Congratulations to Rancho Los Amigos! The hospital hosted its ribbon cutting ceremony on September 12th to welcome guests to the official opening of the Outpatient Building and new wing of the Jacqueline Perry Institute Building. The ceremony was hosted by County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors’, Janice Hahn. A/G attended the event along with teams from the design and construction of the project, as well as the hospital’s patients and the dedicated staff. We are very excited for the buildings expected LEED certification later this year.
Hannah McCurdy is a summer intern at A/G and is studying public policy at the University of Oregon in Eugene.
As the 2018 midterm elections approach, the Trump Administration is under increased scrutiny and criticism for alleged conspiracy with foreign governments, its inhumane immigration policies, and multi-billion dollar tax breaks to the upper one-percent of the United States. Another area that should be a concern for everyone regardless of political leanings is the Trump Administration’s rollback of environmental protections as they will have devastating impacts far beyond his term. From the beginning of his presidency, Mr. Trump’s environmental policy record favors businesses and corporations that are known to contribute to climate change.
In June of 2017, less than six months after his inauguration, Mr. Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Agreement. By the following November, both Syria and Nicaragua signed onto the Paris Agreement, isolating the United States as the only country not signed on. At the center of the Paris Agreement is reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. Each country submitted individual goals of emission reduction. To meet these goals, President Obama enacted several environmental policies to reduce the U.S. carbon footprint in his 2016 Climate Action Plan. From the start of his term, Mr. Trump has dismantled carbon emissions protections and supported policies favoring the fossil fuel industry.
President Trump currently attempts to reverse automobile emissions standards set by the Obama Administration requiring automobile manufacturers to produce vehicles with an average of 50 miles per gallon by 2025, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 6 billion tons over the lifetime of new vehicles and save 2 million gallons of oil per day. The proposal would halt Obama-era requirements at their 2020 goal of 35 miles per gallon, dramatically reducing the efficacy of the carbon emissions reduction. The federal standards established under Obama would match California’s. If the Trump Administration approves the proposal to loosen these regulations, it would create a national divide for automobile manufacturers. California and the thirteen other states who adopted their regulations will have higher standards, thus leaving automobile manufacturers faced with making two models of each car for sale. To mitigate this problem, the proposal also challenged California’s waiver to set their own carbon emissions standards, giving way to a likely legal battle between California and the Federal Government.
Since the 1960s, California’s unique combination of topography, climate, and population warranted waivers from the federal government to set its own vehicle emissions standards to manage the state’s ideal smog conditions. Since the Clean Air Act of 1973 granted the Federal Government power to set auto emission standards, California has been the only state waived of abiding by federal standards provided they meet federal requirements. Nine other states have adopted California’s stricter requirements. President Obama’s administration granted the current waiver to California in 2013. The Trump Administration’s EPA threatened to revoke the waiver, the first time this waiver would be revoked.
Without a doubt, California will sue the Federal Government if they revoke the waiver. They would be joining other efforts across the nation attempting to hold the Federal Government accountable for negligent environmental actions. In 2015, 21 children and young adults brought forth a lawsuit against the Federal Government, claiming that the government infringed on their constitutional right to freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by failing to protect them from climate change in a case referred to as Juliana v. United States. The lawsuit alleges the government is jeopardizing children’s lives by neglecting to take serious, comprehensive actions to prevent climate change and global warming. Filed in Eugene, Oregon, the lawsuit falls under the District Court of Oregon, but plaintiffs come from across the country. On July 30th the Supreme Court denied the Trump Administration’s request to halt proceedings, allowing the case to go forward with the October 29th court date.
With each year, the earth grows hotter and effects of climate change continue to become more visible and devastating. Natural disasters, refugee crises, rising sea levels, unbearable heat, and dramatic air pollution continue to be pervasive. Immediate and aggressive global action is the only way to mitigate impending disasters from continuing. Regardless of whether or not the plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States are successful in their legal battle, it broadened the debate over climate change and seeks to hold legislators and leaders accountable for inaction, hopefully encouraging the next round of leadership to take climate change more seriously. With pressing human rights abuses and dramatic inequalities across race, gender, and socioeconomic statuses, it cannot be forgotten that the earth is under attack and the damage continues to be further beyond repair.
Katie Matthews, assistant project manager, and Sylvia Schweri, who was a former assistant project manager for Argento/Graham and now does sustainability and fundraising consulting, worked to attain the credit for the California Wellness Foundation headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, which achieved LEED Silver for Commercial Interiors. They say that, although many vendors lack holistic product impact data, those suppliers who are able to provide the information are positioning themselves as market leaders.
“It’s hard to find materials that have this information,” says Matthews. “And if they do have the information, you might have to email the manufacturer to get it. If you don’t know to ask for the data, it’s easy to assume they don’t have it.”
“The credits seem to be really well calibrated to motivate market change. That’s one of USGBC’s goals with LEED v4, and I think they hit it on the head,” says Schweri, who is currently sustainability and fundraising consultant for various nonprofit organizations.
For the pilot credit on the California Wellness Foundation project, Matthews and Schweri analyzed the product impact of ceiling tiles, carpet tiles, and duct wrap. “We’re already seeing a lot more manufacturers catching up, having environmental product declarations and health declarations,” Matthews says. “It’s helping a lot.”
Sherwin-Williams senior vice president of product innovation Steve Revnew agrees. He says, “The primary benefit of this pilot credit is that it compiles the most meaningful content from existing documents (EDPs, SDSs, and Product Lens) and puts them in one place. By partnering with organizations like Underwriters Laboratory, Sherwin-Williams can provide credible information to architects and other purchasers in a format that is easy to understand and act upon.”
Revnew believes the main benefit of this document is how it has improved communication with their customers. “This communication is just another way that Sherwin-Williams partners with our customers to drive innovation and make coatings that are compliant with the most stringent regulatory requirements, including sustainability.”
“That’s the point of LEED,” Matthews adds. “It shifts the market.”
By Alex Paris, A/G Summer 2018 Intern
Recently Argento/Graham attended the LAFC professional soccer game against the Portland Timbers. Los Angeles was embroiled in a back and forth struggle that ended up 3-2 in favor of LAFC. It was my second ever Major League Soccer match and I was enamored by the energy in the stadium from the moment the players stepped onto the field until after the final whistle blew. The players and staff were completely committed to victory and their commitment to excellence is felt not only on the pitch but in the world of environmental sustainability too.
When the owners of the club decided to build a new stadium they committed to making it exceed California’s stringent building standards and achieve the rigorous LEED Silver certification. The Banc of California Stadium is one of four stadiums on the West Coast to be LEED certified. The project is integrated into the city with its bicycle connections and bicycle racks to connect with the Myfigueroa Project. It is also nearby the Metro with access to the Expo Line at the Expo Park/USC Station. LAFC’s convenient location also allows them to host a variety of events that helps to promote the park and teach residents of LA about the sustainability movement.
