Some Ideas to Help Aruba Become the Greenest and Happiest Island #Sustainability #Planning #Architect #Island #Eco #Green #ilmaBlogPosted: August 3, 2019
Having recently visited Aruba earlier this year, and have fallen in love with the island, I would like to take this moment to reflect on ways that the little island nation can achieve its sustainability goals over the next several years. Over the past few years it has come a long way but there are still many things left to be addressed if it is to be the greenest happiest little island in the Caribbean as it has set out to do.
One Happy Island
Some background information before we begin — Aruba contains 70 square miles (178.91 square kilometers) of happiness and a population of 116,600 (as of July 2018).
The tiny island gem is nestled in the warm southern Caribbean with nearly 100 different nationalities happily living together. We welcome all visitors with sunny smiles and a warm embrace.
Aruba is an island and a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the southern Caribbean Sea, located about 990 miles (1,600 kilometers) west of the main part of the Lesser Antilles and 18 miles (29 kilometers) north of the coast of Venezuela. It measures 20 miles (32 kilometers) long from its northwestern to its southeastern end and 6 miles (10 kilometers) across at its widest point.
Together with Bonaire and Curaçao, Aruba forms a group referred to as the ABC islands. Collectively, Aruba and the other Dutch islands in the Caribbean are often called the Dutch Caribbean. Aruba is one of the four countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with the Netherlands, Curaçao, and Saint Maarten; the citizens of these countries are all Dutch nationals. Aruba has no administrative subdivisions, but, for census purposes, is divided into eight regions. Its capital is Oranjestad. Unlike much of the Caribbean region, Aruba has a dry climate and an arid, cactus-strewn landscape. This climate has helped tourism as visitors to the island can reliably expect warm, sunny weather. Fortunately, it lies outside Hurricane Alley.
Aruba’s economy is based largely on tourism with nearly 1.5 million visitors per year, which has contributed to Aruba’s high population density.
Despite having one of the world’s smallest populations, Aruba does have a high population density at 1,490 per square mile (575 people per square kilometer), which is more than New York state.
During the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012, the island announced it aim to cover its electricity demand by 100% renewable sources by 2020. In the same year, Aruba together with other Caribbean islands became member of the Carbon War Room’s Ten Island Challenge, an initiative launched at the Rio +20 Conference aiming for islands to shift towards 100% renewable energy. The benefits of becoming 100% renewable for Aruba include: reducing its heavy dependency on fossil fuel, thus making it less vulnerable to global oil price fluctuations, drastically reducing CO2 emissions, and preserving its natural environment.
Some of the areas where Aruba seems to be excelling includes their recent ramp up of wind power – capitalizing on the constant wind that keep the tiny island habitable.
Other areas that they can improve on include the following:
A whopping 87 percent of the entire power generation in the Caribbean comes from imported fossil fuels, and because so much of the region’s fuel comes from faraway sources, electricity costs are four times higher than they are in the United States. The economies of these islands are basically at the whim of global oil prices
The Caribbean has some other reasons to be enthusiastic about electric cars powered by a solar electric grid. The islands, on the whole, are small and low in elevation. The vast majority of islands in the Caribbean are smaller than 250 square miles and are fairly flat, with isolated peaks at most.
This combination makes them ideal for electric vehicles in ways that, just for example, the U.S. is not. Most electric vehicles have limited ranges, with some only offering a hundred miles or less per charge. The higher-end vehicles can go further; the Nissan Leaf boasts 151 miles per charge, the Chevy Bolt 238 miles, and the Tesla Model S 315, but with still-long waiting times for a full charge, that’s about all you’re getting in an individual trip. That’s not great for hour-plus-long commutes from American suburbs, but for smaller islands with fewer hills to climb, that sort of range is just fine.
Customers who drive electric experience common benefits.
- Charging up with electricity will cost you less than filling your tank with gas. Clients are experiencing savings of up to 50 percent on fuel costs and very low cost of maintenance.
- Produce no-to-low tailpipe emissions. Even when upstream power plant emissions are considered, electric vehicles are 70 percent cleaner than gas-powered vehicles.
- “Fuel” up with clean, Aruban-produced electricity and help our island achieve more energy diversity.
- Drivers enjoy electric vehicles’ silent motor, powerful torque and smooth acceleration.
Although “solar” vehicles would be even better for this region, the ability for the island to “leap frog” ahead of other counties by building in an electric fueling infrastructure would help set it apart from other island nations.
Although solar has come down over the past decade I was surprised that not more individuals capitalize on the sunny region with solar roof panels.
The recently constructed government building, Cocolishi, is one of the first buildings on Aruba with a solar roof. The solar panels provide 30 kW of renewable energy.
On the rooftops of the Multifunctional Accommodation Offices (MFA) in Noord and Paradera solar panels are installed. The MFA in Noord is an energy neutral building, this means it produces the same amount of energy as it consumes. The surplus during sunny days will be added to the grid.
Previously, solar panels were installed on the Kudawecha elementary school. These panels produce 175.5 kW solar energy.
The largest school solar rooftop project is installed on the Abramham de Veer School elementary school. This rooftop project produces 976 kW renewable energy.
The Caribbean’s first solar park opened in 2015 over the parking lot of the airport in Aruba. This solar park provide 3.5 MW solar energy and is one of the first renewable energy projects making use of the Free Zone of Aruba.
