Green

Building that Grow On You?

"DARPA is launching the Engineered Living Materials (ELM) program with a goal of creating a new class of materials that combines the structural properties of traditional building materials with attributes of living systems. Living materials represent a new opportunity to leverage engineered biology to solve existing problems associated with the construction and maintenance of built environments, and to create new capabilities to craft smart infrastructure that dynamically responds to its surroundings."

What a clever acronym, ELM.  Imagine, plant a few seeds and 75 years later you can harvest the lumber and build with it.  That's not what the US Army is considering, however.

“The vision of the ELM program is to grow materials on demand where they are needed,” said ELM program manager Justin Gallivan. “Imagine that instead of shipping finished materials, we can ship precursors and rapidly grow them on site using local resources. And, since the materials will be alive, they will be able to respond to changes in their environment and heal themselves in response to damage.”

With DARPA's mission of building better killing systems, I doubt their first agenda is providing shelter to populations displaced by global warming. But maybe they deserve the benefit of the doubt.  Consider, for example,

-- Spreading a tarp seeded with spores that grow into a thick moss bed that insulates and even supports the structure.

-- Quick growing, thorny vines that grow into almost impregnable fences, but more quickly than the bougainvillea or cactus hedges now used for that purpose.

-- Airport runways that don't need mowing.

-- Toilets that make it possible to actually "shit bricks".

Frankly, most of the stuff DARPA does terrifies me, and this program is no exception.

"The long-term objective of the ELM program is to develop an ability to engineer structural properties directly into the genomes of biological systems..." (Emphasis added.) 

In other words, they propose to genetically modify ecosystems for the battlefield.  But don't worry,

"Work on ELM will be... carried out in controlled laboratory settings. DARPA does not anticipate environmental release during the program." 

The same reassurance was offered about atomic bombs.

More about ELM can be found at: http://go.usa.gov/x2syj.

Innovations at International Builders Show - Day 2

Observations today relate to environmental impacts of building products

1. Only a few exhibitors had booth signage proclaiming, "sustainable" or "green". This is not to say they are not promoting green products -- energy and water conserving products were there in abundance. But the market, at least the home builder market, is no longer painting itself green. Few booths had signage tauting recycled material content, VOCs, LEED, or other green buzz words. It is just a part of regular business now.

2. Not withstanding the above, IBS and the co-located Kitchen and Bath Industry Show are full of signs of conspicuous consumption. 12-tall doors. Shower drains that automatically light-up with colored LEDs when wet. Ironing boards and irons with digital controls -- for $3000. And more. Or, in the spirit of excess, more and more and more...

3. Many foreign manufactures were at the show testing the market or introducing products. I was shocked, however, that several of them would not disclose ingredients in even general ways. A Polish company, for example, has an innovative dry-stack masonry system made from perlite and binders. Other than saying that it did not contain portland cement, they would not disclose anything about the binder. There reluctance to disclose will hinder their introduction at a time when the US construction industry is increasingly asking for transparency.

Assessing Sustainability is Difficult


LCA-final3LEED and other sustainability scorecard systems can have the effect of distilling difficult decisions to a few simple points.  This can be useful for some, but not all product selection decisions.

Fiber reinforced plastics (FRP), for example, are difficult to assess. Here is how one company, Kreysler and Associates, explains the sustainability of their product:

Sustainability is a popular and important issue facing designers, builders and building owners. Unfortunately, it is also complex. Recent developments have shown that programs such as LEED assessments do not always reveal the correct or best decisions about material selection or building strategies. The more appropriate but also more rigorous method is “Life Cycle Assessment” or LCA’s where a material’s total, cradle to grave environmental impact is compared to an alternative. These exercises are complicated and project specific. For example, often the weight of a product plays a significant role in impacts like transportation, installation, and back-up structure. All these factors vary from project to project and to measure all these factors is usually beyond the scope of most conventional construction projects.

