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We’ve been discussing the incredible potential of green building, and how it can flourish even in this economy.

Well, potential has given way to actual proof.

According to a report by McGraw-Hill, “The value of green building construction projects begun in 2010 was 50% higher than in 2008…representing 25% of all new construction. The report projects that the green building market will continue to expand, reaching $135 billion by 2015.”

This is fantastic news, not just for the industry, but for all of us.A couple more points Buildaroo highlighted from the report:

  • One third of new non-residential construction projects were green projects
  • Green building reduced operating costs by 13.6% on average for new buildings, increased new building values by an average of 10.9%, and increased the return on investment by 9.9% on average for new buildings and 19.2% for retrofits

So it’s now a fact – green building can make you lots of money while saving the planet. In fact, it has become arguably the most lucrative sector of all green industries. It’s a credit to the engineers, architects, and builders who have worked tirelessly to advance the cause.

It just makes too much sense these days. Everyone wants to save money, and at a time when all construction has taken a severe hit, sustainable construction has been a catalyst for keeping the industry, and thousands of jobs, afloat.

But we must remember that we’re not done yet. While these statistics are very encouraging, we shouldn’t rest until every building is as sustainable as it can be.And you can bet that IES will remain steadfast advocates for making all buildings green buildings.

How will you spend 10/10/10?

Posted: October 8, 2010 by , Category:Sustainability, Uncategorized

There’s just 2 days to go until approx 7,000 events across 200 countries get underway as part of www.350.org‘s 10/10/10 Global Work Party for action on energy efficiency and climate change. It looks to be the biggest day of positive action on climate change in history so, what will you be doing?

Here at IES we’re supporting 10/10/10 by hosting a series of events including:

  • Switch off stickers
  • Sourcing even more ethical suppliers
  • Thermostat settings on radiators
  • To urn or not to urn!!
  • Water waste awareness
  • Supplier check up — utilities, shredding etc.
  • Composting feasibility
  • IT ideas
  • Setting up electricity / energy monitoring

There are some fantastic events happening all over the world and I wanted to share some of the highlights with you:

  • Sumo wrestlers cycling to practice in downtown Tokyo.
  • An education center in the Namib Desert in Namibia installing six solar panels.
  • Divers on the smallest island nation of the world, Nauru (8.1 square miles) will plunge into their coral reefs for an underwater clean-up.
  • President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives is installing solar panels on his roof.
  • Partiers in Edinburgh will be throwing a “Joycott” (a reverse boycott) at a local bar that agreed to put 20% of its extra revenues on 10/10/10 to
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    making the bar more energy efficient. Attendees will try and drink as much as possible to raise money. Cheers!

  • In San Pedro Garza Garcia, Mexico, students will hand out solar-powered lights to families, who are still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Alex this June, 2010.
  • Over 100 cyclists from Jordan, Israel and Palestine taking part in a 3-day bicycle relay to carry water from the Yarmouk River and the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea to symbolize the need for cooperation to stop climate change and save precious water resources.
  • On 10/10/10 the Mayor of Mexico City will sign a commitment to reduce the city’s emissions 10% in a single year. The city government will be directly responsible for 5% of the reductions and lead a public campaign to get citizens to cut the remaining 5%.
  • Young people in Barbados will be demonstrating the viability of fuel cell technology in a hovercraft they have built themselves.

I must say the “Joycott” in Edinburgh is my personal favourite!

Fancy being a part of it? You can Find a local event near you to see what weird and wonderful events are being held in your neighbourhood. Plus, there’s still time to register your own event so why not join in and celebrate climate change solutions? You can register your event at http://www.350.org/oct10 and if you’re looking for inspiration why not check out the 350 Action Gallery showing some amazing examples of actions that have happened already from all across the globe.

We’ll post a Blog (with photos of course!) of our very own 10.10.10 events very soon!

Housing for the Future: Eco-villages

Posted: September 15, 2010 by , Category:Sustainability

Eco-friendly living can come in many shapes and forms – from recycling paper and aluminum to placing solar panels on your home, to the more extreme option of living in an eco-village. An eco-village focuses on organic farming, green building, communal spaces and many other aspects of sustainability. For those that remember the communes of the 1960s and 1970s, eco-villages do have some similar characteristics as they both center around sharing and using the land to farm and eat but the main difference is they aren’t solely for hippies anymore. From Sweden to Missouri and everywhere in between, these new settlements are popping up and prospering.

