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Green Building Conference 2021 Sessions

2021 Conference Sessions

Keynote - IWBI: Combatting COVID

Presenter: Angela Spangler, Director, International WELL Building Institute

Engineering Healthy Rooms with Reduced Energy Consumption

Eric A. Schiff, Interim Executive Director, Syracuse CoE, Syracuse University

Michael L. Wetzel, President and CEO, Air Innovations, Inc.

The COVID-19 pandemic is drawing new attention to mitigating disease transmission in rooms. In this session, we discuss the re-engineering of air flows in a room to strike a balance between reducing airborne disease transmission and reducing energy and greenhouse gas budgets. The ideal is that new products and technologies should be effective in preventing disease transmission and cost-effective from energy savings.

We’ll first describe a general approach to this engineering. In addition to the cost of installation, each individual technology comes with net operating costs (power/cash consumption) and a rating for reducing disease transmission probability in the presence of an infected person. In a room or building several approaches are likely to be cascaded. Outside air can be introduced. Indoor air can be purified. Thermal comfort can be improved.

We’ll then present a case study of the design of an air purification product for dental offices. The product has been developed by Air Innovations, Inc.. Dentists’ offices are particularly important because patients are necessarily unmasked and patient treatments launch aerosols into the rooms. As we’ll discuss, the design solutions can be counter-intuitive.


Session: Indoor Air Quality and Energy Efficiency

Presenters: Charles Bertuch, Principal, Bergmann Associates

The impacts of COVID-19 have had major effects on our health, economy, and the way of life of all Americans. Across the full spectrum of markets, building owners are applying technologies and operating strategies to provide a safe environment for their workers and customers. This presentation reviews various means to provide COVID-safe indoor air quality (IAQ), their impact on energy use, and ways to apply these methods in the most energy efficient means possible. Case studies for assessment of a large college and K-12 school will be included.

Session: Strategies for Addressing IAQ Concerns of Infection Agents and their Effect on Sustainable Design Goals

Presenters: John MacArthur, Engineer V, Beardsley Architects + Engineers; John Hewitt, Mechanical Engineer, Beardsley Architects + Engineers

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is an issue that impacts all of us in our daily lives. It affects our health, learning, performance and comfort. The current pandemic has focused attention on IAQ and multiple strategies have been employed to respond/adapt to this new paradigm. We will discuss strategies for HVAC systems that have been successfully implemented in achieving good IAQ and can be used to address infectious disease concerns. These strategies include various methods for source control, ventilation and air cleaning. We will discuss several in detail, what their design methodologies are, their relative implementation costs, energy impact, operational/maintenance requirements and how these different strategies serve or inhibit sustainable design goals.

Session: Understanding Embodied Carbon’s Impact On Construction Emissions (& The Tools That Prioritize Low-Carbon Procurement)

Presenters: Stacy Smedley, Executive Director, Building Transparency

It’s critical that the building and construction sectors begin to reduce the embodied carbon emissions of its materials and products to achieve clean economy goals. In fact, it’s reported that embodied carbon will be responsible for nearly half of total new construction emissions between now and 2050.

The Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) is a free and easy to use tool that allows owners, green building certification programs and policymakers to assess supply chain data in order to create EPD requirements, and set embodied carbon limits and reductions, at the construction material and project scale.

This tool, and its subsequent effect on the industry, will drive demand for low-carbon solutions and incentivize construction materials manufacturers and suppliers to invest in disclosure, transparency and material innovations that reduce the carbon emissions of their products.

The EC3 tool allows benchmarking, assessment and reductions in embodied carbon, focused on the upfront supply chain emissions of construction materials. It can be implemented in both the design and procurement phases of a construction project to look at a project’s overall embodied carbon emissions, enabling the specification and procurement of the low carbon options.

During this session, Stacy Smedley, Executive Director of Building Transparency, the nonprofit organization that hosts, manages and maintains EC3, will explain the urgent need to reduce the embodied carbon emissions of our building materials and products, the breakthrough represented by this open source tool, and how projects are utilizing EC3 to reduce emissions.

Session: A Toxic Investment? Your Building's Health Begins with Healthy Materials
Lauren Hildebrand, Sustainability Director, Steven Winter Associates, Inc.