Since 2009, Kreysler & Associates has worked with Professor Michael Lepech PhD and his graduate students at Stanford University’s School of Environmental Engineering to compare FRP systems to other materials in given situations. We have done studies comparing an aquarium tank made of FRP to one made of shotcrete. We looked at GFRC vs. FRP for a large rain screen project in Eastern Europe, and limestone vs. FRP/polymer concrete building ornament replicas for a rehabilitation project in San Francisco. We measured the impact of FRP reflective acoustic panels on a new concert hall at Stanford vs. an alternative concrete system at the EMPAC Performing Arts and Media Center in Troy, NY. We are currently comparing a large FRP sun shade to a float glass alternative and another GFRC rainscreen to a new, highly fire resistant FRP system for the SFMOMA facade.

Both ourselves and the students have often been surprised at the results. For example, things like stainless steel anchors, the type of particle board use for mold making, and the effect of sandblasting a surface instead of sanding it have all played significant roles in these studies. Intuition suggests that FRP would not be a very “green” solution since it comes from petroleum. Surprisingly however this assumption is nearly always wrong. Although we have not always been the “greener” alternative, so far it has never been because of the FRP material. In the two cases where the study suggested the alternate to FRP was better, it had more to do with the choices we made about mold making material, anchors and structural support. One important factor to keep in mind however is that these are student studies, not professional peer reviewed papers. They are however carefully developed reports using state of the art technology, ISO standards, and up-to-date data. If you have specific questions, please let us know and we’ll do our best to answer.
This type of thoughful analysis helps to establish the firm as a leader in their industry.

Balancing Environmental and Performance Concerns


Environmental concerns often require finding a balance between environmental and performance concerns, as illustrated in the following case study:

Use Prudent Specifications with Titanium Dioxide
Michael Chusid, RA FCSI CCS – Letter to Editor, Environmental Building News, Vol.17 No.7

I read with interest your article on photoactive titanium dioxide (TiO2) in concrete [see EBN Vol. 16, No. 5]. I have been following the product launch of the material for several years, have published articles on the technology, and have spoken about the material at an American Concrete Institute's nanotechnology conference. My research has satisfied me that the material performs as the manufacturer claims with regards to the removal of organic grime (but not inorganic stains) from the surface of concrete and the depollution of nearby air.

White concrete at Jubilee Church, Rome
I note one inaccuracy in your article. Due to the small size of the particles and their low density on the surface of the concrete, TiO2 does not affect the visual properties of the concrete. The whiteness of the Jubilee Church results not from photoactive TiO2 but from white portland cement, white marble aggregate, and metakaolin—a bright white pozzolanic concrete additive.

CONCERNS
Despite my enthusiasm for photoactive concrete, I have some environmental concerns with the current generation of photoactive TiO. First, does photoactive TiO2 pose a threat to microorganisms when it enters into surface water or groundwater? The class of TiO2 used as a pigment—rutile—has a record of safe use. The class of TiO2 used in photoactive products, however—anatase—is comparatively rare in nature, and the behavior of its nano-sized particles in ecosystems has not been fully studied.

The catalytic characteristics of the material do not diminish with time. Consider what could happen, therefore, if a photoactive structure is demolished and concrete from the structure is used as riprap on the shore of a shallow sea. As the concrete erodes, what damage could be done when photoactive particles settle onto coral polyps or other vulnerable species?

I know this risk seems blown out of proportion in light of the product's proven benefits and given the small use of photoactive compounds today. But consider that the compounds are already finding inroads into many products worldwide—including disposable consumer products. Must we wait for another Silent Spring before establishing guidelines?

RECOMMENDATIONS
Prudence suggests that concrete producers and the project team should minimize the release of photoactive material into the environment. At the very least, a designer should discuss the risks with the building owner. Specifications should require the concrete supplier and the contractor to dispose of waste TiO2 in a manner that will not contaminate the environment. And a permanent plaque should be mounted on the building notifying future generations that the concrete may require special handling upon demolition.

We also need to study the byproducts of depollution. As photoactive TiO2removes pollutants, it forms new chemical compounds. While these chemical byproducts are considerably less environmentally hazardous than the pollutants they replace, there is no such thing as a free lunch in a closed ecosystem, and the potential runoff from a photoactive surface should be studied for environmental impact.

