AIA Comments on the Passing of the Energy Policy Modernization Act

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate passed S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act. The legislation repeals targets for reducing fossil fuel consumption in federal buildings contained in Section 433 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by then-President George W. Bush.

AIA President Russell Davidson, FAIA, says: “Cutting fossil fuel consumption in new and renovated federal buildings by 2030 is clearly something we can achieve as a nation. My fellow architects are already designing buildings that are “net zero” consumers of energy. According to government statistics, better designed buildings have already saved our country approximately $560 billion in energy costs since 2005.

“Therefore it makes no public policy sense for Congress to cave in to the oil and gas lobby and kill requirements to reduce fossil-fuel consumption in federal buildings. As we have noted before, residential and commercial buildings account for almost 40 percent of both total U.S. energy consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Last December, nearly 200 nations, including the U.S., committed in Paris to reducing the planet’s carbon footprint.

“Uncle Sam must continue to be a leader worldwide in energy conservation and reduced dependence on the use of fossil fuels. Yet we are effectively abrogating this role with this short-sighted vote, which will continue to hold federal taxpayers hostage to the whims of global energy markets.

“We were gratified by the White House’s announcement in December that the President would veto the House energy legislation, specifically citing the repeal of Section 433 as one of several major objections. We hope that lawmakers come to their senses and strip this provision from any final bill.”

MiaSolé and SolEnergy Enter into Representation Agreement

SolEnergy LLC has entered into a representation agreement with MiaSolé in which SolEnergy will represent MiaSolé in Louisiana, Maryland and North Virginia. SolEnergy offers innovative, mission-critical solar power and energy solutions that provide customers guaranteed savings, NetZERO design options, cutting-edge energy storage systems, remote building energy metering and controls, energy system retro-commissioning, and advanced energy-efficiency options. These flexible, scalable systems are tailored by SolEnergy to meet and exceed the energy needs of today’s growing businesses.

SolEnergy will offer MiaSolé FLEX modules, efficient thin-film lightweight flexible modules with an efficiency rating of more than 16 percent. MiaSolé FLEX modules bond directly to the roof surface with a simple peel-and-stick adhesive. The low-profile FLEX module provides superior wind resistance and a seismic advantage over traditional rack-and-panel systems where their higher profile increases the likelihood of damage in a hurricane or earthquake, making FLEX modules the ideal solar solution for solar carports and commercial buildings. This adhesive approach eliminates the need for racking and reduces labor and logistics cost to provide a 20 percent lower BOS cost than traditional glass solar systems. In addition, the MiaSolé Flex modules use innovative bypass diode technology that enables better shade performance. The FLEX-02 Series module is IEC 61646 & IEC 61730 and UL 1703 certified.

Metal Roof and Walls Help Home Reach Lofty Design Goals

When Ilhan Eser and his wife Kamer decided to build their new home in Woodland, Calif., they had some ambitious criteria in mind. They wanted the home to not only be energy efficient, but to produce enough energy to be self-sustaining. They also desired a home with great aesthetics that fit in with the beautiful countryside and minimized impact on the environment.

Ilhan and Kamer Eser decided to design and build their own home on 80 acres of land in the California countryside. Their goal was to have a LEED-certifiable house powered by solar energy and protected by a highly insulated metal wall and roof system.

Ilhan and Kamer Eser decided to design and build their own home on 80 acres of land in the California countryside. Their goal was to have a LEED-certifiable house powered by solar energy and protected by a highly insulated metal wall and roof system.


As the CEO of Morin, a Kingspan Group company, Eser had another key design goal: to showcase his company’s metal roof and wall systems. “We wanted to do something that was good for the environment and the country,” Eser recalls. “So we said, let’s do a LEED-certifiable, net-zero house that will be a house of the future, if you will, using our company’s products. Our company is all about being environmental and being green and being sustainable, so that was the starting point.”

The result is a home that provides more than enough energy to meet its own needs with solar panels. It also captures graywater (gently used household wastewater) to use for irrigation and features a cutting-edge geothermal heating and cooling system that does not burn fossil fuels. All the household systems can be operated with a smartphone. “I believe in the future every house will be built like this, with your energy on top of your roof, basically,” Eser notes.