Presenters: Bill Walsh, Founder and Strategic Advisor, Healthy Buildings Network; Lauren Zullo, Director of Environmental Impact, Jonathan Rose Companies

Let’s make the multifamily affordable housing synonymous with healthy building construction. Many of us already seek out healthy materials for our projects, and all of us can with the right information. This session will build skills and confidence in healthy material selection, improve our ability to talk about the potential health benefits of high performance construction, and distinguish the myth from the realities of healthy material cost, performance and availability. A nationally recognized expert in healthy building materials will review chemical hazards in building materials, with attention to advancing social equity and healthy re-entry after COVID-19 quarantines are relaxed. One of the nation’s leading experts in sustainable design integration, indoor air quality and energy performance testing will explain how healthy materials enhance your IAQ strategy to enhance human health and wellbeing outcomes, and avoid unintended pitfalls. A leading NYC affordable housing developer will describe how they are integrating rigorous materials screening into their affordable housing projects, creating healthy, high performance homes for all.

Session: Improve Your Carbon Literacy...And Improve Your Project's Carbon Footprint

Presenters: Jim D'Aloisio, Principal, Klepper, Hahn & Hyatt; Jodi Amits Anderson, Director of Sustainability Programs, DASNY 

Most of us understand the basics of anthropogenic global warming - how greenhouse gas emissions by human activities including building construction and operations are causing climatic disruption - and that we need to reduce or eliminate them. To accomplish this large undertaking, we will need to become more quantitative about these emissions.

We’ll start with a brief look up at the sky - the composition of the atmosphere and the amount and effect of the various gases that humans have added to the mix. We'll review the history and trends of anthropogenic emissions and categorize the sources.

We’ll then clarify the connection between the built environment and the sky. All construction activities produce carbon emissions, but the amount varies widely between products and projects. We'll use data from Environmental Product Declarations to present relative magnitudes of impact. Then we'll briefly look at ongoing emissions from energy usage in buildings. We'll relate terms like EUI and EF to GWP emissions. We'll also look at how the Energy Code the NYStretch Code, and other building performance metrics relate to carbon emissions.

Then we’ll circle back to looking at the quantities of embodied carbon from construction materials, and what specific measures we can take TODAY to reduce them, by material selection, changing design processes, and systems thinking. Backing up, we’ll look at the timeline for action vs. inaction.

At the end there will be a no-grade quiz, with the goal of developing an intuitive, even visceral, quantitative understanding of the problem and the solutions.

Session: Green & Healthy Building Materials: Advancing New York’s Environmental Health Leadership

Presenters: Bill Walsh, Founder and Strategic Advisor, Healthy Building Network; Sydney Mainster, Vice President of Sustainability & Design Management, The Durst Organization; Kathy Curtis, Executive Director, Clean & Healthy New York 

Specifying healthier materials in our buildings contributes to public policy efforts in New York that seek to reduce chemicals of concern associated with severe negative environmental and human health impacts. In this session, we will connect the dots between green building materials and efforts underway in the state of New York to address toxic chemical hazards.

A representative of Clean & Healthy New York, one of the state’s leading environmental health groups, will provide an overview of the New York policies that address chemicals of concern commonly used in building products. She will describe a roadmap for how New York’s political and business leaders can help create safe chemicals, a sustainable economy and a just, healthy world. A representative from a major real estate developer, The Durst Organization, will discuss challenges, innovations and successes in implementing an aggressive healthy materials program in the New York real estate market. A national expert on healthy building materials from The Healthy Building Network will connect the dots between New York’s chemical policy goals and green building materials, describing how materials credits in green building ratings systems, product certifications, healthy materials pledges and other tools can align with New York’s policy goals.

Session: Adaptive Reuse: Schools, Warehouses, and Malls into Efficient Sustainable Housing
Jeff Love, Director, Sustainable Comfort, Inc.

Presenters: James Moriarty, Vice President, Sustainable Comfort, Inc.

The reuse of old structures provides a way to both honor the past and transform old spaces into new uses of the future. We will explore the transformation of sometimes historic buildings into energy efficient housing. We will show how reusing buildings can both reduce material usage, maintain historic character, while also increasing efficiency and comfort. We will use examples of historic schools such as St. Anthony's in Syracuse, the transformation of vacant malls such as the old Sears in Rochester, and old factories and office buildings and how they have gone about achieving efficiency and comfort while reusing spaces in a unique way.

