BREEAM and the Riba Plan of Work

The BREEAM assessment methodology is a popular way of expressing the sustainability performance of new buildings in Europe and the Middle East and particularly in the United Kingdom. The Riba Plan of Work is a system of building project planning that is widely used by architects in the United Kingdom. This article discusses how managing BREEAM projects can successfully be aligned to the Riba Plan of Work.

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Vernacular Architecture for Modern Times

With respect to architecture, the term vernacular is used to describe building designs and styles that reflect the local customs, needs, and building resources available. Since antiquity, people have learned through trial and error, the various structural concepts we often take for granted today. Vernacular architecture is the product of generations of experimentation, trial and error.

Although associated with outdated and primitive methods, the positive benefits of vernacular housing designs – even in today's ultra-modern world – are many. In fact, it is because we as a global race have advanced so much, so fast, in these very areas, that we have caused widespread depletion of resources, to the point that we have started to go back to our roots to find answers.

In our quest for new and better designs, stronger, more robust materials, and spacious, luxurious living spaces, we have all but forgotten what it has cost us. Technology and advancement in science can be a beautiful thing, but we must in our pursuit of such blessings, not forget to think further than our own short lives.

A generally recognized prerequisite for vernacular designs is the utilization of locally or locally available resources. Another is that these resources be sustainable. These criteria ensure that needless fuel and energy is not spent on transportation supplies and materials when they can be acquired locally, and also that the local resources are not exhausted either.

Back before long-distance transportation of materials was viable, houses matched the resources locally available. In woody areas where there was plenty of lumber, it was common to find wooden houses. Likewise, in regions where trees and forests were scarce, indigenous peoples would opt to use mud and stone. In this way, local housing would reflect local resources.

Of course, in all things a balance is important. In today's society, convenience and quality of life play a large role, which unfortunately places us in a rather frustrating game of tug o 'war with our environment – or should I say environmentalists. Even incorporating only the artistic and unique aspects of vernacular architecture is a start, and this is already being done.

The laws of physics have been around for long time, and this is proven by certain standard and uniform methods and “rules” that all structures – new and old – follow. Just because these guys did not get a Masters in modern structural engineering, it does not mean their homes did not stand. In fact, all modern knowledge is the collective experience, trial, error, and hand-me-downs of such men and women through history.

There is much we have learned from history, and much we can still learn. – Vernacular architecture and the simple and humble ways of our forefathers is a small part of what we can still learn.

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Reducing Our Energy Consumption at Home

Now more than ever before the world is becoming more and more cautious about the effect we have on the earth. Consumers are starting to take advantages of the benefits of being green. Simple changes to your home not only benefit the planet, they also benefit our health and wallets too. On a month to month basis people who live in green homes use less water and energy compared to a standard home. They also spend less money on maintenance. Green homes tend to be more durable due to the construction process and higher quality materials.

In Canada, 17% of all energy goes to running our homes and, here in Calgary, 30% of our use is from household electrical consumption. Additionally, the average household in Calgary is using 8% more energy today than it did in 2005.

Green homes can use up to 40% less energy. Next to a mortgage, energy costs are the most significant household expense. Something you many not know is your plasma TV uses five times more energy then the old tube TV.

To estimate appliance consumption you can use this formula

Wattage x hours per day divided by 100 = Daily Kilowatt-hour consumption

You can usually find the wattage on the appliance, stamp on the bottom or side. Many appliances still draw electricity even when turned off; This is known as phantom load. Appliances that are known for this are stereos, computers, and televisions just to name a few. If you have older appliances you can use a device to control and reduce energy consumption. These devices control and regulate the energy delivered to the appliance. Appliance newer then 1990 may not see any benefits from this device because of their existing energy save features.

The Kitchen is an area in the home that has a lot of energy consumptions here are a few way to cut back on usage. You can save energy daily by manually chopping instead of using mixers and grinders. Small changes can make a big difference, cook meals in smaller appliances like microwave or toaster ovens. If you're shopping for a new fridge a great choice is one with the freezer on top. These models tend to be more efficient than models with the freezer on the bottom or side by sides.

We all need to do our part to conserve energy. Simple changes will not affect our daily living too much, but can have a huge impact on the future of our planet.