The metal roofing and wall systems are made of durable, highly recyclable materials and provide a high level of insulation to help keep energy costs down. The roof design features stunning angles, including an inverted “butterfly” roof over the great room to bring in the maximum amount of natural light.

As he began the project, Eser soon realized that he was breaking new ground in more ways than one. He found most residential architects and general contractors were unfamiliar with metal framing, roofs and walls, so he decided to tackle the design himself. He also served as his own general contractor, tapping into his 30 years of experience in commercial and industrial applications.

“I decided to look at it as if it were a light commercial building, and then I started finding people,” he says. “It was an interesting experience. I designed the house myself—although my wife had the overriding power, as always. She had to approve whatever I did, and when we had an argument, you probably can imagine who won.”

The Project Takes Wing

When it came time to discuss installing the roof and wall systems, Eser called Rua and Son Mechanical Inc., headquartered in Lincoln, Calif. According to President Louie Rua, the company focuses on metal roofing and wall panels—and that’s all they’ve done for the last 25 years. “We are very specialized in what we do,” Rua says. “We’re certified installers for most if not all of the metal roofing systems out there, and we also do our own custom fabrication. It’s become a niche market, so we travel around quite a bit.”

The roof of the Eser residence features unconventional angles, including a large section over the great room with an inverted butterfly design that required an internal gutter system.

The roof of the Eser residence features unconventional angles, including a large section over the great room with an inverted butterfly design that required an internal gutter system.

The company has made a name for itself by excelling on high-end, intricate and cutting-edge metal projects that transcend typical warehouse applications. “We’ve found that when we go outside the box and take on the real difficult projects, the ones that are a little bit intimidating for other companies, that’s where we excel,” Rua says. “We’ve been doing it so long, and our team has a wealth of experience. When the trickier jobs come around, we are well equipped to handle them.”

This project was right up the company’s alley. “Ilhan was pretty adamant he wanted us to do it,” Rua recalls. “This was his personal house, so it was quite a compliment. I took on the challenge, and we took it very seriously. We worked through what it would cost, how long it would take, all the dynamics. His design team did all the preliminary design and then our team got in there and played with it a little bit and made a few tweaks. We put a lot of thought into those details.”

Rua admits the high-profile nature of the client and the complexity of the project were daunting. “Any job when you first jump into it and see it’s outside the box can be intimidating,” Rua says. “But then as you get familiar with it and start breaking it down and working through it, it gets easier. One of my lead superintendents, Fernando Huizar, was knee-deep in it, and he and Ilhan really hit it off, which is important. The relationship with our clients is our first priority, and on every job we strive to meet and exceed their expectations. It couldn’t have gone any smoother.”

Rua and Son Mechanical installed the double-layered roof and wall systems, which consisted of insulated metal panels (IMPs) and aluminum finish systems. The 7,500 square feet of exterior walls are made up of 4-inch-thick IMPs, topped with concealed-fastener panels. The mechanically seamed roof incorporates 8,000 square feet of 6-inch IMPs. The custom finish is Kameleon Dusty Rose, which changes color from green to yellow to silver to bronze to brown, depending on the amount of sunlight hit-ting it and angle from which it is viewed.

PHOTOS: CHIP ALLEN ARCHITECTURAL IMAGES

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Black EPDM Roofing Helps Multifamily Buildings Achieve the Passive House Standard

Two years ago, the three low-rise apartment buildings at the intersection of Southern Avenue and Benning Road in Washington, D.C., stood derelict and abandoned, uninhabitable reminders of 1960s brick and block construction. Today, the buildings—now known as Weinberg Commons—represent a landmark effort to provide clean, secure and energy-efficient shelter to low-income families. For the scores of people—architects, energy consultants, contractors and experts in housing finance, to name a few—who helped repurpose Weinberg Commons and bring it back to life, this project represents an unparalleled achievement in retrofitting. For the families who now live here, it means a giant step toward a more secure future.

Thermal conductivity, air infiltration and exfiltration, and solar gain were important to the team working on Weinberg Commons

Thermal conductivity, air infiltration and exfiltration, and solar gain were important to the team working on Weinberg Commons.

One of the keys to that secure future will be very low or no energy bills. From the beginning, the team that oversaw the retrofitting of these buildings, each with almost 8,000 square feet of rentable space, was committed to ensuring that all three would show greatly reduced energy use and at least one would achieve Passive House (PH) certification.