Session: Planning for Sustainability: An Action Plan for You and Your Organization

Presenter: Nicolette Havrish, Architect, Interior Designer, Beardsley Architects + Engineers

There have been many studies which show that as Millennials and Generation Z become a more influential consumer group and employee demographic, sustainability will become more of a demand throughout the market. Sustainability Action Planning is one tool that firms, companies, and individuals can utilize across the green building industry to demonstrate and make good on their goals towards a more sustainable future. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “failing to plan is planning to fail”. This has become even more urgent in 2020, when worldwide we have all become more aware of how the spaces we design and inhabit can impact our health and well-being. Furthermore, New York State now has the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which calls on everyone statewide to make efforts to reduce our emissions 85 percent by 2050. The time has never been better to pull out and dust off your Sustainability Action Plan or create a new one if you do not already have one. Please join me in this interactive discussion and presentation about why and how to create your Sustainability Action Plan, what to include in your plan, and what to do after you have it complete. See samples of plans others have developed and learn the steps you need to take to make an effective and actionable plan that will better position you to reach your sustainability goals.

Session: The Future of Weather Files for Building Performance Simulation in New York State

Presenters: Carrie Brown, Senior Technical Consultant, Resource Refocus LLC; Nicholas Rajkovich, Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning

Weather data has a wide range of applications in the built environment such as the analysis of energy efficiency measures, life cycle cost, emissions, embedded carbon, and urban heat islands. For the past 40 years, building simulation efforts have usually relied on typical meteorological year (TMY) data, but recently some modelers have switched to alternate weather files, such as future typical meteorological year (FTMY) and extreme meteorological year (XMY) data.

This presentation will summarize the findings of a recently completed study that explored the impact of switching from existing TMY datasets (which generally use weather from 2005 and earlier) to recent or future-looking datasets. The study started with a literature review and stakeholder interviews, which revealed an active field of emerging research into weather files. Next, a weather file analysis explored the data variation of all available weather file types for three York State locations. This analysis compared heating and cooling degree days, hourly temperatures, and the potential for passive design strategies across weather file types for envelope dominated buildings. Finally, EnergyPlus modeling examined how building energy use may be affected by switching to a different weather file type.

In addition to describing the research, the presentation will also cover the current state of weather file availability and usage, challenges to switching to new formats, data variation among available formats, and impacts on projected energy use and passive design. We will also discuss potential design and policy next steps related to weather file usage.

Session: Toward Root-Inspired Biomimetic Foundation Systems

Presenters: Thibaut Houette, PhD Student, The University of Akron; Petra Gruber, Associate Professor, The University of Akron

The expansion of the built environment, as a result of increasing population growth, often impedes the surrounding natural environment’s ability to respond to heavy precipitation, storm, and flooding events. Particularly in unstable, easily erodible soils, urban expansion results in material overuse and overdesign of existing foundations to stabilize building structures to a high safety factor.

These foundations are static, limited by insertion techniques, monofunctional and unable to adapt to variable soil conditions. In nature, root systems are dynamic, growing through many media, multifunctional for the tree and environment, self-healing, and support the tree through mechanical and chemical anchoring. Therefore, principles found in root systems can inform the design of multifunctional foundations. The talk presents the following biomimetic process towards root-inspired foundation systems: analysis of root growth and morphology, abstraction of root principles of interest for civil engineering applications, and design of root-inspired concepts to implement in building foundations.

Various root strategies can be applied to the field of civil engineering to prevent erosion, provide structural support, penetrate soil medium, and integrate multifunctionality. Due to the loss of ecosystem services through expanding urbanization, the built environment, including foundations, should aim at providing these services while limiting impact and disturbance. Since these strategies have been developed up to the conceptual stage, further studies need to investigate their mechanical performance through computer simulations and lab-scale studies.