In Juana Morto, a residential area complex, solar panels are installed on the rooftops of different houses. Together the solar panels generate 13 kW of green energy.
Elmar, the electricity provider of Aruba, installed solar panels on the roofs of their offices. These buildings together provide 9.8 kW solar energy.
There are different decentralized solar projects on Aruba. Together they consist of 5 MW solar PV part and 3 MW rooftop schools & public buildings PV systems. Once built per the 2017 plan, the installation will provide an additional 13.5 MW providing power for approximately 3,000 households.
Given the amount of sunshine this island receives, expanding their solar portfolio seems prudent.
Wind Park ‘Vader Piet’ is located on Aruba’s east coast in the Dutch Caribbean, this wind farm consists of 10 turbines with an actual capacity of 30 megawatts (MW). Aruba’s current wind power production represents about 15-20 percent of its total consumption, which places it fourth globally and still some way behind Denmark, the current global leader, which produces 26 percent of its power from wind. But today, with a second wind farm about to be deployed, Aruba is set to double its wind energy output, placing it firmly in first place.
It’s hard to believe that just a few windmills are able to produce an output of 30 megawatts of energy, suppling 126,000 MWh of electricity to the national grid each year, displacing fossil fuel-generated energy and supporting the island’s transition towards renewable energy sources.
Given that the wind is a constant, exploiting this resource seems like a profitable and intelligent thing to do.
I love that the island has embraced off-road vehicles (ORV); it is a great way to experience the beauty around us in a challenging and fun way adding to the experience. However, it would be very wise to develop designated areas for off-road vehicles to eliminate (or at least minimize) the human impact on the beauty of this island. Because it’s greatest commodity is the natural beauty – Sun, ocean, nature and wildlife; Aruba (and other island nations) need to consider how to balance the fun aspect with some regulations that will preserve the beauty of the natural world for future generations.
As you may already know, the use ORV’s on coastal beaches is an activity that attracts considerable controversy amongst beach users.
ORV driving is considered as main contributor to land degradation in arid regions.
The most obvious physical impacts of ORV on vegetation include plant crushing, shearing, and uprooting. Such destruction of vegetation in arid ecosystems can lead to land degradation and desertification. Desert plant species exhibit varying degrees of vulnerability to vehicle use intensity, which results in changes in vegetation composition, height, biomass, reproductive structures, cover and seedbank.
I also notice that many locals and tourists park their vehicles on the shorelines which are inhabited by indigenous plants and animals of all varieties. This too should be lightly regulated through education or ordinances so that leaky old (or new) vehicles do not stain the natural shorelines that not only belong to us but to our grandchildren’s grandchildren as well. We need to educate people to be more responsible and not disrupt the natural world with our cars , especially when it can be easily avoided with very little cost impact to the planning of the island.
Following up on vehicle management along the shorelines, another thing I noticed was stormwater runoff; which is not much but should be managed now to avoid a small accumulation over time. It is still early enough to employ best practices and manage any future problems by building a robust infrastructure now before things get worse. Because the island is so small it looks like much of the run off drains directly into the ocean. Following best practices will ensure that the clear waters stay that way long into the future for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.
Circumstances alone should prompt islanders to manage stormwater runoff:
- Traditional community boundaries often centered on natural drainages (e.g., Hawaiian ahupua’a and Samoan village structure), so residents are aware of how land use changes can affect watershed hydrology.
- Local economies rely on clear waters, healthy reefs, and robust fisheries; thus, BMPs designed to eliminate sediment plumes offer immediate, visible results to resource users.
- In some locations, rainfall is the primary source of freshwater, so using BMPs like cisterns or storage chambers to collect runoff for potable and non-potable reuse makes water supply sense.
- Tropical vegetation is fast-growing and plays a huge part in the water cycle, so stormwater management approaches that take advantage of canopy interception and evapotranspiration to reduce runoff have a high chance of success.
- Island infrastructure is subject to big storms, rising seas, and tsunamis; therefore redundancy within the stormwater system improves resiliency.
Things that should be considered as the island faces increased development includes the engagement of “low impact development” which is an approach to land development that meets the following conditions:
- Avoids disturbance of existing vegetation, valuable soils, and wetlands to the maximum extent possible (e.g., minimizing site disturbance and maintaining vegetated buffers along waterways);
- Reduces the amount of impervious cover and, thus, stormwater runoff generated on a site through careful site planning and design techniques; and
- Manages runoff that is generated through structural and non-structural practices that filter, recharge, reuse, or otherwise reduce runoff from the site.
Tasked with providing water for a population which more than quadruples with tourists throughout the year, the Caribbean island of Aruba is building a new 24,000 m3/day (6,340,130 gallons) desalination facility to process seawater from beach wells. Paul Choules & Ron Sebek discuss technical details of the installation, set to replace older thermal desalination units.
This is so awesome and could become a really great way for Aruba to expand its market into other emerging countries that are facing water issues. Abruba could use its extensive knowledge to help other arid climates deal with lack of drinking water, taking Aruba to the next level as a global leader in this realm.
Cogeneration of Power
Justin Locke is director of the island energy program at the Carbon War Room, an international nonprofit. He said it makes sense for islands to switch to clean power.
“Islands currently pay some of the highest electricity prices in the world. At the same time, they also have some of the best renewable energy resources,” added Locke. Aruba’s plan includes building new solar and wind farms, converting waste to energy, and working to increase energy efficiency.