Thirdly, the photocatalytic reaction can draw calcium out of the calcium silicate hydrate (CSH) that is the cementitious component of concrete, accelerating erosion. This degradation is estimated to be “just a fraction of a millimeter per decade,” a rate that can amount to a fraction of a centimeter per century and could be especially visible at corners or other surface relief. Adding metakaolin to the concrete mixture enriches the CSH content of the concrete and may retard erosion. Moreover, the erosion of the concrete can also release photoactive compounds into the environment.

I remain optimistic that photoactive titanium dioxide is a valuable tool for making the environment cleaner and healthier. This goal, however, will be achieved only if we make informed tradeoffs between environmental benefits and risks.

******************UPDATE **********************
The first comment below draws our attention to a recent study by the EU* that finds nano "TiO2 nanomaterials with the characteristics as indicated below, at a concentration up to 25% as a UV-filter in sunscreens, can be considered to not pose any risk of adverse affects in humans after application on healthy, intact or sunburnt skin." While tightly worded and qualified, it sounds like a positive assessment.

The report, however,  DOES NOT ADDRESS MY CONCERNS. My blog post concerns environmental impacts of construction use of anatase TiO2, the highly photocatalytic type; the EU report considers human health, regards TiO2 that "are mainly the rutile form" and taht "do not have a substantially high photocatalytic activity." It still leaves unaddressed the question I posed about corals and other vulnerable species. 

There are many differences between human health and environmental health. One is that a building will stand for many years while consumer products like sunscreens can be removed distribution channels quickly. The report points out that, "If any new evidence emerges in the future... then the SCCS may consider revising this assessment." It is not so easy to revise a building or highway.

If you are the one that posted the report, please contact me to discuss this topic further.

*Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) Opinion on Titanium Dioxide (nano form), COLIPA No. S75, 22 July 2013.


More on GreenFormat -- Comment Deadline is Friday

In a previous post, I expressed concerns about the proposed revisions to GreenFormat. have the following, thoughtful letter from George Middleton, AIA CSI, Chair of the GreenFormat Revision Task Team:
Michael – Thank you for your comments about GreenFormat. You have highlighted an important issue we face in the GreenFormat Task Team where we typically receive two kinds of feedback:

1. Technical Feedback – what gets said, how it gets said, where something goes, what headings should be, etc.

2. Existential Feedback – we need GreenFormat, we don’t need GreenFormat, it should be broader, it should be narrower, give us more, make it stop, etc.

For the moment we answer the existential comments by simply saying that GreenFormat exists. That decision was made some years ago and it is currently a CSI standard. It has moved on to be a standard separate from its earlier iteration as a product search and comparison website. So since we serve at the behest of CSI’s Technical Committee and CSI as a whole, our charge is to bring our best thinking to what GreenFormat could be or should be going forward. Presumably the market will determine whether it is useful or not, and will vote with its support and dollars, using GreenFormat as the basis for useful secondary products not unlike we see today with MasterFormat, SectionFormat, etc.

With that said, I tend to agree with you that perhaps all the materials, products, systems and technologies we deal with could be adequately described using a universal set of salient feature criteria. As you point out, it’s probably true that the industry has no pressing need for a FireSafety Format, a ProductMaintenance Format, or a DecorFormat.

But what separates GreenFormat from those hypothetical formats is an important component of sustainability that historically has been advocacy for a green point of view. There are people in the marketplace for whom GreenFormat’s sustainability-related content is potentially useful in marketing and selecting green products that presumably have lower environmental impacts and are therefore better choices for the planet and its people, than products not having green properties. As you point out, whether or not that ends up being true depends on how those products are actually chosen. Many would agree that a comprehensive life-cycle (holistic) approach is better than depending on single attributes which might in fact lead to choices that don’t perform as intended. There is nothing sustainable about that.

Perhaps GreenFormat’s role going forward can be that of a filter or a sub-set of a much larger set of product selection criteria. It can serve to organize and classify the information that building owners, designers, constructors, suppliers and even regulators exchange as they consider the environmental, economic and social impacts of the products they make and use. The challenge of course will be for the tools based on GreenFormat to enable good decisions by being sound, objective, science-based and comprehensive enough for users to make choices that are actually better.
I have expressed my existential feedback in my blog post. George's letter motivated me to also submit my technical feedback directly to the committee.


If sustainability is an important part of your product marketing, I urge you to send your feedback in the next few days.

