Chicago Codes -- Know the Code

Green Overhead: Sustainable Roofing in Chicago

April 23, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

By Bill McHugh
Executive Director, Chicagoland Roofing Council

Whether it’s a new project or a retrofit, sustainability often starts at the top. Nowhere are a building’s extremes more evident than the roof: this is where heat is lost in the winter and where it infiltrates in the summer; where wind and precipitation meet the building head on, challenging it structurally while also offering unique opportunities.

Those opportunities cover a wide spectrum, and it’s important to consult a professional before installing any type of environmentally conscious roof, not only to ensure that it is expertly installed, but also so that you pick the right type for your structure. Insulation can provide excellent payback, garden roofs keep excess water out of the treatment system, while photovoltaics generate electricity and reflective roofs provide lower rooftop temperatures in the summer.

For the fourth year in a row, Chicago leads the nation in square footage of installed garden roofs, with 500,000 ft2 built in the past year, according to Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. While aesthetically pleasing to the community, garden roofs also provide excellent benefits to the building owner. Since the roof system is buried under dirt, it is shielded from the damaging rays of the sun, extending the life of the roof. However, the system needs to be installed right the first time, as unburying the roof can be costly to find and fix a leak. Also, the reflectivity of the garden roof is the same as the earth—about as environmental as it can get. Most importantly, garden roofs can slow the drainage of water, relieving our sanitary and storm runoff systems. By retaining rainwater, we can keep Lake Michigan cleaner.

Another option is a reflective roof, which can tame the soaring rooftop temperatures Chicago sees in the summer. Reflective coatings, including white, grey and even gravel and ballast, have been shown to provide reflective benefits after aging, according to studies by the US Department of Energy at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Chicago has many reflective roofs installed throughout the area, many by Chicagoland Roofing Council (CRC) contractors using workers trained at the world’s leading roofing industry location, the Chicagoland Roofers Joint Apprenticeship Training Center. Conversely, there are reasons to have a less reflective roof; Chicago’s climate in the fall, winter and spring means a darker color may help reduce heating loads.

New technologies exist to provide energy producing devices that are either part of the roofing membrane, or separate devices used to generate electricity while absorbing the sun’s rays. Photovoltaics are the most efficient commercially available solar panel technology on the market—so efficient that on many sunny days, a building owner may be able to sell excess power back to the grid.

One of the best paybacks for a building owner is adding insulation to the roof assembly. CRC Contractors and Local 11 Roofers are uniquely qualified to provide and install roofing systems with excellent insulation values to reduce heating and cooling bills.

Be sure to have a roofing professional check building code requirements for wind and fire resistance for all these types of roof systems. As with any major purchase like roofing, ask how long the system has been in service so you are assured longevity in a large capital asset, your roof.

Whether it’s the reflective roofs at Midway Airport, the gardens atop the Chicago Cultural Center and City Hall or the many photovoltaics on projects throughout the metropolitan area, few are as experienced with installing these systems than CRC companies. For over 100 years, this union coalition has been topping buildings in Chicago and the suburbs, and they’ve led the way locally with sustainable roofing.

Why Work with The Clayco Team?

March 23, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Any project has to be a successful collaborative effort of all team partners from the ownership team to the design and the construction team. From the start, a team needs to have a clear vision of what planning, design, construction, economics and sustainable features are achievable for a project. Read more

