Living Building Challenge: 25 Projects Have Been Certified by the International Living Future Institute

The International Living Future Institute has certified its 25th project since starting the Living Building Challenge in 2006. The buildings have achieved top honors for environmental sustainability by meeting the rigorous performance requirements of the Living Building Challenge: producing as much energy as they consume annually, eliminating toxic and harmful chemicals, and collecting and treating their own water. The Living Building Challenge, with 25 certified buildings and more than 250 registered, spanning nearly nine million square feet, in five countries, and 12 U.S. states, demonstrating the influence and momentum of regenerative design.

“What has always been considered the most comprehensive performance-based green building standard in the world was once thought to be an impossibility—a bar set too high,” says the institute’s CEO Jason F. McLennan. “A mere nine years later, we have a diverse collection of 25 projects that are truly the most forward-thinking and regenerative projects in the world. It is a testament to the power of possibility and a beacon for inspired design.”

The Bullitt Center in Seattle has raised the bar for office buildings. In a city with 300 days of overcast skies, the fact that a building can reach and surpass net-zero energy, in addition to its many other green features, is remarkable. The first Living Building Challenge project to be certified in China has design elements that align with the local culture and regulations. In Pittsburgh, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens shows the beauty that can come from restoring a brown field. Berea College and West Berkeley Public Library join Sacred Heart Stevens Library as examples of communities following through on commitments to future generations. Mission Zero House shows what one family can do to eliminate their footprint. These projects are examples of the diversity that can come from innovation, ingenuity and drive to pursue a sustainable future and prove that the Living Building Challenge is maturing at an unprecedented pace.

Seven new buildings certified in 2015:

To meet the Living Building Challenge, buildings must fulfill the requirements of seven different “Petals”—Place, Water, Energy, Health and Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty—that outline a pathway to a future that is ecologically restorative, socially just and culturally rich.

Project teams are developing solutions to create net positive energy, water independent, non-toxic and culturally rich projects. To date, 25 projects have achieved Living Building Challenge Certification through any of three certification paths: eight have achieved Full Certification, four have achieved Petal Certification and 12 have achieved Net Zero Energy Building (NZEB) Certification.

FERC Report: Renewable Energy Sources Provide More than 75 Percent of U.S. Generating Capacity

According to the latest “Energy Infrastructure Update” report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects, wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower combined provided more than 75 percent (75.43 percent) of the 1,229 MW of new U.S. electrical generating capacity placed into service during the first quarter of 2015. The balance (302 MW) was provided by natural gas.

Specifically, during the quarter, eight new “units” of wind came on line with a combined capacity of 647 MW—accounting for 52.64 percent of all new generating capacity for the quarter. It was followed by 30 units of solar (214 MW), one unit of geothermal steam (45 MW), and one unit of hydropower (21 MW). Five units of natural gas provided the new capacity from that sector.

FERC reported no new capacity from biomass sources for the quarter nor any from coal, oil or nuclear power.

The numbers for the first three months of 2015 are similar to those for the same period in 2014 when renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) provided 1,422 MW of new capacity and natural gas 159 MW while coal and nuclear provided none and oil just 1 MW. Renewable energy sources accounted for half of all new generating capacity last year.

Renewable energy sources now account for 16.92 percent of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: water—8.53 percent, wind—5.65 percent, biomass—1.38 percent, solar—1.03 percent, and geothermal steam—0.33 percent. Renewable energy capacity is now greater than that of nuclear (9.11 percent) and oil (3.92 percent) combined. Moreover, as noted, total installed operating generating capacity from solar has now reached and surpassed the one-percent threshold.

“The trend lines for the past several years have been consistent and unmistakable,” notes Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “Each month, renewable energy sources—particularly wind and solar—increase their share of the nation’s generating capacity while those of coal, oil and nuclear decline.”

SRS Distribution Joins The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress

SRS Distribution Inc., McKinney, Texas, has joined The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress at the Regent level. Regent membership is reserved for those who commit $100,000 to the alliance during a period of three to five years. SRS Distribution’s commitment entitles it to participate in the project task forces established to guide the alliance’s agenda and to attend the semiannual meetings of the full alliance.