Aruba has set the ambitious goal of becoming the first green economy by transitioning to 100% renewable energy use. Currently, Aruba is at 20% renewable energy use.
Aruba is known for being sunny all year long and its cooling trade winds. By capitalizing on these natural resources, the island can generate renewable energy. The island is lowering its dependence on heavy fuel oil, lowering CO2 emissions, and reducing environmental pollution.
By steadily continuing its momentum with its green movement and implementing cogeneration of power production it will help the island become sustainable and resilient.
Although Aruba has promised to become green it is not absolutely clear that it will be able to achieve its aggressive 2020 goals. However, the future is bright if Aruba is able to continue on its path and starts to take these issues into greater consideration making it a premier destination for people to enjoy. Becoming the world’s greenest island will ensure that tourism continues to flourish and that the country will continue to thrive in an environmentally-friendly way that will help restore and maintain the attributes that has made it what it has become famous for – a place for people from all over the world to come and enjoy the natural world away from the hustle and bustle of city life and experience the world in a way that seems to be reminiscent of a simpler time and offers us a chance to connect with something much larger than ourselves. As temporary stewards for the environment it is up to us to protect that which does not belong to us so that future generations can also appreciate these valuable experiences.
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Ask the Architect: Why Does Indoor Air Quality Matter?#LEED #WELL #Health #Wellness #Safety #Architect #ilmaBlogPosted: May 7, 2019
Simply put, indoor air quality matters because human beings are spending more and more time indoors. It is becoming more important than ever to make sure that the buildings that we design, construct and occupy are suitable and safe for the occupants. The following article will draw on both research and experience in the design and construction of high performance buildings to help elaborate on this simple response.
Interesting Facts To Consider About Indoor Air Quality:
- Indoor air often contains 4X to 10X the amount of pollutants of outdoor air.
- Many studies have linked exposure to small particles (PM 2.5—defined as airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns) with heart attacks, cardiac arrhythmias, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, worsened symptoms of asthma, and an increased risk of respiratory illness.
- The World Health Organization says that particulate matter contributes to about 800,000 premature deaths each year, making it the 13th leading cause of death worldwide.
The built environment around us plays a fundamental role in our overall well-being, particularly the indoor spaces that we inhabit to live, work, learn, play and pray, since most of us spend about 90% of our time indoors. The buildings that we as Architects design and construct have a distinctive capability to positively or negatively impact our health and wellbeing. The air that we breathe inside a building can have a greater consequence on our health. Unfortunately, many contaminants are not visible in the air, so we might not know that they are there. Inhaling air or poor quality can lead to a number of health conditions, including but not limited to: allergies, respiratory disorders, headaches, sore throat, lethargy and nausea.
Sick Building Syndrome
According to the EPA, sick building syndrome (SBS) is used to describe a situation in which the occupants of a building experience acute health- or comfort-related effects that seem to be linked directly to the time spent in the building. No specific illness or cause can be identified. The complainants may be localized in a particular room or zone or may be widespread throughout the building.
As more buildings are LEED certified, here are some things to consider about your next project:
To contribute to the comfort and well-being of building occupants by establishing minimum standards for indoor air quality (IAQ) after construction and during occupancy, USGBC LEED v4 requires that the project meet one of the following:
- Minimum indoor air quality performance: Option 1. ASHRAE Standard 62.1–2010 or Option 2. CEN Standards EN 15251–2007 and EN 13779–2007.
- Indoor air quality assessment: Path 1 Option 1. Flush-out, or Path 2. Option 1. During occupancy, or Path 2. Option 2. Air testing – Note: these cannot be combined.
Occupants are increasingly paying more attention to the conditions of their work environment as it relates to health and wellness. This is especially the case for researchers and their lab environments. We see surging growth in universities adopting lab design programs such as Smart Labs which places an emphasis in the indoor environment quality of the lab and through certification programs as:
We need to have a real-time measurement of the all contaminants of inside air and match that with real time control of the outside air coming into the environment. Ideally, we need to design and build facilities that:
- Bring in lots of outside air—but only exactly where and when we need it.
- Measures and controls more than just temperature and CO2.
- Displays the ventilation performance for the building’s occupants.
Health and Cognitive FunctionPerformance Enhancements
Cognitive functions encompass reasoning, memory, attention, and language and lead directly to the attainment of information and, thus, knowledge. United Technologies and The Harvard School of Public Health prepared a study that was designed to simulate indoor environmental quality conditions in green and conventional buildings and evaluate the impacts on an objective measure of human performance—cognitive function. The findings of the report concluded that the impact of the indoor air quality on the productivity of the occupants which revealed the following benefits:
- Lowering the levels of CO2 and VOCs resulted in their participants scoring 61% higher on cognitive function tests compared with those in conventional offices.
- There was a 101% improvement on their cognitive function tests when the ventilation levels were doubled above the standard ASHRAE prescribed levels.
- Information usage scores were 299% higher than conventional offices when the ventilation rates were doubled.
The conclusion of this study is very clear: verified ventilation performance will increase employee and student performance.