The Business Case for Sustainability

March 23, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

By Larry Heard, Transwestern CEO and President

Leading commercial real estate companies agree that sustainability is a business issue, though they define and apply it using various approaches. For Transwestern, a leading commercial real estate services firm, our commitment has been to running the most energy efficient, economical and professionally directed buildings in the world. We want to conserve energy and manage costs and do so with outstanding building operations management. In addition to being the right thing to do for our clients, tenants and the communities we serve, we have found that reducing carbon emissions and other environmental impacts while directly impacting the bottom line is cost-effective and practical.
In alignment with that approach, Transwestern developed a sustainability strategy that focuses on energy management as the “first step to green.” Because energy is the largest controllable operating expense in commercial buildings, a small reduction in energy expenses has a significant impact on a building’s bottom line and can greatly enhance the overall value of a property. This comprehensive focus on energy performance is a key part of the value proposition we deliver to our clients and ensures they understand the value of sound energy management.
Transwestern’s history of leading the commercial real estate industry in energy management originated in 1999 during an energy crunch in California. To combat rising energy costs, we began tracking energy use at Transwestern’s managed buildings in Southern California and implementing smart energy management strategies to reduce consumption. As we realized the value this brought to those properties, we expanded our efforts to other Transwestern regions around the country. Those first Southern California buildings used Energy Star to track and evaluate energy performance, and nearly 10 years later, we still use Energy Star resources across over 43 million square feet of our office portfolio.
As a multiple year Energy Star Sustained Excellence winner, Transwestern’s policy is to establish a baseline for each asset using the program’s free benchmarking tool, Portfolio Manager. This allows us to understand energy consumption compared to similar buildings, track operating costs and savings, and set reasonable targets to reduce consumption along with the associated environmental impacts.
Combining Energy Star guidance with our long history of hands-on expertise, Transwestern has developed a series of best practices. These include annual engineering audits of each property, in which we review buildings top to bottom for opportunities to improve performance. We implement low- and no-cost operational adjustments that include green cleaning, recycling, reducing or eliminating weekend operating hours, to be provided only at tenants’ request and a commitment to recycle at least 25 to 30 percent of all construction waste. Our standard practices for capital improvement programs emphasize the most efficient equipment while considering the environmental impact, ownership objectives and payback periods.
Another aspect of our approach has been to actively participate in additional industry initiatives, such as the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International’s sustainability programs. For example, BOMA issued the 7-Point Challenge in 2007 to reduce the real estate industry’s use of natural resources, dependence on non-renewable energy sources, and waste production. Organizations that commit to the challenge aim to reduce their portfolios’ energy consumption by 30% by working collaboratively with building management, ownership, and tenants. Transwestern readily accepted the BOMA challenge and, thanks to a long history of strategic energy management, has already met the target well before deadline.
What ties all of these efforts together are the results they achieve for our clients—both financial and environmental. As of 2007, more than 200 of Transwestern’s buildings had earned or qualified for the Energy Star label, which recognizes superior energy-efficient buildings across the country.
Results accrue primarily due to optimizing day-to-day operations and maintenance. Transwestern has been able to achieve remarkable energy and cost savings for our clients by first targeting operational strategies with little to no additional cost, and combining those with cost-effective equipment upgrades.
Because operations are so important to successful energy management, Transwestern0’s success is directly correlated to the skill and passion of our team members who operate our buildings daily. Since the energy efficiency of our properties is literally under their control, Transwestern equips building property managers and engineers with the expertise they need to maintain successful energy management programs.
As proof of the value of this comprehensive approach, Transwestern has reduced energy consumption by an average of 20 to 30 percent in properties actively engaged in our sustainability program. Further, these efforts distinguish Transwestern in the marketplace as committed to sustainability through energy efficiency—a provider of enhanced client services that positively impact the bottom line and the environment.

Collaborative Achievement: The New AIA Chicago Office

March 23, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

By Michael Bordenaro
Assoc. AIA

AIA Chicago celebrated its successful move to new offices in the historic Jeweler’s Building with a ribbon-cutting breakfast ceremony on April 10, 2007. Read more

A Changing Financial Climate

March 23, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

By Ken Lewis
Chairman and CEO, Bank of America

The world’s largest banks have been joining the movement to address climate change with great enthusiasm in recent years. But one thing we’re learning is that keeping pace with the demands of the green economy will take more than just big piles of money doled out in traditional ways. Read more

Legal Considerations For Green Retrofits

March 23, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

By Philip M.J. Edison

The concept of building green has entered the mainstream. More and more green projects are undertaken, and more and more people involved in construction projects are asking “what can we do to make this project green?” After the architect, often the first person to hear this question is the attorney. Green building adds an additional layer of detail to every project, and many construction practices that have been used for years are not designed to address the unique requirements of sustainability. If you intend to have your green project certified by an organization such as the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), even more issues arise.