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Smart Buildings – Living Green in a Big Way

How to live green, find green materials, and go green.

Smart Buildings

In recent years we have heard more and more about how we need to live green, go green with the products we use, and of course build with green materials. In our series of Green Articles, you will read much about Smart Systems, or Integrated Systems in the “Intelligent” Buildings or “Smart” Buildings. What are they, and who is building them?

Intelligent or Smart Buildings (referred to as SB's hereafter) are basically any building that has incorporated streamline operations which deliver better service to their end users. Many would call this a “Smart System”. This system will help you live green in many ways.

A decade or two ago, you may have immediately thought of the Jetson's when confronted with the idea, that an elevator could sense you without even touching the button. Or that anyone could program their lights to turn on from down the street, or Internet service would be called Wi-Fi and be hard wired into your apartment building. Look how far we have come today.

One example of an SB is One American Plaza in San Diego, California. The Broadband infrastructure alone in this building affords free Wi-Fi, Tablet PCs and PDAs, to each tenant, and adds to a higher quality service.

Many building owners and developers want to live green, or go green, and they are located in North America and overseas. They are coming to the realization that to compete, they must change, and develop the SB's of the future too. They must use green materials in every step of the building process.

SB's are not built on the same design, construction, and operation process of the past either. The approach needed for the successful development of “intelligent buildings” requires innovative strategies and usually consist of a team of developers and architects to incorporate their ideas into reality.

While there is no actual definition for an intelligent building, or Smart Building, they do have several things in common with each other.

They integrate distinct systems which can be controlled by a centralized common user interface such as a Computer. Every part of the building communications system is a shared network through the structure. The high-performance systems of these buildings require that the building owners, and / or property and facility management, are highly trained professionals who understand this technology. This benefits the end-users.

These buildings have a capacity built in, that will maximize its own performance and efficiency. This is accomplished by integrating all systems such as lighting, HVAC, safety, power management, security (access control, video surveillance, and visitor management), seismic and structural monitoring, environmental conditions, including temperature, air flow, and air chemistry and more into one centrally controlled system.

The technology is likened to a Central Nervous System incorporating building strategies set to calculate and then alter its own performance and functions. This has an added long-term sustainable value and overall efficiency and savings to the property.

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15 Energy Efficient Tips For Your Home

The ideas listed here are are just some of the items that can be done to lessen your energy expenditures month in, month out. They have low or no fees and may be performed quickly to allow you to be secure, comfy all the while helping the environment and being economical. Share these with the whole family and try to get each person included.

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Eco-Friendly, Green Home in Florida

Many of us have recently been hearing about growth in a few areas of our economy. For example: social media and on-line shopping are growing and there are predictions that tourism and travel are going to take off. Prognosticators are forecasting an elevated demand in the market for “Green Homes.” It is intriguing, not because “Green Homes” deliver great lifestyle for Americans, but surprising simply because it is taking place so quickly. The time has arrived! I will do my best to present what every future owner of “Green Homes” should know as we enter a new era of eco-friendly homes.

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Going Green – Construction, Which the Environment Loves!

Sustainable building, green building, green construction or simply “going green” is a concept about eco-friendly construction. It involves the application of practices and technologies that are environmental friendly, right from the construction, to occupancy, maintenance, renovation and finally demolition. This concept first started rising in the '70s when concerns regarding harmful impacts of construction industry on environment, and its resources, started growing.

Although no international agreement is available regarding carbon reduction and eco-friendly construction, there are organizations present that are working for the sustainability of natural resources, toxic reduction, recycling, waste reduction and application of energy efficient practices etc, such as EPA in the US . The EPA requires the construction industry to design and build buildings with eco-friendly materials and methods. This is not the only reason why construction industry has started following green trends. Many environmental-concerned companies and individuals have started emphasizing on green building, when doing a new construction or renovation project in their homes, commercial properties or work places. This is a very good sign because it educates and encourages the construction industry to work towards developing new sustainable building techniques. The need of going green gets more important as a recent study shows that the Ozone layer had depleted by 40%, which is alarming.

The basic principles of sustainable building in new construction projects and retrofitted properties include:

· Efficient use of land, water, energy and other resources.
· Improving the health of everyone living in a building.
· Providing clean environment to increase employees' performance.
· Reducing pollution and other waste emissions in the environment.
· Educating public about the need and merits of green building.
· Using local materials and manpower so as to avoid transportation cost of these bought from other towns and areas.

