Green Building – PART ONE

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The first of a two-part series on green building. See how three Arizona communities (Scottsdale, Chandler and Coconino County) are creating a more sustainable Arizona by building green. We’ll take a look at some of the green building principles used to create Audubon Arizona’s new education center in Phoenix. And we’ll show you how Arizona State University is transforming itself into a model of sustainability.

Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to this special edition of "Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. Tonight we begin a two-part series on green building and sustainable design. It was a hot topic in November when Phoenix hosted the world's largest trade show dedicated to building green. It featured more than 1,000 vendors showing off a variety of earth friendly products and services. It's sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council. We spoke with the president and CEO about the value of building green.
Why build green buildings? It's a question we used to hear a lot. We don't hear it so much anymore. The question we hear now is why would you not be building green buildings?
He's the founding chairman and now president and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council that developed the LEED rating system that says to what extent a building is designed responsibly.
We never say you should be building a building based on the points themselves. We want a very sophisticated intelligent design team to come along early in the process, and look at the location in which that building is being built, look at the bioregional kind of issues. When you look at water, the issues in Phoenix are a lot different than the water issues in Seattle. Understanding the local climate and local opportunities, and then building a spectacular building. I think in most of the cities and states that I'm looking at in the United States right now, it would almost be embarrassing to say, well, wait a second, we just want a conventional energy wasting, water wasting, toxic building. Everybody knows LEED right now. Most municipalities around the United States have got an ordinance for their own public buildings saying the performance has to be a certain level of LEED. I think that's really becoming more commonplace. The most difficult and the biggest challenge we have relative to green buildings in the United States is the existing building stock. Every building that's out there, including the one we're in right now has to, at some point, have a meaningful upgrade towards higher efficient technologies, nontoxic materials, water-saving technologies. When it does, you will find this entire building stock of things that right now people would not want to invest in, becoming something that's very attractive from an investment potential.
We have buildings upgraded to a green standard that may be one of the best investment hedges we have right now available to us.
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Ted Simons: Here now to talk about the green building movement in Arizona, Amanda Atchison, sustainable building manager for Coconino County, Anthony Floyd for the City of Scottsdale, and Jason Crampton, green building coordinator for the City of Chandler. Thank you for joining us. Before we get to your individual municipality and what goes on there, define building green. What does that mean?
Amanda Atchison: It's building smart, right, efficient. That includes energy efficient, water efficient, materials efficient, using affordable high-return methods that make sense for our region and climate. Building using local resources including suppliers, builders, contractors. Supporting the local economy. It's a holistic approach to building.
Ted Simons: And why build green? If that's what building green is, why is it important that we do it?
Anthony Floyd: It's accounting for the unintended consequences. Historically we haven't accounted for the damage from energy use from building materials that we actually produce and consume. All the energy that goes into building the buildings. This is to be more environmentally responsible, to account for those unintended consequences, so we're more resourceful with our resources and our energy. And the bigger issue, when you have thousands, millions of people around the country building, it has an impact. We have to look at the consequences of our building and the materials and choices we make.
Ted Simon: Is that how you see it, as well?
Jason Crampton: Oh, definitely. From a cost perspective, too, from a municipality's point of view. When you take a look at the life cycle of a building, you need to look at the life, the whole energy use and maintenance. Building green does make sense environmentally, it's what we need to do. From a cost perspective it just makes sense today.
Ted Simons: But that cost perspective, isn't it difficult at times to convince -- I know some green projects are simply more expensive at the outset and you have to look into the future. In the economy we have right now, how difficult is it to get past that initial outlay and say, here's what's going to happen years down the line?
Amanda Atchison: It's getting to be an easier sell because of the rising utility costs, the rise in the cost of materials such as copper. Comparing the up-front cost, the overall cost of a project, the sell of the up-front cost is getting easier.
Ted Simons: Is that how you're seeing it, as well? Again, building green, that's too expensive to do right now, we don't have the economy for that sort of thing. How do you tell them that down the road it might be more beneficial?
Anthony Floyd: Well, there are shades of green. It's about good design. It's been around for a very long time. You can have a little green, a lot of green. Depends on how green you want to be. A lot of green costs a lot of green, literally. There are so many kinds of things you can do from a design point of view, that's just good design, it doesn't cost anything.
Ted Simons: I want to start with the fire building you've got going in Scottsdale. This looks like a good old-fashioned fire building. You're telling me it's a green building?
Anthony Floyd: It's platinum, a LEED building platinum certified. Gray water, the hot water, photovoltaic, green water harvesting. It's a really great building.
Ted Simons: Was that a new building or a retrofit?
Anthony Floyd: It's newly constructed and designed to be compatible with the neighborhood buildings. The choices of the materials, the metal roof, everything is compatible from a design point of view. It's about integrating design.
Ted Simons: Talking about design, something traditional, now you have the granite reef community center.
Anthony Floyd: We partner with a solar shade canopy, a very large system, 40 kw and 5 kw is the capacity of the system, part of the shade canopy. It's a part of the design of the structure.
