The LEED v4 moment.

Greenbuild Philadelphia.

Era mia intenzione scrivere un resoconto (gli ‘highlights’) dell’annuale edizione di Greenbuild, la convention/exhibition (convegni e fiera) organizzata da US Green Building Council, quest’anno a Philadelphia. Ma, francamente, l’articolo su GreenBiz.com di Elaine Hsieh (direttrice del programma VERGE di GreenBiz Group) sintetizza così bene, che preferisco riportare di seguito, con una mia premessa, il contenuto principale del suo articolo. Tre gli scenari principali emersi a Philadelphia che si stanno prepotentemente consolidando:

2013_11_29 immagine 031. L’impatto dei materiali da costruzione sulla salute.

Se prima quella dei materiali e delle risorse era semplicemente una delle aree di LEED (ma di fatto la scelta dei prodotti, anche riguardo all’efficienza energetica, portava già quasi il 50% dei punti della certificazione) ora con la nuova versione 4 diventa l’assoluta protagonista. Composizione delle materie prime (l’etichetta degli ingredienti ! – vedi Declare – una rivoluzione forse lenta ma inesorabile), attenzione (con un approccio scientifico alla chimica delle emissioni) ai VOC, analisi del ciclo di vita (ma non basta, lo si è già capito, anche se per cominciare ‘prima misurare, poi migliorare‘). Insomma, musica per le orecchie delle aziende (quelle che capiranno che un treno sta partendo e bisogna prenderlo) e praterie di sviluppo professionale per i tecnici che sapranno evolvere verso una ‘sostenibilità 2.0‘, quella davvero ‘operativa’.

2013_11_29 immagine 042. Monitorare per migliorare.

Le domande del tipo ‘ho certificato l’edificio … e ora??’, ‘sì, ma l’edificio certificato LEED Gold si comporta davvero da LEED Gold?’ troveranno risposte puntuali. Già LEED EB:O&M (Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance) aveva introdotto l’obbligo di documentare ad un ente terzo i consumi nei 5 anni successivi alla certificazione, per dimostrare la corrispondenza tra quanto progettato e quanto costruito/gestito. Quindi costringendo utenti e property managers alla gestione virtuosa degli edifici. Ora USGBC introduce, con la LEED Dynamic Plaque, una piattaforma di misurazione in tempo reale di consumi e comfort reale/percepito che vede l’utente virtualmente seduto davanti ad una consolle di comando e gestione, in grado di allineare sempre di più prestazioni attese e reali. E intanto così si continua ad alimentare un immenso database di edifici, consumi e prestazioni (l’Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager) che di fatto è il valore aggiunto e cuore pulsante del sistema green building implementato dagli americani.

2013_11_29 immagine 023. La scalabilità del sistema. Dall’edificio alla città.

Che il cammino verso la sostenibilità dovesse portare dal sistema edificio a sovra sistemi più complessi (il quartiere, la città, la comunità green) era concettualmente logico. Ma si continua ad operare su livelli disgiunti. Da una parte la ricerca ossessiva dell’efficienza dell’edificio e delle sue componenti. Dall’altra un approccio alla città che si basa soprattutto sulle reti (‘smart grid’? questa locuzione non vi sta letteralmente a noia??) e che vede gli edifici come terminali quasi esclusivamente tecnologici. Ora, piattaforme come la sorprendente 2030 Palette, ideata da Architecture 2030, una delle società più dinamiche e allineate con la sostenibilità che gravitano nell’orbita USGBC, permettono all’architetto/urbanista di declinare su scala globale l’approccio alla riduzione dei consumi energetici e della CO2, da una parte, e all’impiego di rinnovabili dall’altra, che si applicano nella progettazione di un edificio. Insomma, dall’edificio alla scala urbana, in uno scenario che implica anche un’evoluzione del ruolo di urbanisti e developer.

Oltre al cambiamento di scala ‘tecnico’, quello ‘commerciale’: con l’annuncio della prima edizione di Greenbuild in Europa a Verona (8-10 ottobre 2014), il brand della convention/exhibition esce dal continente americano per accompagnare lo sviluppo di un World GBC che già vede più di 100 paesi soci. Un’avventura, guidata da un colosso americano degli eventi nel settore delle costruzioni e della sostenibilità, Hanley Wood, sicuramente impegnativa (anche per la posizione nel calendario, la settimana dopo MADE Expo e due settimane prima di Greenbuild New Orleans) e sfidante.

1. Health matters more than ever

The demand for materials health and transparency is becoming increasingly more prevalent in the industry, and Greenbuild’s agenda this year reflected this. In addition to a full-day Materials and Human Health Summit, more than a handful of education sessions devoted to the topic, and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and UL Environment partnership announcement, USGBC CEO Rick Fedrizzi just announced that they are creating a new Center for Green Building and Human Health.