“The future of housing, in general, is sustainable communities,” Laura Mamo, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland and co-author of Living Green, tells Green House. She argues that single-family homes on large suburban lots have failed society, because they’ve created social isolation, dependence on personal cars and intolerably hefty mortgages for homeowners.

Each village differs – but for the most part, residents own the home but not the land it sits on, helping to significantly reduce the taxes. Residents of these communities are usually responsible to help out by cooking communal dinners, tending to the wood-burning furnace that heats all the homes or maintaining the surrounding gardens. Each eco-village or community has its own set rules and way of life but they all share the same principles of living a more simplified

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life and reducing their overall carbon footprint for a better tomorrow.

If living in an eco-village isn’t for you, then try looking at some of the unique ways these residents live and try adapting them to your neighborhood. Why not unite with your neighbors and try growing a few items in each of your yards

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and sharing the crop? Or set up a monthly volunteer day to plant new trees or flowers in your neighborhood parks? These are small ways to make an impact in your own community and make your own pseudo-eco-village!

I just recently returned from a trip where my husband and I did a road trip through Northern Spain. While we were driving, I was completely surprised and impressed by the amount of wind turbines that were scattered throughout the hills and countryside. It made me wonder when we will start to see more use of the wind turbines in the US. Luckily, my wondering came to quick end when my colleague passed on an interesting article from the Governor of Massachusetts official website about the expansion of a wind turbine company right here in Massachusetts.

FloDesign Wind Turbine Corporation was selected under the Patrick-Murray Administration’s Massachusetts Recovery Plan to expand its operations in Massachusetts. “FloDesign has been recognized for its ‘transformative’ technology by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and I am pleased to see this innovative Massachusetts company choosing to stay and grow right here, creating jobs and helping Massachusetts show the nation and the world the way toward a clean energy economy,” said Governor Patrick (Official website of the Governor of Massachusetts).

The expansion is estimated to create and retain 150 green jobs over the next few years and the wind turbines themselves bring a large amount advantages. Below is a list the US DOE has identified:


  • Wind energy is fueled by the wind, so it’s a clean fuel source. Wind energy doesn’t pollute the air like power plants that rely on combustion of fossil fuels, such as coal or natural gas. Wind turbines don’t produce atmospheric emissions that cause acid rain or greenhouse gasses.
  • Wind energy is a domestic source of energy, produced in the United States. The nation’s wind supply is abundant.
  • Wind energy relies on the renewable power of the wind, which can’t be used up. Wind is actually a form of solar energy; winds are caused by the heating of the atmosphere by the sun, the rotation of the earth, and the earth’s surface irregularities.
  • Wind energy is one of the lowest-priced renewable energy technologies available today, costing between 4 and 6 cents per kilowatt-hour, depending upon the wind resource and project financing of the particular project.
  • Wind turbines can be built on farms or ranches, thus benefiting the economy in rural areas, where most of the best wind sites are found. Farmers and ranchers can continue to work the land because the wind turbines use only a fraction of the land. Wind power plant owners make rent payments to the farmer or rancher for the use of the land.
  • These problems have been resolved or greatly reduced through technological development or by properly siting wind plants.

The first wind turbine that FloDesign assembles is intended to be here in Massachusetts. If you would like to read more on this article please click on the following link: PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES EXPANSION OF INNOVATIVE WIND TURBINE COMPANY

We’ve all heard about ENERGY STAR.

And you probably heard President Obama talk about the Home Star (aka “Cash for Caulkers”) program recently. Designed to provide financial incentives for homeowners who perform a variety of energy-efficiency upgrades, the Home Star program is urging Americans to green up their homes while getting a little green in return.

Well, add another “star” to the list. Melissa Hincha-Ownby reported earlier this week about USGBC’s support of the proposed Building Star legislation, which, if passed, will provide incentives for energy-efficient retrofits

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for existing buildings. Similar to Home Star, Building Star will provide financial incentives for energy-efficiency retrofits in multi-family residential units as well as commercial buildings.

