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Al's column: The upside to polished concrete

March 19/26, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 20

By John McGrath

From a design perspective, the look of polished concrete floors and open ceilings is a highly desirable, contemporary aesthetic for commercial spaces. As a major trend sweeping across retail, industrial and other markets, architects and designers are finding polished concrete has significant environmental, safety, sustainability and maintenance benefits as well.

From helping to earn U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED credits to providing performance benefits, polished concrete is fast becoming an attractive alternative to carpet, VCT and vinyl flooring. While new flooring options like LVT have seen explosive sales growth, this seemingly simple alternative to traditional floor covering products has slowly but surely cemented its place in the industry due to a specific combination of attributes.

As a result, numerous large retailers such as Wal-Mart, Albertsons and Safeway have moved to polished concrete as the standard flooring material for both their new and existing stores. The same rings true for smaller boutique stores, office buildings, institutional facilities and more. From an aesthetic standpoint, polished concrete offers a modern and sophisticated look. A number of stains, colors and topping materials can be added to the floor, along with inset logos and etching. The result is an installation with a varied, natural look that is highly light reflective, slip resistant and visually impactful.

The thermal properties of concrete also help reduce heating and cooling loads for buildings. This translates to significant energy savings when spread across hundreds of thousands of square feet in warehouse stores and large commercial spaces. It’s a plus for large chains and companies like Amazon that operate massive fulfillment centers.

Since concrete is already used as a subfloor in most new buildings, polishing it cuts back on material usage and waste. This adds to LEED credits as there are no additional flooring manufacturing enlarging our carbon footprint. Similarly, since polished concrete is reflective, it helps architects and designers earn electric credits. And because there is limited maintenance and no replacement materials, polished concrete flooring also lessens water use and construction waste.

Altogether, polished concrete flooring can contribute to nearly 40 different LEED point categories. These include points for materials and reuse, indoor environmental air quality along with energy and atmosphere.

Beyond achieving LEED points, the other reason facility managers, interior architects and designers are gravitating toward polished concrete is maintenance and cost-savings. “Whether you are installing VCT, carpet, hardwood or laminate, it’s going to be expensive to maintain over time and replacement is inevitable,” said INSTALL instructor Dave Gross, Northeast Floorlayers, Local 251. “Polished concrete requires virtually no maintenance and when the surface begins to dull it only requires a quick buffing to restore it.”

When installed correctly, according to Tod Sandy, coordinator of the Detroit Carpentry Apprentice School, polished concrete is easy to maintain, cost-effective and environmentally friendly. “As a result, more end users are requesting it.”

With an increased focus on training and new advances in product and installation technology, polished concrete flooring will continue to grow and evolve in the coming years.

John McGrath is the director of INSTALL, a group dedicated to industry-leading training for professional installers and flooring contractors.

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Ramanujam named incoming CEO of USGBC

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Washington, D.C.—The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has named Mahesh Ramanujam incoming CEO. Ramanujam currently serves as COO and will move into the role after Rick Fedrizzi, co-founder and current CEO, steps down at the end of 2016.

Ramanujam joined USGBC in 2009 as senior vice president of technology before being named COO in 2011. Prior to joining USGBC, Ramanujam was COO for Emergys, a business transformation consulting firm in North Carolina.

“Since Mahesh first joined USGBC in 2009, he has transformed every corner of the organization, focusing on high performance and putting the needs of our customers and community members first,” Fedrizzi said. “His personal core values are deeply aligned with our mission and his comprehensive understanding of our work makes him the ideal leader for this role.”

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Greenbuild dates announced through 2019

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 11.25.01 AMDallas—Informa Exhibitions and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) have announced the dates for Greenbuild International Conference & Expo through 2019.

“We are committed to rotating Greenbuild to very accessible locations to maximize attendee participation and exhibitor confidence,” said Lindsay Roberts, Greenbuild group director, Informa Exhibitions. “We ensure Greenbuild takes place in different geographic locations and have scheduled a strong lineup that will take the event to the West Coast, Northeast, Midwest and Southeast.”

Greenbuild will continue its pattern of rotating around the U.S. on the following schedule:

Oct. 5-7, 2016: Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles

Nov. 8-10, 2017: Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Boston

Nov. 14-16, 2018: McCormick Place (West Building), Chicago

Nov. 20-22, 2019: Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta

USGBC announces 2014
 “Best of Green Schools” honorees

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 12.27.59 PMWashington, D.C.—The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced the 2014 “Best of Green Schools” recipients, recognizing 10 individuals, institutions, projects and events representing the best environmental efforts in schools across the country this year. The list highlights the national leaders and innovators in school sustainability for the year.