As I noted in our Greenbuild preview piece last week, LEED v4’s new Materials and Resources (MR) section is providing a big push in this area, and plenty of time was devoted to educating Greenbuild attendees on the ins and outs of what will be required as the industry starts to sharpen its focus here. Even the expo hall included exhibitors labeling their products with green building declarations in preparation for new MR credit requirements.

But perhaps the bigger push is from the private sector, led by Google’s efforts to push product transparency and prioritize employee health. To push the market one step further, Google provided USGBC with a $3 million grant for healthy building materials research last year. While this movement is causing increased tension within the building product manufacturing community, it’s a good sign that the industry is valuing human health, product transparency, and lifecycle impacts more than ever.

2. Focus on outcomes, not just strategies

During the plenary talk about LEED v4 and Performance, Scot Horst, senior vice president of LEED, described the new LEED as becoming more focused on outcomes so that building owners have a better understanding of how to manage their buildings to meet full performance potential.

While this seems like it should be common sense, here’s the context: Under previous LEED standards, projects certified under new construction standards were based on design strategies and energy models that weren’t verified post-occupancy. While there is a LEED standard for existing buildings based on actual performance, there was not a reliable way to bridge the gap between design and performance in all LEED certified projects.

To address this issue, Horst unveiled USGBC’s new LEED Dynamic Plaque, which is currently being piloted in USGBC’s LEED Platinum certified headquarters in Washington, D.C. It’s a Web-based performance dashboard that monitors the energy, water, waste, transportation and something called “human experience” data from the LEED building on a real-time basis, comparing the building with others that are similar locally and globally, then re-scoring the buildings every day.

So, if a new construction building becomes LEED certified after being built, then this dynamic plaque would monitor its actual performance after it was occupied. The plaque would then help the facilities manager track and optimize its performance over time – or risk getting a lower score.

Horst explained that USGBC’s headquarters building dropped from LEED Platinum to Gold after installing the dynamic plaque, which motivated them to address their performance quickly. Watch the video above, created by IDEO, the design firm that helped USGBC with this initiative, for more detail.

2013_11_29 immagine 063. Scalability and context are essential

In order to design, build, and operate in a world affected by climate change, the need for scalable solutions applied within local context is key.

And it seemed that many of this year’s Greenbuild discussions were all about scalability, from addressing portfolio management tools to leveraging the structure of large companies to solve global design challenges more effectively. The necessity of scalable solutions was particularly powerful during the plenary speech by Ed Mazria, founder and CEO of Architecture 2030. Mazria began by reminding the audience of how much is at stake for humanity in the next 20 years of design choices.

“Getting to carbon neutral is a two-step process,” he said. “Step one is design and planning for resiliency, sustainability and low carbon. We can design out 70-80 percent of the energy consumed by the built environment if we know the information and have the tools.” And the second step involves transitioning to renewable energy.

To address this design issue, Mazria announced the launch of a free online platform called the 2030 Palette to help accelerate the Architecture 2030 mission toward building more sustainable, low-carbon and adaptable built environments worldwide. The platform gives building design professionals the tools to take local action – from the regional scale down to the buildings and building elements – in an intuitive and accessible way. By giving planners and architects a giant toolkit for making smarter design choices and a platform to help each other, Mazria hopes to scale green building faster.

2013_11_29 immagine 05Another example of how the movement is scaling is through its engagement with the international community. As Fedrizzi noted in his keynote last Thursday night, the World Green Building Council now numbers nearly 100 countries and growing.

During Greenbuild’s International Summit last Tuesday, it was announced that Greenbuild for Europe and the Mediterranean region will launch in Verona, Italy in 2014. This is big news since it’s the first time Greenbuild is going global.

“This new experience will serve as a platform for green building knowledge and shared expertise across continents, while scaling the breadth and reach of global market transformation,” Fedrizzi said.

ture of large companies to solve global design challenges more effectively.

2013_11_29 immagine 01Elaine Hsieh is director of the VERGE program for GreenBiz Group, leading the global event series that bridges sustainability and technology — specifically, the convergence of technologies bringing a new era of radical efficiency to buildings, transportation and energy systems. She has over 15 years of experience consulting with Fortune 500 companies on sustainability, green building, and technology issues. Elaine has a solid technical background with understanding of the energy, construction, biotechnology, education, retail, manufacturing, and finance industries. She has been featured in Mashable, Green Economy Post, Reuters, the Guardian, and other publications for her social media influence within the green building, business and sustainability communities.

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