Session: Electrifying Commercial Buildings in Cold Climates

Presenter: Brendan Hall, Senior Engineer, CHA Consulting

The twin pillars of the action plan to decarbonize our building stock is a clean electrical grid and the electrification of heating. With an increasing number of states, including New York, mandating 100% clean energy by 2040, we in the design and construction community need implement our side of the plan in that same timeframe. Many are familiar with heat pumps for residential use as they have been widely available and marketed for several years. However, the potential solutions become more complex when scaled to commercial buildings. Further complicating the task is a shift to low GWP refrigerants, a lack of products readily available in the US, and designing for the cold climates.

In this presentation we will cover how to apply electrification strategies to a variety of new construction and retrofit projects and share our recent experiences from electrification retrofits. We will also provide a review of available strategies for full and partial space heating and domestic hot water production using heat pumps and how the development of new products will be affected by the regulation of refrigerants and upcoming energy code updates.

Session: Leveraging Campus Resources for an Historic Building Deep Energy Retrofit

Presenter: Jaimee Wilson, Senior Energy Engineer/Associate, Pathfinder Engineers & Architects

State University of New York campuses are being tasked to identify high-impact initiatives to meet the requirements of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). Deep energy retrofits provide unique opportunities to improve the existing building stock, re-energize a campus’s mission, and provide a focal point for campuses as leaders in energy and sustainability.

A key factor in achieving New York State’s (NYS) energy efficiency and zero-net carbon goals is to determine a unified approach at the concept phase of a design and incorporate ideas from the owners, facilities members, design team and energy consultant. This project, scheduled to start construction by July 2021, combines envelope, lighting, and mechanical improvements to an historic building that can achieve all-electric goals by leveraging campus infrastructure on the south campus of the University at Buffalo. In addition, net-zero goals can be achieved with the addition of an on-site solar array to be built on the South Campus. This discussion will address solutions to different design considerations for an historic building in Buffalo, NY.

Session: Getting Pumped: An analysis of central heat pump domestic hot water systems
Brendan Mangino, Project Engineer, Taitem Engineering

Presenter: Yossi Bronsnick, Senior Engineer, Partner, Taitem Engineering

In this presentation, we will review three case studies with different approaches to central domestic hot water plants in cold climates with heat pumps as the primary heating system. Each system has a varying degree of estimated efficiency and complexity. Each case study will highlight product selection techniques, system design challenges and how they were overcome, and strategies for streamlined implementation of air to water heat pump technology for domestic hot water generation.

Session: The Sustainability Benefits of Right-Sizing Domestic Water Systems - A Multi-Family Real World Example

Presenters: Peter Skinner, Owner/Principal, Earth Environmental Group, LLC; John MacArthur, Engineer V, Beardsley Architects + Engineers; Gary Klein, President, Gary Klein & Associates, Inc.

As improvements in building envelopes and mechanical systems have reduced their impact on energy use, domestic water heating has become one of the most dominant energy uses in residential buildings. Similar improvements in plumbing fixtures and codes have reduced water consumption in buildings however the design of typical residential water distribution systems has not kept pace and consequently many residential systems are oversized. Oversizing a domestic water system increases energy use, water waste and the embodied energy and carbon of the plumbing system. We will present an alternative design methodology that results in a domestic water system appropriately sized for the population it serves and demonstrate its application in the redesign of a plumbing system for a multi-family building.

Session: SUNY Oneonta Ford Hall Renovation - Design Optimization for Deep Energy Savings

Presenters: Joseph DiSanto, Senior Energy Engineer, Ramboll; Jodi Smits Anderson, Director of Sustainability Programs, DASNY; Lachlan Squair, Chief Facilities Planning & Safety Officer, SUNY Oneonta

SUNY Oneonta’s Ford Hall (Residence) is undergoing a complete gut renovation of the existing 60,000 gross square foot (GSF) four-story building originally constructed in 1966, including the construction of a new 5,000 GSF four-story addition. The Campus is targeting less than 50 kBtu/GSF site Energy Use Intensity (EUI) and the building design is subject to State University Construction Fund (SUCF) Directive 1B-2 Net Zero Carbon New Buildings and Deep Energy Retrofits of Existing Buildings.

