Panel of Emerging Professionals and one of the founders of USGBC

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Meeting of Greenbuild scholarship winners at the end of Day 1

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Resilient Envelope Construction Educational Session

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The Green Schools Compendium results here at Greenbuild!

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Greenbuild: Day 1

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2013 ASC Competition, Ohio State Team (3rd Place)

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LEED Works in Ohio

SCR 25

Here in Ohio, a new front to the push back against LEED has been opened. A concurrent resolution in the Ohio General Assembly, SCR 25  was introduced to the Senate about two weeks ago. It seeks to ban the use of LEED v4 for state-funded projects, including but not limited to OFCC K-12 projects. These are the same projects that comprise the nation’s top green schools program, with approximately 100 LEED-certified facilities. The resolution is being pushed by special interest groups, the chemical industry in particular. I can only speak for myself, but I find the language of SCR 25 to be particularly misleading. I will cite one example in particular, which I will allow you to judge for yourself:

“RESOLVED, That the only systems, codes, and standards used in state agency and other government buildings be those that have been developed in an open and transparent way  with the input of Ohio building materials and products manufacturers and harvesters to ensure that the use of green building rating systems, codes, and other standards from the private sector are consistent with Ohio objectives and policies;”

My interpretation of this paragraph is that the authors believe that LEED v4 was not developed in an “open and transparent way.” I won’t speculate as to how or why the authors drew this conclusion, but in fact there were 6 distinct public comment periods. During these periods, thousands of comments were received from interested parties, all of which are on Excel spreadsheets on the USGBC website. This process culminated into a vote by USGBC membership where the complete LEED v4 system was overwhelmingly ratified, with an affirmative vote of 86%. To my way of thinking, the most recent version of LEED was developed in a way that was both open and transparent. Is it possible that the special interest groups did participate in this process with an aim of influencing the outcome, but failed to get their way?

Since hearing about this resolution at a USGBC Advocacy Committee meeting, I have talked to a multitude of individuals across the spectrum of the AEC industry. One response that I have gotten from a few different people I respect is “Well, LEED does cost more money,” referring specifically to review and certification fees. They’re absolutely right, several thousand dollars in fees are paid for each LEED project. Another response I’ve gotten: “You could incorporate the same elements into a project without doing all the paperwork.” Again, they are right of course, there isn’t any reason a project team couldn’t accomplish all the same goals. If you took those statements at face value, you might draw the conclusion that LEED does not provide added value, and that is where I would absolutely disagree.
I believe the value of LEED is that it is comprehensive and far-reaching. Some of the best buildings we have built, in terms of energy performance, are those that use a geothermal system. If feasible from a technical and budgetary standpoint, any building could put a geothermal system into their project scope, without LEED. However, would each project team ensure their building also has solid acoustical performance in classrooms? Would each project team ensure an Environmental Site Assessment is performed to verify school facilities aren’t built on or near environmental hazards? Would erosion and sedimentation controls would be in place, not just in situations where it is legal requirement, but as a responsible measure to prevent a known pollutant? Would each project reduce potable water usage? Understand that I’m not talking only about design teams having the wherewithal to include these aspects into their design, I’m also talking about the value engineering process. Value engineering is a mechanism of preconstruction planning where the scope of a project is changed to reduce cost. By no means am I implying that value engineering should not take place, but it can sometimes be characterized as the chopping block where “needs” can be separated from “wants”. If not for LEED, who can say whether or not proper acoustics and other considerations make it into the bid documents? When K-12 projects use the LEED rating system, no one has these questions, because those are prerequisites included in every project.

To some, LEED may appear to be extraneous set of unnecessarily difficult requirements added to projects that are already complex. On the contrary, the various aspects of the LEED rating system are divided into a multitude of credits which are entirely voluntary. Each credit seeks to address a distinct aspect of the impacts buildings can and do have on our environment. Stormwater is an excellent example of a byproduct of our built environment that has an enormous impact. LEED has one credit in particular that addresses the infrastructure needed to handle the burden of both stormwater and wastewater. Many of the 300 LEED-registered K-12 projects will or already have voluntarily took steps to lighten the load on Ohio’s systems, the same systems Ohio taxpayers also pay to upgrade and maintain.

Let’s go back to the Ohio green schools program, funded at the state level through the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. School buildings are reducing their annual utility costs by thousands of dollars, have healthier indoor environments, and greener sites with better stormwater infiltration and open space. LEED is working in Ohio’s schools. The construction and A/E firms in this state have widespread experience in implementing LEED, whereas the alternative systems the special interest groups are used less extensively. To ban LEED would require OFCC to spend time and taxpayer funds to make alterations to a program that works well for everyone except the special interest groups. Please speak out against SCR 25 and let everyone know that LEED works in Ohio.