During Earth Day, the Los Angeles Football Club and Major League Soccer made the joint commitment to raise awareness about environmental sustainability by wearing 100% recycled uniforms for their games that day. Additionally, through each club’s own social media they spread information about how an individual could act with the environment’s best interests in mind. All participants were incentivized with the best practiced participant being awarded a 100% recycled uniform of their choice from the MLS. This positive reinforcement will hopefully help the winner to spread their commitment to environmental sustainability to friends and family and continue to spread throughout their community.
LAFC’s commitment to environmental sustainability is encouraging because of their influence in the city of Los Angeles. People who admire the players of the team will see their commitment to sustainable practices and emulate them in their own daily lives. As more sports teams adopt these sustainable practices then these implemented works will reach a greater number of people emulating them in the United States and will help make a positive change for the treatment of the environment in America.
By Hannah McCurdy, A/G Summer 2018 Intern
This summer, Argento/Graham volunteered and installed a 3 kW rooftop solar photovolatic array on a family’s home in Whittier, California as part of GRID Alternative’s Energy for All program. When our team of volunteers from A/G, Brightworks Sustainability, and All About Waste arrived at the home, we were greeted by GRID team leaders who led us through a warm up exercise and a safety training. Wearing hard hats and safety gear, each team member had the opportunity to work on the roof, drilling, sawing, and installing panels. It was hot out there with temperatures in the high 90s, but it was fun for consultants like us to do the actual labor and installation on a construction site.
The Energy for All program provides no cost solar panels and installations for low income single family houses and no cost technical assistance for multi-unit affordable housing units and community solar projects that serve people most burdened by energy utilities. Effects of climate change disproportionately affect communities of color and under-resourced, low-income communities. Homes in low income neighborhoods are more likely to have less efficient energy systems due to lack of maintenance, weatherization, and inefficient existing housing stock. This leads to higher utility bills and a greater environmental impact. Inefficient energy systems contribute to the cycle of poverty as people cannot afford increasingly expensive utility bills and are forced to forego other necessities to pay utility bills. According to the Institute for Policy Studies, on average in the United States, low income households spend 8.8% of their annual income on electricity while the overall average is 2.9% of annual income. Reducing environmental impact from coal-powered electricity and using solar energy is not only a cleaner energy source, but improves air quality, thus reducing asthma and other respiratory problems. Improving energy systems combats health related problems and lowers risk of chronic diseases that disproportionately affect low income communities as a result of climate change. Climate justice should be a primary objective of all environmentalists and environmental sustainability should not be limited to wealthy communities.
The Energy for All Program is not the only program at GRID Alternatives that seeks to accomplish sustainable energy equity and helps marginalized communities transition to clean energy. GRID’s Workforce Development Program offers workplace experience in all aspects of solar installation, with a commitment to highlighting and encouraging women and people of color. We worked with Darean, who is involved with Solar Corps, a GRID partnership with Americorps. He became involved with Homeboy Industries after 20-years of incarceration and found his calling-- helping the environment, serving his community, and doing fulfilling work. Homeboy Industries, a non-profit dedicated to reducing recidivism among previously incarcerated men and women and gang rehabilitation, partners with GRID Los Angeles’ workforce training program. Overall, it was a great team building event, a wonderful opportunity to spend time with our colleagues, and most importantly to bring this resource to the family in Whittier. A/G looks forward to continuing to support GRID and their mission and we encourage everyone to check out their organization and consider bringing your company out to sponsor a build.
Roddenberry Entertainment Inc. in Los Angeles, CA has earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR® certification for superior energy performance. This first ENERGY STAR Certification reflects Roddenberry Entertainment’s continued commitment to excellence in energy efficiency and environmentally sustainable practices. The building is also certified Gold under the LEED for New Construction rating system.
Argento/Graham supported Roddenberry Entertainment through the certification process by benchmarking the building in ENERGY STAR’s portfolio manager. The building received a high score of 93.
“Improving the energy efficiency of our nation’s buildings is critical to protecting our environment, “ said Jean Lupinacci, Chief of the ENERGY STAR Commercial & Industrial Branch. “From the boiler room to the board room, organizations are leading the way by making their buildings more efficient and earning EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification.”
ENERGY STAR certified buildings and plants are verified to perform in the top 25 percent of buildings nationwide, based on weather-normalized source energy use that takes into account occupancy, hours of operation, and other key metrics. ENERGY STAR is the only energy efficiency certification in the United States that is based on actual, verified energy performance Curious about actual, verified energy performance and predictive energy use, Argento/Graham analyzed the LEED model results alongside the actual energy data required to benchmark the building. The analysis showed interesting results: the predictive annual solar production and the actual production only differed by less than 10%, or 25,997 predicted kilowatt hours compared to the recorded of 24,850 kWh. The predicted use in electricity was very different. The predicted building use was 71,300 kWh while the actual was 42,424 kWh. This difference of -40.5% indicates that Roddenberry Entertainment uses significantly less power than its peers which may be attributed to occupant behavior or differences in actual operating schedules and number of occupants as compared to assumptions made while the project was in the design phase.
To date, tens of thousands of buildings and plants across all fifty states have earned the ENERGY STAR. For more information about ENERGY STAR for Buildings and Plants, visit www.energystar.gov/buildings
Argento/Graham is an official service provider for ENERGY STAR portfolio manager and is ready to help benchmark your building.
By Alex Paris, A/G Summer 2018 Intern
At Gettysburg, I work for the Gettysburg Recreational Adventure Board (GRAB). The organization is focused on experiential education and uses the outdoors as a medium for teaching and imparting lessons on groups that go through our programs. I am excited to see that the US Green Building Council (USGBC) uses the same experiential teaching methods that I have been taught in GRAB and which I employ during trips and challenge courses that I run for Gettysburg.
Higher education has begun to place emphasis on new learning methods and on remodeling existing or building new environmentally sound buildings with the LEED certification. USGBC has wholeheartedly embraced this idea and created a learning curriculum that combines the teaching method of experiential education with a two semester course (LEED Lab) that prepares the student to take the LEED Accredited Professional and Green Associate exams at the end of the two terms. In addition, while learning the system, students can attempt to certify a building on their own campus. This methodology by schools benefits both USGBC and universities by providing USGBC with a new cohort that could work with LEED in their postgraduate field; and it gives the schools a new way of saving money through newly certified environmentally friendly buildings. Finally, the use of experiential education can create a more deeply committed student who worries about both, the environment and their schoolwork.
