Joanne Sawatzky, the senior green building project manager at Light House, was the presenter for Getting Green Right On-Site at the VRCA's Construction Learning Forum in Whistler.
Joanne Sawatzky, the senior green building project manager at Light House, was the presenter for Getting Green Right On-Site at the Vancouver Regional Construction Association's Construction Learning Forum (CLF) in Whistler, B.C. on May 24.
Sawatzky said in order to define a building as “green” it has to be rated, which has the effect of creating a level playing field.
The reason construction is going green is that the industry has a significant impact on the environment and building codes are now focusing on decreasing the energy and water use of buildings.
On the municipality front, Vancouver, North Vancouver and Richmond B.C. now all require LEED or equivalent for civic buildings, as well as rezonings.
Market-driven programs are also pushing industry towards more green building.
BuiltGreen is a market-driven system that provides a pre-approved package and a checklist for builders to work off of.
It contains a point system with evaluated categories. The idea is to simplify green building.
In a green building project, there’s site work such as sedimentation and erosion control, more documentation is needed, and there are tighter controls on specifications.
Scheduling of material delivery is also important, as is embedding green building into routine operations such as orientation and training.
Green building also means stringent waste management, with more time for close-out, commissioning and handover. Site signage is important, as is an emphasis on tidiness and dust control.
LEED documentation includes a summary, a sample log, a checklist or inspection reports.
At least three inspections spaced out over the site work are required.
Commissioning, in order to co-operate with the commissioning authority, requires providing submittals for systems being commissioned, co-ordinating and commissioning meetings and training.
In terms of materials, “there is a lot of ‘green washing’ out there,” Sawatzky said, so it is important to be careful to follow specifications when looking for material for a project.
When using salvaged materials, make sure to check specifications and keep records, she said.
Recycled content is defined as both pre and post-consumer waste, Sawatzky said.
Using regional materials also matters, but there are two elements. One is the amount of transport required and the second is the material itself.
The manufacturing plant that created the material also has to use green practices.
Rapidly renewable materials include those made from plants and harvested within a 10-year-period or shorter than 10 years.
The only certified wood suitable for LEED buildings has been rated by the Forest Stewardship Council, Sawatzky said.
There is a chain of custody number on the wood, as well as certification of the millwork shop.
Low-emitting materials are an emerging area of green building and are rated on how many volatile organic compounds (VOCs) they contain.
Air contaminants happen naturally, but Indoor Air Quality (IAC) measures air contamination specifically from the building construction process.
Air quality also impacts not only construction workers, but also the occupants of a building.
“It may have that ‘new car smell’ but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy,” Sawatzky said.
Common air pollutants include radon, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, ozone, VOCs, molds and allergens, asbestos, legionella and dust.
Cutting, sanding, welding, and other practices can all create these air contaminants.
Source control involves preventing the release of contaminants and reducing particulates.
Using low VOC materials and containing areas, as well as including temporary ventilation, are all ways to practice source control.
Work scheduling is “tricky,” Sawatzky said. One needs to sequence material installations and schedule polluting work outside of normal working hours.
It is important to replace filters and clean ducts prior to system start-up.
One third of all the waste in Metro Vancouver comes from construction activity, Sawatsky said, and that is why dealing with that waste is an important component of green building.
Metro Vancouver has a construction waste estimate toolkit builders can use and “pretty much everything can be diverted off of a work site,” Sawatzky said.
The Vancouver Regional Construction Association's 3rd Annual Construction Learning Forum is taking place in Whistler, B.C.
The two-day conference includes workshops on productivity, business development and safety.
Keep checking the Journal of Commerce for blogs from the conference.
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