Not only it is important to derive methods for going green, it is equally important to use the present resources in an intelligent and efficient way.

Water Efficiency:

Two-third of the Earth consists of water, not all of it readily usable. It takes a lot of work and energy to make water usable which there's a shortage of water and therefore, we need to use it efficiently. A popular way of maintaining the quality of water and reducing its usage is to use dual plumbing system, which recycles the water with every flush of the toilet. Low-flow showerheads and low-flush toilets can also increase water efficiency during the life cycle of a building.

Energy Efficiency:

There are a lot of ways to use energy efficiently. Few simple methods are to use light paint colors on the exterior and interior of the building. The exterior light colors will reflect sunrays and as a result the interior of the building will remain cool reducing the need of air conditioners and such. Interior light colors will also help reflect the natural light, which will reduce the cost and need of electric lighting. Modern insulation systems can also be installed in walls and floors to use the energy efficiently. Building can be designed with passive solar building ways that uses windows and walls to help shade the property in summers and provide natural light in the winters. Other ways to use energy efficiently are solar power, hydropower and wind power etc.

Material Efficiency:

Using material that are recyclable and re-usable is an important part of sustainable building. It involves using natural materials such as straw bale, clay and bamboo for the construction or renovation of the building.

Waste Reduction:

Compost bins are a great way to reduce waste emissions by the occupants or work force in a building. Waste reduction can also be achieved by recycling the waste into fertilizers. Use of water instead of paper towels can also reduce waste going in the landfills. Some highly sophisticated waste reduction techniques can also be applied, but they may be a little costly.

We only have planet Earth to live on. We do not have any other place to go. We need to keep earth and our environment safe and healthy, and Earth's natural resources sufficient for our generations to come. We've already harmed the Earth enough. Now is the time to go green.

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What Is Sustainable Architecture?

Sustainable architecture is the idea of using environmentally conscious techniques and materials in the field of architecture. This green building and living technique is intent on creating as little waste as possible, using renewable and clean energy, and building with materials that are not damaging to living things or the earth’s environment.

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Construction And The Environment – Green Building

This is a conclusion to our series of articles on ways in which construction affects the environment. Green building is a concept in construction which aims at creating environment friendly construction. The aim here is to reduce the impact of construction on the environment as well as coming up with remedial measures to resuscitate the already chocking environment. Below are just examples of green construction practices.

· Using renewable energy sources in buildings for example solar and wind energy in the place of electricity and fossil fuels.

· Coming up with designs that require minimum energy supporting systems like maximizing on day lighting in buildings as opposed to electric lighting.

· Reducing the use of timber in construction, especially rare and deciduous types, and in their place using fast growing species like bamboo and softwoods in controlled forests and plantations.

· Reusing timber as well as timber wastes like saw dust to make timber replacements.

· Tapping into rainwater and other precipitation for use in buildings to replace or supplement water from other sources.

· Reducing water wastage by making use of pressure control valves, low flush cisterns and the like.

· Reusing grey water (all used water in the house, other than closets, bidets and such).

· Using porous materials in parking and general surfaces to allow for percolation of water for replenishing sub surface.

· Incorporating gardening and greening in built up areas, including the introduction of green roofs.

· Reducing earth-moving activities for construction works.

· Avoiding construction in environmentally fragile areas for example water catchment areas.

· Reducing the wastes from buildings that end up in land fills by ensuring sorting at source. A good example is where biodegradable wastes are put in different bins and used as fertilizers.

· Rehabilitating derelict land and mine fields by planting trees and such environmental conservation measures.

All these and many other similar measures will definitely nurture the environment. They will however need a lot of clarification and forward planning so as to make success. It is also worth noting that green building is usually more expensive upfront but could be affordable in the building life cycle. Furthermore, the extra cost in money will be compensated in a sustainable environment.

Green construction is a collective responsibility and should be bought by all and sundry. Architectural association and building regulatory boards the world over should put all the necessary efforts to have their jurisdictions adopted green construction. Governments should also demonstrate green building in their projects to have their subjects readily accept them. Learning institutions and training institutions should also put enough emphasis on these procedures. Green construction materials and equipment should also be zero rated to reduce costs as well as create a preference.