The USGBC is providing this two semester course that is spreading rapidly through the United States and the world. Since 2013, LEED Lab has spread to twenty-five institutions of higher education in multiple countries. An additional one hundred schools have expressed interest in the education course. At this point there are nearly eight thousand projects participating in LEED Labs. All of these projects provide students with an abundance of new skills to apply to post graduate work. It is the belief of USGBC that “by gaining practical experience in green building and earning their LEED GA and LEED AP credentials, LEED Lab students graduate with an advantage” (Buente). This advantage better prepares students for the Green Associate and Accredited Professional exams and certifications that follow through practical learning. The LEED Lab provides the students with the training and experience necessary to apply for and achieve a position in the sustainability field after graduation.
This experiential methodology in teaching the LEED Lab provides great benefits to USGBC. Experiential education can be expressed as a cycle. This cycle can be simplified into a group that does an activity then proceeds to have a discussion about the activity that revolves around “what happened, so why is that important, and now what happens?” After the discussion the activity is repeated again with slightly changed parameters. This method of teaching and review provides USGBC with an excellent way to review their LEED Lab program. The organization is able to document data and feedback from a global range of projects and locations. USGBC may then modify the new guidelines for the lab from this vast amount of information and can tailor particular projects to specific parameters or make changes to the new versions of LEED that come out.
Through USGBC’s experiential learning cycle they are able to apply new ways of thinking to improve their LEED Lab. This lab creates a new group of post-undergraduate students who are able to leave school and immediately take the LEED AP and GA exams. This new influx of people in the industry provides a greater wealth of talent to improve work and a wider audience to expand the LEED program to an even higher level of participation in higher education and through the rest of the world.
By Alex Paris, A/G Summer 2018 Intern
Being an intern at Argento/Graham I have a slightly different field of study than previous people in my position. I am a religious studies major at Gettysburg College. So, taking this position has provided me a very different but interesting lens for viewing how the world and religion interact. In this blog post I attempt to provide an analysis that explores the relationship that three major world religions have with the environment.
Environmental sustainability has become an issue of ever-growing importance in the United States in the past fifty years. As companies and laws spring up across the nation to assist with the staving off of a global environmental disaster it is intriguing to observe what various religions present in the United States say on the matter of environmental stewardship. The Christian’s Bible may differ from the tradition of Islam, and both of those may differ from the practice of Buddhists. Therefore, an analysis of these various religious traditions and how their followers practice their teachings of environmental stewardship provides an insight into the care an adherent of a particular faith may pay to their natural surroundings.
Christianity’s basis for environmental sustainability and stewardship is based upon many of the commands of God that have to do with humanity’s dominion over earth and God’s commands for the correct way of life. God’s first action and direction for man was that he had them placed in the Garden of Eden to care for it (Genesis 2:15). Man’s purpose is not only to make use of Eden and the earth after humanity is cast out of the garden but also to take care of it and make sure that it is inhabitable and prosperous. In Leviticus, Moses receives instructions from God on how he and the Israelites should live. Again, the land God promised to the Israelites comes with the caveat that the land is redeemed to a state suitable for them (Leviticus 25:23-24). God provides here the responsibility to conserve the land and to care for it. Not only does God expect the adherent to take careful custody of the land but also that you should be thankful for the blessing being given to you (Dueteronomy 8:7-9). This relationship between God and Mankind is a prescriptive one. Humanity is charged to take care of the land and to be thankful for the blessings they have been given.
Fast forward from the Old Testament to present day and the warnings of environmental disaster are now coming from Pope Francis who warns of imminent destruction because of our lack of care for Creation. The Pope reminds us of our “Sister Earth” and that she “now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods which which God has endowed her” (Pope Francis, 2). This environmental stewardship for the earth is impressed upon humanity by Pope Francis who charges each of us with that “we [may] come together to take charge of this home which has been entrusted to us, knowing that all the good which exists here will be taken up into the heavenly feast. … May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope” (Pope Francis, 244). Pope Francis’ closing comments reminds us of a Christian’s responsibility to the stewardship of the earth and to remember the joy of doing the act at the same time.
The religion of Islam is much the same as Christianity in that its view of environmentalism is prescribed by Allah to serve the adherent as a correct way of life and treating Allah’s creation. The Prophet Muhammad is quoted as saying “Preserve the earth because it is your mother.” The Prophet is Allah’s direct messenger on earth so his word is indescribably important to a Muslim. The Prophet Muhammad was considered the perfect Muslim and because of this his acts and interpretations of the Qur’an are used by Muslims as a guide for their own lives.
Muhammad’s life was informed by his communications and revelations from Allah and from his interpretations he began to receive information that applied to responsibility for the environment. Allah informs Muhammad of the world and to “eat of [earth’s] fruits when it yields and gives its due on the day of its harvest. And be not excessive. Indeed, He does not like those who commit excess” (Qur’an 6:141). While Allah wants humanity to make use of the fruits of the earth and he does not want the use to be excessive. Again, Allah tells to Muslims that there should be no change in creation (Qu’ran 30:30).. These two previous points in the Qur’an provide evidence of a religious responsibility to the earth and its well-being. When Allah sees that his creation is violated he describes that “corruption has appreared throughout the land and sea by what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness]” (Qur’an 30:41). This punishment is meant to correct intolerable behavior by Muslims who have gone astray from the correct path. Once the astray adherents have been returned, Allah again commands to not corrupt the earth again (Qur’an 5:57). This earthly restructuring is purposed by Allah to reaffirm the importance of following His commands not only as as they relate to Him but also to creation and keeping it pristine for future generations.
Buddhism differs from the two previous religions drastically in the manner of motivation for environmentalism and how it is approached. Buddhism is focused not through a god or other entity who commands a proper way of living but is instead channeled through a collection of teachers who build upon previous lectures to create the Buddhism that we know today. This Buddhism is focused upon thought and the mind. Therefore, the Buddhist is not focused on the physical manifestation of pollution or waste but is instead removing those impure thoughts that lead to the result of the pollution and waste.
The Dalai Lama comments thoroughly on the importance of relying on outside forces to fix the environment. The Spiritual Leader of Tibet comments that “the environment does not need fixing. It is our behaviour in relation to it that needs to change” (The Natural World). Another famous Buddhist, Thich Naht Hanh also writes on people and their relationship to the environment. He says that “the situation the earth is in today has been created by unmindful production and unmindful consumption. We consume to forget our worries and our anxieties. Tranquilising ourselves with overconsumption is not the way” (Confino). These two spiritual leaders import the importance of the environment. Buddhism’s teachings of the Middle Path and the Five Mindfulness trainings do not specifically teach about the environment but instead lead to a way of living in harmony with the environment. Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us that the five mindfulness trainings are the path we should follow in this era of global crisis because they are a major part of the practice of protecting ourselves, and protecting the planet. Buddhism’s understanding of protecting the environment is formed from an internal sense of duty and personal responsibility for the self.
