Tag Archives: methane
John Kouletsis – Buildings
Buildings will have carbon footprints of zero by the year 2030 – or at least that’s the call to action for architects and building managers from the American Institute of Architects. Although this doesn’t seem possible now, there are a number of ways – new and old – to develop sustainable buildings.
1. Borrow from Industry Leaders
Quicken your sustainability efforts by borrowing ideas and research from the best companies striving to be carbon neutral. Contact those companies and see what they’re doing and how you can replicate it. Gundersen Lutheran and Geisinger Health Plan® both have aggressive plans to slash their carbon footprints well before 2030.
2. Look at the Past
Look back 60 years in the United States and you’ll see that the traditional hospital had a smaller footprint and caused less environmental damage; however, after the 1950s, things changed, and countries like the United States and Australia started building bigger, hermetically sealed buildings devoid of natural light and artificially heated and cooled. Some countries, such as Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands, always provided operable windows and thin footprints.
The rest of us need to consider rewiring to that model. In addition to building smaller, it’s important to build medical facilities close to where people work, live, and have access to public transportation. Designers of one German town, Vauban, built it to be car free. Residents ride bicycles and walk, which promotes physical activity and reduces air pollution and greenhouse gases. Kaiser Permanente is looking at three future hospital sites with a mixed-use approach so that care can be delivered next to housing, shopping, and mass transit.
3. Sustainable Products
Lighting is one area where new products provide energy-efficient options. The next generation of LED lighting now costs less, is more reliable, and can be an option in healthcare settings. Using a combination of task lighting, LEDs, light controls, photosensors, and smaller floorplates designed with daylighting to bring in sunlight is something you can do now.
4. Location Makes a Difference
Several sustainable opportunities may exist, depending on your location. If located next to a river, you might be able to use hydroelectric power. If you’re in a windy area, wind turbines could be an option. Geothermal power is cost effective, reliable, and environmentally friendly; however, it’s available only in limited areas. If your site is on or near a previous landfill with large amounts of organic material, you could capture the methane and use it as a fuel source. Photovoltaics are also an option.
5. Water Conservation
Conserving water takes a combination approach. Converting from wet-process imaging equipment to digital imaging machines can save approximately 925,000 gallons of potable water per year and eliminate the use of harmful chemicals. Other small things you can do include sensor-operated faucets and dual-flush toilets. Planting drought-resistant plants and plants native to your location reduces the need for supplemental irrigation. No matter how much rainfall you get, harvesting rainwater helps as well.
6. Build Universally
Build in such a way that the building is self renewable. The typical life-cycle of a building is about 30 years. A flexible and adaptable building plan permits the incorporation of new technology. Build small, build just what you need, and constantly renew building systems.
7. Technology Advancements
Technology is replacing a high number of in-person visits with virtual doctor visits. Electronic medical records and providing web capabilities are other ways to reduce carbon footprints.
8. Join Others
Join groups, such as the Global Health and Safety Initiative, to work with health care organizations to advance environmental sustainability. Banning together can make a difference and could result in changes like new ENERGY STAR® appliances for hospitals.
John Kouletsis is executive director of strategy, planning, and design, national facilities services, at Kaiser Permanente
By Derek Raymaker – Globe and Mail
Toronto’s Shane Baghai is a member of a rarefied group of builders known for immensely luxurious condominium and townhouse communities of marble and sparkle. But Mr. Baghai, a well-travelled architecture and design aficionado, would also like to be known for his passionate embrace of green technology and environmentally sustainable building practices.
He began to deconstruct the human impact on environment 35 years ago as a mechanical engineering student in London, where he wrote an idealistic undergraduate degree thesis on the effect of automobiles on urban environments, concluding that little good would come of it if the car continued to dominate the road.
Mr. Baghai isn’t the only builder turning green. Green buildings have hit the condominium market full force this year, with 16 currently on the market and more to come.
The most accepted standard for measuring environmentally beneficial high-rise design is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating (LEED) devised in 2004. Of course, the stampede toward green building has been driven in part by spiking energy prices and increasingly uncertain supplies.
“If I were a politician, I would be screaming about the use of more landfills and the damage it does,” Mr. Baghai says. The virtues of composting are so undeniable, he added, that it can produce everything from artificial fire logs to methane gas for home heating.
Nearly every mechanical function of Mr. Baghai’s current development, St. Gabriel Village, on Sheppard Avenue East (between Bayview and Leslie avenues) in North York, has been broken down, re-examined and redesigned to increase energy efficiency and leave a soft footprint on the planet.
“I thought that environmental technology were things that only younger people were interested in,” he said, noting that the price range at St. Gabriel — between the high $400,000s and $2.2-million — did not reach out to that market. The average age of St. Gabriel buyers is 69, and most are downsizing from detached homes in the vicinity, semi-retired or spend part of the year outside Canada.
“They were thinking of their own children,” Mr. Baghai says.
The project, comprised of two condominium mid-rises and 23 three-storey townhouses, will feature a combination of wind, solar and hybrid power generation that will enable the community to reduce its consumption of electricity drawn from the standard power grid. This includes a series of batteries to store power in the event of a grid failure.
Mr. Baghai is hoping to convince government officials to alter the Building Code to allow sensors in stairwells and parking garages to turn on energy-efficient LED lights only when needed, rather than keeping them on all the time. “The archaic technology of the past is what we want to avoid.”
Tridel has also jumped into LEED-rated construction, beginning with its highly touted Verve condo tower and loft project at Wellesley Street, east of Jarvis Street, last year, with prices ranging from $291,000 to $598,000. The 39-storey tower now under construction is very close to being sold out, with over 90% of suites spoken for, but the six-storey loft project was only released last month and still has a good range of two- and three-storey units available.
“Consumers understand that with a green building, their operating costs are going to be lower,” said Jim Ritchie, Tridel’s senior vice-president of sales and marketing. “There is a premium involved in building them, but the more products that are built, construction will become more affordable.”
Consumers have offered a lot of positive feedback on the environmental-health aspects of Verve and similar buildings. Tridel’s Renaissance in Richmond Hill features an energy-recovery ventilator that allows residents to control how much outside air is used to ventilate their suite, irritant-free laminates and finishes and safer paints using organic compounds. Tridel was rewarded this year with the Green Toronto Energy Conservation Award, and Mr. Ritchie indicated that the company wants a LEED rating to be a de facto part of future high-rise launches.
Mr. Baghai is also keen to up the ante on eco-friendly design in his coming projects. He is planning to launch a third phase at St. Gabriel in the spring — featuring two- and three-storey lofts — as well as a more affordable condominium project at Yonge Street and Avondale Avenue, with which he wants to include a six-month TTC pass for new buyers to get them in the habit of using the subway.
In 2009, he is planning to build an active seniors’ rental building on the St. Gabriel site featuring cogeneration heating systems — the use of exhaust waste to provide hot water for the entire community.