Detente Green Building 2014: Now What?

duwaynebaird:

Excited to hear about the demise of SCR 25 in Ohio!

Originally posted on Ohio Green Building Law:

Following months (if not years) of hostility and robust legislative battles throughout the U.S. (including here in Ohio), the U.S. Green Building Council and the American Chemistry Council will now work together to advance LEED.

The truce announcement has already been optimistically embracedintelligently dissected, and analogized with the rise, fall, and redemption of Darth Vader. But what does it really mean and what happens next?

USGBC has established a working group, the “Supply Chain Optimization Group,” made up of ACC and USGBC staff and member company experts who will discuss how building materials are addressed in LEED. One particularly hot topic for this group will be risk assessment—the method used by policymakers and others to determine how dangerous a hazard is when assuming a certain level of exposure—as the ACC yearns for this concept to receive “greater consideration throughout USBGBC’s process.” Details are still being worked out.

OGBL appreciates the value of communication and compromise, and…

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DesignColumbus 2014 Assembles Dynamic Lineup of AEC Educational Sessions

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The 2014 edition of the DesignColumbus trade show is setting up to be better than ever.  The event is put on as a combined effort between the CSI (Columbus Chapter) and USGBC Central Ohio and primarily consists of educational sessions and a trade show.  The planning committee has selected a top-notch group of sessions from both local and international entities, many of which count towards AIA and GBCI credential maintenance requirements.  The list of trade show vendors is diverse, ranging from building product manufacturers to design firms.  Beyond the sessions and trade show, this event represents an opportunity to network with some of the best and brightest of Central Ohio’s AEC community.

This year’s keynote speaker is Guy Worley, the President & CEO of the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation.  Downtown Columbus has been in the news lately with development plans centered around the area of the existing Veteran’s Memorial.  The demolition is moving forward and should have a dramatic impact on the Downtown area surrounding West Broad Street, including COSI, the venue where DesignColumbus is held annually.  This revitalization of another part of downtown is an exciting prospect and many of us are excited to hear more about this project.

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There are two of the educational sessions that I am especially excited about it.  The first, “Keeping Up with ASHRAE and LEED,” I watched for the first time at Greenbuild 2013.  In particular, the LEED Administrator and researcher in me enjoyed their experiment of how a particular project would fare across three different versions of LEED (and ASHRAE) and the necessary cause and effect of scope changes.  I liked it so much, I made a point to reach out to Scott Bowman from KJWW to see if they could bring it to DesignColumbus.  I’m glad to say that we made it happen and I think it will be as well received here as it was in Philadelphia.

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The other session I’m really looking forward to attending is Schools for the 21st Century by Allison McKenzie and Todd Thackery from my own firm, SHP Leading Design.  This session focuses on the nearly $250 million K-12 building program underway for South-Western City Schools here in Columbus, projects that I have the privilege to be a part of.  I am lucky to see first hand to be part of the hard work a lot of people are putting into building schools our community can be proud of.  There is a dedicated cast of professionals from SWCS, SHP, Ruscilli, Smoot, Heapy, Kleingers, Altman, Robertson, Summit, Barton Mallow, and many other firms and subcontractors working together towards that common goal and the first four elementary schools will open for the 2014-2015 academic year.  I am excited that more people will get to see what we’re doing and the brand new ways that we are doing it, such as utilizing Ohio’s OAKS project management system for the first time on K-12 projects.

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Finally, after the conclusion of the educational sessions, DesignColumbus will close out with a happy hour that historically is buzzing with networking and stimulating conversation.  As usual, the planning committee has demonstrated their commitment to keeping the event a great value to attend, with the highest (non-member) registration cost being only $50 and student registration at only $25.  In my experience, many similar events cost more than twice that much to attend.  All in all, there’s a lot to look forward to on April 28th.

Register for DesignColumbus 2014

(Please contact DesignColumbus Committee Co-Chairs Adam Olson and/or Jim McDonald for more information about sponsorship opportunities or trade show booth openings)

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My CCCA Exam Preparation Journey

During my long hiatus from updating this blog, one of the activities I have been spending a lot of energy on lately has been preparing for the CCCA exam.  The Certified Construction Contract Administrator credential is offered by the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI), the same organization that devised the MasterFormat system of divisions to organize construction project manuals (specifications).  Achieving this professional designation signifies a high level of skill and understanding of the construction documents and the contract administration process.  This certification corresponds directly to my role as a Construction Administrator at SHP Leading Design and has been on my list of professional goals for a long time.  If I am able to successfully complete the exam later this month, it will be the culmination of an effort several years in the making.