Sources & References:
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Architects @WJMArchitect And @FrankCunhaIII Respond to ILMA Fan’s Questions “ASK THE ARCHITECT”
The Architect’s Role in Sustainable Design (and How to Use Technology and Innovation to Advance Building Performance) #ilmaBlog #green #design #architecture #greenbuildingsPosted: November 27, 2018
In the design and construction field, there are two major categories of resources: renewable and non-renewable. As opposed to non-renewable resources, which are depleted with their constant use, renewable resources are not. If not managed properly Non-renewable resources might become non-existent when the rate at which they are used is much higher than the rate at which they are replaced. Renewable resources include water, geothermal energy and wind energy. Non-renewable resources include coal, natural gas and oil. The demand for new construction is on the rise as the world’s population increases and the demand for newer, more efficient modern buildings also increase.
Because buildings account for so much energy to build and maintain, architects and designers have become very conscious about our role in minimizing our environmental footprint when we design buildings. The American Institute of Architects, the largest organization of architects world-wide has a committee called the Committee on the Environment (COTE), which works to advance, disseminate, and advocate—to the profession, the building industry, the academy, and the public—design practices that integrate built and natural systems and enhance both the design quality and environmental performance of the built environment. COTE serves as the community and voice on behalf of AIA architects regarding sustainable design and building science and performance.
In green construction processes, there is an emphasis on the use of renewable resources. In many cases, this natural source becomes depleted much faster than it is able to replenish itself, therefore, it has become important that buildings make use of alternative water sources for heating, hot water and sewerage disposal throughout their life cycles, to reduce use and conserve water supplies.
Architects and designers specify rapidly renewable materials are those that regenerate more quickly than their level of demand. Our goal is to reduce the use and depletion of finite raw materials and long-cycle renewable materials by replacing them with rapidly renewable ones. Some commonly specified rapidly renewable materials include cork, bamboo, cotton batt insulation, linoleum flooring, sunflower seed board panels, wheat-board cabinetry, wool carpeting, cork flooring, bio-based paints, geotextile fabrics such as coir and jute, soy-based insulation and form-release agent and straw bales. Some green building materials products are made of a merger of rapidly renewable materials and recycled content such as newsprint, cotton, soy-based materials, seed husks, etc.
Check out this ILMA article about “Materiality and Green Architecture: The Effect of Building Materials on Sustainability and Design” for more information on this topic.
Responsibility of Architects
Architects and designers who align with AIA’s COTE objectives, (1) recognize the value of their role in environmental leadership to advance the importance of sustainable design to the general public while incorporating sustainable design into their daily practice, (2) influence the direction of architectural education to place more emphasis on ecological literacy, sustainable design and building science, (3) communicate the AIA’s environmental and energy-related concerns to the public and private sectors and influence the decisions of the public, professionals, clients, and public officials on the impact of their environmental and energy-related decisions, (4) educate other architects on regulatory, performance, technical and building science issues and how those issues influence architecture, (5) educate the architectural profession on programming, designing, and managing building performance, (6) investigate and disseminate information regarding building performance best practices, criteria, measurement methods, planning tools, occupant-comfort, heat/air/moisture interfaces between the interior and exterior of buildings, (7) promote a more integrated practice in order to achieve environmentally and economically efficient buildings. One of the tools we will plan to promote to achieve this integration is Building Information Technology (BIM).
The Role of Technology & Innovation – A Case Study (“The Edge”)
PLP Architecture and the Developer OVG Real Estate, built “The Edge” is a 430,556 SF (40,000m²) office building in the Zuidas business district in Amsterdam. It was designed for the global financial firm and main tenant, Deloitte. The project aimed to consolidate Deloitte’s employees from multiple buildings throughout the city into a single environment, and to create a ‘smart building’ to act as a catalyst for Deloitte’s transition into the digital age.
They key features of this building include the following innovations which address the environmental impact of building such a large edifice:
- Each facade is uniquely detailed according to its orientation and purpose.
- Load bearing walls to the south, east and west have smaller openings to provide thermal mass and shading, and solid openable panels for ventilation.
- Louvers on the south facades are designed according to sun angles and provide additional shading for the office spaces, reducing solar heat gain.
- Solar panels on the south facade provide enough sustainable electricity to power all smartphones, laptops and electric cars.
- The North facades are highly transparent and use thicker glass to dampen noise from the motorway.
- The Atrium façade is totally transparent, allowing views out over the dyke, and steady north light in.
- The building’s Ethernet-powered LED lighting system is integrated with 30,000 sensors to continuously measure occupancy, movement, lighting levels, humidity and temperature, allowing it to automatically adjust energy use.
- 65,000 SF of solar panels are located on the facades and roof, and remotely on the roofs of buildings of the University of Amsterdam – thereby making use of neighborhood level energy sourcing.
- The atrium acts as a buffer between the workspace and the external environment. Excess ventilation air from the offices is used again to air condition the atrium space. The air is then ventilated back out through the top of the atrium where it passes through a heat exchanger to make use of any warmth.
- Rain water is collected on the roof and used to flush toilets and irrigate the green terraces in the atrium and other garden areas surrounding the building.
- Two thermal energy wells reach down to an aquifer, allowing thermal energy differentials to be stored deep underground.
- In The Edge a new LED-lighting system has been co-developed with Philips. The Light over Ethernet (LoE) LED system is powered by Ethernet and 100% IP based. This makes the system (i.e. each luminaire individually) computer controllable, so that changes can be implemented quickly and easily without opening suspended ceilings. The luminaires are furthermore equipped with Philips’ ‘coded-light’ system allowing for a highly precise localization via smartphone down to 8 inches (20 cm) accuracy, much more precise than known WiFi or beacon systems.