“Selecting the Best of Green Schools honorees is an exciting and challenging process, as there are so many fantastic examples of efforts being made in communities large and small,” said Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools. “Some of the honorees go about their work quietly, others are in public positions and have the attention of a national audience. Every one of the honorees is a leader, taking risks, setting an example for others, innovating and diligently pursuing a world in which every student attends a green school within this generation.”

Recipients include The Monarch School, Houston, Texas; Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Mich.; Mark Swiger, Wheeling, W.Va; Representative Brenda Gilmore, Nashville, Tenn.; Dunloggin Middle School Oyster Gardeners, Ellicott City, Md.; Bristol-Myers Squibb, New York; University at Buffalo, the State University of New York, Buffalo, N.Y.; Green Bronx Machine, New York; Learning Gate Community School, Lutz, Fla. and Annie Donnelly, West Palm Beach, Fla.

USGBC announces 2015 board members

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 2.11.31 PMWashington, D.C.—The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced today the newly elected and appointed officers and directors to its 2015 Board of Directors.

“USGBC’s Board of Directors provides invaluable direction and perspective, collectively bringing decades of experience to the table and using their individual expertise to shape the future of the organization, the community and the green building movement as a whole,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “Delivering on the promise of developing buildings that sustain and enhance the vitality of life within a generation is no small undertaking. Our Board of Directors is comprised of representatives from many different segments of the building industry and will undoubtedly make great strides in the coming year.”

USGBC’s membership elected the following individuals to serve as directors, for a term of three years each, effective Jan. 1, 2015:

Stephen Bushnell, Stephen Bushnell + Associates: Insurance seat

Linda Chipperfield, Green Seal, Inc.: Environmental Nonprofit Advocate seat

Amy Costello, Armstrong World Industries: Product Manufacturer seat

Denise Grabowski, Symbioscity: Urban/Regional Planner seat

Christopher Schaffner, The Green Engineer, Inc.: Sustainable Practice Leader: Engineer seat

In addition, at its recent meeting in New York, the Board named the following directors to fill appointed positions, each for a term of two years:

Mark James, Urban Green LLC:  Sustainable Community Leader seat

Vance Voss, Principal Real Estate Investors: Commercial Real Estate Executive Leadership seat

The Board elected Fiona Cousins, Arup, as chair-elect and Lisa Matthiessen, Integral Group, as secretary. Marge Anderson, Energy Center of Wisconsin, will serve as chair, and George Bandy, Interface, will serve as immediate past chair. Stuart Carron, ENERGIZE RE LLC, will continue as treasurer. New terms will begin Jan. 1, 2015.

“Both the promise and challenge of the future of green building are significant and I have no doubt this board is equal to the task of advancing the movement,” said Marge Anderson, USGBC Board chair. “With so many individual and yet complementary perspectives coming to the table, we are prepared to champion the inclusion of sustainable design and construction across industries, on large and small scales, in public and private spaces.”

USGBC’s Board includes elected and appointed directors who serve terms of three years and two years, respectively. The complete 2015 USGBC Board roster includes:

Officers:

Marge Anderson, Energy Center of Wisconsin, Chair

George Bandy, Interface, Immediate Past Chair

Fiona Cousins, Arup, Chair-Elect

Stuart Carron, ENERGIZE RE LLC, Treasurer: Facility Management and Operations seat

Lisa Matthiessen, Integral Group, Secretary: Sustainable Practice Leader: Architecture and Design seat

Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chairman (ex officio)

Directors:

Jeff Baer, Deutsche Bank: Real Estate Finance and Capital Markets seat

Dan Burgoyne, State of California, Department of General Services: State and Local Government Agency Employee seat

Stephen Bushnell, Stephen Bushnell + Associates: Insurance seat

Linda Chipperfield, Green Seal, Inc.: Environmental Nonprofit Advocate seat

Amy Costello, Armstrong World Industries: Product Manufacturer seat

Duygu Erten, TURKECO: International seat

Mark Frankel, New Buildings Institute: Energy seat

Denise Grabowksi, Symbioscity: Urban/Regional Planner seat

Davor Grgic, Kohler: Business to Consumer Leader seat

Mark James, Urban Green LLC: Sustainable Community Leader seat

Sara O’Mara, Choate Construction Company: Constructor of Buildings seat

Kenneth Potts, McGough Companies: Developer/Real Estate Services seat

John Quale, University of Virginia: Educator (Post-Secondary) seat

Gerrit Reinders, Telkonet: Technology seat

Christopher Schaffner, The Green Engineer, Inc.: Sustainable Practice Leader: Engineer seat

