to use any of your own standard lighting as well as save on cooling and heating costs. For more info, click here.

Monday, November 19, 2012

How to Decrease Carbon Footprint

Carbon dioxide is in the air and in the news, did you know that a building’s carbon footprint is the amount of CO2 it produces during its operations and activities? Well, CO2 is a greenhouse gas that contributes to negative global climate change. It is the highest in more than 750,000 years in our atmosphere today. These have been the warmest 22 years recorded since 1980.  Scientific consensus has shown that a growing green movement and common sense dictate that carbon must be reduced.
Buildings in the U.S. account for 39 percent of per year more than any other sector.  Buildings in the United States alone are responsible for more CO2 emissions than any other country except for China.  In order to provide heating, cooling and lighting or to power appliances and electrical equipment, most of these emissions come from fossil fuel combustion. Robert Backus, CEO, Omega Institute, Rhinebeck, N.Y. says “In the 21st century, it has become evident that we need to change the way we relate to our planet if we expect our children to inherit a clean, livable planet.”  Omega Center for Sustainable Living has become the first green building in America to achieve both LEED Platinum and Living Building Challenge certification, and has the highest performance standards possible today.
When it comes to buildings, there are two aspects to a carbon footprint. The first aspect is 18 percent of a carbon’s footprint is created within the first year of the buildings construction. You must include the building design, construction and operation.  Also, be sure to select low-emission factors such as transportation of materials, reducing construction waste, salvaging materials during the demolition and lowering energy and operational costs. The second aspect is reducing a building’s carbon footprint also produces major benefits such as the most obvious one cutting costs.  The others include: employment engagement is improved, rents can be higher, and including image and marketability.  Another major benefit is that sustainable buildings with good LEED or BREEAM scores are often more acceptable to planners and there maybe incentives or fewer disincentives to build. 
In case you’re wondering what BREEAM stands for, it is an environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings, with 200,000 buildings with certified BREEAM assessment ratings and over a million registered for assessment since it was first launched back in 1990.
In order to measure your buildings footprint, a good tool to have is a carbon footprint calculator and whole-building energy-model tool that is publicly available to software tools.
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Friday, November 16, 2012

Solar Roofing And Panels

Many of you have probably already heard about solar roofing and its benefits and are possibly considering this. If so there are just a few things you may need to do in order to get your roof top solar ready.  There are certain steps that are required before installation and this will give you an idea of what is needed to complete installation in order to make your roof ready for a solar panels system.

Before installing your solarpanel system, you must begin the process with a site and roof evaluation. This includes:  wind loads, roof warranties, useful life remaining in the roof system, solar orientation and usable roof area and location of the building’s electrical service.  Permits and a plan must also be considered before installation. This will finalize the installation and should include panels, positioning and overall PV design. An evaluation is important as it will determine the use of a building’s energy consumption and can give you an idea of how much energy is being saved.  In the evaluation, included should be a walked roof and a report should be prepared indicating if there are any deficiencies with the roof. This may include any cracks in the roof, open seams, ponding water or punctures.  Especially if the roof you are working on happens to be 10 years or older, any open seams should be sealed and if there is any current damage it must be repaired.  Inspecting your roof is a good idea to ensure that there are not any other abnormalities in the roof.  If you find a sag or deep depression in the roof, it could indicate a weakness in the roof and will require correction. 

Roof size should also be considered when doing PV evaluation and preparation.  Roofs require south-facing space in order to accommodate a PV system.  In some areas, such as the northern hemisphere, the southern exposure to the sun is ideal especially when it’s full force.  However, in any case panels can be oriented to the southeast or southwest without decreasing its performance.  Remember that panels should be free from obstructions and shading as it can block the sun.  You also need to make sure there are not overhanging trees or any other surrounding buildings close by.  So there you have it, these are just a few tips to consider before installing your solar roofing system.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Minimizing Health Concerns with Green Building

Although industries having been taking initiative in making their building more eco-friendly both good for us and the economy, unfortunately the issue has been more focused on our planet and less on our health.  There have been concerns that our health has not been put first when considering leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED).  As reported from a Connecticut based nonprofit, Environmental and Human Health Inc., who’s dedicated to protecting the health of the people from the harmful chemicals from the environment.

John Wargo from Yale University says “They have to be given great credit for work on energy conservation. And there clearly are environmental quality and health benefits that will accrue from conservation efforts,” He later goes on to say "But (LEED) has got some serious problems with respect to environmental quality and human health."

