November 12, 2014

In This Issue:

Cost & Stringency Comparison of NGBS to LEED-H Released
Green Survey: Greater Focus Is On Improving Health, Wellbeing, and Occupant Productivity
Sea Level Rise Mapping Tool Available to Local Governments
Productivity, Health & Well-Being the Next Chapter in Green Building
Preventing Asthma Through Building Material & Product Selection
Construction Jobs to Grow 10 Percent
Auto Dealers Attack Tesla
FGBC Welcomes New Members
Education Opportunities
Funding Opportunities
Articles of Interest:
EPA/DOE Release 2015 Fuel Economy Buyer's Guide

Cost & Stringency Comparison
Of NGBS to LEED-H Released

The Home Innovation Research Lab has released findings from an analysis and comparison of NGBS and LEED that estimates the additional costs for a typical, code-compliant single family house to be certified at each program's various levels. Additionally, the report compares the minimum improvement in energy efficiency that can be expected at each certification level.

The NGBS structure establishes more proportional consistency and equality across all sustainability areas discretionary points that come from areas of the user's choosing is much lower in the NGBS (16 - 22% of total points) than in either LEED system (64 - 82% of total points in LEED-H 2008 and 65 - 83% in LEED v4 HD&C). Certification costs vary significantly and cost advantages shift between programs as different compliance levels, climate zone and code scenarios are assumed.

Mandatory costs associated with NGBS compliance are significantly lower than the prerequisite costs for either LEED system, so NGBS certification is therefore less costly then LEED at the Bronze/Certified and Silver levels. This advantage decreases or reverses at the Gold and Emerald/Platinum levels. [Get the Full Report]

Notable Energy related findings include:

An evaluation for the "cost of certification compliance" for NGBS vs LEED, based on 2009 IECC code-compliant houses shows:

Read the full report

Green Survey: Greater Focus Is On Improving
Health, Wellbeing, and Occupant Productivity

Key findings of Turner's 2014 Green Market Barometer show that companies remain committed to constructing green buildings and value the financial benefits they provide building owners and occupants. Of increasing importance among survey respondents are the benefits that green buildings provide for employee health and wellbeing and for hiring and retention of employees.

"While building owners continue to incorporate green features in buildings to reduce operating costs, we see more organizations paying closer attention to the positive impacts of green buildings on indoor environmental quality and employee satisfaction and productivity." said Michael Deane, chief sustainability officer. He continued, "We are also seeing, both in our own work and from the results of the survey, increased attention to maintaining essential building operations in the face of extreme weather events."

Key findings include:

  • The financial factors most highly rated in the decision-making process to incorporate green features in construction projects were energy efficiency, asking rents, ongoing operations and maintenance costs, and occupancy rates.
  • Several non-financial factors were highly-rated benefits of green buildings, including health and well-being of occupants, indoor air quality, employee productivity, impact on brand and reputation, and satisfaction of employees and occupants.
  • The likelihood of incorporating water efficiency into new projects climbed from 57% in 2012 to 71% in 2014.
  • The ability to maintain or quickly resume operations in the event of extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and drought have made building resiliency a priority of executives.
  • For the first time, more than half of the executives said the level of a vendor's sustainable practices was extremely or very important for their organization when choosing a supplier of goods and materials.
  • Respondents (43% compared to 17% in 2012) expressed a significantly increased interest in alternative green certification rating systems over LEED. [More]

See the companion story below on how design impacts worker productivity.

Sea Level Rise Mapping Tool
Available to Local Governments

A few Florida counties are testing a computer mapping tool that details the vulnerability of their roads to rising sea levels. The University of Florida GeoPlan Center has developed the Florida Sea Level Scenario Sketch Planning Tool with funding from the Florida Department of Transportation Officeof Policy Planning.

The mapping tool, which visualizes areas of transportation infrastructure that may be vulnerable to rising seas and inland flooding from 2020 through 2100, is intended for local governments to use as they make long-term plans for their infrastructure needs. The tool visualizes various sea level scenarios at future time periods in an effort to inform transportation planners and highlight infrastructure for potential avoidance, minimization, or mitigation.

Hillsborough and Broward counties are testing the mappingtool through a Federal Highway Administration climate resilience pilot project. Broward County also is testing the tool for three other South Florida counties that have also signed a compact to address climate change adaptation strategies. [More]

Productivity, Health & Well-Being
The Next Chapter in Green Building

A new report, Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Offices: The Next Chapter for Green Building, presents overwhelming evidence that office design significantly impacts the health, wellbeing and productivity of staff.

The report finds that a range of factors - from air quality and lighting, to views of nature and interior layout - can affect the health, satisfaction and job performance of office workers. The report also presents a simple toolkit that businesses can use to measure the health, wellbeing and productivity of their buildings and inform financial decision-making.