These three religions provide two different ways that the environmental protection is delivered to the individual adherent. Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists all have parts of their population that care about the environment but might not know their theological evidence that supports environmentalism. Giving this knowledge to the believer who already cares about the environment would doubly strengthen their commitment to sustainability. The greater effect of spreading this theological knowledge to those who do not care about the environment but are strong adherents to their faith. This new section of people would greatly increase the population in support of a sustainable way of life and bring a religious fervor that would inspire numerous others to the cause of environmentalism.
A/G's Bobby Almeida is quoted in the latest installment of the USGBC-LA Long Beach Branch Newsletter.
Thanks to a joint commitment to sustainability efforts, Pacific Pointe East – Lot D has earned LEED Silver from the USGBC. Developed by Sares-Regis Group and constructed by Millie and Severson, the project team was able to divert 96% of waste construction and demolition waste from landfills. Sustainability/LEED Consultant Argento Graham was an integral member of reaching this significant milestone, identifying opportunities for sustainable efforts as well as tracking and documenting achievements along the way. The project consists of three eye-catching industrial warehouses comprising 521,021 sf that were recently completed in Douglas Park. “Specific highlights include the use of no potable water for irrigation, energy savings of over 50%, diverting over 96% of construction and demolition waste from landfills, and providing natural daylight throughout a majority of the project,” noted Bobby Almeida of Argento Graham. Pacific Pointe East Lot D continues Sares-Regis Group’s commitment to green buildings and sustainability, which includes more than 10 LEED Certified buildings in the Douglas Park area alone. Summing it up nicely was Sares-Regis Group’s Bob Klaewtanong, saying “We care. It’s part of who we are.”
Newsletter source: USGBC-LA Long Beach Branch Newsletter
The following is a guest blog from Lucas Allen of All About Waste, an A/G Sustainability Consultant. This article was originally posted with USGBC-LA.
The Athens Services Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in Sun Valley, is one of the highest-tech facilities in the industry, and receives 100% of its materials from Los Angeles. If you didn’t get a chance to go on the USGBC-LA tour, there’s a video tour here that offers a cool peek at the technology they use!
The facility is impressive to say the least, utilizing a balance of people and machines to sort through large amounts of waste, for multiple shifts each day. The facility is equipped with an Optic Sorting machine that can distinguish materials by measuring the wavelength of light as it passes through, and then uses air bursts to separate the material from the rest. The new Max-AI robotic sorting arm, aiming to become more common in the industry, pulls materials out more than twice as fast as humans. There’s also a video of Max in action here.
Recycling in 2018
What happens to materials after they come into the Athens MRF? They are sorted into more than 22 different commodities, each with different destinations. Recyclable materials are often sold off to recycling facilities, many of which are located in China. Commodities like plastic bottles and mixed paper are often shipped overseas on cargo ships that would otherwise be empty, because China has been accepting tons of raw material to fuel their manufacturing boom. It has also been cost effective for people/companies that sort materials, as it’s cheaper to send material from the Port of LA to Shanghai than it is to go from the Athens MRF to the Port.
Everything changed recently when China said they would no longer accept “foreign waste,” and banned the importation of more than 24 kinds of solid waste. The flow of recyclable materials on a global scale has fundamentally changed and people in countries all over the world, including the US, need to find alternatives quickly. For many countries, this ban has already led to backlogs of increasingly large piles of garbage with nowhere to send them. A possible, major consequence of this change in the recycling market could be people resorting to incineration or landfill dumping of materials that would have otherwise been recycled.
But is it possible that China’s decision could be the push the world needs to improve local and domestic recycling operations?
It was certainly impressive how much time, effort, and money Athens has put into the technological advancement of the MRF. Without it, the sorting process would be far more inefficient. But what does that say about people’s habits when it comes to waste? When we take a look at an example such as the village Kamikatsu in Japan, which diverts 80% of its waste from the landfill and has 34 categories of waste separation, we need to ask ourselves what we could be doing better. The Kamikatsu example is idealistic and very different in application when it comes to a city the size of LA, but what is really impressive is the buy-in and involvement of the people in the village. They know where to put their waste; it’s part of their routine, and they recognize the environmental need to be diligent about waste management.
Los Angeles already has ambitious goals to reduce its waste footprint, setting out to divert 90% of our waste from landfills by 2025. The Zero-Waste movement is gaining traction quickly on a national scale, where events like this year’s Super Bowl made a huge push to divert more than 90% of their waste. This is just the beginning, an example of what is possible with a focused effort and an activist team of people working on it. But we could be better about our buy-in and involvement. Whether it’s volunteering at beach cleanups, being diligent about reusable items, or helping somebody else be better about diverting their waste, we all have our own place in this conversation. Reflect on your waste impact and think of ways you could improve. Of the thousands of thoughts we have every day, we can certainly spare a few of them to think about ways to reduce our waste and decide where it should go.
Products made from Recycled Materials
Sorting waste efficiently is important, but it’s also one step in a life cycle that could go one of two ways after the sorting process. Either the material’s life is over and it’s never used again, or the material is recycled/reused and its life cycle continues. Closing the life cycle loop will be of ever-increasing importance in terms of future sustainability. However, if we are recycling materials and remaking them into products that are sold again, we need to support these products. Without demand, the people and companies producing them will struggle to compete with manufacturers that use virgin material.
Whether it’s purchases for you and your family, your company, or for somebody else, consider looking into options that are made from recycled materials. For all kinds of products, there are similar and competitive alternatives that are manufactured from recycled materials and are more environmentally friendly than the mainstream. Even if you are part of a manufacturing company, recycled materials may offer an equally, or even more viable solution, while also supporting the closed loop approach to material life cycles.
Some important waste takeaways from the Athens Tour
- Avoid it whenever possible! It will end up straight in the landfill. It tends to break apart during the sorting process, is usually contaminated, and doesn’t get sorted out because there are higher priorities.
- Black/Dark Plastics:
- They don’t get sorted out by the optical sorting machine because it can’t shine light through and read the wavelength, so opt for clear or white plastics instead! The best option however, is to use reusable containers, cups, and silverware instead of the plastic disposables.
- Food Waste:
- Don’t throw it into the blue or black bins! Do your best to be efficient with food, consider donating leftovers to food collection/donation services (like some options listed here: epa.gov), and put food waste into a composting waste stream or the green bin.
- Communicate with your waste hauler:
- Waste management can be complex because it varies from region to region based on the hauler, sorting, and processing capabilities of your area. Reach out to your hauler and find out what they accept and what they don’t! Whether at home or at work, learning more about this can help increase efficiencies on both sides. If your company is making changes to products or product purchases, such as what kind of cups they use for events for example, communicate with your hauler to make sure they can accommodate the change.