The criteria to become a passive structure are rigorous and focus on three specific design elements to reduce energy. (The requirements and certification observed by the Weinberg Commons team are set by Chicago-based PHIUS, the Passive House Institute U.S.)

The first requirement is airtightness to ensure the building minimizes the amount of heated or cooled air it loses (0.6 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals of pressure).

Second, a Passive House cannot use more than 4.75 kBtu per square foot per year. This is specific heating energy demand (or cooling in cooling climates).

The third requirement caps the peak total amount of energy the heating and cooling system and appliances in the building can use per year, including domestic hot water, lighting and plug loads. It cannot exceed 38 kBtu per square foot per year.

three low-rise apartment buildings at the intersection of Southern Avenue and Benning Road in Washington, D.C., stood derelict and abandoned, uninhabitable reminders of 1960s brick and block construction.

Three low-rise apartment buildings at the intersection of Southern Avenue and Benning Road in Washington, D.C., stood derelict and abandoned, uninhabitable reminders of 1960s brick and block construction.

Michael Hindle, a Baltimore-based Certified Passive House Consultant who is current president of the Passive House Alliance U.S. Board of Managers, helped with the retrofit design of Weinberg Commons. (Passive House Alliance U.S. is a PHIUS program designed to advance passive building.) He points out these three pass/fail criteria are measures of success, not design principles to help a team achieve the energy savings that lead to PH certification. However, Hindle highlights five design principles have been identified as important guides in the design of Passive House projects:

  • Continuous insulation through the building’s entire envelope without any thermal bridging.
  • An extremely tight building envelope, preventing infiltration of outside air and loss of conditioned air.
  • High-performance windows and doors, typically triple-paned.
  • Balanced heat- and moisture-recovery ventilation and a minimal space-conditioning system.
  • Solar gain is optimized to exploit the sun’s energy for heating purposes and minimize it in cooling seasons.

Although only one building at Weinberg Commons has achieved PH certification, all three buildings were designed to the exact same specifications and technically could be PH certified as long as the rigorous airtightness threshold is met. Several factors influenced the decision, made at the outset of the project, to focus on just one building for PH certification. The design team’s perception was that airtightness would be the most challenging aspect for the contractor. Matt Fine, an architect with Zavos Architecture & Design, Frederick, Md., who led the project, explains: “The intention was to proceed with the first building, test its airtightness and improve on that scope of work for the next building. Repeat, refine and finally apply to the third sequential building.”

Fine points out the first two buildings actually achieved “super” airtightness results relative to any new-construction project built today but did not cross the 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 Pascals of pressure threshold of Passive House. Given the budget-conscious nature of the Weinberg Commons project, resealing and retesting of the first two buildings was not an option for the team, but lessons learned from these two buildings were applied to the retrofit of the third building. “In retrospect, all three buildings would have been able to meet the PH threshold with relatively little extra effort,” Fine says. “But the dynamics of construction sequencing, along with imposed schedules for occupancy, complicated our ability to be flexible with scope change once the contracts were executed and limited dollars were allocated.”

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The Innovative Wood Products Collaborative Launches Website

The Innovative Wood Products Collaborative announces the launch of its website. The new site is the product of a collaboration between Washington and Oregon sustainable forestry managers, wood products manufacturers, conservationists, academics and architects to highlight the latest information about using innovative wood products from sustainably managed forests.

Wood—the only building material that is grown by the power of the sun—is a renewable resource that has a low carbon and energy footprint. Using wood from sustainably managed forests will significantly reduce carbon emissions from the building sector.

According to a Yale University study, substituting wood for more energy-intensive building materials would reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by 14 to 31 percent because wood consumes much less energy than concrete or steel construction.

“Wood construction is incredibly fast and effective, with the added benefit of producing a building that stores carbon rather than emitting it,” says Canadian architect Michael Green. “The only way to achieve a net-zero building is to build with wood.”

As timber grows, it soaks up carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, and that carbon is stored in wood products. This creates a carbon sink that helps mitigate climate change. About half of the dry weight of wood is stored carbon. In contrast, 16 percent of global fossil-fuel consumption goes into manufacturing steel, concrete and bricks.

