FEDERAL BUILDINGS REQUIRED TO VERIFY
Has your federal building earned a green certification under LEED or Green Globes? The DOE will soon require you to
verify your energy and water performance.
The new ruling, which goes into effect Nov. 13, ensures that
in cases where agencies used a private sector green building
certification, they must prove they satisfy federal sustainability
and energy standards.
By requiring reassessments at least every four years, the
mandate will ensure utility savings continue well beyond the
initial building opening or retrofit. System requirements in new
construction and major renovations will lead to reduced consumption through active energy and water management.
The considered use of green building rating systems advanc-
es federal high performance buildings by focusing on modern-
ized, integrated building systems that minimize inefficiencies
and waste and enhance cost-saving benefits.
The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) also updated its Federal Building Energy Use Benchmarking Guidance,
which designates ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager as the
sole benchmarking tool for federal agencies. A guide for federal
building metering is forthcoming to help organizations prioritize
their efficiency goals.
OFFICE PLANTS BOOST PRODUCTIVITY
Common decorative plants in the workplace could actually in- crease worker productivity, a new study from the University
of Exeter in the UK suggests. The findings directly contradict the
traditional idea that sparse, clean workplaces drive employee
productivity and happiness.
The research shows that workers in an office landscaped
with plants perceived the indoor air quality as higher and report
increased workplace satisfaction. Studying worker productivity
levels over subsequent months at two large commercial offices,
the researchers found that plants led to more work engagement
by employees. This included improved physical, cognitive, and
emotional involvement in their work that caused large increases
in worker productivity and satisfaction. Productivity could
increase by as much as 15% with the simple addition of greenery.
NEW LEAD PAINT TESTING
While the EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting rule for lead paint in structures are fairly straightforward for
residential and child-care settings, the regulation could soon
expand to include commercial and public facilities.
Because the current standards are too simplistic to reason-
ably apply to commercial facilities, the EPA is seeking public
comment on a new approach they expect to use for testing lead
hazards from renovation, repair, and painting activities.
Rather than simply testing for the presence of lead, the new
methodology is expected to consider a multitude of factors
including facility purpose, room size, and time occupants spend
in the building.
ASHRAE PROPOSES NEW IAQ STANDARD
ASHRAE is considering a new addendum to Standard 62.1- 2013 that would make compliance easier to achieve in existing buildings. The organization looks to improve accessibility
and revamp the IAQ assessment process for more building types
including K- 12 schools and office buildings.
Noting that managers of existing buildings with multiple-zone recirculating ventilation systems or smaller facilities with
straightforward multiple zone applications may not have the
information needed to apply the ventilation rate procedure, the
proposed addendum would allow more calculation flexibility
and provide an alternate path to compliance.
TORNADO SEASON ARRIVING EARLIER
Anew study published in Geophysical Research Letters shows that tornado
season is occurring earlier and earlier.
The research analyzed data from 1954-
2009 in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and
northern Texas, known as “Tornado Alley,”
and found that the season is beginning an
average of seven days earlier in the year
than in 1954.
The report finds that while the period
of high tornado activity hasn’t increased
in duration, its incidence has been
steadily occurring earlier at a rate of over
1.5 days per decade. With around 1,300
tornadoes hitting the U.S. every year, the
study’s authors urge the public to prepare
for the possibility of storms occurring
earlier in the year.