The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress was established within the National Roofing Foundation (NRF) to create an endowment fund to serve as a highly focused resource for the roofing industry and its customers. The alliance’s objectives are to conduct research and education projects that support high-quality programs for roofing contractors; ensure timely and forward-thinking industry responses to major economic and technological issues; and enhance the long-term viability and attractiveness of the industry to roofing workers. The alliance also reaches out to the roofing community and its members and helps fund efforts dedicated to good works and charitable giving.

Colorado State University Wins Student Construction Management Competition

A team from Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colo., was selected as the winner of The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress‘ first student construction management competition, which took place during the National Roofing Contractors Association’s (NRCA) 128th Annual Convention.

Members of the winning team were Tyler Eberhardt, Eric Erikson, Sean Howell (team captain) and Chris Lierheimer.

The competition was part of an educational partnership with three of the top schools of construction management: Colorado State University’s Department of Construction Management, the Rinker School of Building Construction at the University of Florida and the McWhorter School of Building Science at Auburn University. The goal of the partnership is to raise awareness of the roofing industry by developing roofing-related curriculum that can be incorporated into existing construction management undergraduate degree programs, exploring scholarship programs for both students and faculty members and developing an internship program with interested Alliance members.

Teams from each school were presented with a problem statement—they were asked to bid on installing a roof system on a Bass Pro Shop Sportsman’s Center. Each team had to research the project, review the plans and specifications, and assemble a full estimate proposal to submit a qualified bid package. Each team submitted written proposals and supporting documents and gave oral presentations at the convention.

The winning team received a team trophy and a $1,000 cash prize for its school as well as individual team member trophies that were presented during NRCA’s Awards Ceremony and Cocktail Reception.

Legislative Conference Focuses on Creating Building Trades Majorities

With enthusiasm, vigor and determination, 3,000 delegates and guests who attended the 2015 Legislative Conference of North America’s Building Trades Unions renewed their commitment to a bipartisan approach to politics that seeks to create “Building Trades Majorities” within federal, state and local governments.

The three-day conference was held in Washington, D.C., culminating with an annual “Building Trades Lobbying Day” on Capitol Hill to promote industry standards and job creation. This year marks the 60th anniversary of this conference and the 50th year delegates have gathered at the Washington Hilton.

In his keynote address to the conference, North America’s Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey reminded the delegates of the progress being made through a value-centric, strategic approach to organizing designed to build collaborative partnerships with businesses, industries, government agencies and community leaders.

“Our workforce development expertise is opening doors all across the nation,” says McGarvey. “Membership is up; man hours are up; contractor backlogs are up. In the past two years our membership rolls have increased by 148,000.”

But, McGarvey also cautioned the delegates that the progress being made across the board can be derailed without a renewed commitment to a strategic, bipartisan approach to politics and organizing.

“The single biggest thing that can, and will, derail the collective hopes and aspirations that we have for the union construction industry and the members we represent is for us to make the mistake of having our fortunes tethered to one side of the shifting winds of American politics, rather than focusing on building increased support for our issues and priorities, no matter the party affiliation,” says McGarvey.

McGarvey continues: “We, all of us, need to step back from getting trapped in the ‘Democratic vs. Republican’ horserace analysis that has become so central to the labor movement, as well as popular culture and the media. We can no longer allow that to dictate our attitudes and actions. We need to start playing our game. And that means cultivating and constructing what we call ‘Building Trades Majorities’ at all levels of government.”

Other speakers at the conference on the first day included Thomas F. Farrell, II, the chairman, president and CEO of Dominion Resources; U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, Georgia State House Minority Leader Stacy Abrams (D), and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

College of Engineering at OSU Develops Facility to Improve Safety for Construction Workers

The College of Engineering at Oregon State University is developing a facility to improve safety for construction workers and the general public.

A $1 million grant announced from Knife River Corp. and MDU Construction Services Group will help support creation of this laboratory, which will be called the MDU Resources Group Construction Safety Laboratory, officials say.