- Around 6,000 of these luminaires were placed in The Edge with every second luminaire being equipped with an additional multi-sensor to detect movement, light, infrared and temperature.
- The Philips LoE LED system was used in all office spaces to reduce the energy requirement by around 50% compared to conventional TL-5 Lighting. Via the LoE system daily building use can be monitored. This data is fed to facility managers via the BMS allowing:
- Remote insight into the presence of people in the building (anonymous). Heating, cooling, fresh air and lighting are fully IoT (Internet of Things) integrated and BMS controlled per 200 sqft based on occupancy – with zero occupancy there is next-to-zero energy use.
- Predictions of occupancy at lunchtime based on real time historical data and traffic and weather information to avoid food-waste.
- Unused rooms to be skipped for cleaning.
- Managers to be alerted to lights that need replacing.
- Notification of printers needing paper.
- Every employee is connected to the building via an app on their smartphone. Using the app they can find parking spaces, free desks or other colleagues, report issues to the facilities team, or even navigate within the building.
- Employees can customize the temperature and light levels anywhere they choose to work in the building via the mobile app. The app remembers how they like their coffee, and tracks their energy use so they’re aware of it.
- The vast amount of data generated by the building’s digital systems and the mobile app on everything from energy use to working patterns, has huge potential for informing not only Deloitte’s own operations, but also our understanding of working environments as a whole. Discussions are currently ongoing regarding the future of this data and its use for research and knowledge transfer.
- The green space that separates the building from the nearby motorway acts as an ecological corridor, allowing animals and insects cross the site safely.
Because buildings account for nearly 40 percent of global energy consumption, architects and designers have been working to impact the built environment in a positive way. Although not every project can be as green as The Edge, by selecting materials that are renewable while reducing energy are two big contributions we can make to help ease the increasing demand for construction.
Technology can play a big part in our role to design more sustainable buildings through the use of building information modeling, energy management software, building management software, online sustainability calculators, energy modeling software, new lighting innovations, new techniques to capture and deliver energy and clean water while reducing waste, and mobile applications utilizing IoT.
- COTE https://network.aia.org/committeeontheenvironment/home/new-item2
- The Edge https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2015-the-edge-the-worlds-greenest-building
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Feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!
Architects need to continue to consider healthy living when designing private and public spaces. According to the sources cited below, the Well Living Lab aims to answer critical questions to make homes, offices and independent living environments healthier places. That means indoor environments could be altered to reduce stress and increase comfort, performance and sleep.
By understanding the interplay of elements such as sound, lighting, temperature and air quality, indoor spaces may be altered to address people’s specific and overall health needs. And by understanding how people’s behavior is shaped by their physical environment, facilities can be designed to maximize positive health habits and reduce negative influences. This ambitious three-year research plan is the start toward transforming human health and well-being in indoor environments.
What is a WELL Community?
WELL community functions to protect health and well-being across all aspects of community life. The vision for a WELL community is inclusive, integrated, and resilient, fostering high levels of social engagement.
Facilitates ambient air quality with strategies to reduce traffic pollution and reduce exposure to pollution.
Encourages drinking water quality, public sanitation, and facilities provisions with strategies managing contaminated water on a systems scale and strategies to promote drinking water access.
Facilitates fruit and vegetable access, availability and affordability with policies to reduce the availability of processed foods and providing nutritional information and nutrition education. Also includes strategies for food advertising and promotion, food security, food safety and breastfeeding support.
Supports maintained illuminance levels for roads and walkways and strategies for limiting light pollution, light trespass, glare and discomfort avoidance.
Integrates environmental design and operational strategies to reduce the risk of transportation-related injuries, mixed land use and connectivity, walkability, cyclist infrastructure, infrastructure to encourage active transportation and strategies to promote daily physical activity and exercise.
Facilitates strategies to reduce heat island effect with policies to deal with extreme temperatures and manage sun exposure and ultraviolet risk.
Facilitates noise exposure assessment with planning for acoustics, techniques to reduce sound propagation and hearing health education.
Supports strategies to reduce exposure to hazardous chemical substances in cases of uncontrolled/accidental release and contaminated sites and to limit use of hazardous chemicals in landscaping and outdoor structures.
Provides access to mental health care, substance abuse and addiction services and access to green spaces.
Supports health impact assessments, policies that address the social determinants of health, health promotion programming, policies that foster social cohesion, community identity and empowerment, crime prevention through environmental design, policies and planning for community disaster and emergency preparedness.
Further Reading: You Know LEED, But Do You Know WELL?
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The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Environmental Center
The nickname for the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation Environmental Center is the Grass Building, and it perfectly captures its spirit. It’s a structure so thoughtfully designed it’s almost as energy-efficient and low impact as the greenery that surrounds it.
The Maryland building is part of an educational farm on the Potomac River Watershed that the Alice Ferguson Foundation used to teach people about the natural world. This new building—which became the 13th in the world to receive full Living Building Challenge certification in June 2017—is an educational facility designed to blur the lines between indoors and out, while still providing shelter as needed. “Part of the intent of the building is to be in the landscape and still have a bathroom to use,” says Scott Kelly, principal-in-charge at Re:Vision, a Philadelphia-based architecture and design studio.