Huge thanks to the people at Athens Services for the lessons and for leading the tour. Also shout out to USGBC-LA for organizing the event and working to give waste management more exposure amongst professionals in the green building industry.
Let’s all stay focused on improving our own waste habits and keep working with others around us towards a Zero Waste future!
- For more information about Athens and the services they provide, check out their website: athensservices.com
- For more information on LA’s Zero Waste goals and the plan, check out this website: lacitysan.org
- For more information on Zero-Waste solutions, the TRUE Zero-Waste certification, or anything else about waste, check out our website at allaboutwaste.org!
Lucas Allen is a LEED Green Associate for All About Waste, a sustainability consulting firm that specializes in Zero-Waste solutions and strives to help others towards a Zero-Waste future.
The following is a guest blog from All About Waste, an A/G Sustainability Consultant.
What is USGBC’s Arc Platform?
Arc, formerly known as Dynamic Plaque, is the U.S. Green Building Council’s new building rating system that relies on annual, performance-based data. It serves as an effective measurement tool to track a building’s incremental performance progress. It’s new and exciting because it can apply to LEED certified buildings and non-certified buildings alike. Non-certified buildings can use Arc as a pathway towards LEED certification, while buildings that are already certified can use Arc to further improve or make recertification even easier. Unlike conventional LEED recertification, which involves a major recertification effort every 5 years, Arc requires annual USGBC reviews and active assessment of building performance. USGBC claims Arc to be the future of the building certification market. There are 5 different categories that Arc focuses on: Energy, Water, Waste, Transportation and Human Experience. There is also a final, static category that is worth 10 points and based upon credits that were earned in the building’s initial LEED certification.
Figure 1: Arc Plaque Example
Figure 2: Solid Waste Landfill
How is Arc helping buildings become waste-wise?
The U.S. is one of the world’s leading waste producers. Waste that is sent to landfills negatively impacts our health, economy, and surrounding environment via greenhouse emissions, disposal costs, and other factors. Waste has become one of the most prevalent societal issues within green building systems. LEED v4 took a major step in addressing this issue by requiring waste audits for existing buildings, audits at similar locations for new retail construction, and waste generation estimates for Core and Shell projects. Arc takes this another step further by requiring waste audits annually for any buildings using the platform, both LEED certified and noncertified buildings. In the past, waste audits played an important role in learning about a building’s total waste stream and how much waste was being diverted from landfills and incinerators, although audits were not required. Annual waste audits are an excellent way to gain consistent, thorough feedback on a building’s waste management strategies and their success after implementation.
Figure 3: Waste Audit Streams
What does a waste audit entail?
After planning and coordination with the building’s janitorial team, all of the waste in the building is organized in one location to be collected and then sorted into specific waste streams (recyclables, non-recyclables, organics, e-waste, fluorescent bulbs, etc.) by the audit team. After sorting, the materials from each waste stream will be measured and recorded to determine the building’s total waste output, and also to provide a breakdown of each individual waste stream. With all of this waste information, the success of the building’s waste management strategies can be accurately assessed. All About Waste is a sustainability consulting firm that has extensive experience not only performing waste audits, but also providing expert advice on waste management strategies. Improving waste management practices can not only lead to increased waste diversion and recycling rates, but can also help achieve LEED building credits. For more information on the Arc Platform Waste category and its requirements, you can visit the Arc website or ask more specific questions about waste to the All About Waste team!
All About Waste is a sustainability consulting firm that has extensive experience not only performing waste audits, but also providing expert advice on waste management strategies. Improving waste management practices can not only lead to increased waste diversion and recycling rates, but can also help achieve LEED building credits. For more information on the Arc Platform Waste category and its requirements, you can visit the Arc website or ask more specific questions about waste to the All About Waste team!
Resilience planning has become a hot topic lately. How can families, businesses, and communities survive and thrive in the face of disaster? Disasters come in many forms, but their effects can be similar in terms of loss of life, infrastructure, and economic activity. As LA is overdue for its next major earthquake, improving resiliency is of critical importance to our region.
A/G attended USGBC-LA’s Fundamentals of Building Resilience-LA workshop on July 18th, and came away with important strategies for increasing both building- and organization-level resilience. In order to be more prepared, organizations need to have a plan; and as workshop leader and director of USGBC-LA’s Building Resilience-LA initiative reminded us, a plan is not a document but rather a working process. Forming a team, mapping risks and assets, setting goals, developing a plan, and then implementing and maintaining it are parts of this process. Going through this planning process will touch on overlapping areas including built resources (such as back-up systems and seismic safety), operations (such as emergency and communications plans), and social systems (such as neighborhood resources and employee networks).
While the resiliency planning process may seem overwhelming, organizations who go through the resiliency process end up ahead. Businesses experience less uncertainty, better financing terms and insurance rates, and lower operating costs. If the team includes the right people, the planning process breaks down silos and creates efficiencies. And as 80% of businesses do not come back from a large-scale disaster like Hurricane Katrina, having a resiliency plan can make the difference between life and death on every level.
The LEED rating system does not currently address resiliency planning, but related pilot credits have been floated and may reemerge as communities across the country increasingly deal with disasters of human and natural origin. In the meantime, USGBC-LA’s Building Resilience-LA initiative is working with the City of LA and local non-profits to develop robust plans and networks. Check out their Building Resilience LA: A Primer for Facilities for guidance on how to increase your organization’s resilience.
Earlier this week, A/G attended a discussion on the implications of the US withdrawal from the Paris climate accords with LA mayor Eric Garcetti and California's 38th governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Creative Artists Agency (CAA). The bipartisan discussion, facilitated by Rachel Kropa, co-director of the CAA Foundation, covered a lot of ground.
Our key takeaways:
What are Garcetti and Schwarzenegger doing?
In the words of the former governor, we are "marching to a clean and green future" and "letting the world know America is in." Schwarzenegger's Regions of Climate Action is working with subnational governments to promote sustainable development and infrastructure, and Garcetti along with 338 Climate Mayors, is working to bolster efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in cities across America.
What do we do with the US withdrawal from Paris?
Leadership does not have to come from Washington. California leads. Los Angeles leads. We can lead. As Schwarzenegger said, "California has the strictest environmental laws, but at the same time we are number one in economic growth." Garcetti highlighted many of LA's successes including the fact that the city is home to the largest electrical vehicle fleet in the US and just last week celebrated completion of the world's most powerful rooftop solar array. In November, Measure M passed which will transform public transportation in LA. Each of us can also become sustainability champions in our own organizations and in our own personal lives.
Why doesn't climate change get the proper air time in elections and debates?
Both Garcetti and Schwarzenegger spoke to the importance of communication-- no one is successful in politics if you cannot connect to the people. Garcetti added, “if you don’t humanize what the impact is, voters will think, ‘Oh, this is just something that scientists and Democrats and greenies are talking about.’ You actually have to make this a human issue.”