Legal issues crop up at the earliest stage of a project, including understanding the availability and requirements for government incentives and understanding the application of government mandates. Many levels of government have been passing both green incentives and green requirements at a rapid pace over the last few years. It is important to keep up with new ordinances and to determine the requirements of each. Frequently, the attorney is in the best position to offer up-to-date advice.

An issue that is frequently overlooked is the zoning code. For example, most would agree that generating electricity on-site through renewable sources such as wind power is a worthy goal, but until recently in Chicago, residential district wind turbines were effectively shut out by height limits. The zoning code has now been revised to specifically allow such turbines to be roof-mounted. Without reviewing the zoning code in advance, there is the possibility of spending architectural fees for a design that is not buildable or having to go through the lengthy and costly process of requesting zoning relief.

Many building contracts allow for the substitution of materials of a “like kind.” Unfortunately, standard contracting agreements are usually broad enough to allow builders to substitute a traditional product in place of the specified green product. For example, wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council may have the same appearance and performance characteristics as traditional lumber. In such cases, unless the contract prohibited it, there is very little to stop the builder from performing substitutions. When specifiying green materials, it is also a good idea to require that the desired green products are available and will be delivered to the job site on time. These requirements are especially important if you intend to have the project LEED-certified and the use of specific materials is necessary to reach an expected certification level.

LEED certification is another area where many existing contracts do not accurately contemplate risks and responsibilities. Contracts produced by the American Institute of Architects now address certification issues, but many contracts in use today do not. Although an owner, or a professional hired by the owner for the purpose, is the best person to oversee the certification process, each contractor needs to understand the scope of the work to be performed from a LEED perspective, as well as the performance characteristics of the work and the certification responsibilities of the contractor. These issues need to be agreed upon in advance, at the time the contract is drafted. There is no one party who will warrant that a certain LEED certification level will be achieved, but each party on a project should warrant the work that they are to complete, as set forth in the respective contract. The combination of these warrants can help to ensure that the owner receives the expected LEED certification.

Although there are many other legal issues that arise in any green retrofit project, the point of this article is to get people thinking about legal issues from the very beginning of each project and to look for issues at every stage of the process. By identifying and addressing issues early in the process, building owners can achieve their green expectations more quickly for less money.

Retrofitting for Sustainability

March 23, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karl Heitman, AIA, LEED-AP

In the effort to reduce negative impacts that buildings have on the environment, we cannot overlook the massive environmental challenge that the majority of our existing buildings present. A limited view of sustainability, relating only to new construction, would overlook the primary sources of ineffecient energy use and harmful emissions that are attributable to existing buildings. Read more

Green Collar Insulators

March 23, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

By Brian Glynn, Heat and Frost Insulators—Local 17 and
Alec Rexroat, Illinois Regional Insulation Contractors Association

The past few years have seen a movement in America towards thinking “green.” Many new green products, services and technologies have emerged to take advantage of this trend. But this development isn’t just a fad. Citizens and policymakers are confronting the reality of global warming and recognizing the opportunities that can come from taking collective action. All you have to do is watch the news to hear all of the presidential candidates speak about building a new green economy to create jobs while protecting the environment. Many of these “green-collar” jobs will put to use existing expertise for work that is impossible to ship overseas.
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Silver Merchandise: The Mart’s LEED Journey

March 23, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

The world’s largest commercial building, The Merchandise Mart Chicago, achieved U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Existing Building (LEED-EB) Silver certification in November 2007. This was a tremendous accomplishment for a 75+ year-old building that encompasses 4.2 million square feet and houses over 700 tenants, especially considering that the unique tenant roster includes retailers, wholesale showrooms and corporate offices. Read more

2008 Building Green Chicago Conference

March 23, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Index Publishing Corporation worked closely with Chicago’s Chief Environmental Officer, Sadhu Johnston, DOE and DOB to develop this annual program that focused on sustainable design and development in the context of retrofitting existing buildings and leased space, as well as the broader environmental, social and economic imperatives.
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