Brock Environmental Center
Drawing thousands of students, the Brock Environmental Center is a regional hub for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, supporting its education and wetlands restoration initiatives. A connection to nature defines the building’s siting, which provides sweeping views of the marsh and also anticipates sea-level rise and storm surges with its raised design. Parts were sourced from salvage: Its maple floors once belonged to a local gymnasium while school bleachers, complete with graffiti, were used for interior wood trim. The center was recognized for its positive footprint: It has composting toilets, captures and treats rainfall for use as drinking water, and produces 80 percent more energy than it uses, selling the excess to the grid.
Discovery Elementary School
Students have three distinct, age-appropriate playgrounds—with natural elements such as rocks and fallen trees—at Arlington, Virginia’s Discovery Elementary School. The name honors astronaut John Glenn, who returned to space on the Discovery shuttle and once lived in the neighborhood. Exploration is a theme at the school, whose interior focuses on forests, oceans, atmosphere, and the solar system. The largest zero-energy school in the country, it offers “hands-on learning around energy efficiency and generation,” jurors noted. The school maximizes natural light and provides views to the outside in all classrooms.
Bristol Community College
A laboratory is an energy-intensive enterprise, with specialized lighting and ventilation needs. That’s why jurors praised the airy health and science building at Bristol Community College, in Fall River, Massachusetts, for its net-zero energy achievement, “a difficult feat,” they noted, “in a cold climate like New England’s.” The move saves $103,000 in annual operating costs and allows the college, which offers a suite of courses in sustainability and energy, to practice what it teaches. Part of a holistic campus redesign, the new building’s location increases the density—and thus walkability—of campus for students.
Central Energy Facility
Orange and red pipes flaunt their role in “heat recovery” at Stanford University’s Central Energy Facility. The center for powering the California campus—more than a thousand buildings—the facility was transformed from an aging gas-fired plant to one fueled mostly by an off-site solar farm, fulfilling a goal of carbon neutrality and reducing energy use by a third. With large health care and research buildings, the campus needs as much heating as cooling; now a unique recovery system taps heat created in cooling processes to supply 93 percent of the heating and hot water required for campus buildings. The plant reduces Stanford emissions by 68 percent and potable water usage by 18 percent, potentially saving millions of dollars and one of the state’s scarce resources.
Ng Teng Fong General Hospital
Like other buildings in Singapore, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital incorporates parks, green roofs, and vertical plantings throughout its campus. But the city-state’s hospitals haven’t traditionally offered direct access to fresh air, light, and outdoor views. This hospital marks a dramatic change, optimizing each for patients. About 70 percent of the facility is naturally ventilated and cooled by fans, cross-ventilation, and exterior shading, saving on precious water resources. The building uses 38 percent less energy than a typical hospital in the area.
Eden Hall Farm, Chatham University
After receiving the donation of 388-acre Eden Hall Farm, 20 miles north, Pittsburgh’s Chatham University created a satellite campus centered around a sustainable living experiment. The university views the landscape—an agricultural area adjacent to an urban center—as critical to supporting cities of the future. The original buildings are complemented by new facilities for 250 residential students (and eventually 1,200), including a dormitory, greenhouse, dining commons, and classrooms. Students get hands-on experience in renewable energy systems—the campus generates more than it uses—sustainable agriculture and aquaculture, waste treatment, and water management. Now home to the Falk School of Sustainability, the farm is producing the next generation of environmental stewards, who follow in the footsteps of alum Rachel Carson.
Milken Institute School of Public Health, George Washington University
At George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, located in the nation’s capital, design embodies well-being. Built around an atrium that admits light and air, the structure encourages physical activity with a staircase that spans its eight levels. A green roof reduces storm runoff; rainwater is collected and stored for plumbing, resulting in a 41 percent reduction in toilet fixtures’ water use. Limestone panels (left) were salvaged from the previous building on the site. Materials used throughout the building contain recycled content.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Inouye Regional Center
Located at the heart of Pearl Harbor, on Oahu’s Ford Island, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Inouye Regional Center repurposed two airplane hangars—which narrowly escaped destruction in the 1941 attack—linking them with a new steel and glass building (right). The research and office facility for 800 employees was raised to guard it from rising sea levels. Given the size of the hangars, daylight illuminated only a small fraction of the space, so specially crafted lanterns reflect sunlight further into their interiors. Necessity required invention: Due to anti-terrorism regulations, no operable windows were allowed in the space. Through a passive downdraft system that taps prevailing sea breezes, the building is completely naturally ventilated. The adjacent waterfront was returned to a more natural state with native vegetation.
R.W. Kern Center
Serving as the gateway to Hampshire College, in Amherst, Massachusetts, the multipurpose R.W. Kern Center holds classrooms, offices, a café, and gallery space—and is the place where prospective students are introduced to campus. The school converted what was once an oval driveway into a wildflower meadow, now encouraging a pedestrian approach (seen above). The center is self-sustaining, generating its own energy through a rooftop solar array, harvesting its water from rainfall, and processing its own waste. Its gray water treatment system is in a pilot program for the state, and may pave the way for others.