In early June, Eataly Boston achieved LEED Gold Certification under the Commercial Interiors Retail rating system. The 45,000 sq.ft. marketplace has everything a lover of all things Italian could ever want — enjoy a Lavazza coffee from the caffé while you shop for Italian goods in the retail, treat yourself to wine and cheese at the Piazza, or head to the top floor to the restaurant, Terra. Not only is Eataly delicious, it’s green, and we guarantee you will not regret an afternoon at Eataly.
As visitors to Boston, one of our favorite sustainability features at Eataly is its bustling location at Prudential Center and its partial siting at 888 Boylston, one of the city’s greenest and most energy efficient buildings. We also love that the lighting design is expected to save 186,209 kWh annually. Another energy saving strategy is the ENERGY STAR kitchen equipment such as the dishwashers, ice machines, and the friers, a no-cost, energy savings technology. These energy saving strategies earned Eataly over $25,000 in incentives from the local utilities.
Sustainability for Eataly doesn’t stop with the design and construction though. Eataly also has environmentally responsible procurement policies. It is full of locally-sourced produce, dairy, and other products such as charcuterie, meat and seafood. Disposable containers are compostable. When you visit Eataly, you will learn all about what they are doing to be sustainability minded and responsible — there is a ton of signage to help guide you and understand the decisions you make as a conscious consumer.
“Achieving LEED certification is more than implementing sustainable practices. It represents a commitment to making the world a better place and influencing others to do better,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC. "Given the extraordinary importance of climate protection and the central role of the building industry in that effort, Eataly demonstrates their leadership through their LEED certification of the Boston location.”
The Boston store is the third LEED certification for the Eataly US team. The World Trade Center store in New York was certified Gold in 2016 and Chicago was certified Silver in 2014. Next up and right here in our backyard is Los Angeles at Westfield Century City. The team members at A/G have provided LEED consulting and commissioning on all mentioned locations and we can’t wait to be able to enjoy Italy at Eataly LA.
April 22nd marked the 47th anniversary of Earth Day, the birth of the modern environmental movement that led to bipartisan support for the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Act. For many of us, it’s not Earth Day, it’s Earth Month. Who are we kidding, every month is earth month at A/G!
April was however uniquely jam-packed with industry and community events centered around environmental conservation and resiliency. We heard from California’s Attorney General Javier Becerra and Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon about their commitment to fighting climate change and promoting clean energy regardless of what happens in Washington. At the quarterly Women in Green breakfast, we heard from local leaders from Liberty Hill, the ACLU and the Partnership for Working Families—all of whom are on the front lines of fighting for social, economic, and environmental justice. At MGBCE, we were profoundly inspired by thought leaders like Dr. Antwi Akom who spoke to the imperative of designing resilient communities to safeguard the most vulnerable populations. We also celebrated the successes of the US Green Building Council with the LA County Board of Supervisors and marched with scientists to commend their role in preserving our environment. We even spent a little time out in nature with our clients in the Pacific Northwest. And, we became a carbon neutral company offsetting our scope 1 and scope 2 emissions with Green-e renewable energy credits and verified emission reductions.
Media Contact: Julie Du Brow, USGBC-LA
EcoMap, Eco-Tech Makerspace, Tours & Greening Businesses Demonstrate Useful, Replicable, Teachable & Community-Driven Projects
LOS ANGELES (April 12, 2017) The U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles chapter (USGBC-LA) has received the Los Angeles County Green Leadership Award for a nonprofit agency for its 2016 campaign “Road to Greenbuild”. The campaign was prepared over months to showcase sustainable built environments and initiatives across LA County to over 18,000 people attending an international green building conference here over 72 hours. The annual awards—recognizing outstanding efforts by individuals and organizations in fulfilling innovative strategies to improve our environmental sustainability—were presented yesterday by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Chairman, during the weekly Board of Supervisors meeting.
“We are honored to be among the awardees selected by the committee for this year's Green Leadership Award. This is a win for all of the USGBC-LA members and our partner organizations who keep working to make every day Earth Day in L.A.,” states USGBC-LA Executive Director Dominique Hargreaves.
In October 2016, the USGBC-LA chapter hosted the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, for the first time. The conference traditionally draws tens of thousands of visitors, and it was no different this year. USGBC-LA and its army of volunteers—led by Hargreaves and L.A. Greenbuild co-chairs Annie Argento and Randy Britt—spent the majority of 2016 preparing how to showcase, and then present, a sustainable built Los Angeles environment to those who attended.
Tools, projects, and events/tours were created, planned and employed to meet this goal:
- The launch of Eco-Tech Makerspace at T4T.org in Gardena, where young people are able to explore sustainability challenges and learn how to solve problems using technology and other STEM learning. This “Legacy” project was a gift to Los Angeles for hosting Greenbuild. Through collaborative efforts, USGBC-LA was able to install a hi-tech design workspace at T4T, as well as help cool the building with green screens (walls of plants) so the tech and the children can innovate on-site more comfortably. This project is replicable and a second one is in the works.
- Going door-to-door, USGBC-LA engaged 100 businesses, providing them with giveaways and toolkits on how to green their operations, and then encouraged Greenbuild attendees to patronize these businesses. Toolkit included sustainable tips and guidance to specific incentives through the LADWP.
- Creation of EcoMapLA, an online, real-time, interactive and searchable tool for all things sustainable in L.A.—from transportation hubs to local green places, spaces and businesses, as well as iconic landmarks. Enabled Greenbuild attendees (as well as all future visitors and locals) to take self-guided tours, click on the building/place they are at, and learn its sustainability story, and more. Already quite comprehensive, the map continues to add more places, information and features.
- Eighty (80) tours, over three days, of green buildings, transportation hubs and routes, and outdoor facilities, showed off L.A.’s greening efforts across a region that was the most geographically expansive of any prior Greenbuild host city.
- Connecting and developing 600 local women leaders in sustainability throughout the year and leading up to participation in Greenbuild. Women were inspired by such leaders as Mary Nichols, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board and Anna Guerrero, Chief of Staff for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, among many others.
- The BuildSMART Trailer brought knowledge and resources about sustainable building materials, new technologies and utility incentives to over 4,000 L.A. area residents. This mobile learning tool offered a one-on-one, tactile learning opportunity directly to various communities (schools, parks, etc.) throughout 2016.
- On-the-job energy and water conservation training and certification for 400 janitorial workers across the County, who are now certified Green Janitors. Through this program, janitors earn a seat at the sustainability table alongside building owners and managers, empowering them to actively participate in the goals of the LEED Rating System, with emphasis on energy efficiency and building health. Janitors also take their knowledge home to their families and neighbors, spreading sustainability across local communities. The program continues to grow, locally and across California.