“This lab establishes us as a national facility for construction and transportation safety research and education,” says Scott Ashford, the dean and Kearney Professor of Engineering at the OSU College of Engineering.

“We’re delighted to partner with Knife River and MDU Construction Services Group on this critically important project,” says Ashford. “These two companies are industry representatives in safety, and their commitment to our program will allow us to further advance processes and technologies that will help to better prevent workplace injuries.”

When complete, the lab will have two components to create a virtual construction environment that replicates real-world job sites. An interactive, high-definition projection system will allow multiple users to conduct sample work operations without actually putting workers at risk for injury. And a connected driving simulator will help evaluate driver and worker actions as vehicles pass through a work zone.

“This project provides a virtual environment where industry and academia can work together on real-world solutions,” says Jeff Thiede, president and CEO of MDU Construction Services Group.

The lab will also expand and enhance an initiative begun several years ago at OSU to yield major improvements in worker safety by emphasizing “prevention through design.” This concept emphasizes safety consideration at the very design stage to make buildings, bridges, roadways, and other structures safer to build and to maintain.

“There’s a long history in the construction industry of architects and design engineers leaving construction safety up to the builder or contractor, saying it wasn’t really the designer’s concern,” says John Gambatese, an OSU professor of civil engineering, a national expert in construction design and safety.

“Some of this dates historically to the separation between owner, architect, contractor, maintenance and construction worker,” Gambatese says. “There are also legal and liability issues. But there are many ways we can improve construction safety with this approach.”

OSU researchers and other experts eventually see construction safety, both in design and job-site activities, as becoming one component of “green” construction concepts, and adding a social aspect to the idea of sustainability. Based in part on OSU research, the U.S. Green Building Council recently added a pilot “prevention through design” credit to its rating system for sustainable buildings.

This emphasis on safety is needed, OSU researchers say. Construction is a traditionally dangerous profession, with such risks as falls from an elevated height, electrocution, trench cave-ins and many lesser workplace injuries.

The laboratory at OSU will be able to simulate some of these situations on the jobsite, helping to identify safer ways to work while also studying improved productivity and minimizing costs, officials say.

NRCA and CNA Honor Delta Exteriors with Community Involvement Award

In recognition of its efforts to help abandoned and neglected animals, St. Louis-based Delta Exteriors has been presented with the third annual CNA/NRCA Community Involvement Award sponsored by the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) and CNA.

The award honors charitable works performed by NRCA contractor members.

Delta Exteriors was selected for its $10,000 donation to support Stray Rescue of St. Louis. The donation will go directly to the shelter’s Stacks Fund, which is the shelter’s emergency medical fund. Because a majority of animals rescued require emergency medical care, this fund was created to specifically cover those medical costs.

In addition to the monetary donation to Stray Rescue of St. Louis, Delta Exteriors created a campaign that noted for every roof completed, Delta Exteriors would pay for the adoption process of an animal.

CNA awarded Delta Exteriors with $5,000 for the Stray Rescue of St. Louis. View the video highlighting Stray Rescue of St. Louis.

Additionally, this year’s honorable mentions each received $1,000 from CNA; they are Cole Roofing, Baltimore, for its work with the Carson Scholars Fund Inc. and Four Seasons Roofing, East Farmingdale, N.Y., for its work with Nourish the Children, an initiative of NuSkin Enterprises.

The awards were presented on Feb. 25 at NRCA’s Awards Ceremony and Cocktail Reception held during NRCA’s 128th Annual Convention in New Orleans.

CISC Report: Proposed Silica Rule Will Cost 10 Times OSHA’s Estimates

A report released by the Construction Industry Safety Coalition (CISC) found that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposed silica standards for U.S. construction industry will cost the industry $5 billion per year—roughly $4.5 billion per year more than OSHA’s estimates. The coalition cautioned that the flawed cost estimates reflect deeper flaws in the rule and urged the federal agency to reconsider its approach.