For those of you who are not familiar with LEED, it is designed to provide third-party verification that will initially provide the necessary steps to a building or community using several metrics that are aimed to promoting energy benefits.  Providing that you have gone in the direction of LEED, you will begin to save on energy savings, water efficiency, improved indoor environmental quality, stewardship of resources; sensitivity to their impacts as well as you will see reduction in C02 emissions.  LEED is becoming well known because of its energy benefits and more industries today are making their buildings LEED certified.   However, in the health report there has been gaps regarding human health and the environment.  As an example several compounds that had been found in homes and building products can harm human health and the environment especially bisphenol-A, polyvinyl chloride, and plastic additives to name a few. 

Another concern was the drinking of water, while reduced water use and conservation of energy including distribution and sanitizing of the water, there has been no credit for drinking the water.  There have been no goals for testing or filtration.  However, designers have said that LEED is a great tool and has pushed the construction industry in an important direction. It also raises the bar for builders as well as designers.  

As LEED becomes more accepted, we hope they will work on the gold standard in making human health a top priority. This way, not only will LEED be eco-friendly but will also be better on our health!
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The Green Code and Steel Buildings

We all know now that green buildings are a great investment, not only are they green, durable, cost effective and easy to build; they also qualify for the green code. This is a major plus.  If you’re wondering what they mean by green, well it’s basically a structure that takes into consideration our environment, especially resource conservations.  Steel building happens to meet all of the criteria which are required for The Green Code.

This is a good idea for anyone looking to invest in steel buildings.  The information you will read in this article will be of great information for your next steel building project.  The good thing about steel buildings is that they do not release any harmful materials during construction as well as steel buildings in general are not harmful and great for our environment and surrounding area.  

The reason why steel buildings are green code approved is because they are eco friendly buildings which means they are 100 percent recyclable and non renewable energy as well expensive and exhaustible materials that happen to be forest woods can also be preserved. If after many years you feel your steel building’s life has passed, consider breaking down the building materials and reusing them for other purposes.

Steel Buildings do not any kind of diesel or powered heavy equipment gas during the construction process. This is why they are categorized as energy efficient. They are pre-engineered which means they do not need any welding or cutting afterwards.  They do not produce any kind of fuming and are non-polluting.  The reason why steel buildings meet the requirements of green code is because they are constructed from high-quality building materials. These materials are steel alloy, which happens to be the most reliable materials and it requires little maintenance.  The good thing about green buildings is that they require very little maintenance which means energy and costs are decreased which will result in low expenses in the future. 

As you can see, steel happens to meet the building code requirements making steel buildings a very popular choice for renewable energy and durability.

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What is a Living Building?

Lately, you’ve probably been hearing the term “Living Building” quite a bit and that is because it is becoming very popular in the steel building industry. If you’re wondering what living buildings are or what the term means, The Cascadia Region Green Building Council (CRGBC) and the Northwest Chapter of the USGBC describes it is a structure that generates all of its own energy with renewable nontoxic resources, captures and treats all of its water, and operates efficiently and for maximum beauty.  The two groups have been trying to get the word of living buildings out in the public particularly in construction industries and are also trying very hard to launch a new program called the International Living Building Institute in order to promote awareness of the concept all over the world.

 Jason McLennan, CEO of CRGBC states “We view our role as the organization that is meant to ask the really tough questions, to push the boundaries as far as possible,” says Jason McLennan, CEO of CRGBC. To this end, in 2006 the group launched its Living Building Challenge (LBC), a “call to the design and construction community to pursue true sustainability in the built environment.”  In North America, over 60 different projects are trying to meet LBC standards which are even higher than LEED certification standards.  

So far there is one building in Rhinebeck, NY named the Omega Center which has been completed and is being considered for the LBC program.  The building is a 6,200 square-foot and a one level building which will be the head office for the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies and will feature a geothermal heating and cooling system.  The building will also include solar panels and rain gardens that are meant to direct water run-off to keep plants watered at all times.  The center will also include a greenhouse which will help filter wastewater for reuse such as daylighting design that will bring in natural light from the outdoors. Daylighting will minimize the use of electric light usage.  The building was created to be a net zero building which meets LBC criteria.  Net Zero buildings also classify as buildings that use no more energy than they generate themselves.  Once the Omega center has been up and running for one year, it will be audited by the CRGBC in order to find out if the building meets its performance and lives up to the living building criteria.  Other buildings that are being considered for LBC will also be audited.

The downside of net zero or living buildings is that they are very expensive.  Finding materials that meet the LBC standards may also be difficult to find, but as LBC and net zero gain awareness and popularity in the future to come these products will become easier to find.  Once more of these buildings become well known and more of them are up and running, we can expect see dropped costs as well as a more environmentally friendly environment!

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