Ted Simons: And one more structure we wanted to show from Scottsdale was -- and people don't necessarily think of a trailhead building as something that needs to be LEED certified or sustainable. Where is this? Out by McDowell Mountain?
Anthony Floyd: This is a treasure of the McDowell Mountain Preserve, one of the trailhead buildings. It's rammed earth, hot water, --you name it and it's in that building, it comes out of the desert. The materials are made from the desert, it's very compatible and appropriate for that site.
Ted Simons: Let's move over to Chandler, or at least south, and take a look at some of the buildings, including one being constructed right now in Chandler. It's the city hall building. We have a rendering of it, and it's just a phenomenal looking building.
Jason Crampton:: This just goes to show, you can have an extremely attractive building. LEED gold, very energy efficient, high-efficiency cooling equipment. It's a 300 kw solar photovoltaic energy structure.
Ted Simons: Was it difficult to get public officials to look at a new city hall building, as opposed to, let's get a structure up and take from it there?
Jason Crampton: I think the green component has been a pretty easy sell. We've presented a lot of information to different decision makers about green building and some of the cost savings. We've had a lot of decision makers looking at the long-term costs of buildings. We didn't want to have an up-front cost that's maybe a little smaller, and then being on the hook for the long run.
Ted Simons:The administration building looks again like a good old-fashioned fire building.
Jason Crampton: Very classic look to this building, and this just opened a few weeks ago. LEED silver certification we're pursuing, may even get to the next level. As Amanda was talking about, it uses local materials. 40% of the materials in this building are coming from regional sources. It's not a big carbon footprint just hauling materials.
Ted Simons: Like the orbital building, how do you get the private sectors to get on board with green build?
Jason Crampton: We have a number of incentives. They help a lot, but really it's the economy that's driving it now, and the knowledge with green building and the fact that it makes sense. Companies are starting to understand that I think, more and more, and we will see more green building in the future, I believe.
Ted Simons: Let's take a look at Coconino County. We have an apartment complex apparently that is -- what, entirely solar powered?
Amanda Atchison: Mostly solar power, that's correct. It's a five-condo unit built as a project in the City of Flagstaff. They were able to take three dilapidated homes, recycle many of those materials and build a five-condo unit, rainwater harvesting for the toilets, it's a beautiful condo.
Ted Simons:That's a beautiful condo, and adobe homes are beautiful for anyone who's lived in Arizona for any amount of time. This is a sustainable adobe home.
Amanda Atchison: Correct. Coconino County is the second largest county geographically in the county. We have a lot of off-grid homes, not tied to a utility source, Homes that need to be sustainable to survive.
Ted Simons "We do have photos of the adobe brick. This looks like wood.
Amanda Atchison: They did adobe and insulated it on the outside and did wood paneling on the outside to keep it affordable.
Ted Simons: There we go, that's the adobe bricks. Again, getting homes, individuals, developers, home builders and such on board with green build: Difficult?
Amanda Atchison: It can be challenging. Through education, incentives and support and working with the code process, it becomes more applicable and more easy for people to move in that direction.
Ted Simons: Last stop in Coconino County is a shipping container project that is fascinating. Tell us about this.
Amanda Atchison: This is another great project. This is an owner-designed and then it's recycling -- recycled shipping containers have traveled back and forth across the seas like four times. Each one is registered. There are seven of them. They are doing a passive solar design. They are not only recycling land but also recycling shipping containers that otherwise would have ended up in the landfill or taken resources to recycle.
Ted Simons: Interesting. I want to ask you all this. As far as municipalities are concerned, is there the money for the initial outlays necessary to get this kind of thing going? Again, tough economy right now. Is there the money? Is there the will?
Anthony Floyd: I think there's both. We have to look at city facilities, a long-term approach for city facilities. We're the long-term operator. The most prudent and fiscally responsible way to manage taxpayers' money is to do it right the first time. In the long run we're saving money, particularly for government facilities.
Ted Simons: Again, is there that money, though? You've got to convince people to go ahead and bond it for later or have it now. Is the will there?
Jason Crampton: It's definitely a challenge. I do believe the will is there. We've got some up-front saving, we've been able to construct some of these facilities. It's our ongoing future revenues that we're a little unsure. Building green will reduce the ongoing costs.
Ted Simons: Thank you all for joining us tonight on horizon.
All Guests: Thank you.
At "Horizon" we want to hear from you. Questions, comments, concerns, e-mail us at [email protected].
Ted Simons: Audubon Arizona's Sarah Porter takes us on a tour of this facility.
This is the Rio Salado Audubon Center. We are a center for the National Audubon Society. We're the first center for the society in the state of Arizona. We are situated in one of the most intensely urban parts of Phoenix. We are here to connect people with nature. A lot of our green features are things you can't see. 100% of our wastewater is recycled. During construction of this building there was an effort to recycle 90% of construction waste. Over 20% of the materials used in the instruction center are from sources within 500 miles of the center. So those are features that are hard to see.
The solar arrays are one of our important green features for this building. They will provide 40 to 50% of our electricity. They were given to us by SRP. A very important gift for us.