Manhattan 1/2/5 Garage & Salt Shed
Two buildings belonging to New York City’s sanitation department redefine municipal architecture. Resembling a grain of salt, the cubist form of the Spring Street Salt Shed holds 5,000 tons for clearing icy streets. The Manhattan 1/2/5 Garage (background), whose floors are color-coded for each of the three districts, is home to 150 vehicles, wash and repair facilities, and space for 250 workers. The garage is wrapped in 2,600 aluminum “fins,” shading devices that pivot with the sun’s rays, reducing heat gain and glare through the glazed walls while still allowing views to the outside. Municipal steam heats and cools the building, so no fuels are burned. A 1.5-acre green roof reduces heat-island effect and filters rainwater. A condensate by-product of the steam is also captured, and, along with the rainwater, used for toilets and the truck wash. Combined with low-flow fixtures, the process reduced water consumption by 77 percent.
Starbucks Hillsboro, Oregon
Starbucks has been a leader in the development and implementation of a scalable green building program for over a decade .Starbucks joined the U.S. Green Building Council® (USGBC) in 2001 and collaborated with them to develop the LEED® for Retail program, an effort to adapt LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) to new construction and commercial interior strategies for retail businesses. In 2008,Starbucks challenged themselves to use LEED certification not just for flagship stores and larger buildings, but for all new, company-operated stores. Many people, even internally, were skeptical, especially with Starbucks growth across the globe. But by collaborating with USGBC and other like-minded organizations, we have been able to integrate green building design not only into new stores but also into our existing store portfolio. Starbucks has also succeeded in providing a practical certification option for retailers of all sizes.
The Edge, Deloitte
The Edge, located in Amsterdam, is a model of sustainability.is billed as the world’s most sustainable office building and has the certification to prove it. But, it’s more than that. The place is, well, fun. And interesting. And inviting. So much so that professionals are actually applying for employment with Deloitte Netherlands because they want to work in the building. That it has become a recruiting tool is a satisfying side effect of a project designed to both redefine efficiency and change the way people work. “We wanted to ensure that our building not only had the right sustainability credentials, but was also a real innovative and inspiring place for our employees,” says Deloitte Netherlands CEO Peter Bommel.
It has increasingly become crystal clear that BIM represents the opening of the architectural design community and construction industry to interoperability. There is no doubt that it’s a long and tedious way to being fully developed, however, important steps have been made during the last decades and the future of construction looks brighter day by day.
What is BIM?
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is the process of creating information models containing both graphical and non-graphical information in a Common Data Environment (CDE) (a shared repository for digital project information). The information that is created becomes ever more detailed as a project progresses with the complete dataset then handed to a client at completion to use in the building’s In Use phase and potentially on into a decommissioning phase.
When we talk about BIM maturity we are essentially talking about the supply chain’s ability to exchange information digitally. The maturity levels from Level 0, through Levels 1, 2, 3 and beyond are often visualized via the maturity ‘wedge’ diagram conceived by Mark Bew and Mervyn Richards. Our article on BIM Levels Explained is a good place to start if you’re looking for more information.
BIM dimensions are different to BIM maturity levels. They refer to the particular way in which particular kinds of data are linked to an information model. By adding additional dimensions of data you can start to get a fuller understanding of your construction project – how it will be delivered, what it will cost and how it should be maintained etc. These dimensions – 4D, 5D and 6D BIM – can all feasibly (but not necessarily) occur within a BIM Level 2 workflow.
In this blog post we explore what it means to add different dimensions of information to a BIM process and explore what this looks like in practice and what benefits might be expected.
3D (The Shared Information Model)
3D BIM is perhaps the BIM we are most familiar with – the process of creating graphical and non-graphical information and sharing this information in a Common Data Environment (CDE).
As the project lifecycle progresses this information becomes ever more rich in detail until the point at which the project data is handed over to a client at completion.
4D (Construction sequencing)
4D BIM adds an extra dimension of information to a project information model in the form of scheduling data. This data is added to components which will build in detail as the project progresses. This information can be used to obtain accurate programme information and visualisations showing how your project will develop sequentially.
Time-related information for a particular element might include information on lead time, how long it takes to install/construct, the time needed to become operational/harden/cure, the sequence in which components should be installed, and dependencies on other areas of the project.
With time information federated in the shared information model planners should be able to develop an accurate project programme. With the data linked to the graphical representation of components/systems it becomes easy to understand and query project information and it is also possible to show how construction will develop, sequentially, over time showing how a structure will visually appear at each stage.
Working in this way is enormously helpful when it comes to planning work to ensure it is safely, logically and efficiently sequenced. Being able to prototype how assets come together before ground is broken on site allows for feedback at an early stage and avoids wasteful and costly on-site design co-ordination and rework. Showing how projects will be constructed visually is also handy when engaging with stakeholders, giving everyone a clear visual understanding of planned works and what the finished construction will look like with no surprises.
Adding sequencing information can be extremely useful, not just in the design phase, but earlier too, allowing for the feasibility of schemes to be assessed from the off. At tender stage this kind of information can allow initial concepts to be explored and communicated to inspire confidence in the team’s ability to meet the brief.
It’s important to note that working with 4D information doesn’t negate the need for planners who remain an integral part of the project team. Rather than creating programs as proposals develop, as is the case in traditional workflows, in a digital workflow planners can now influence and shape proposals from a much earlier stage in a project. Indeed, by being closer to the wider project team and providing feedback earlier in the process, there is the potential for planners to add significantly more value to a construction project.
Drawing on the components of the information model being able to extract accurate cost information is what’s at the heart of 5D BIM.
Considerations might include capital costs (the costs of purchasing and installing a component), its associated running costs and the cost of renewal/replacement down the line. These calculations can be made on the basis of the data and associated information linked to particular components within the graphical model. This information allows cost managers to easily extrapolate the quantities of a given component on a project, applying rates to those quantities, thereby reaching an overall cost for the development.