Kevin Stack, Northeast Natural Homes: Residential Construction seat

Vance Voss, Principal Real Estate Investors: Commercial Real Estate Executive Leader seat

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USGBC announces extension of LEED 2009

Picture 1Washington, D.C.—The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced today that it will allow LEED users to register projects under the LEED 2009 rating system until Oct. 31, 2016. The original date for LEED 2009 registration to close was June 15, 2015. Extending to October 2016 gives LEED users and members of the green building industry additional time to prepare for LEED v4, the latest version of LEED, which features increased rigor and multiple updates.

“When USGBC launched LEED v4 last year, we set out with one goal in mind—to raise the bar in a way that challenges the building industry to reach higher than ever before. This is our nature and USGBC and its members’ collective mission,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO & founding chair, USGBC. “However, the market has requested additional time to prepare for LEED v4, so we are responding.”

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USGBC, Honeywell collaborate on facility sustainability

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 11.32.32 AMWashington, D.C. – The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and Honeywell announced they are working together to deepen facility sustainability by integrating USGBCs new LEED Dynamic Plaque, a near-real-time monitoring tool with integrated building automation technology from Honeywell to measure and provide performance feedback to help optimize operations.

The LEED Dynamic Plaque assesses facility performance in the categories of energy use, water consumption, waste output, occupant transportation and human experience, aggregating data to provide an overall performance score that reflects the LEED rating system LEED rating system—the world’s most widely utilized green building rating system and recognized standard for leadership in sustainability.

The plaque is an appealing, easy-to understand display ideal for mounting in a prominent location so tenants and guests can view and better understand the building’s ongoing rating. It also features an app for anywhere access, helping further incentivize occupants to engage in actions that can positively impact sustainability.

By integrating with Honeywell technology, the plaque automatically receives information from core building systems that contribute to a facility’s LEED performance score, in addition to input from occupant surveys and waste tracking information. The score updates as data feeds in and can raise awareness of likely issues—and potential fixes—that could affect operations.

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USGBC launches online green building data for states

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 4.39.07 PMWashington, D.C. — The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) launched its new online data visualization resource that highlights real-time green building data for each state in the U.S. and Washington, D.C. The enhanced state market briefs—highlighting LEED projects, LEED-credentialed professionals and USGBC membership in each state—provide green building advocates and the general public a look into LEED’s impact within any U.S. state.

“Our state-level market briefs demonstrate USGBC’s commitment to data and information transparency at an important level of granularity. You can’t find this data anywhere else in the market,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, chief operating officer, USGBC. “The choice to build green buildings is simple. These state-level data visualizations make it even simpler.”

The dynamic market briefs for each state were created to supply green building advocates with on-the-ground information to tell robust stories about the multifaceted benefits of LEED green buildings. Each market brief acts as a state-level barometer of economic activity taking place in an industry that McGraw-Hill projects could be worth up to $248 billion and represent more than half of all commercial and institutional construction in the U.S. by 2016.

Market briefs for countries outside the U.S. are available upon request, and LEED for Homes and LEED for Neighborhood Development data and projects will be added later this year. The market briefs highlight data on cumulative LEED-registered and -certified projects, gross square footage of LEED-registered and -certified space, project totals broken out by owner type and space type, USGBC member organizations by type, LEED professional credential holders, links to chapter(s) serving that state, as well as a project profile scorecard.

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USGBC certifies its 50,000th housing unit

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 9.37.43 AMWashington, D.C. — The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) said it has certified its 50,000th green housing unit.

Since the launch of the LEED for Homes rating system in 2007, the green building program has grown from 392 housing units LEED-certified in 2007 to 15,000 and 17,000 housing units in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

 Of the 50,000-plus certified units, 74% are within multifamily buildings, while 44% are classified as affordable housing.

 There are also more than 82,000 units under construction and in the pipeline for LEED certification.

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USGBC's 2012 Leadership Awards highlight innovators in sustainability

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced the recipients of its 2012 Leadership Awards, recognizing individuals who contribute to the evolution of green buildings and communities as a vehicle to enhance quality of life. Awards will be presented at the Leadership Luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 15, during USGBC’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo held in San Francisco, Calif. Continue reading USGBC's 2012 Leadership Awards highlight innovators in sustainability