OSHA’s proposed rule, intended to drastically reduce the permissible exposure limit (PEL) of crystalline silica for the construction industry, has been underestimated by the agency to cost the construction industry about $511 million a year. The estimates released by CISC estimate that the costs to the industry will actually be approximately 10 times the OSHA estimate—costing nearly $5 billion a year.

The cost and impact analysis from OSHA reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the construction industry. The OSHA analysis included major errors and omissions that account for the large discrepancies with the CISC report. The CISC report estimates that about 80 percent of the cost ($3.9 billion per year) will be direct compliance expenditures by the industry such as additional equipment, labor and record-keeping costs. The remaining 20 percent of the cost ($1.05 billion per year) will come in the form of increased prices that the industry will have to pay for construction materials and building products such as concrete block, glass, roofing shingles and more. OSHA failed to take into account these additional costs to the construction industry that will result from the proposed standard, which will then be passed down to customers in the form of higher prices.

Not only will the proposed rule be more costly than originally estimated, but it would translate into significant job losses for the construction industry and the broader economy. The CISC estimates that the proposed regulation would reduce the number of jobs in the U.S. economy by more than 52,700 yearly. That figure includes construction industry jobs, jobs in related industries such as building material suppliers, equipment manufacturers and architects, as well as losses in non-construction sectors. Additionally, the losses are full time employee positions. Factoring in the many part-time or seasonal jobs, that number could increase to close to 80,000 positions lost.

“We are deeply concerned about the misguided assumptions and cost and impact errors that OSHA has relied upon in creating this proposed rule that will significantly affect our industry,” says NAHB chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo. “This report reveals the critical need for OSHA to withdraw its proposed rule until it can put forth a technologically and economically feasible rule that also works to improve industry workers health and safety.”

“This report clearly demonstrates OSHA’s lack of real world understanding of the construction industry and raises serious questions about their ability to responsibly craft industry standards,” says ABC Vice President of Government Affairs Geoff Burr. “We hope that this report will lead OSHA to withdraw its proposed rule and work more closely with the construction industry to emphasize compliance with the current standard.”

“These errors raise serious and significant questions about many of the other assumptions the agency relied upon in crafting its new rules,” says Stephen E. Sandherr, the chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America. “We need measures in place that are going to allow all of us to continue the significant improvements in silica safety the industry has made, and the sad truth is that the agency’s rule is too riddled with errors to do that.”

“The assumptions that were made by OSHA in developing this rule are completely off base and we hope this report adequately tells the truth of what this rule will truly mean to the construction industry. We believe the current silica rule has done a fantastic job of reducing related illnesses so much so that it is still declining every year and current projections have it being eliminated over time,” according to Jeff Buczkiewicz, president of the Mason Contractors Association of America. “Our industry needs a rule that is based on real world construction site scenarios that is not technologically and economically infeasible to implement and this report clearly shows that this rule does not fit that bill.”

Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress Announces Winners of MVP Awards

The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress has announced the winners of its 15th annual Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards, recognizing outstanding roofing workers from Canonsburg, Pa.; Hackensack, N.J.; and Dallas.

The MVP Awards program honors roofing professionals based on their significant contributions in one or more of the following areas: outstanding on-the-job performance; on-the-job safety performance, contributions to a team effort; community service and volunteerism; and other noteworthy contributions.

This 2015 MVP Award winners are:

Additionally, the alliance named the following MVP Award finalists:

The Alliance also named Ward as a finalist for outstanding on-the-job performance and Luck as a finalist for other noteworthy contributions and activities.

NRCA to Hold Southern Regional Conference April 29

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) will hold its semi-annual regional conference April 29 at the Soprema Pompano Beach Regional Office and Training Facilities, Pompano Beach, Fla. The conference will highlight roofing industry issues.

Roofing professionals from across the Southeast and southern states are encouraged to participate in this one-day event. The conference will provide in-depth information about the most critical safety, risk management, technical, building code and legislative issues affecting roofing contractors.

Attendees also will hear from fellow roofing professionals about current issues, trends and challenges facing the industry.

NRCA members and non-members are encouraged to attend. View more information or register online.