April 2009

Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems

Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems

information taken from www.cmpbs.org

The Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, established in 1975, is a non-profit education, research, and demonstration organization specializing in life cycle planning and design. We undertake projects based on their potential contribution to site, regional and global sustainability and human health, and actively pursue collaborations with associate organizations, businesses and professional firms.

Projects emphasize regional contexts as bases for responsible resource use relative to materials, energy, water, waste, food, and meaningful employment. Our expertise is accessible through green planning and design services, conference presentations, public lectures, and published papers.

Whitney Water Purification Plant image courtesty of Inhabitat

Whitney Water Purification Plant image courtesty of Inhabitat

article taken from www.inhabitat.com

by Jorge Chapa

One of our favorite projects mentioned in the AIA/COTE 2007 list of Top Ten Green Projects was perennial Inhabitat favorite Stephen Holl’s Whitney Water Treatment Plant located in New Haven, CT. This project is fantastic in many ways, but the real beauty of it lies in the fact that the 30,000 square feet water treatment facility is sitting under the largest green roof in the state of Connecticut.

The long stainless steel building shown on the images house the extensive operational facilities required for the plant as well as an exhibition lobby, laboratories, a lecture hall, and conference spaces which are used for the multiple education programs that run on the facility. The roof garden design, the largest in Connecticut, expanded the existing wetland area where the site was located.

The shape of the building serves multiple functions. Architecturally the building has been cladded in thin steel shingles. The shingles, due to the shape in which they have been warped, absorb and reflect the heat of the sun preventing the exposed facility from gaining too much heat. Furthermore, the inverse-raindrop shape of the building, as well as reminding us of, well, rain droplets, also helps in reducing the area exposed to the sun reducing the heat gain even further.

The thin profile for the building allows all regularly occupied areas to have easy access to daylight. Furthermore, domed skylights in the green roofs allow daylight to enter the water treatment plant. These domed skylights serve a secondary function, which is that of allowing the visitors to the public parklands to see the water treatment process occurring within in the facility. On the materials side, the stainless steel shingles of the facade are recyclable and reusable. The building also features recycled terrazzo tiles, cork tile flooring, low VOC paints and sealants.

And of course, the most important feature of this facility lies in the way that it handles water for the project as well as how it interprets the processes of the water treatment in the facility below. The project is divided into six areas analogous to what is happening below the surface in the treatment plant. Those domed skylights mentioned above? They sit right above the ozonation bubbling area of the plant. On an area where there is rapid mixing and high turbulence, little streams move along the grass above. Furthermore the facility’s landscape manages the storm water drainage system for the facility, preventing storm water runoff as much as possible.



media release taken from www.csiro.au

Turning stormwater into drinking water
Reference: 07/212

A public tasting of reclaimed stormwater will be held during National Water Week in a seminar being organised by Water for a Healthy Country Flagship to highlight innovations in urban water management.

The seminar, detailing how stormwater previously left to flow down drains can be harvested for drinking water, will be held at the Plant Research Centre, Hartley Grove, Waite campus, Urrbrae, on Monday, 22 October at 4pm.

The public seminar has been organised by Water for a Healthy Country Flagship to highlight innovations in urban water management.

Speakers from CSIRO, the Salisbury Council and the National Water Commission will discuss how stormwater innovation is being used to meet Australia’s water challenge.

The seminar will highlight two case studies where stormwater has been used for drinking, historically in Mount Gambier in SA’s south east, and more recently, a project under development at metropolitan Salisbury, Adelaide.

“Dr Peter Dillon, who leads CSIRO’s Recycling and Diversified Supply stream in the  Water for a Healthy Country’ Flagship’s Urban Water Theme, says the process has been used for a demonstration bottling of stormwater as drinking water, which will be available for tasting after the seminar.”

Colin Pitman, Director, City Projects, City of Salisbury, will discuss the Aquifer Storage Transfer and Recovery (ASTR) project, an unique project involving CSIRO, United Water, the City of  Salisbury, SA Water and the SA Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation.