Ramboll was engaged through the NYSERDA Commercial New Construction Program (NCP) to provide building energy simulation modeling to inform the design for deep energy savings. Ramboll worked closely with the Campus and the design team, JMZ Architects and Planners and Delta Engineers, beginning at schematic design through design development and construction document phases. Various energy efficiency improvements and design alternatives were developed and continually refined, including:

  • Improved thermal performance of exterior building envelope
  • High-efficiency HVAC systems with advanced controls
  • Hydronic heating system designed for future district low temperature water distribution
  • Exhaust air energy recovery
  • Smart Building and Real Time Energy Management with deep submetering
  • Solar thermal domestic water heating system with geothermal heat pump system for supplemental heating capacity
  • Low LPD LED lighting system and vacancy/occupancy sensor controls

The final building design achieves a site EUI of 38 kBtu/GSF, performs 49% better than the ASHRAE 90.1-2016 PRM baseline, achieves 60% regulated energy savings, and reduces district heating energy by 66%. The building design aligns with the future transition of the campus district heating system to low temperature water as defined in the Clean Energy Master Plan developed by Ramboll and SUNY Oneonta.

Session: A Commercially Viable Net Zero Office Building: Technology, Beauty and Meaning

Presenters: Andrew Schuster, Principal, Ashley McGraw Architects; Sara Berg, Principal, Ashley McGraw Architects

Drawing on Passive House strategies, the design sets a regional standard in sustainability - from both economic and performance perspectives. The SEF building will consume about 75% less energy than comparable commercial structures in the region while generating 30% more energy than it needs on site. Several design and technological strategies were deployed for achieving this high standard of efficiency while delivering the project within budget limitations:

  • The building is oriented on its site—within an existing apple orchard—to take maximum advantage of sun and shade, with its surfaces and openings positioned to minimize energy expenditures while enhancing the interior environment
  • An array of photovoltaic panels mounted on the roof of the single-story building will generate all necessary energy for the operation of the facility
  • The building envelope is designed for high performance, with continuous insulation and an an air leakage rate below the PHIUS standard of 0.08CFM75
  • All building systems—from HVAC to plumbing to electrical and lighting—are selected and engineered for optimal performance

In this session, the design team will immerse participants in the SEF design process. Participants will work in small groups to share ideas on how to achieve not only Net Zero Energy, but also deep sustainability and resilience. The design team will share how developed energy budgets and specific technological solutions are combined with regenerative thinking to create a building that embodies the vision and mission of the Sustainable Energy Fund.

Session: Zero Place:  Design + Construction Strategies for a Zero Energy Multi-Family Building

Presenters: Pasquale Strocchia, Building Performance Consultant, Integral Building + Design; Anthony Aebi, Builder, ZeroNetNow

Zero Energy Buildings (NEB) are no longer a futuristic concept and have become a rapidly growing sector of the new single-family housing market. However, Zero Energy multi-family and mixed-use buildings are still emerging, given some of the unique challenges related to high-density buildings. Zero Place, a mixed-use new construction project designed for Zero Energy performance is currently in the final stages of construction. Zero Place project is also a recipient of the NYSERDA Buildings of Excellence Award. This session will provide an overview of the design and engineering strategies, construction techniques and challenges in bringing this project to completion. The presenters have designed and constructed numerous ZEB's and will draw on their prior successes as well as unanticipated challenges.

Session: Measuring What Matters: In-Use Building Energy Performance from old Amsterdam to New Amsterdam

Presenters: Lisa A. Chase, Research and Communications Principal, Two Willows Consulting, LLC; Dan Ciarcia, Founder, Two Willows Consulting, LLC 

Given that buildings account for as much as 40 percent of energy use, maximizing operational building efficiency to reduce CO2 emissions and mitigate global climate disruption is critical. From the European Union (EU) to the U.S., governments are enacting aggressive regulations to curb building energy consumption and meet CO2 reduction goals. Yet the only way to ensure that energy efficiency rules are achieving their environmental goals is to rigorously measure buildings’ operational performance. Architects and real estate developers have commonly assessed energy use based solely on pre-construction design, an unrealistic measurement of environmental impact. Recent regulations in New York City and the EU require in-use building performance assessment and reporting, a trend likely to expand. This presentation will use case studies from Princeton University, London, Amsterdam and Zagreb to illustrate the value of operational building performance measurement in guiding best-practice design and construction. Examples will include comparisons of pre-construction and occupied building performance using Life Cycle Assessment and building benchmarking tools.