Los Angeles’ Greenbuild co-chairs Annie Argento of Argento/Graham and Randy Britt of Vanir Construction Management state, ”The Road to Greenbuild offered us an amazing opportunity to engage hundreds of volunteers in this highly effective outreach initiative, and we’re so proud and grateful to them and to the Board of Supervisors. We’re especially pleased that almost all these programs are ongoing and growing, well past Greenbuild, leaving a tangible legacy for all Angelenos.”
About U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles
USGBC-LA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization committed to creating a prosperous and sustainable future within one generation. Our mission promotes sustainability in LA County's built environment by delivering access to knowledge, resources, recognition and networking. (www.usgbc-la.org)
With all of the resources that went into Greenbuild 2016, planning the Women in Green breakfast series unfortunately took a backseat. It had been over a year since this group gathered, but with the flurry of questions and concerns about the future of climate and energy policy that arose after the November election, Annie Argento, our colleague Melissa Gutierrez-Sullivan at Flourish Consulting, and our friends at USGBC-LA relaunched the breakfast series at the end of 2016 with an all-star panel of climate policy champions featuring Mary Nichols, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board and the ultimate woman in green; Lauren Faber-O'Connor, Deputy Chief Sustainability Officer at the Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; and Aimee Barnes, recently appointed as Senior Advisor to California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
The discussion, expertly moderated by Aimee Barnes, was inspirational as the panelists shared anecdotes from their careers; was realistic about the current harsh political landscape; and believe it or not, left many feeling less skeptical than they did when they walked in the door. And needless to say, all 150 attendees left with a sense of gratitude for leadership in LA and California and the commitment to always fight for environmental protection.
Mary Nichols spoke to her early career as one of the first female journalists at the Wall Street Journal, her enrollment in the first class at Yale Law School to admit women, and decades of fighting for clean air, clean water, and better climate policy at the state and national levels. Lauren Faber-O'Connor gave advice to young professionals in the audience about the dividends paid by seeking out fellowships and leadership on boards early in a career.
Both panelists were realistic about the danger of appointing climate change denialists to key environmental posts, yet also shed light on political transitions and policy reversals based on their experience with the Schwartznegger-Brown transition. There were humorous and cynical moments such as the advice “go drinking” in order to cope with climate denialists in cabinet positions, but overall, the discussion left attendees with a sense of optimism. The City of Los Angeles will continue to be a leader in fighting climate change through its policies around energy efficiency in buildings, electric vehicle charging stations, and thoughtful implementation of LA's comprehensive sustainability program, the pLAn. In fact, the City recently announced that it has achieved two-thirds of all 2017 goals early. And, earlier this week after the administration advanced their effort to undo Obama era climate policies, Mayor Garcetti stated, "No matter what happens in Washington, Los Angeles will uphold the obligation to preserve the health of our planet, protect our most vulnerable residents and create a 21st century economy -- and working with my fellow climate mayors, we will continue doing our part to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement in cities across the country." And certainly California is committed to its role as a global leader in environmental policy from fuel emissions standards to green building codes and will continue to work with other states and countries to commit to bold CO2 emissions reductions.
The next event in the Women in Green breakfast series is Friday, April 14th. The plan is to highlight some local leaders and organizations here in Los Angeles who are leading the charge on creating sustainable and just communities and how those in the green building movement can be good allies. For more information, click here.
While much of the focus of LEED v4 has been on the materials, the energy credits also experienced significant changes. One major new requirement is that the commissioning design review is a part of the fundamental commissioning prerequisite. This means that all LEED projects must engage a commissioning agent during the design phase. The minimum energy performance prerequisite also requires analysis to be done during the design phase, and the referenced energy standard has been updated to ASHRAE 90.1-2010. ASHRAE 90.1-2010 includes many new mandatory requirements, that all projects must comply with, such as controlled receptacles and daylighting controls. Luckily, most projects in California are likely to meet those mandatory requirements, as well as the commissioning design review, simply by complying with Title 24.
For LEED Commercial Interiors projects, the way energy efficiency points are awarded has been changed as well. In LEED v3, a project could earn all the points by prescriptively complying separately with the HVAC, lighting, and process load credits. In version 4, that option is still available, but a project cannot earn all the points available. In order to maximize energy efficiency points, a project will need to run a tenant level energy model using ASHRAE 90.1-2010.
Measurement and verification has also undergone a radical transformation. Projects will no longer be required to create and implement an M&V plan. In order to achieve the new Advanced Energy Metering Credit, projects will only have to install submeters on significant end uses. Additionally, a new prerequisite has been created which requires all projects to have building level energy meters. For most projects this won’t be a concern, but some campus projects will need to submeter out each building.
LEED v4 recognizes the variety of different services a high-quality commissioning agent can provide. Unlike LEED v3, where Enhanced Commissioning was all or nothing, LEED v4 has a few different Enhanced Commissioning options to choose from. Projects can choose to have their commissioning agent perform Enhanced Commissioning with or without Monitoring Based Commissioning. Additionally, projects using the building design and construction rating system can choose to pursue Envelope Commissioning as well.
Argento/Graham (A/G), a green building consulting firm based in Los Angeles, is seeking a full-time project manager to oversee and implement green building and sustainability services for a diverse portfolio of projects of varying scale, in order to integrate environmental stewardship, promote occupant wellbeing, and sound economics in the built environment. The ideal candidate will also have experience in performing energy analysis or a desire to learn this skill.
Duties and responsibilities
Define and propose the scope of the project (LEED Rating System, WELL, CALGreen, energy efficiency goals, or other code requirement or green building framework) in collaboration with principals.
Create a schedule and plan which identifies and sequences the activities needed to successfully complete the project from the proposal phase to completion. Review the plan and project schedule with principals and all other staff that will be affected by the project activities; revise the schedule as required.
Execute the development of a project work plan from beginning-to-end ensuring that all deliverables are on time, within budget and at the required level of quality.
Perform self-directed research, evaluate and provide recommendations on cost-effective measures to drive a project towards its goals. This includes materials research, design, construction and operational best practices, etc. Recommendations are to be clear, logical and evidence-based.
Provide guidance and direction to project team members on designing to and constructing to applicable green building standards.
Develop forms, reports, presentations, memorandums or other client-facing materials to document activities and results.
Liaise with and coordinate deliverables with project team members.
Update stakeholders including appropriate staff on the progress of the project.
Prepare and maintain project checklists and ensure tracking tools are up to date.
Work with A/G engineers to build energy models in eQuest or EnergyPro to analyze the energy performance of projects.
Create reports that detail energy efficiency measures analyzed in the energy model and their impact on a project’s performance.
Review mechanical, electrical, and plumbing drawings for compliance with codes and standards.