 

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My team dubbed my book collection the “DuWayne Baird Memorial Library”

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Ohio Green Schools Research Continues

Ohio is recognized as having one of the leading Green Schools programs in the nation.  This effort began as a result of the hard work and forward thinking of policymakers within the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission (OSFC), which is now a part of the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC).  On September 27, 2007, Commission leadership passed a resolution that projects funded by OSFC would pursue LEED Certification (OSFC Resolution).  The stated goals of the resolution were to decrease operating costs and improve the indoor environmental quality to the benefit of students and staff.  Since the resolution was adopted, over 300 K-12 throughout the state of Ohio have been registered under the LEED for Schools system.  As of today, 93 have been certified by GBCI.

In 2009, I began managing the LEED process for a multitude of Ohio’s green schools projects as part of my job at SHP Leading Design.  I am enormously proud to say that 6 of the 93 certified schools are projects that I championed through the LEED process.  I personally believe the Ohio green schools program has been tremendously successful in its stated goals.  As a result, decision makers and green building professionals inside and outside of Ohio have sought to gain insight about this program.  The USGBC Central Ohio Chapter, based in Columbus, has responded with the Green Schools Compendium (Article).  I have been fortunate enough to be able to contribute to the Green Schools Compendium endeavor, where I researched project cost impacts of LEED vs. Non-LEED projects.  After that research completed in 2012, I initiated a new research project, under the umbrella of Ohio State Undergraduate Studies and the USGBC Central Ohio Chapter.  The aim of this project is to investigate which credits Ohio’s green schools project teams are pursuing, how often they are successful in earning them, and what types of challenges they have been encountering, based on GBCI reviewer comments.

Ohio offers a unique opportunity for this type of research.  When the OFSC/OFCC funds a project, it must conform to the Ohio Schools Design Manual (OSDM).  This sets a baseline for project budgeting, materials selections, and other project requirements which collectively comprise a fantastic control variable for research purposes.  As a result, in our sample of 75 projects, all certified under the LEED for Schools 2007 system, we are able to make true apples-to-apples comparisons between projects.  While there are still a number of factors that influence the decisions of a project team on whether or not to pursue this LEED credit or that LEED credit, there is less variability in Ohio schools from one to another than if we were comparing projects in New York to projects in California.

The researching group, comprised of myself (DuWayne Baird), Grant Holmes, and Dr. Victoria Chen is currently in the process of summarizing the findings for publication and the results will be released very soon.  As a group, we combed through GBCI reviewer comments, conducted surveys of green building professionals, created LEED scorecards of each certified project, and analyzed several quantitative and qualitative facets of Ohio Green Schools programs.  As both a researcher and LEED practitioner, I will be very excited to share the results with decision-makers and green building professionals everywhere and continue to contribute to the USGBC Central Ohio Chapter’s Green Schools Compendium growing body of knowledge.

Research Excerpt

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Fall Season Brings on OSU Construction Management Competitions

The new academic year means new opportunities for Ohio State’s Construction Systems Management Students to compete against their peers across the country. Ohio State students have formed teams to participate in two distinct construction management competitions, both in the realm of healthcare construction. One team is competing in the ABC Construction Management Competition, while the other is competing in the ASC Great Lakes Competition

In the Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) competition, the OSU team will travel to Las Vegas in early November to defend their 2012 national championship. They received their competition construction documents last Friday, and they are already hard at work studying the drawings and specifications, preparing for their first round of RFI’s. This year’s project is a Medical Office Building located in Orlando, Florida. The competition is held in three phases. The first is a proposal comprised of a project management plan, estimate, schedule, safety plan, and other elements. The second phase is a simulated bid day event where all the teams will adjust their proposal based on significant project changes and addenda. The judges will then choose a number of schools to short list, with the remaining teams completing a presentation and Q&A session as the final phase. Afterwards, judges will choose winning teams in several categories and choose an overall champion. The team will be led by OSU faculty Mac Ware (@WMacWare) and alum Alex Belkofer, and boasts one returning member of the national championship team and several bright and enthusiastic new competitors.

The second competition is one in which Ohio State is participating for the first time, although the team itself has several veterans of past years’ ABC teams. The Associated Schools of Construction Great Lakes Region Healthcare Competition has both key similarities and key differences with the ABC format. The team will submit a proposal containing many of the same elements and present to a panel of judges, but in this case will have only one day to prepare their proposals. Each team will receive construction documents at 7:00 AM and turn in 5 copies of a completed proposal by 10:00 PM of the same night. The ASC event has several classes of competitions, such as Commercial, Preconstruction, Healthcare, etc., all held at the same event in Chicago in mid-October. The ASC team will be led by OSU faculty Jeff Suchy and Dr. Victoria Chen.

Both teams are eager to represent their programs, Ohio State, and themselves and hope to again place among the best and brightest construction management students in the nation!

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Spring 2013 National Championship Team – ABC Competition (Birmingham, Alabama)

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