According to the MNN article, “Every year, the American economy loses more than $130 billion from leaky, inefficient buildings,” Fedrizzi added. “We can change that through the advancement of programs like Building Star – which would create approximately 150,000 jobs. Senators Merkley and Pryor get the ‘gold star’ for introducing it; now all the Senate has to do is include it in the next jobs package.” {Source: USGBC} Therefore, if passed, according to an article on Earth2Tech, “the program is expected to save building owners more than $3 billion on their energy bills annually by reducing enough peak electricity demand to avoid the need for nearly three dozen 300 MW power plants.”

This looks like a good deal all the way around. Building will be upgraded, saving the building owners money for heating, cooling and other inefficiencies. Plus that’s less strain on the environment. And more retrofits means more jobs, which will continue to boost the economy and create more spending in other areas.

Tampa Electric

Posted: March 30, 2010 by , Category:Sustainability

On a recent trip to Florida, I got a chance to visit the Tampa Electric Company (TECO). While this may not seem like a prime vacation destination, it must be said that this power plant goes above and beyond the normal community obligations. TECO signed a $1.2 billion dollar plan in 1999 with the U.S. EPA and Florida Department of Environment Protection to reduce air emissions by 89% from their 1998 levels.

Along with this pledge to reduce the emissions, they will be installing approximately 100,000 silicon-based photovoltaic panels. The panels will generate enough electricity from the sun to serve electric needs for around 3500 homes.

With Florida’s growing population, TECO is working hard to plan for the future of the environment. Aside from the power plant objectives to reduce emissions and generate more renewable energy sources, they are also interested in preserving the environment for the future population of Florida. The company holds a number of initiatives including an Aviation Protection Plan, Manatee Viewing Center, and environmental education center.

Manatees, also known as sea cows, are listed on the World Conservation Union’s list as vulnerable to extinction. While they have few natural predators, they are slow moving and fall victim to human interactions such as the numerous boat propellers around Florida’s coast. They have however, found a safe haven in inlets around the TECO plant. The plants releases warm water that attracts a wide range of ocean creatures including around 300 manatees at a given time.

Click below for a live web cam of the manatees in the inlet – http://www.tampaelectric.com/manatee/funstuff/

To find out more about the Photovoltaic and chart the hourly output click here

One of the key challenges facing today’s building designers is understanding and tackling how to incorporate sustainable design principles into existing workflows and processes.

A ‘good design is sustainable design’ ethos promoted by quantitative analysis can make a great impact. Architects get quick environmental feedback on design iterations and environmental engineers can input more into the design. Achieving this kind of effective collaboration and cross-discipline understanding, in my opinion is core to achieving truly sustainable, energy-efficient building design.

The advent of BIM (Building Information Modeling), and better integration between analysis and design tools, is helping push this more integrated, information sharing approach to design team working. In particular, the Green Building XML schema, referred to as “gbXML”, was developed to facilitate information transfer from building information models to design/energy performance analysis tools.

We’ve working hard at IES to drive such integration by developing plug-ins that link our tiered suite of analysis tools to Revit Architecture, Revit MEP and Google SketchUp so users can build their designs in Revit or SketchUp and then easily translate and analyze  them in an iterative fashion. gbXML was used to streamline the data flow from Revit to the IES <Virtual Environment> in the IES VE Revit Plug-in.

Climate Zone Diversity

Posted: March 16, 2010 by , Category:Environment

There is a great diversity of climate zones across the planet. Each climate zone presents its own particular challenges for the architects and engineers of the design team. High humidity year round with a small diurnal range presents a challenge to human comfort in the humid equatorial climate zone. At the other extreme, sub zero temperatures in cold regions present an entirely different obstacle. Looking to the past, at the indigenous architecture in each region, we see a remarkable level of ingenuity in design. Before the luxuries of central heating and air conditioning, people used the very form of the building as their only means to control conditions inside the building. The traditional igloo allowed people to survive in an inhospitable climate which offered little in the way of building materials. Utilising the principal that hot air rises, the sleeping area was situated on a raised platform inside the igloo. The thick snow walls insulated the occupants from the sub zero temperatures outside and protected them from the biting wind.