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Construction And The Environment – Effects On Climate

Climate change is certainly the most identifiable global concerns today. It has taken center stage in the world for and has raised many mitigative measures to counter the worrying trends. Construction is one of the contributors to climate change as can be derived from our previous examples, which are summarized below.

· Lowering the water table, making it more difficult for plants to survive.

· Hampering with weather conditions for example by altering normal rain formation trends of a specific area.

· Clearing vegetation, reducing moisture available for rain formation.

· Reducing water available to water bodies with similar effects as above.

· Increasing water available in an area for evaporation and then more precipitation in an area.

· Industrial and residential emissions, altering normal air conditions.

All these and more are ways in which construction activity has consistently led to climate change. The conditions of an area are continuously changed to form completely different ones. Some of the common direct results of these include:

· Depletion of the ozone layer, risking us to harmful radiations from the sun.

· Reduced precipitation, resulting to more cost of acquiring water.

· Increased precipitation, requiring more elaborate ways of removing excess water or even requiring project design changes.

· Reduction of food in the food chain, leading more food chain conflict and imbalances.

These are just but examples. The blatant truth is that climate change is becoming a very thorny issue and it needs to be addressed by all and sundry. All avenues available for averting this trend should beought and followed. Key players in the construction industry bought to join hands with their counterparts, especially in the manufacturing industry, to come up with eco friendly products and procedures. Activities that lead to toxic emissions, for example, should be shunned as much as possible and if not, should be put at a minimum. Buildings should be provided with utilities that lead to less waste, for example by reusing some materials. The issue of cost and value should be clearly addressed to make sure that the better advantage goes to the environment as opposed to the developer alone. Consultations should be done to ensure that all the hurdles to environmental conservation that arise in any project are properly handled at the earliest opportune moment.

It is always important to remember that our climate determines just how easy our tomorrow will be. It therefore calls for all that are involved to put into consideration the idea of ​​continuity in the construction project at hand.

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Construction And The Environment – Effects On Vegetation

Vegetation is among the clearest indicator of life in our environment (probably second to the animals). It is also a key pillar in the environmental dynamics especially the weather. Vegetation takes different forms and shapes and vary from one type of environment to the other. Construction activities affect vegetation in the following ways;

· Construction materials. Construction has drawn a lot from natural vegetation in the following forms;

o Timber: This is the most common material in construction, since time immemorial. This could either be used in its raw form for example in posts or in machined timber for example tongued and grooved panels for ceiling construction. Frames for structural work like roofing and timber walls are also very common use of wood. Other machined forms, for example plywood are also very common in construction. The tricky thing with timber for construction is that the preferred timber comes from hardwoods, which are rare, hard to breed and take a long time to mature.

o Roof covering: reeds and such vegetation have for long been used in the form of that for roofing, mainly in informal settlements but also in motels and hotels, especially beach resorts.

o Furniture: Timber furniture has for long been the most preferred in houses. This has a big impact on trees as most are purely out of wood and especially hardwoods which are very hard to come by as previously explained.

· Clearance for settlements: large forests and other such vegetation's have been cleared for settlement activities, either for purely construction work or in combination with other activities like farming.

· Importation of vegetation and soils: introduction of alien plants, especially for landscaping compounds also affects the environment by changing things like normal photosynthesis activities by normal plants. Importation of soils will also lead to the support of different kinds of vegetation, especially where this is supplemented with irrigation.

· Dumping of material: The disposal of material, whether waste or excess spoil, introduces a new formation on which new forms of vegetation are most likely to grow. This may also lead the death of the existing vegetation.

· Dewatering of land: This is common in swampy lands and is mostly done to ensure good compact of earth.

Following these examples, it is clear to see just how extensively the activities of construction have impacted on vegetation and by extension, on our fragile environment. It is very important to ensure that whatever technologies that are adopted in construction projects are environmental friendly, by reducing impacts to the lowest possible levels.

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Construction And The Environment – Introduction

As seen in my previous articles, construction is among the major human activities that result to landmark products. The activities of construction produce items that stand on land replacing natural features or even changing them. Some of the activities change the landscape by either adding or omitting some of them. Construction also makes use of a good number of materials borrowed from the environment, whether in their natural state or in a processed form. Furthermore, the usage of the product of construction leads to the production of elements of waste which are then directed to the environment, mostly in a cleaned manner, although in most cases, this is not fully accomplished.