In order for an individual to sit for the CCCA exam, they must first have earned the CDT credential.  The CDT, or Construction Document Technologist, provides “foundation training in construction documentation” for many construction professionals.  I earned the CDT in 2010 and it has been the single most valuable and had the most far-reaching (beneficial) effects of any aspect of my career preparation.  The knowledge I gained from preparing for the CDT made me a better CA representative, better LEED Project Administrator, and a much better student.  It remains one of my proudest professional accomplishments.  I believe preparing for the CCCA exam has had a double-down effect, and in the future I expect it will make me a better project engineer and project manager.

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Along the way I have had a lot of good teachers with many great lessons, from Phil Baker, my Construction Documents professor back at Columbus State, to working under SHP’s Loren Schmelzer and Doug Maggied on projects over the last 6 years.  Working at SHP has taught me a lot about how construction documents are put together, how they are used, why things are done the way they are, etc.  I feel lucky to have learned these things the “by the book” way, so that preparation for the CCCA exam has not included unlearning bad habits.  The most important lesson I have learned though is how important CA is to delivering our projects and making sure our clients are satisfied with not just the new facility, but the entire process.  I look forward to utilizing the knowledge gained in my CCCA preparation journey and applying it to raise the bar on my professional capabilities.

 

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Ohio Anti-LEED Legislation Back-Burnered (for now)

Originally posted on Ohio Green Building Law:

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The sponsor of Ohio Senate Concurrent Resolution 25 (SCR25), which would urge all state agencies to abandon LEED v4, is now asking for a delay of further hearings.

In an abrupt change from the ram-rod fashion that SCR25 was run (over vigorous opposition) through the Senate, sponsoring Sen. Joe Uecker now says he wants to slow things down. The resolution was slated for hearing this week before the Ohio House of Representatives Manufacturing and Workforce Development Committee. But, as reported yesterday by Gongwer (Ed: full story requires a subscription), Sen. Uecker now thinks a postponement will make it “easier for me to get my proponents, industry witnesses to be able to testify in a jointed as opposed to a disjointed way.”

The “proponents” to whom Sen. Uecker refers include members of the same small but powerful group of protectionists who unsuccessfully attempted to convince the General Services Administration to abandon LEED.

SCR25 is an anti-competitive giveaway. Ohioans will be best served if our leaders vote down that flawed…

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Ohio Celebrates Surpassing 100 LEED-Certified Schools

In Ohio, billions of dollars have been spent over a decade and a half to address 21st century educational facility needs, and design and construction professionals have risen to the challenge with tremendous success.  On December 11, 2013, the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) and USGBC celebrated Ohio surpassing 100 LEED certified K-12 facilities.  The event was held in the atrium of the Ohio Statehouse, with each of the buildings, representing communities all over the state, having an infographic board on display.  These boardsshowcased an extraordinary collection of projects, a tribute to the contributions countless people have made to the massive improvement of our state’s educational infrastructure.

It was great to see so many of the people who support Ohio’s green schools program out in force to celebrate our collective achievement.  I have been fortunate enough to meet and work with many of the amazing people who were in attendance today, school administration professionals like Bill Franke (Miami Trace) and Dr. Virginia Rammel (Milton-Union), USGBC Central Ohio supporters Annemarie Smith and Leah Morgan, OFCC officials Lisa Laney and Melanie Drerup, USGBC National representatives Nate Allen and Doug Widener, SHP principals Lauren Della Bella and Tom Fernandez, and a multitude of others working both in the forefront and also behind the scenes, to support the Ohio Green Schools program.