You can download a draft of the proposed GreenFormat and a White Paper by its drafters at http://csinet.org/Home-Page-Category/Formats/GF.

Public comments can be submitted until February 28th (02/28/14). Submit comments to cgummo@csinet.org.



GreenFormat Revisions: Public Comment Invited

Manufacturers could use this on collateral.

Formats are key to transforming data into usable information. The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) has played a vital role in our industry by developing formats to organize construction information.

A decade ago, CSI launched GreenFormat, a website for organizing data about the environmental sustainability of building products. In the early days of "green construction", GreenFormat was a useful marketing tool for building product manufactures, a place to publish their information and demonstrate commitments to sustainability. Now, the GreenFormat website is off line and an Institute task team has proposed revisions to GreenFormat.

I question the continuing need for a GreenFormat. While our industry needs a way to organize the types of information included in GreenFormat, I argue that "sustainability" should not be separated from other types of product information.  My son is fond of saying, "the green building movement is over. It won." His point is that green considerations are now on par with other product attributes. "No one speaks about a 'fire safety' movement," he explains, "because fire safety is part of building design. So is sustainability."

In the effort to obtain LEED credits or achieve other sustainability goals, we are too often tempted to select products to meet a single criteria, for example, whether wood is FSC certified or if a product is PVC-free? These may be important criteria, but they are not the only ones. I believe there are no green products, only intelligent choices.  

Instead of GreenFormat, we need a comprehensive format for building product information. The format will have a place to indicate VOC emissions and life cycle performance, but it will also include installation instructions, structural and operational data, product limitations, cost, and other information necessary to make a sound decision about a using a product. CSI used to have Spec-Data format and  Construction Specifications Canada has a Product Format that deserves greater utilization. Sustainability information fits nicely into either of these programs.  For more info on them, click here.

You can download a draft of the proposed GreenFormat and a White Paper by its drafters at http://csinet.org/Home-Page-Category/Formats/GF.

Public comments can be submitted until February 28th (02/28/14). Submit comments to cgummo@csinet.org.

The success of LEED?

The USGBC program was designed to transform the market to encourage greater sustainability. Success sometimes has unintended consequences, as noted in this blog post by Rob Cassidy,& Construction: Rob Cassidy, editor of Building Design interpreting data gathered by Turner Construction:

FTC Issues Revised "Green Guides

The Federal Trade Commission issued revised “Green Guides” that are designed to help marketers ensure that the claims they make about the environmental attributes of their products are truthful and non-deceptive.
The revisions to the FTC’s Green Guides reflect a wide range of public input, including hundreds of consumer and industry comments on previously proposed revisions.  They include updates to the existing Guides, as well as new sections on the use of carbon offsets, “green” certifications and seals, and renewable energy and renewable materials claims.

“The introduction of environmentally friendly products into the marketplace is a win for consumers who want to purchase greener products and producers who want to sell them,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “But this win-win can only occur if marketers’ claims are truthful and substantiated.  The FTC’s changes to the Green Guides will level the playing field for honest business people and it is one reason why we had such broad support.”
In revising the Green Guides, the FTC modified and clarified sections of the previous Guides and provided new guidance on environmental claims that were not common when the Guides were last reviewed. 

Revisions to Previous Guidance. Among other modifications, the Guides caution marketers not to make broad, unqualified claims that a product is “environmentally friendly” or “eco-friendly” because the FTC’s consumer perception study confirms that such claims are likely to suggest that the product has specific and far-reaching environmental benefits.  Very few products, if any, have all the attributes consumers seem to perceive from such claims, making these claims nearly impossible to substantiate.
The Guides also:
  • advise marketers not to make an unqualified degradable claim for a solid waste product unless they can prove that the entire product or package will completely break down and return to nature within one year after customary disposal;
  • caution that items destined for landfills, incinerators, or recycling facilities will not degrade within a year, so marketers should not make unqualified degradable claims for these items; and
  • clarify guidance on compostable, ozone, recyclable, recycled content, and source reduction claims.
New Sections.  The Guides contain new sections on: 1) certifications and seals of approval; 2) carbon offsets, 3) free-of claims, 4) non-toxic claims, 5) made with renewable energy claims, and 6) made with renewable materials claims.
The new section on certifications and seals of approval, for example, emphasizes that certifications and seals may be considered endorsements that are covered by the FTC’s Endorsement Guides, and includes examples that illustrate how marketers could disclose a “material connection” that might affect the weight or credibility of an endorsement.  In addition, the Guides caution marketers not to use environmental certifications or seals that don’t clearly convey the basis for the certification, because such seals or certifications are likely to convey general environmental benefits.