The benefits of a costing approach linked to a model include the ability to easily see costs in 3D form, get notifications when changes are made, and the automatic counting of components/systems attached to a project. However, it’s not just cost managers who stand to benefit from considering cost as part of your BIM process. Assuming the presence of 4D program data and a clear understanding of the value of a contract, you can easily track predicted and actual spend over the course of a project. This allows for regular cost reporting and budgeting to ensure efficiencies are realized and the project itself stays within budget tolerances.
The accuracy of any cost calculations is, of course, reliant on the data produced by multiple teams and shared within the Common Data Environment. If that information is inaccurate, so too will be any calculations that rely upon it. In this respect using BIM to consider cost is no different to more traditional ways of working. It is for this reason that quantity surveyors and estimators still have an important role to play, not only in checking the accuracy of information but also in helping to interpret and fill information ‘gaps’. Many elements of a project will still be modelled in 2D or not at all. There’s also likely to be differences between models in how things are classified and the cost manager will need to clarify and understand the commonality between what at first feel like disparate things.
An information model is likely to contain three types of quantity. Quantities based on actual model components (with visible details) which you can explore through the model are the most obvious. Quantities may also be derived from model components (such as moldings around windows) that aren’t always visible. The third kind of quantity is non-modeled quantities (these include temporary works, construction joints etc.). Unless the construction phase is modeled then the design model will show, graphically, design quantities but not the construction quantities. A cost manager is likely to be skilled in picking up the quantities that aren’t solely based on model components.
One of the advantages of extrapolating cost from the information model is the fact that the data can be queried at any time during a project and the information that feeds cost reports is regularly updated. This ‘living’ cost plan helps teams design to budget and because cost managers are engaged from the start of a project this allows for faster, more accurate reporting of costs at the early stages of a project. Compare this to a traditional approach where a cost manager’s report may be updated a few times during the early stages of a project with completed designs only fully costed at the end of the project team’s design process.
The cost manager may have to get used to working earlier and more iteratively than in a traditional process but has just as important a role to play in overall project delivery.
6D BIM (Project Lifecycle Information; Sustainability)
The construction industry has traditionally been focussed on the upfront capital costs of construction. Shifting this focus to better understand the whole-life cost of assets, where most money is proportionately spent, should make for better decisions upfront in terms of both cost and sustainability. This is where 6D BIM comes in.
Sometimes referred to as integrated BIM or iBIM, 6D BIM involves the inclusion of information to support facilities management and operation to drive better business outcomes. This data might include information on the manufacturer of a component, its installation date, required maintenance and details of how the item should be configured and operated for optimal performance, energy performance, along with lifespan and decommissioning data.
Adding this kind of detail to your information model allows decisions to be made during the design process – a boiler with a lifespan of 5 years could be substituted with one expected to last 10, for example, if it makes economic or operational sense to do so. In effect, designers can explore a whole range of permutations across the lifecycle of a built assets and quickly get an understanding of impacts including costs. However, it is at handover, that this kind of information really adds value as it is passed on to the end-user.
A model offers an easily-accessible and understood way of extrapolating information. Details that would have been hidden in paper files are now easily interrogated graphically. Where this approach really comes into its own is in allowing facilities managers to pre-plan maintenance activities potentially years in advance and develop spending profiles over the lifetime of a built asset, working out when repairs become uneconomical or existing systems inefficient. This planned and pro-active approach offers significant benefits over a more reactive one – not least in terms of costs.
Ideally the information model should continue to develop during the In Use phase with updates on repairs and replacements added in. Better yet, a myriad of operational data and diagnostics can also be fed in to inform decision making still further.
7D (Operations and Facilities Management)
Studies indicate that over 90% of total building lifecycle costs are related to facility maintenance and operations. Real estate and facility managers are increasingly showing interest in using BIM in facility management.
Some of the highlights of effectiveness of utilizing BIM 7D include:
- Preventative Maintenance Scheduling: BIM can be used to plan and track maintenance activities proactively and appropriately by using the information about the building structure and equipment used in the facility. This type of preventative maintenance activities will help improve building performance, reduce corrective maintenance and emergency maintenance repairs and increase productivity of maintenance staff.
- Sustainability Analysis: BIM integrated with other analysis & evaluation tools are used to track building performance data, which can be compared with specified sustainable standards to identify the flaws in the building systems. Facility’s sustainability program can be improved to better match the sustainability goals.
- Asset Management: Assets of a building consist of the physical building, its systems, equipment and surrounding environment. Asset management is essential in short-term and long-term planning for proper upkeep of building assets. The bi-directional Building Information Modeling (BIM) integration into asset management software can help in better visualization of assets and aid in the maintenance and operation of a facility.
- Space Utilization Management: Facility professionals and department liaisons can utilize BIM to effectively manage, track and distribute appropriate spaces and related resources within a facility. BIM space management application turns out to be beneficial in planning renovation projects and future needs, allocating space for proper usage of each corner of the building and tracking the impact of proposed changes.
- Disaster & Emergency Planning: BIM can provide critical building information to improve the efficiency of disaster response plans and minimize any risk. BIM can be integrated with building automation system (BAS) to display where the emergency is located within a building, to find possible routes to the affected area and to locate other dangerous areas within the building during such emergencies.
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