The ASTR demonstration project will involve about 200,000 cubic metres of urban stormwater being harvested each year via a reed bed and injected into an aquifer to improve quality before recovery from separate wells at drinking water standards.

Dr Peter Dillon, who leads CSIRO’s Recycling and Diversified Supply stream in the  Water for a Healthy Country’ Flagship’s Urban Water Theme, says the process has been used for a demonstration bottling of stormwater as drinking water, which will be available for tasting after the seminar.

Prime Minister John Howard and Environment and  Water Resources Minister Malcolm Turnbull were amongst the first to drink the bottled stormwater at the 17th meeting of the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council in Canberra in June, 2007.

The seminar will be introduced by Dr John Radcliffe AM, FTSE, a commissioner with the National Water Commission and Honorary Research Fellow with CSIRO.

Architecture 2030

Architecture 2030

infromation taken from http://www.architecture2030.org

Credible scientists give us 10 years to be well on our way toward global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. Yet there are hundreds of coal-fired power plants currently on the drawing boards in the US. Seventy-six percent (76%) of the energy produced by these plants will go to operate buildings.

Buildings are the major source of demand for energy and materials that produce by-product greenhouse gases (GHG). Slowing the growth rate of GHG emissions and then reversing it over the next ten years is the key to keeping global warming under one degree centigrade (°C) above today’s level. It will require immediate action and a concerted global effort.

To accomplish this, Architecture 2030 has issued The 2030 Challenge asking the global architecture and building community to adopt the following targets:

  • All new buildings, developments and major renovations shall be designed to meet a fossil fuel, GHG-emitting, energy consumption performance standard of 50% of the regional (or country) average for that building type.
  • At a minimum, an equal amount of existing building area shall be renovated annually to meet a fossil fuel, GHG-emitting, energy consumption performance standard of 50% of the regional (or country) average for that building type.
  • The fossil fuel reduction standard for all new buildings and major renovations shall be increased to:
    60% in 2010
    70% in 2015
    80% in 2020
    90% in 2025
    Carbon-neutral in 2030 (using no fossil fuel GHG emitting energy to operate).

    These targets may be accomplished by implementing innovative sustainable design strategies, generating on-site renewable power and/or purchasing (20% maximum) renewable energy and/or certified renewable energy credits.

Narrative taken from www.architecture2030.org

Multiply Your Stimulus Dollars:
14x Stimulus
A Plan for State and Local Governments

With: ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, RESNET, and Veterans Green Jobs
14x Stimulus Plan Download the 14x Stimulus Plan
Take Action to Implement 14x Stimulus in Your Community

What if there was a way for states, cities, and counties to leverage each $1 of federal stimulus money spent to generate $14 of private spending, create 14 times the number of jobs, reimburse the federal government $3, and get $1 back to boot? Well, there is a way, the ‘14x Stimulus’ plan.

The plan, which is being proposed by Architecture 2030 and its partners ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, RESNET, and Veterans Green Jobs is a state/local version of Architecture 2030’s Two-Year, Nine-Million-Jobs Investment Plan. The effectiveness of the national plan in creating jobs and private spending has prompted these groups to propose a public/private partnership to strategically focus stimulus dollars that will enable a full-scale building industry revival while simultaneously addressing energy and greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