Finally, either because the FTC lacks a sufficient basis to provide meaningful guidance or wants to avoid proposing guidance that duplicates or contradicts rules or guidance of other agencies, the Guides do not address use of the terms “sustainable,” “natural,” and “organic.”  Organic claims made for textiles and other products derived from agricultural products are covered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program.
The FTC first issued its Green Guides in 1992 to help marketers avoid making misleading environmental claims.  It revised the Guides in 1996 and 1998, and proposed further revisions in October 2010 to take into account recent changes in the marketplace.  The guidance they provide includes:
  • general principles that apply to all environmental marketing claims;
  • how consumers are likely to interpret particular claims, and how marketers can substantiate these claims; and
  • how marketers can qualify their claims to avoid deceiving consumers.
The Guides issued today take into account nearly 340 unique comments and more than 5,000 total comments received since the FTC released the proposed revised Guides in the fall of 2010.  They also include information gathered from three public workshops and a study of how consumers perceive and understand environmental claims.

The Green Guides are not agency rules or regulations.  Instead, they describe the types of environmental claims the FTC may or may not find deceptive under Section 5 of the FTC Act.   Under Section 5, the agency can take enforcement action against deceptive claims, which ultimately can lead to Commission orders prohibiting deceptive advertising and marketing and fines if those orders are later violated.

The FTC has brought several actions in recent years related to deceptive recyclability, biodegradable, bamboo, and environmental certification claims as part of its overall effort to ensure that environmental marketing is truthful and substantiated.

Consumer and Business Education.  The FTC today also released several business and consumer education resources designed to help users understand the Guides.  These include: 1) “Environmental Claims – Summary of Green Guides,” a four-page summary of the changes in the Guides; 2) “The Green Guides,” a video explaining highlights of the changes; 3) a new page on the FTC Business Center, with links to legal documents, the Guides and other “green” content; 4) a Business Center blog post; and 5) related consumer information.

From http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/10/greenguides.shtm, 2012-Oct-01

Posts I am NOT going to write

As I plan on reducing the frequency of my posts to this blog, here are a few of the topics I am no longer planning to write about:

"The Threat to Smaller Firms", Building Design and Construction magazine reports in its 2012-Feb issue, is that ""the top 10 firms in any building category -- hospitals, higher ed, K-12, government buildings -- ...control half or more of the total market share", growing mostly through mergers and acquisition. How will this impact your marketing strategy?

The wall between building design and building operation is crumbling, thanks to more focus on building commissioning as an environmental strategy. The Building Commissioning Association has released Best Practices in Commissioning New Construction (PDF) and it is recommended reading. It may inspire new opportunities and sales influencers.

American with Disabilities (ADA) Standards, issued in 2010, have become mandatory as of this year. How will they affect your business? Here are some ideas from the magazine:
"Alternative Water Source Use is Now Mainstream" says Plumbing Systems and Design in 2011-Nov issue. The article sites graywater systems, reclaimed (recycled) water systems, rainwater catchment, and on-site treatment of non-potable water as concepts now written into building codes. This will affect the use of building products from the roof to underground utilities. The same issue discusses the goal of Net Zero Water utilization in buildings.

Following the LEED

Suppose you want to determine how LEED, the green building rating system, effects marketing opportunities for your product. This used to be fairly simple to determine, as there was just one version of LEED and you could quickly scan the list prerequisites and credits to see which related to your product.

