SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Natural building

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Green building design is becoming broadly adopted, with one green building standard reporting over 3.5 billion square feet certified to date. By definition, green buildings focus on minimizing impacts to the environment through reductions in energy usage, water usage, and minimizing environmental disturbances from the building site. Also by definition, but perhaps less widely recognized, green buildings aim to improve human health through design of healthy indoor environments. The benefits related to reduced energy and water consumption are well-documented, but the potential human health benefits of green buildings are only recently being investigated. The objective of our review was to examine the state of evidence on green building design as it specifically relates to indoor environmental quality and human health. Overall, the initial scientific evidence indicates better indoor environmental quality in green buildings versus non-green buildings, with direct benefits to human health for occupants of those buildings. A limitation of much of the research to date is the reliance on indirect, lagging and subjective measures of health. To address this, we propose a framework for identifying direct, objective and leading “Health Performance Indicators” for use in future studies of buildings and health.

Concepts: Environmentalism, Environmental quality, Real estate, Human, Health, Natural building, Natural environment, Environment

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Buildings consume nearly 40% of primary energy production globally. Certified green buildings substantially reduce energy consumption on a per square foot basis and they also focus on indoor environmental quality. However, the co-benefits to health through reductions in energy and concomitant reductions in air pollution have not been examined.We calculated year by year LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification rates in six countries (the United States, China, India, Brazil, Germany, and Turkey) and then used data from the Green Building Information Gateway (GBIG) to estimate energy savings in each country each year. Of the green building rating schemes, LEED accounts for 32% of green-certified floor space and publically reports energy efficiency data. We employed Harvard’s Co-BE Calculator to determine pollutant emissions reductions by country accounting for transient energy mixes and baseline energy use intensities. Co-BE applies the social cost of carbon and the social cost of atmospheric release to translate these reductions into health benefits. Based on modeled energy use, LEED-certified buildings saved $7.5B in energy costs and averted 33MT of CO2, 51 kt of SO2, 38 kt of NOx, and 10 kt of PM2.5 from entering the atmosphere, which amounts to $5.8B (lower limit = $2.3B, upper limit = $9.1B) in climate and health co-benefits from 2000 to 2016 in the six countries investigated. The U.S. health benefits derive from avoiding an estimated 172-405 premature deaths, 171 hospital admissions, 11,000 asthma exacerbations, 54,000 respiratory symptoms, 21,000 lost days of work, and 16,000 lost days of school. Because the climate and health benefits are nearly equivalent to the energy savings for green buildings in the United States, and up to 10 times higher in developing countries, they provide an important and previously unquantified societal value. Future analyses should consider these co-benefits when weighing policy decisions around energy-efficient buildings.

Concepts: Energy development, Limit superior and limit inferior, Pollution, Air pollution, Sustainable design, Natural building, Green building, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

1

Civilizational challenges have questioned the status quo of energy and material consumption by humans. From the built environment perspective, a response to these challenges was the creation of green buildings. Although the revolutionary capacity of the green building movement has elevated the expectations of new commercial construction, its rate of implementation has secluded the majority of the population from its benefits. Beyond reductions in energy usage and increases in market value, the main strength of green buildings may be the procurement of healthier building environments. Further pursuing the right to healthy indoor environments could help the green building movement to attain its full potential as a transformational public health tool. On the basis of 40 years of research on indoor environmental quality, we present a summary of nine environment elements that are foundational to human health. We posit the role of green buildings as a critical research platform within a novel sustainability framework based on social-environmental capital assets. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Public Health Volume 39 is April 1, 2018. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.

Concepts: Natural building, Public health, Health care, Environment, Human, Natural environment, Health

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This data article relates to the research paper Energy consumption and efficiency technology measures in European non-residential buildings (D'Agostino et al., 2017) [1]. The reported data have been collected in the framework of the Green Building Programme that ran from 2006 to 2014. The project has encouraged the adoption of efficiency measures to boost energy savings in European non-residential buildings. Data focus on the one-thousand buildings that joined the Programme allowing to save around 985 GWh/year. The main requirement to join the Programme was the reduction of at least 25% primary energy consumption in a new or retrofitted building. Energy consumption before and after the renovation are provided for retrofitted buildings while, in new constructions, a building had to be designed using at least 25% less energy than requested by the country’s building codes. The following data are linked within this article: energy consumption, absolute and relative savings related to primary energy, saving percentages, implemented efficiency measures and renewables. Further information is given about each building in relation to geometry, envelope, materials, lighting and systems.

Concepts: Energy, Natural building, Real estate, Building code, Building, Construction

0

There is a need to better understand the perceived experiences of workers in green buildings as the literature to this point has been mixed.