It is a source of personal pride to have contributed in some small way to this massive effort.  My firm, SHP Leading Design, was the architectural firm behind 22 of the featured projects, as well as other distinct Ohio LEED schools, such as Pleasant Ridge (the first LEED-certified school in the state, prior to OFCC adoption of LEED standards) and the Wellington School (a private school that did not receive OFCC funding).  Our firm also currently has 34 projects in various stages, all in Ohio and all registered under the LEED for Schools rating system.  Each project goes through numerous phases, beginning in conception and progressing through the studying, funding, programming, design, and construction until the day we turn the completed facility to the districts to occupy.  Through all phases, many people  put in a lot of blood, sweat, tears, joy, and love into these projects, and today’s event was a tribute to their hard work and success.

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Student-Produced Video about the Construction Systems Management program at the Ohio State University

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My Greenbuild 2013 Experience

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Back in September, I was one of the fortunate group of people to be selected for the Greenbuild 2013 Scholarship, granted by the USGBC.  This scholarship allowed for winners to travel and attend the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, held in Philadelphia, PA last week, nearly $3000 worth of expenses.  For a variety of reasons, it was truly an amazing and inspirational experience.

The other scholarship winners were an extraordinary group of people, diverse in every possible way except for their shared ambition of positively impacting the world.  They came from all over the world to learn and to build relationships that will become catalysts for the change they want to see in the world around them.  They work in non-profits, higher education, faith-based organizations, and represent disciplines like architecture and construction management to name a few.  Certainly one of the highlights of my Greenbuild experience was interacting with them.

Top-notch networking was another remarkable aspect of Greenbuild.  Attendees had the opportunity to mingle with the individuals behind USGBC and LEED at the national and international level.  One of my involvements in Columbus is the USGBC Emerging Professionals committee, where we work to bridge the gap between college and professional life for those interested in sustainable design and construction.  At Greenbuild I was able to make connections that will strengthen the ties between regional and national levels.  These ties will help our ongoing collective efforts to establish a USGBC student chapter at Ohio State.  Another networking opportunity I had that was very successful was meeting the LEED reviewers.  USGBC made a point of providing insight into how the LEED review process works, their internal goals and challenges, and how they are continuously working to improve the process.  LEED project team members were even able to schedule an appointment to meet with reviewers face-to-face and discuss issues or answer questions relating to the documentation of credit compliance.  I only wish I had known that ahead of time!

Many of us working with the Green Schools Compendium and other related green schools research had the chance to share and discuss results with interested parties and make connections to further project goals.  The latest round of the Green Schools Compendium sought to explore how LEED might be affecting educational outcomes in Ohio schools.  The Greenbuild Community Lounge provided space for the researchers to set up an infographic displaying the outcomes of their statistical analysis.  Where my research project was concerned, I was able to reach out to several individuals to peer review my findings and even more who couldn’t wait to read them.  These research projects have been a passion project for many of us within the Central Ohio chapter and I have no doubt Greenbuild 2013 will elevate our collective efforts to the next level.

Learning about LEED v4 was a goal I placed special emphasis on when choosing which educational sessions to attend.  The newest version of LEED represents a substantial “raising of the bar” over the last two versions and will have a substantial impact on the market.  What I sought to learn about the newest iteration of LEED was the “how” and “why” and what it would mean to me as a LEED Project Administrator.  The Greenbuild sessions did not disappoint.  One session in particular was especially eye opening.  It was called “Code Dread: Keeping up with ASHRAE and LEED” and was led by Scott Bowman and his team from KJWW, an international MEP engineering firm based in the Midwest.  They conducted an experiment to explore how different versions of LEED intersect with the project scope and how the final certification is impacted.  The project was a renovation of one of KJWW’s own offices, originally certified Silver in LEED v2.2.  I don’t want to give the details away, but the results were eye opening.  Implementing LEED v4 is going to be more challenging.  Clients who have been through the LEED process before or have preconceived notions about the relative ease of earning LEED Gold or Silver will need to have their expectations managed.  Project teams who routinely earn LEED Gold or Silver are going to have to dig deeper and get more creative to design projects to earn the same level of LEED certification.  While at first many professionals may be leery of increased performance thresholds, as an industry we should embrace it.  These projects will be part of the solution for many human issues, even more than their predecessors.

Raising the bar is not an arbitrary change, it’s an integral one.  LEED v4 projects will be among the best performing in the world, and I relish the opportunity to work on some of the best projects our built environment has to offer.

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The LEED v4 System Goals

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LEED v4 Technical Improvements Session at Greenbuild

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Panel of Emerging Professionals and one of the founders of USGBC

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