Perform calculations to ensure a project will meet its goals of indoor air quality and provide the best possible occupant experience.
Coordinate utility incentives on behalf of the project owner / client, as applicable.
Keep abreast of advancements in green building technologies and trends, including but not limited to healthy building materials, renewable energy, building monitoring, water treatment, and energy efficiency measures.
Act as internal expert resource for green building standards especially in relationship to the LEED Rating System.
Communicate and document any discrepancies between the as-designed project and what the LEED Rating System requires to design consultant and impacted project team members.
Document and review all credits at regular intervals and prior to USGBC submittal in collaboration with other project management staff.
Coordinate Proven Provider review sessions with USGBC staff.
Keep abreast on LEED errata and addenda and other USGBC announcements and news that impact services and/or strategies implemented on projects.
Maintain confidentiality and trade secrets in accordance with the employee handbook.
Develop and manage an internship program to train students and young professionals in green building.
Maintain strong, client-centric approach to project management and delivery.
Understand ethical behavior and business practices as it relates to self, clients, and partners, and behave in accordance with these standards ensuring that professional conduct aligns with the values of the organization.
Speak, listen and write in a clear, thorough, and timely manner using appropriate and effective communication tools and techniques.
Develop new and unique ways to improve operations of the organization and to create new opportunities.
Work cooperatively and effectively with others to set goals, resolve problems, and make decisions that enhance organizational effectiveness.
Be receptive and open to feedback.
Positively influence others to achieve results that are in the best interest of the organization.
Assure quality by reviewing others’ work and vice versa to ensure its alignment with the project goals, client expectations and quality standards.
3-5 years professional experience in the building industry
Keen understanding of sustainable design principles
Deep knowledge of green building and energy standards such as Title-24 Part 6 and Part 11, the family of LEED Rating Systems, WELL, or others.
Firm command of the building design and construction process
Ability to read and understand architectural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing diagrams and drawings
Ability to manage multiple projects and tasks at any given time
Bachelors degree in architecture, engineering, environmental sciences or related field
LEED Accredited Professional
Proficiency with MS applications, Adobe, Google Work apps including email, voice, calendar
Experience working with eQuest, EnergyPro, and other software and tools used for energy analysis strongly preferred
Knowledge of HVAC systems and controls preferred
Must be able to travel to job sites (personal auto use, train, air)
Must be able to climb ladders
Must be able to carry objects (25-35 lbs.)
Salary is commensurate with experience
A/G offers a comprehensive benefits package including medical and dental insurance, transit benefits and a flexible work schedule.
Please send your resume and a cover letter to email@example.com by June 24th, 2016.
California’s years-long drought conditions and this winter’s unpredictable, underperforming El Niño rainy season have put water issues at the forefront of the state’s public attention. Just as interest in clean energy and energy conservation spurred an explosion of energy-saving technologies and regulations in California years ago, the way we think about water conservation and water reuse in our state may now be poised for a major overhaul. Directives from the state of California, the initiatives of individual project owners, and the efforts every stakeholder in between are contributing to a revolution in the ways we use, save, and treat our water.
Here in southern California, for example, local regulations are opening the door for innovative water saving strategies. As part of the Beverly Hills Revitalization Plan, the currently under-construction Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills will be required to irrigate all landscaping with nonpotable water. To this end, the project includes an Aquacell greywater system that collects and treats shower, tub, and lavatory water from a swath of hotel rooms to be used for irrigation. In San Francisco, beginning last November projects over 250,000 square feet are required to meet both irrigation and toilet flushing demand to the greatest extent possible utilizing recycled water produced onsite, including recaptured greywater and rainwater. This regulation, which prescribes the ends but not the means, forces each project to consider strategies to minimize water demand and maximize recycled water supply that are unique to the intended use, building design, and inherent hydrology of each site.
Due to growing interest and concern for the drought in California, more and more project owners are looking seriously at water conservation strategies without direct mandates from local regulators. For example, A/G is working with a large restaurant group dedicated to tackling water issues at a new Southern California location. The project is early in design, so many water conservation and water reuse strategies are still being carefully considered. The most plentiful potential supply of water for capture and reuse onsite is kitchen process water – this is a major challenge, since under local regulations kitchen water is considered blackwater, which requires additional treatment and currently can only be used for subsurface irrigation. For the project this presents a tension between supply and demand. Greywater can be collected, but only in relatively small amounts that cannot measure up to high demand uses such as toilet flushing. Blackwater can be collected and reused, but it is costly to treat and the supply far outstrips the demand for subsurface irrigation alone. The project team will work together with local regulators and third-party water reuse technology companies to find solutions that maximizes water savings while satisfying all public health and safety regulations. As one of the first projects of its kind to consider onsite water reuse in Los Angeles, this project will be paving the way for future commercial kitchens to utilize these technologies.
For projects without commercial kitchens, other types of process water can be a potential source of greywater supply as well as an often-overlooked area for water conserving technologies. By using technologies that increase the number of times water can be cycled through water-using building systems such as cooling towers, for example, projects can conserve water much more effectively than through the use of low-flow plumbing fixtures alone. For further savings, projects can look for ways to treat and reuse the process water after its final cycle, whether for toilet flushing, irrigation, or other uses.
Even as more and more municipalities and project owners are experimenting with innovative, technology-based solutions for water conservation and water reuse, California isn’t wasting any time in moving forward with common sense, low-tech water conservation solutions. Starting this year, California’s already stringent maximum flow rates for basic water fixtures are being further slashed, and not just for new projects. Starting this year, the installation and sale of any new urinals with a flow rate greater than 0.125 gallons per flush will be prohibited – this aggressive standard matches the maximum flow rate already in place for the City of Los Angeles. The maximum flow rate for kitchen sinks is reduced to 1.8 gallons per minute and, perhaps most controversially, the maximum flow rate for residential lavatory faucets is reduced to 1.2 gallons per minute (http://drought.ca.gov/news/story-81.html). This last item alone is expected to save about 4.5 billion gallons of water, 16 million therms of natural gas, and 118 gigawatt hours of electricity in the first year the standard is in effect, though there is some discussion of delaying implementation of this measure until July 2016 due to limited availability of compliant fixtures on the market today. (http://www.energy.ca.gov/business_meetings/2015_packets/2015-08-12/Item_06/Item_6_Faucet_Staff_Paper.pdf).
California has come a long way in its regulation of water as a part of our built environment, from seeing water as a one-dimensional utility to a precious resource that interacts in complicated ways with with our infrastructure as well as our energy budget. Taking an even wider view of water, though, will be an important part of the next major step forward in thinking about water – large scale stormwater retention strategies to keep California’s reservoirs filled and infiltration and reclamation of California’s polluted aquifers to ensure a safe, clean, and plentiful water supply for generations of Californians to come.