“This collaboration between Oregon and Washington sustainable forest growers and manufacturers is capturing the recent wave of recognition among architects, builders and conservation groups that wood products have real carbon benefits, and can be used in tall buildings,” says Mark Doumit, executive director of the Washington Forest Protection Association.

“Wood products are carbon-negative because they sequester and store carbon,” says Joseph Mayo, a designer at Mahlum Architects in Seattle. “There is no other natural building material like wood. Increasing the use of wood also supports local jobs and industry.”

“The forest landowners and lumber manufacturers in the Pacific Northwest are the largest supplier of wood building materials in the nation,” says Paul Barnum, executive director of the Oregon Forest Resources Institute. “Using those wood products in new and better ways will benefit the environment and the economies of Oregon and Washington.”

Wood’s strength-to-weight ratio is comparable to concrete and steel. Engineered wood products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), glue-laminated timber (glulam) and laminated veneer lumber (LVL) make it possible to build taller wood structures. These mass timber construction materials are highly fire-resistant and cost-effective. Prefabricated CLT panels can also be installed quickly, speeding up construction time.

“As global demand for wood continues to increase with population, we need to be sourcing our timber from sustainably managed forests,” says Thomas Maness, dean of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. “The most environmentally sustainable place to grow wood is right here in the Pacific Northwest.”

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.

Sustainable Home Features a Metal Roof for Durability and Energy Efficiency

A Metal Sales roof system has been chosen to top an ambitious Net-Zero building. Ronda and Nigel Farrar chose to work with Metal Sales on their 3,000-square-foot home in Escondido, Calif. The home overlooks Lake Hodges and was designed to be a model for green design by utilizing commercially available green building products.

The Farrar's dream of achieving a Net-Zero energy design was realized with help from Metal Sales Manufacturing Corp.

The Farrar’s dream of achieving a Net-Zero energy design was realized with help from Metal Sales Manufacturing Corp.

The Farrars are the owners of the new home and its surrounding sustainable farm. The home is one of San Diego County’s first LEED Platinum homes and is ENERGY STAR qualified. Their dream of achieving a Net-Zero energy design was realized with help from Metal Sales Manufacturing Corp.

“We chose a metal roof for our home because it was a sustainable material with a long life expectancy,” explains homeowner Rhonda Farrar. “Compared to other non-metal roofing materials, a metal roof is more durable and lighter, resulting in structural savings when building. Metal roofing also makes our home safer in the event of an earthquake or fire. Due to the reflectivity and energy efficiency of the metal, the roof contributes to a comfortable, energy-efficient living space.”

The home features 5,000 square feet of 24 gauge Magna-Loc standing seam roof panels in Antique Patina from Metal Sales. More than 100 panel colors from Metal Sales are listed with ENERGY STAR and improve energy efficiency by reflecting sunlight. This provides an energy savings by reducing the amount of energy needed for cooling the home. The steel panels are also 100 percent recyclable and contain a high percentage of recycled material. Each of these factors contributes to the home’s LEED Platinum certification.

"We chose a metal roof for our home because it was a sustainable material with a long life expectancy," explains homeowner Rhonda Farrar. "Compared to other non-metal roofing materials, a metal roof is more durable and lighter, resulting in structural savings when building."

“We chose a metal roof for our home because it was a sustainable material with a long life expectancy,” explains homeowner Rhonda Farrar. “Compared to other non-metal roofing materials, a metal roof is more durable and lighter, resulting in structural savings when building.”

“The longevity, reflectivity and energy-efficient qualities of a metal roof make it an ideal choice for a sustainable home,” says Drew Hubbell, owner of Hubbell & Hubbell Architects. “The cool metal roof reflects heat, reducing cooling needs and allowed for easy installation of the photovoltaic panels without penetrating the roof. The standing seam roof also fit the architectural style of the home with an antique patina finish. The simple lines of the roof fit in with the modern design of the home and complements the home’s exterior.”

The project team consisted of homeowners Rhonda and Nigel Farrar; architect Hubbell & Hubbell Architects, San Diego; general contractor Gaitaud Construction, San Diego; and roofing contractor Victor Contracting & Roofing, Escondido. For more information about the Farrar Green Home and Sustainable Farm, visit the Farrar Green Home website.