In all these activities, the environment is affected in one way or the other. In many occasions, they are detrimental to the environment, with the only variable being the degree and nature of such impact. While some effects are short – term and easily overcome, others are irreversible and so leave a permanent mark on our environment.

Being among a global concern, environmental impact reduction should be reduced, reversed and even warned from occurring by all that are involved. This will include all holders in the construction industry, as it is a potential cause of such ills to our environment. The following are just a few ways that various players in the construction industry can use to achieve environmental friendly projects:

· Prospectors builders should be advised on the need and ways of building environmental friendly buildings.

· Designers should see to it that matters environment are handled with utmost care in all projects they handle.

· Statutory bodies should ensure that construction designs and methodologies are adopted for any upcoming projects in tandem with the responsibility of environmental care and sustainability.

· Occupiers should ensure that no activity that they are engaged in result to environmental jeopardy.

When all and sundry understand the need and the ways of caring for the environment, then we will be a step closer to good environmental impact management as far as construction is concerned. It is also worth noting that for such a goal to be successful, it calls for the collective responsibility by all. Otherwise, the sweat of one person will be tattered down by the ignorance or omission of the other. Teaching all the stake holders on these matters will make sure that they have a clear knowledge of how to minimize the damage that has continued to eat away our environment.

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Top Reasons Why Green Rehabs Will Create Long Term ROI And Market Advantage

Trends in Green Real Estate Investing or Green Rehab investing are quite telling for what is to come in the future of the real estate and construction industry. Of course, not all properties are going to fit the criteria needed by investors to implement a green rehab, but there are thousands that will and having the knowledge you need to successfully pull off a green remodel will differentiate your properties on the block getting you more Buyers while simultaneously producing an asset with a much higher long term ROI.

What does the future of a green rehab look like? Whether you're in commercial, residential or multi-family properties, investor's, developer's and managers are adopting greener business practices (along with the rest of the world). The drive for such behavior is based on favorable financial returns on greener buildings as energy prices beginning to soar and owners realize the significant savings afforded by sustainable sustainable strategies and renovations.

As an investor you can cash in on the coming demand for energy efficient properties through a green rehab. The rapid wealth and economic development is driving huge growth in energy consumption and green house gas emissions, which in turn is changing the perception of lenders, developers, investors and just about all trends in the construction industry.

According to an article, “Globalization and Global Trends In Real Estate Investment”, the top markets for green rehab properties are mostly concentrated in North America and European economies, although significant potential for new green construction and retrofits exists at along all parts of the world .

As I've stated before, one of the greatest opportunities for green building investment and green rehabs is in the United States as the stock of older inventory becomes obsolese when next to energy efficient homes saving thousands in a given year. Although the US is going to see a surge in this economy, other major players in the green construction and green rehab industry will be the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan.

So what does this mean to you, the investor? Investors know and understand risk, as well as how to mitigate risk. One of the larger advantages to green rehabs and green construction is minimizing the risk of owning obsolete properties in the future, along with a much higher ROI for longer term strategies.

If you're not convinced that green rehabs are going to become a major contender in the real estate investing marketplace then consider the following three influencing factors which are being seen in the marketplace today and will continue to gain more transaction as time progresses.

1. The Market – There is a rising interest and application for green standards in hundreds of municipalities. Through forging new and existing building standards to a higher level, non compliant buildings will certainly depreciate relative to the new mix of green real estate.

2. Regulatory incentives and forces – We have just begun to see the influence the government has and will continue to have in the rising of renewable energy sources, tax benefits and manufacturer incentives for energy efficient measures to new and existing homes. As investors become more educated around the benefits of green investing we will see more competition begin to emerge, which is why this is your time to gain the competitive edge and become a major player in the energy efficient market place.

3. Finally, environmental concerns play a factor, although, as investors we all know this can be one of the most overlooked aspects of our profession. Sure, we all want to save the environment and produce a future for our children's children, a green and vibrant built environment, but it comes down to business. The good news is, dollar for dollar, green real estate investing and green rehabs come out on top for the right property and investment strategy.

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