So this here is part of our children's free play area. We call it the ephemeral stream. It's a manmade stream with a very wide lining. It's a tough stream that children can come and play. A lot of children in Phoenix, and especially in Downtown and South Phoenix, are growing with very limited to no access to the experience of playing in natural water areas, like a stream or a wetland. We thought it was important to give them that experience. Then on this side over here we have another water feature. This is just an old-fashioned pump. A lot of kids never have a reason to ask themselves, where does our water come from? And how would I get water to my crops or my garden if I didn't live next to a river? The covers are part of our irrigation system for our landscaping, and they are purple because they indicate that we're using recycled wastewater. We're using cleaned recycling wastewater to irrigate the vegetation in the landscape. This feature is something called a bioswale. It's a rain system comparable to a rain barrel you might see on the corner of someone's house. They capture water that is moving across the ground, especially after a rainstorm. When the water collects, it slowly sinks down into the groundwater system, the aquifer. As it goes down, it's cleaned. One of the most important things we can do to keep our water supplies clean is to capture water that falls on the ground and let it go down into the groundwater system.
Ted Simons: Arizona's largest university continues to transform itself into a model of sustainability. David Majure shows us some of the ways ASU is going green.
One of the goals I would say is to make sure that every student that graduates from ASU leaves here with an understanding of not just what sustainability is, but how it relates to their chosen profession.
Arizona State University is becoming a model of sustainability. Not just through its research and academic programs, but also its day-to-day operation. That's one reason why an ASU business administrator was named the university's officer of sustainability operations.
My role really is to try to institutionalize sustainability from the operations sense, using the people, the resources that we have, and try to expand what we're doing so that it touches more of the institution in a systematic way. In terms of its overall goals for sustainability, we do have a goal to be carbon neutral by 2025. The biggest chunk is our energy usage and consumption. 2/3rds of our carbon footprint comes from energy.
Welcome to our new power plant.
ASU is transforming rooftops of buildings and park garages into solar power plants that may eventually generate 15 megawatts of energy.
If we have 15 megawatts at the end of the day, we've provided half of our energy demand, total demand, from a renewable source.
We are also able to show our solar production occurring here on campus, where we have six structures that are currently producing approximately, right now, 1.1 megaWatts of A.C. generation.
It's easy to track demand and usage in realtime using an online resource.
This week's have last week's solar generation, this month, as well as this year. Anyone in the world can log in and see what ASU is doing through our sustainability features. Our energy management system, the back end source of this, houses a lot more information.
Other signs of sustainability on campus might not be as obvious as solar power. For instance, the leftover paint that piles up at ASU's paint shop.
It's just a conglomeration of stuff that's appeared or left over from jobs.
It all used to be discarded as hazardous waste.
I don't know where it went, but we were paying to have the barrels removed. Then we would pay to dispose of it. There is a fee for hazardous material, as well.
Now we pour that into the five-gallon buckets and mark them reclaimed interior latex paint and put the color on the top. Then we use that on campus.
Last year alone the program made quite a difference.
We used close to 360 gallons that we kept out of landfill.
I'm so glad that we are using it. It's like it's growing.
When it comes to sustainability, every little bit counts and there's power in numbers.
We are a small city of 81,000 people. We operate just like a small 14 city. We have 81,000 -- what I try to tell people, what's your unique role in this university? Whether you're a buyer or an I.T. guy or a student or faculty, whatever that role is, we all have a unique opportunity to influence this environment that we have. What really excites me is that ASU is so large, if we make a major shift in how we do things, we can shift a market. We can have an impact, a much bigger impact beyond the borders of our campus. That's what's really exciting to me, that much bigger impact.
ASU is partnering with vendors in order to promote sustainability. Aramark operate dining halls.
We do have sustainability across our dining services. The goal of the restaurant is to be an opportunity for students, faculty, the outside community to come in and engage in a sustainable dining experience, focusing on locally grown food and environmentally sustainable practices.
Our menu changes every few weeks depending on what's available. Another things that ties in with the food is the campus harvest program, a partnership with ASU and the grounds department to use what we call edible landscaping.
The campus harvest program is managed by ASU's grounds crew.
Talking about campus almost being a farm. We have hundreds of citrus trees, a date palm collection and other assorted fruit. We let students take it home, we send it to food services, we sell the dates in the bookstore. This was all sent to the landfill in the past. I think we're doing the right thing. President Crow is encouraging us to be sustainable. We take it as a challenge, it's kind of fun.
We looked at our gas use and vehicles and decided as grounds crew we wanted to spend our money on plants and not gasoline and equipment repair. We bought 10 bikes and have two solar carts.
Still, the university is far from meeting all of its goals for sustainability.
For instance, what to do with our food waste. Once again, looking at that waste footprint, another big challenge is the zero water waste. Other technologies could potentially move the entire landscaping footprint off of potable water to reclaimed water and cut our consumption in half. I think what's important there, we don't have this all figured out. But the beauty of today's world with such a dynamic marketplace and innovation and entrepreneurism, you can expect these high, lofty goals.
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