No less ingenious is the traditional Malay house which has an entirely different set of challenges to overcome. Large

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levels of openable area help keep the house well ventilated, while the overhanging roof functions as a solar shade.

All across the world, the vernacular architecture shows a wonderful degree of congruence with the climate in which it is found. Contrast this with the modern urban skyline where generic high rise apartment and office blocks replace the highly specialised, climate specific designs of the past.

Building form is now more a result of function than climatic conditions. The inventions of central heating and air conditioning represent a great achievement in allowing us greater levels of indoor comfort and flexibility in design.

However, the energy used to condition our buildings represents a significant portion of global C02 emissions. Whilst technological advancements have delivered ever more efficient heating and cooling solutions, there perhaps remains scope for improvement in the external form of the buildings themselves. Lessons can be learned from the climate specific designs of our ancestors. With the benefit of tools and technology which did not exist for the indigenous builder, we can take inspiration from their designs to create buildings better suited to their environment. If we can control climate as much as possible utilising the form of the building alone we reduce the energy expended using mechanical methods, thus helping us towards the goal of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

111 ways to save energy

Posted: March 2, 2010 by , Category:Uncategorized

Last week, Consulting-Specifying Engineer, linked to a report containing 111 recommendations to improve NYC building codes.

According to the article, the task force, led by Urban Green Council, “was charged with recommending green changes to the laws and regulations affecting buildings in New York, bringing them to the next level. The 111 recommendations largely impact new construction and renovations.” The full report can be found here.

What is most

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interesting (and disturbing) is the letter at the beginning of the report.

Buildings in New York City account for nearly 80 PERCENT of its greenhouse gas emissions. More than buses, cars and taxis. And in a city with more than 10,000 cabs alone, the fact that buildings are the largest contributor of greenhouse gases is astounding. But the city is trying. In December 2006, Mayor Bloomberg committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30 percent by 2030, which will require substantial changes to building infrastructure.

What struck me about this report is that the changes are for buildings old and new. And they don’t have to do with LEED or Architecture 2030, although those benchmarks are an added bonus. This report provides New York City the changes needed to remove impediments to green building practices, ultimately resulting in greener, healthier buildings for all New Yorkers. Let’s see what we can learn from the city that never sleeps.

We will be hosting monthly AIA Continuing Education System- registered training courses at the Center for Architecture in New York City, these courses will be held over two days every month, starting on March 2-3 and 4-5, and will focus on BIM and performance analysis, utilizing IES’ <Virtual Environment> software.

Are you watching the Olympics?

Posted: February 23, 2010 by , Category:Sustainability

Are you watching closely? Turns out, the new take on the gold, silver and bronze medals is more than just a funky new shape. In an effort to reduce electronic waste, each medal was made with a tiny bit of the more than 140,000 tons of e-waste that otherwise would have been sent to Canadian landfills. And that’s not the only eco-friendly thing about the 2010 winter games.

The Olympic Village in Vancouver has received LEED certification. According to The Vancouver Sun, “The athletes’ village in Vancouver’s southeast False Creek can now be called the greenest community in the North America – possibly the world – Mayor Gregor Robertson said Tuesday morning, as he announced the entire neighbourhood had received a certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.”


Yesterday, “Platinum certification was awarded to the $1-billion, 32-hectare South East False Creek neighbourhood development project based on a variety of factors including its proximity to the downtown core, affordable housing, green buildings and habitat restoration. The Olympic Village is the second development in the world to receive Platinum certification.”

Some of the examples of the design elements of the buildings throughout the athletes’ village are green roofs, cisterns to catch rainwater, passive solar design, upgraded insulation and windows as well as carpets and paint with low or no VOC.

When the announcement was made on Tuesday, USGBC chair Tim Cole called the athletes’ village a “remarkable example” of what is possible.

Lance Hosey, in his Op-Eco blog, looks over the sustainability claims by Olympic organizers that the Vancouver games are “the greenest games ever.” Supposedly, various forms of waste mitigation and energy efficiency will take down the games’ carbon output by 15 percent. But the land-grading methods used to make ski slopes at Whistler are among the most permanently destructive. And, of course, the organizers can’t help it if the air travel involved in bringing people to the games amounts to the annual belchings of 30,000 cars.

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