The Plan: How it Works
Based on the same principles as the national plan, the 14x Stimulus plan recommends using state and local stimulus money to create a local mortgage buy-down program that offers reduced mortgage interest rates contingent upon renovating or building to meet specific energy reduction targets. For existing homes, mortgage interest rates would be lowered by 1% if, with a minimum homeowner investment in efficiency upgrades and/or renewable energy systems, the home is renovated to meet a minimum HERS 70 (or equivalent1 rating. For new homes, interest rates would be lowered by ½% for achieving a HERS 70 rating and 1% for achieving a HERS 50 rating. Assuming the current U.S. average, 30-year, fixed mortgage interest rate is 5%, the mortgage buy-down program would work as follows:
Mortgage Interest Rates
To qualify for the lower interest rate, new homes need only meet or exceed the minimum HERS 70 or HERS 50 rating. For existing homes, the homeowner must meet both the minimum HERS 70 rating and invest a minimum amount in energy efficiency and/or renewable energy systems. The minimum amount required to be invested is double the cost of the buy-down and is dependent on the amount of the mortgage as illustrated in the following table:
14x Stimulus Plan for State and Local Governments
The Return on Investment: Everybody Wins
The seemingly odd pairing of interest rates and energy reduction targets turns out to be economically powerful, both creating an immediate demand for construction jobs and generating significant private spending. For example, if a homeowner wanted to refinance a $200,000, 6%, 30-year mortgage at a 4% interest rate, the home would need to be renovated to meet a HERS 70 rating (30% more efficient than that required by the latest energy codes), immediately creating jobs by putting construction teams back to work. To qualify for the program, the homeowner must invest a minimum of $16,000 in efficiency measures, thereby generating much-needed private spending. However, even with the cost of the efficiency upgrades added into the new mortgage, at the lower 4% interest rate, the homeowner would pay a minimum of $168 less each month. Add to that an additional savings on energy bills of approximately $60 and the homeowner would save $228 or more every month. In addition, homeowners can take advantage of the $1,500 federal energy efficiency improvement and 30% solar tax credits, as well as any local incentives that apply.

The plan also encourages new home buying with reduced mortgage interest rates of homes meeting a HERS 70 and HERS 50 rating. For each new home sold under this plan, $1 of stimulus money generates about $42 of private investment.

It is this ability to generate large amounts of private spending that so effectively leverages each stimulus dollar. As a result, the 14x Stimulus plan generates 14 times the amount of stimulus funding4 in private spending and 14 times the number of jobs that would have been created by the stimulus dollars alone.

For example, if a city or county invests $1 million of its stimulus dollars and $1 million in additional state stimulus matching funds ($2 million total), the plan would generate $28 million in local private spending and create 434 new jobs. The federal government would be paid back $6 million in new taxes, triple its investment, with an additional $2 million in new tax revenue going into city, county and state coffers. An incredible return on investment. The more money invested, the greater the return.

It is also likely that, with lower rates and increased savings, homeowners will take advantage of the construction team being on site to do additional renovations – fix a bathroom, add a bedroom, remodel a kitchen – spending even more. In this case, the return on investment would be even higher, making this strategy even more effective.

The Urgency: Seizing the Opportunity
The private building sector represents 93% of total U.S. building stock while the public building sector represents only 7%. The economic health of every U.S. industry is tied to the private building sector, especially housing. This includes everything from steel, insulation, caulking, mechanical and electrical equipment, solar systems, glass, wood, metals, tile, fabrics and paint to architecture, planning, design, engineering, banking, development manufacturing, construction, wholesale, retail and distribution. Simply put, if we do not stimulate building construction, specifically, renovation and home building, we will not revive the U.S. economy in any substantive and lasting way.

In order to capture the job-creation and private-spending potential of the private building sector, the new 14x Stimulus plan encourages households off the sidelines and into the renovation and home-buying market. However, there are many other benefits to the plan, including reduced risk of mortgage failure, increasing home values, more disposable income for homeowners, jobs to those who will pay federal taxes, a new market for material and product manufacturers, and dramatically reduced home energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The result is that, with a single solution, we can address the economic crisis, move the country toward energy independence and begin to tackle climate change.

There are few opportunities that come along that allow us to address several major crises at once, but this is definitely one. We cannot afford to let this opportunity slip through our fingers.



Information taken from NOAA

The Estuary Restoration Act (ERA), signed into law in November 2000, makes restoring our estuaries a national priority. The Act promotes the restoration of one million acres of estuarine habitat by 2010 by leveraging limited federal resources with state and local funding, developing and enhancing monitoring and research capabilities, and encouraging partnerships among public agencies and between the public and private sectors. As part of the Act, NOAA is required to develop and maintain an inventory of estuary restoration projects.