It is a bit more complicated now:
  • There are Multiple Versions of LEED for different types of projects, including New Construction, Existing Buildings, Core and Shell, Schools, etc. Many of these versions have the same or similar credits, but there are differences that have to be understood.
  • Then you get to look at the Pilot Credits, credits that can be incorporated on a trial basis into projects so USGBC can test new ideas. This list is updated frequently.
  • Regional Priorities give extra credit to some LEED credits for addressing especially sensitive regional concerns. This would be useful to plan regional sales efforts, but the data has to be teased out Zip Code by Zip Code.
  • And there are Credit Interpretation Reports, responses to questions by LEED users that can expand upon or change the scope of a credit.
  • (Don't forget to check the Errata.)
If you have a question about LEED, don't bother calling USGBC. Their "customer service" people are totally unfamiliar with LEED. When I finally got a phone number for the corporate office, the switchboard there immediately connected me back to customer service.
To where does all this LEED? (Pardon the pun.)

If you have difficulty understanding LEED, don't worry; in less than a year the next edition of LEED will be issued, and you can begin your LEED attempt to understand the system all over again.

Illustration from Daily Journal of Commerce.

Cardborgami - Innovation in Temporary Shelter

OK, I don't know if this actually relates to building product marketing, but it's too cool not to share.


Seen at Alt Build 2012:


Cardborgami (www.cardborgami.org) is a fold-up temporary shelter made of plain ordinary corrugated cardboard.  It was invented by Tina Hovsepian, a native of Los Angeles (where there are more than 30,000 homeless people who do not have access to shelter) while she was an architecture student at the University of Southern California.  




Cardborgami is portable (it can be folded open or closed in less than a minute), it's treated to be waterproof and flame retardant, and it's fully recyclable.


Hovsepian, in addition to designing sustainable homes at Duvivier Architects in Santa Monica, CA, has also founded a non-profit to distribute Cardborgami shelters.  Her program includes volunteers who teach their homeless clients how to build the shelters (once built, it folds and unfolds without additional assembly).  She also wants recipients of the shelters to bring in recyclable cardboard to the same centers where they receive their shelters.


This kind of thinking should be encouraged and applauded.   Loudly.  This kind of action should be supported, too, so let me repeat: www.cardborgami.org.

LEED revision postponed to 2013

With environmental criteria driving selection of many building products, manufacturers have to stay aware of revisions to the US Green Building Council's LEED program. A major revision was due for publication this year, but has been postponed 2013 to allow more public comment.

According to USGBC:
LEED 2012 was envisioned as a significant step that would raise the bar on performance. During public comment, we heard repeatedly that our community need more time to absorb the changes we’re proposing and to get their businesses ready to take the step. Most importantly, they want more visibility into the infrastructural improvements — forms, documentation, education and LEED Online – to inform their internal adoption strategies.

Therefore we’ve decided to delay ballot on LEED until June 2013. We see this ballot date change as an opportunity to begin to refer to this next version as LEED v4.

We’re also committing to a fifth public comment, and it will open on October 2, 2012, and run thru December 10, 2012. At Greenbuild in November, we will hold public forums and educational sessions. (source, edited for brevity.)
BOTTOM LINE: Take advantage of this delay to:
  1. Participate in comment process to position your product.
  2. Educate your staff.
  3. Align your products with new credit opportunities. And,
  4. Prepare new marketing materials.
Contact Chusid Associates for additional information and assistance.

Green Certifications Continue to Grow

The General Services Administration (GSA) released its review of the Green Building Certification Systems. Three certification systems passed GSA screening criteria: Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes, U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and the International Living Building Challenge.

Five years ago, only LEED passed the screening process. In its most recent review, GSA determined Green Globes best advanced federal policies in new buildings and recommended LEED for existing buildings. (From Environmental Building & Design)
Marketing the sustainability of your building products keeps getting more complicated. A few years ago, it was sufficient for many manufacturers to identify how their products contributed to LEED credits. Now, there are multiple LEED programs and each of them have an increased number of possible credits.

As indicated above, one now has to as understand Green Globes and the Living Building Challenge to pursue Government work. And this is on top of the new International Green Construction CodeISO 14000 certifications, and a multitude of product certification programs.

Perhaps they green certification programs are like the natural systems they strive to protect; they keep growing. Sometimes it feels like you need a weed whacker to blaze a path through them. But if you account for them in your strategic plan and marketing strategy, green certification programs can also act as fertilizer to support the growth of your business.