Concepts: Occupancy, Building, Natural building, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

0

This study determines the magnitude of the market signaling effect arising from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification for green buildings and explores the mechanisms behind the signaling effect. Previous studies have shown that signaling or marketability plays an important role in the pursuit for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and equivalent green-building certification. By analyzing all new construction projects receiving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from 2000 to 2012 in the US, this study estimates the relative importance of ‘green’ signaling. This broad perspective using project-level data enables an analysis of some drivers of signaling and the pursuit of marketing benefits. The roles of local competition and market conditions, as well as municipal regulations are examined, especially as they differ between types of building owners (e.g., for-profit firms, governments, nonprofits). The results indicate that the non-building performance value-value captured by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design signals above and beyond the specific building attributes that Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certifies-dominates the attainment of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design scores around certification tier thresholds. Further, strong evidence of spatial clustering of this non-building performance value for some owner types indicates that for-profit owners may be more responsive to local competition than non-profit owners. Local legislative mandates predict greater signaling intensity by government-owned buildings, as expected, but for-profit-owned projects tend to signal less, even after controls for local conditions. The results highlight the importance of local conditions, including peer effects and regulations, in driving non-building performance values across a wide range of green buildings.

Concepts: Ownership, Environmental planning, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Natural building, Signal, Sustainable design, Construction, Real estate

0

Tall buildings are ubiquitous in major cities and house the homes and workplaces of many individuals. However, relatively few studies have been carried out to study the dynamic characteristics of tall buildings based on field measurements. In this paper, the dynamic behavior of the Green Building, a unique 21-story tall structure located on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA), was characterized and modeled as a simplified lumped-mass beam model (SLMM), using data from a network of accelerometers. The accelerometer network was used to record structural responses due to ambient vibrations, blast loading, and the October 16th 2012 earthquake near Hollis Center (ME, USA). Spectral and signal coherence analysis of the collected data was used to identify natural frequencies, modes, foundation rocking behavior, and structural asymmetries. A relation between foundation rocking and structural natural frequencies was also found. Natural frequencies and structural acceleration from the field measurements were compared with those predicted by the SLMM which was updated by inverse solving based on advanced multiobjective optimization methods using the measured structural responses and found to have good agreement.

Concepts: Earthquake, Ubiquitous computing, Natural building, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts, Building, Scientific method, House

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This intergroup case study compared users' mental models with an expert design model of a water management system in a green building. The system incorporates a constructed wetland component and a rainwater collection pond that together recycle water for re-use in the building and its surroundings. The sample consisted of five building occupants and the cleaner (6 users) and two experts who were involved with the design of the water management system. Users' mental model descriptions and the experts' design model were derived from in-depth interviews combined with self-constructed (and verified) diagrams. Findings from the study suggest that there is considerable variability in the user mental models that could impact the efficient functioning of the water management system. Recommendations for improvements are discussed.

Concepts: Scientific modeling, Natural building, Wastewater, Water cycle, Recycling, Sustainable design

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Adopting a green building rating system (GBRSs) that strongly considers use of renewable energy can have important environmental consequences, particularly in developing countries. In this paper, we studied on-site renewable energy and GBRSs at the system level to explore potential benefits and challenges. While we have focused on GBRSs, the findings can offer additional insight for renewable incentives across sectors. An energy model was built for 25 sites to compute the potential solar and wind power production on-site and available within the building footprint and regional climate. A life-cycle approach and cost analysis were then completed to analyze the environmental and economic impacts. Environmental impacts of renewable energy varied dramatically between sites, in some cases, the environmental benefits were limited despite the significant economic burden of those renewable systems on-site and vice versa. Our recommendation for GBRSs, and broader policies and regulations, is to require buildings with higher environmental impacts to achieve higher levels of energy performance and on-site renewable energy utilization, instead of fixed percentages.

Concepts: Wind power in the United Kingdom, Wind power in the United States, Wind power in Denmark, Green building, Energy, Natural building, Renewable energy, Wind power

0

There are limited data on air quality parameters, including airborne particulate matter (PM) in residential green buildings, which are increasing in prevalence. Exposure to PM is associated with cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, and since Americans spend almost 90% of their time indoors, residential exposures may substantially contribute to overall airborne PM exposure. Our objectives were to: (1) measure various PM fractions longitudinally in apartments in multi-family green buildings with natural (Building E) and mechanical (Building L) ventilation; (2) compare indoor and outdoor PM mass concentrations and their ratios (I/O) in these buildings, taking into account the effects of occupant behavior; and (3) evaluate the effect of green building designs and operations on indoor PM. We evaluated effects of ventilation, occupant behaviors, and overall building design on PM mass concentrations and I/O. Median PMTOTAL was higher in Building E (56 µg/m³) than in Building L (37 µg/m³); I/O was higher in Building E (1.3-2.0) than in Building L (0.5-0.8) for all particle size fractions. Our data show that the building design and occupant behaviors that either produce or dilute indoor PM (e.g., ventilation systems, combustion sources, and window operation) are important factors affecting residents' exposure to PM in residential green buildings.

Concepts: Occupancy, Particulate, Green building, Real estate, House, Air pollution, Building, Natural building