The purpose of the inventory is to:

  • provide monitoring and techniques information to advance restoration science
  • track the acres of habitat restored toward the one million acre goal of the Act
  • provide information for reports transmitted to Congress

The inventory contains information on projects funded through the ERA as well as other projects that meet minimum requirements. Project managers may submit data to the inventory through a user-friendly web site. Information on projects in the inventory is available to the public through project searches and reports, as well as through an interactive mapping application.

Benefits of using NERI for project managers:

  • Track and manage your organization’s projects
  • Produce project-specific reports or generate summary reports based on selected criteria
  • Increase public awareness and promote participation in restoration projects
  • Maximize project partnership opportunities
  • Use search capabilities and the Restoration Project Mapper to locate other regional restoration efforts to assist in future restoration planning and design

Current Status of the Inventory

The first phase of the inventory was launched in early 2004. This phase included the web site, data entry screens, and simple search procedures allowing users to view general project information and summary tables.

The second phase of the inventory was released in the summer of 2004, enhancing the site with a mapping component and the Advanced Search, which permits more complex project searches. The mapping component includes The Restoration Project Mapper, which allows users to create and view maps of project site locations. In addition, a series of pre-formatted maps has been made available for downloading.

In addition to updating and adding NOAA restoration projects, we are currently working to include information on other projects occurring throughout the country. We are primarily working to incorporate information from existing ERA Council agency databases. In addition, we welcome discussions with other organizations to explore the possibility of their using NERI for their own tracking purposes.

Stata Center Underground Detention image courtesy of Judith Nitsch

Stata Center Underground Detention image courtesy of Judith Nitsch

Article taken from The Environment at MIT

MIT has constructed the Stata Center, a major research facility designed by Frank Gehry. The site of the Stata Center is urbanized, and is located at the site of former Building No. 20 (razed in 1999). Prior to the commencement of construction activities, site conditions directed stormwater from the site into storm drainage pipes that connected to the City of Cambridge’s combined drainage/ sanitary sewers located in Vassar and Main Streets. Ultimately, the water flowed to the MWRA treatment plant or, during heavy flows, into the Charles River itself. The Vassar/Main Street intersection is prone to flooding, especially during severe storm events.

MIT now mitigates stormwater runoff from the renovated site by an innovative, state-of-the art (for an urban area) stormwater control and treatment system. Approximately one half of the Stata Center site is drained to a “biofiltration” swale located between Buildings No. 57 and 56. The biofiltration swale is constructed with soils and vegetated with plant species designed to provide natural biofiltration. The plant species employed are capable of filtering oil and grease as well as suspended solids from stormwater. Runoff entering this swale filters through the vegetation and is detained below grade in a galley chamber.

Original system plans identified the galley chamber as a system of 3 interconnected 48-inch pipes, however, new technologies were adopted that perform the same task more efficiently. Rather than the 3 tube system, a high-density, recycled plastic, lattice work system (rainstor) was installed to contain runoff water.

The rainstor is capable of holding the same volume of water (50,000 gallons)as the pipe system but with a much smaller footprint. This resulted in less excavation required and less impact on surrounding infrastructure systems. Outflow from the galley chamber is discharged at a controlled and reduced rate of flow by an effluent stormwater pumping station via a force main into the Vassar Street storm drain line, which will connect to the new stormdrain being constructed beneath Massachusetts Avenue.

Based on hydrologic modeling, this process will yield a 50% or more reduction in the peak stormwater flow rate compared to pre-development levels, and will achieve improved Total Suspended Solids removal from the runoff as well. The system is designed to achieve an 80 percent reduction in Total Suspended Solids. Finally, as presently constructed, the stormwater collection system also serves as a rainwater harvester – collecting rainwater, storing it, and reusing it within the Stata building for flushingwater.  The collected rainwater supplements the potable city water for all toilet-flushing activities.  It is estimated that the Stata building will consume approximately 5,000 gallons per day for flushing water, suggesting that the stormwater collection/ rainwater harvesting system will yield a discharge to the Vassar Street storm drain line.

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