HonestBuilding.com

The iconic 87 ft. dia. sphere containing the Hayden Planetarium was fabricated by Ceilings Plus, as anyone visiting HonestBuilding.com can now find out.
A new website, www.HonestBuilding.com, attempts to create social networking with a cloud-sources database of commercial buildings. They say, "Honest Buildings is a software platform focused on buildings. It brings together building service providers, occupants, owners, and other stakeholders onto a single portal to exchange information, offerings, and needs. It provides a voice for everyone who occupies buildings, works with buildings, and owns buildings globally to comment, display projects, and solicit business with the macro goal of creating a more sustainable environment."

It may be useful to Building Product Manufacturers, too. As the site says, service providers can:
  • Increase company exposure and build brand awareness.
  • Share completed projects and highlight team members across popular social networks including LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • Drive business by attracting new clients with your showcased projects and networking with the Honest Buildings Community.
  • Profile information will be included and searchable in the Honest Buildings directory.
I add to this list:
  • Identify prospects, especially for maintenance of existing buildings.
I have started populating the website with photos of notable work done by Chusid Associates' clients, including case studies about the firm's contribution to the success of the project and links to websites and other sales collateral.

Finally,
  • Remember to maintain the description of your own building as part of your overall online reputation management program.

Product Declarations

This cartoon reminds us of the growing call for building product manufacturers to disclose the composition of their products.  One of my clients is in the process of contacting all its raw material suppliers to find out if the ingredients include any Red Listed components.

Image courtesy of www.lab-initio.com.

Free Webinar about Green Codes

Many environmental considerations have been incorporated into building codes and, increasingly, are mandatory. This free webinar can help your sales and marketing department stay on top of the green game:
Cities, states, and national organizations are working to establish minimum, enforceable sustainable construction requirements to complement, not replace, highly popular above-code incentive programs, like LEED. Green rating systems like LEED are an incentive that pulls the more daring owners and designers toward a sustainable ideal, thus fostering creativity and innovation, while green codes establish a base minimum requirement which is broadly accepted. Green codes, which raise the bottom line, result in significant positive environmental impact just by the sheer numbers of projects that fall within that category. Also, by raising the ceiling and implementing more stringent above-code rating systems, innovation in green design and construction is encouraged.

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain the difference between building codes, standards and rating systems.
2. Understand why we need both green building rating systems and green building codes at this time.
3. Discuss several recent efforts to develop green building codes.
4. List some of the challenges inherent in developing and implementing green codes.
It is produced by McGraw Hill and sponsored by ICC-ES - an organizations that now certifies the green characteristics of products.

Time:  2012-03-12, 2:00 pm EST
Register: Click Here

Chusid Associates is also available to help you answer your questions about green marketing.

LEED Pilot Credits create Marketing Opportunities

In addition to the many credits already adopted into LEED, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) also has "pilot credits" that have temporary approval while being investigated and refined. Many of these pilot credits create marketing opportunities for building product manufacturers.

For example, pilot credits may increase demand for your product or make it more competitive on projects going for LEED certification.

The pilot credits are less well known than regular LEED credits, and are subject to more frequent revisions. By staying on top of new credits, you can be of service to your customers by bringing new credits or modifications to their attention.

USGBC also seeks input into the review of pilot credits, providing you a chance to influence the formalization of standards that affect your competitive situation.

Here is a list of some of the current pilot credits; scan it to see which might apply to your products:

Pilot Credit 3: Medical and Process Equipment Efficiency
Pilot Credit 55: SS - Bird Collision Deterrence
Pilot Credit 56: EA - Renewable Energy-Distributed Generation
Pilot Credit 57: EQ - Exterior Noise Control


Pilot Credit 14: LT - Walkable Project Site

Pilot Credit 7: SS - Light Pollution Reduction
Pilot Credit 16: SS - Rainwater Management
Pilot Credit 45: SS - Site Assessment
Pilot Credit 64: SS - Site Improvement Plan

Pilot Credit 10: WE - Sustainable Wastewater Management
Pilot Credit 17: WE - Cooling Tower Makeup Water
Pilot Credit 18: WE - Appliance and Process Water Use Reduction

Pilot Credit 8: EA - Demand Response
Pilot Credit 27: EA - Reconcile Designed and Actual Energy Performance
Pilot Credit 65: EA - Monitoring Based Commissioning - new!
Pilot Credit 66: EA - Community  Contaminant Prevention - Airborne Releases - new!