Some takeaways from the report are:

  • Indoor Air Quality: Productivity improvements of 8-11% are not uncommon as a result of better air quality.
  • Thermal Comfort: Studies consistently show that even modest degrees of personal control over thermal comfort can return single-digit improvements in productivity.
  • Lighting/Daylighting: Good lighting is crucial for occupant satisfaction. Several studies in the last decade have estimated productivity gains as a result of proximity to windows, with experts now thinking that the views out are probably the more significant factor, particularly where the view offers a connection to nature.
  • Noise: Being productive in the modern knowledge-based office is practically impossible when noise provides an unwanted distraction.
  • Noise distraction relates closely (although by no means solely) to interior layout. There are a whole range of fit-out issues that can have an effect on wellbeing and productivity, including workstation density and configuration of work space, breakout space and social space. [More]

Preventing Asthma Through Building
Material & Product Selection

A new Healthy Building Network (HBN) report, Full Disclosure Required: A Strategy to Prevent Asthma Through Building Product Selection, provides information on how, through the careful selection of building materials and furnishings, reduce and even avoid exposures to certain chemicals that can lead to the onset of asthma.  The report identified 20 top- priority asthmagens in nine chemical groups that are used in building materials and have a high likelihood of occupant exposure. These asthmagens are found in foam insulation, paints, adhesives, floors and carpets, among many other interior materials.

Additionally, it identified a dozen chemicals commonly used in building products that can impact the development of children's lungs at their earliest ages and lead to the onset of asthma. The report consider eight of these chemicals to be top priorities for consideration in asthma prevention strategies. These eight chemicals belong to a class of chemicals known as phthalates. Certain phthalates have been banned in many consumer products intended for use by children due to their suspected toxicity, but remain widely used in soft vinyl building products and furnishings.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, asthma rates in the United States are rising despite the proliferation of asthma control strategies, including indoor air quality programs. As asthma affects more people, it becomes increasingly clear that new strategies need to be considered, focusing on the prevention of asthma onset. [Full Report]

In another report, "Phthalate-Free Plasticizers in PVC," HBN examined replacements for phthalate plasticizers in Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) building materials. Plasticizers are added to PVC to make it flexible, but since they are not tightly bound to the PVC molecules, they migrate from PVC products. Phthalates, the most commonly used plasticizers in PVC, are known endocrine disruptors - chemicals that interfere with hormone signaling, which is especially critical to early childhood development. Additionally, many phthalates are known carcinogens and reproductive and developmental toxicants. Exposures to these toxic plasticizers from PVC products can occur throughout their lifecycle. Therefore, it is crucial that PVC products containing phthalate plasticizers be eliminated from the built environment. In response to consumer and regulatory pressures, PVC building products manufacturers have begun to offer phthalate-free products.

Due to its overall human health and environmental impacts from manufacturing to disposal, PVC should be a choice of last resort in the selection of building materials. If the use of flexible PVC is unavoidable, two bio-based products - Grindsted Soft-n-Safe (COMGHA) and Polysorb ID 37 (Isosorbide diesters) are well studied, appear to be the least toxic, and therefore should be preferred over the other plasticizers studied in this assessment.
[Full Report]

Construction Jobs to Grow 10 Percent
Construction jobs in Florida should grow faster than other fields through 2017, according to a forecast released October 31. University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith expects construction jobs to grow 10.4 percent over three years. Jobs in trade, transportation and utilities - which includes retail - are expected to grow 3.8 percent; professional and business services, 3.6 percent; education and health services, 2.2 percent; and leisure and hospitality, 2 percent.

Auto Dealers Attack Tesla
State legislatures across the country are trying to stall Tesla sales. Auto dealers are pushing back against the electric vehicle maker by invoking laws that prevent manufacturers from directly selling to consumers, which the California-based Tesla does.

Legislation restricting Tesla direct sales to consumers has been filed or passed in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Virginia,Washington, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Gasoline-powered vehicles still dominate auto sales, with more than 11.5 million sold this year through September, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association. But electric vehicles such as Tesla are catching on, with more than 45,000 sold this year, up from 35,000 a year ago. Hybrid vehicles contributed another 360,000 sales, and plug-in hybrid vehicles accounted for an additional 44,000. [More]

New Members:

FGBC Welcomes New Members & Certifying Agents

Karin Wright
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami, Inc

Cheree Gulley
Housing Finance Authority of Miami-Dade County

Harry Tuttle
Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach
Delray Beach

Sandy Roman
Roman Realty Group, LLC

Nino Griego
Miami Beach

Funding Opportunities:

FHFC Multifamily Energy Retrofit Program
National & State Green Building Funding Opportunities
St. Johns River WMD
South Florida WMD Water Programs
Southwest Florida WMD Water Programs

Education Opportunities:

Nov. 12, 2014
12 p.m.
Planning for Complete Streets in Florida

Nov. 13, 2014
11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Energy Star Portfolio Manager Training

Winter Park
Community Center
Winter Park, FL

December 5, 2014
FGBC Certifying Agent
Annual Verification Course

Orlando, FL