Sustainability Session – Region F Conference: Todd DiNoia, director of Research and Development at Saint-Gobain in Northboro, presented on sustainability as applied in the building sector in general, and on the products his firm has in development. He defined sustainability as the effort to balance the needs of the economy, society and the environment … people, prosperity and the planet.
For people, a comfortably built environment is key, while avoiding sick building syndrome. This last is estimated to cost the US $62 billion a year in lost productivity. For prosperity, the goal is to decrease operating costs while increasing employment in support of green buildings. For the planet, we need to mitigate climate change, secure energy supplies, and manage wastes and resources. In the US, energy and resource use associated with buildings exceeds those associated with transportation. Cars, trains and planes have reduced fuel costs substantially, while buildings have not. Here’s how the energy use breaks down: buildings 40% (22% residential, 18% commercial), industry 32%, transportation 28%.
Di Noia suggests that we move to a life cycle approach to calculating building costs, and emphasizes that such a change needs to be made during the design phase. Currently, there are a number of voluntary programs with conflicting guidelines.
- LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) provides credits in five different areas which can qualify a site as certified, silver, gold and platinum. LEED V4 is looking at moving back to the design phase and tying in to comfort and livability. A public database shows progress to date.
- The Energy Star programs, state by state, are making a greater impact. Still, fewer than 15 states have achieved a reduction of 10% or more.
Saint-Gobain is a French multi-national corporation, 350 years old this year. It was begun in 1665 at the behest of the government to produce mirrors locally, in competition with the Venetian glassmakers. More recently, they produced the glass pyramid at the Louvre in 1989. The company seeks to be the leader in the habitat and construction market. Examples of their sustainable construction products include:
- Active or electrochromic glazing—to reflect light and heat out or let it in
- Cool roof shingles—since dark roofs are preferred, solar reflectivity is increased by adding a special pigment; their Solaris Platinum reflects up to 40%, as opposed to the standard standard 9%, and qualifies as energy star
- VOC (volatile organic compounds) scavenging wallboard — to address indoor air pollution, especially formaldehyde; VOCs are converted to inert compounds which are trapped in the wallboard
- Multi-comfort—examine a building’s purpose, know what’s needed and design it in. Light and space, peace and quiet, thermal comfort (climate dependent), air quality, ease of running and maintaining, life cycle approach
Diana Ukleja – NESS Treasurer