Pilot Credit 52: MR - Material Multi-Attribute Assessment
Pilot Credit 53: MR - Responsible Sourcing of Raw Materials
Pilot Credit 54: MR - Avoidance of Chemicals of Concern
Pilot Credit 61: MR - Material Disclosure and Assessment
Pilot Credit 62: MR - Disclosure of Chemicals of Concern
Pilot Credit 63: MR - Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment

Pilot Credit 21: EQ - Low Emitting Interiors
Pilot Credit 22: EQ - Quality Interior Lighting - Lighting Quality Only
Pilot Credit 24: EQ - Acoustics
Pilot Credit 44: EQ - Ergonomics Strategy
Pilot Credit 59: EQ - Occupant Engagement  
ilot Credit 60: ID - Integrative Process
Contact Chusid Associates to discuss how these credits can work in your favor.

Green Product references now cross-referenced

ICC-ES Environmental Reports now references GreenFormat, news that affects building product companies competing on the basis of environmental claims.

The ICC-ES Sustainable Attributes Verification and Evaluation (SAVE) program, from International Code Council - Evaluation Service, provides manufacturers with independent verification that their products meet specific sustainability targets defined by codes, standards and green rating systems.

GreenFormat, a program of Construction Specifications Institute (CSI), provides a uniform structure for manufacturers to report the sustainable characteristics of their products.

Collaborating with ICC-ES will increase awareness and use of GreenFormat, particularly with products compliant to the 2012 International Green Construction Code, so that professionals who select building products can make better-informed choices.

Contact Chusid Associates for additional information.

Greenwash On Wheels



No knock against Toyota or its Prius hybrid.  I'm thinking of the driver.  In this hot climate, what environmentally conscious person buys a heat-absorbing black Prius? 

Someone for whom the purchase is not really a sustainable choice, just a sustainable statement. 

When the weather heats up and she turns on the air conditioning, it becomes pretty obvious to anyone who thinks about it that her sustainability credibility is pretty thin.  Her black Prius is pure greenwash.

Every day, Chusid Associates helps building products manufacturers tell their “green” stories in websites, press releases, magazine articles, sales sheets, data sheets, guide specifications, trade show displays, continuing education, social media and more.  Green has become a major aspect of marketing.  This means that the consumers – in our case, design professionals, contractors, and building owners – have gotten and continue to get more sophisticated.

In the current environment, a green story gets attention, but increasingly, greenwash gets seen through.  Design professionals can smell it.  LEED AP’s are cropping up in every architectural office.  And they care.  Owners and even contractors are starting to know, and they’re starting to care.

Green is not a fad, it’s not going away.  As has been noted here before, it’s becoming standard.  Products that can’t meet the standard will see their markets shrink.

If you have a green story, now is the time to tell it. 

If you don’t know whether you’ve got a green story, now is the time to figure it out (we can help).

If your product has a green problem, now is the time to address it.  There are many avenues to tackling a green problem, and there are experts available.  Get some help, save your product, save the planet.

But don’t waste your time trying to greenwash a black Prius.

Keep Thinking, Keep Greening

There are many real, substantial ways that you can green your products and operations.  Everyone thinks about recycled content and carbon footprints, but sustainability is a broad concept with many facets.

If you want to be greener - and evidence is mounting that it's good for your business as well as the planet – look at all aspects of your operations, your products, and what happens to your products after they leave your hands.

Some manufacturers in the brick industry, for example, are using an innovative method of packaging their products for shipment.  They've eliminated the palettes and the shrink wrap, and thereby significantly reduced jobsite waste.  That may contribute to a LEED point for their customers.
Photo courtesy of Boral Brick.
This palette-less cube of brick is held together by thin bands that create minimal waste.  Instead of wooden palettes to provide lift-points for the forklift tines, the cube has integral slots that a forklift can engage with.

(And just to make it cooler, these cubes were packed by robots.)

The first step to being green is thinking green.