LEED: Changing the built world for the better


The sustainable (green) building movement is a major trend in design and construction of commercial and public buildings. The United States Green Building Council has coordinated the establishment and evolution of a national consensus effort to provide the industry with the tools necessary to design, build and operate buildings that deliver high performance inside and outside the building footprint.

They have developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standard, which is a rating system based on optimum site selection and sustainability, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere optimization, materials and resources (renewable and recyclable base), and indoor environmental quality. The LEED process is a systematic approach where building design and construction needs to meet various requirements in the five segments to reach a certain rating level, and LEED certification is voluntary. Whether it be a school, library, government building or your office, you probably have been in a LEED building.

All people in the building industry are looking for ways to adapt to this changing environment in the private and public sectors. We know that buildings consume annually more than 30 percent of the nation’s total energy, and more than 60 percent of the electricity. Research has demonstrated that green design measures in new buildings reduce operating costs, enhance building marketability, increase worker productivity and reduce potential liability resulting from indoor air quality problems.

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What Can Bamboo Do About CO2?


Efforts to thoroughly study the role that plants play in climate change mitigation are increasing. Most researchers focus on the promise of large, leafy forest trees to help remove carbon from the atmosphere. This is because, generally speaking, the bigger the plant, the more CO2 it absorbs – and trees are the most obvious large plant species. However, there are some very large non-tree plants in the world and increasing evidence points to a surprising grassy climate change warrior: bamboo.

One species of bamboo, the Guadua Angustifolia, found in Venezuela, Ecuador, and Colombia, has been shown to grow up to 25 meters in height and 22 centimeters in diameter, with each plant weighing up to 100 kilograms. This doesn’t match the stature of many trees, but it is still big enough to be significant. It is not all about size, however. How fast a plant grows has a part in determining how much CO2 it can absorb in a given time. In this respect, bamboo wins hands-down: it grows faster than many trees, growing up to 1.2 meters per day. In fact, bamboo holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s fastest growing plant.

Bamboo’s other advantage is that it has great strength and flexibility, making it an ideal low-cost building material in many parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, areas where it is native. This means that bamboo in a plantation can regularly be chopped down and used to build houses and other structures, where the carbon remains sequestered for an average of 80 years, and that the plantation will recover quickly due to the fast growth rate. Because of this, the World Bank recently financed a project in Ecuador proposed by the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), an intergovernmental organization dedicated to improving the livelihoods of the poor producers and users of bamboo and rattan. The project is called ‘Elevated bamboo houses to protect communities in flood zones’ and has so far succeeded in developing and implementing techniques to construct ecological flood-resistant housing for low-income families using a type of bamboo that is native to Ecuador.

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‘Green Building’ Movement Gains Traction Worldwide


The “Green Building” movement is gathering momentum worldwide as businesses increasingly see attractive economic returns and social-environmental benefits from enhancing the overall sustainability of their operations, including initiatives to conserve and enhance efficiencies with regard to energy, water and other natural resources.

The number of businesses anticipating that more than 60 percent of their operations will be “green” by 2014 will more than triple in South Africa; more than double in Brazil, Germany and Norway; and increase from 33-68 percent in Australia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the UK and the US, according to McGraw-Hill Construction’s, “World Green Building Trends – Business Benefits Driving New and Retrofit Market Opportunities in Over 60 Countries.”

Green building market: Moving from supply-push to demand-pull

Surveying green building activities among businesses worldwide, McGraw-Hill Construction and United Technologies Corp. (UTC) found that 51 percent of survey respondents expect that more than 60 percent of their operations will be green by 2015. That’s a big increase from the 28 percent that expect the same in 2013, and double the 13 percent from 2008, according to McGraw-Hill Construction’s press release.

“This report confirms that the green building movement has shifted from ‘push’ to ‘pull’—with markets increasingly demanding no less than green buildings,” John Mandyck, chief sustainability officer, UTC Climate, Controls & Security, was quoted as saying.

There has been a decided shift toward focusing on green building among business executives and management, the researchers found. Green building has become a business imperative in economies worldwide. The top driver in the 2008 Green Building report was “doing the right thing.” In 2012, client and market demand are the key factors driving green building initiatives, according to the report authors.

Returns, benefits from doing the right thing

A resonance has developed in recent years whereby business opportunities and expected benefits of green building are matching up: 76 percent of respondents reported that green building lowers operating costs, with more than one-third pointing to higher building values (38 percent), quality assurance (38 percent), and future-proofing assets (36 percent) as tangible benefits and returns on investment.

“The acceleration of the green building marketplace around the world is creating markets for green building products and technologies, which in turn will lead to faster growth of green building,” commented Harvey Bernstein, vice president of Industry Insights and Alliances at McGraw-Hill Construction.

“And the fact that green is growing in all parts of the world indicates that there are market opportunities in both established markets as well as developing countries.”

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(Excerpt of article from Triple Pundit. NOT AFFILIATED WITH LAMBOO)

 

One of the most important elements regarding green building projects is the materials that the buildings are constructed with. There are a variety of products from natural, recycled, and synthetic sources that improve efficiency and performance, yet many are still of a finite nature.

The most unrecognized yet potentially successful (and Sustainable) material for this green movement is bamboo, particularly in engineered form. Bamboo is one of the most rapidly renewable plant sources that is also remarkably strong and resilient. Bamboo reaches maturity in 6-8 years and after harvesting will regrow from the roots with no replanting necessary. Bamboo is also renowned for its great oxygen production and carbon sequestration; a great positive environmental impact. Once in engineered form (Laminated Veneer Bamboo LVB) the material has great thermal and performance attributes that makes it ideal for energy efficient systems built for longevity.

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Blog by: Dustin Dennison