April 16, 2008
The Green Building Forum is held on the third Wednesday of each month (except December) @6:30 PM and features presentations by green building practitioners followed by discussion. The events are always free and open to the general public.
Location: Pratt Manhattan, 144 W 14th St, Rm. 213
This month’s forum will look at how to shop for a green apartment and what to do when you move in to your green (or not so green) home.
Emma Hamilton, a certified eco-broker, of the Corcoran Group will walk us through the process, from arming yourself with the right questions for the broker, seller, or owner to moving in. Then, Erica Brabon of Steven Winter Associates will tell us about energy and indoor environmental issues that you should watch out for once you’ve moved in.
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Emma Hamilton: As New York City’s second ever Certified EcoBroker, Emma joins the movement of professionals pushing the real estate industry toward energy-efficient, sustainable, high-end green design in individual apartments and throughout entire buildings. As a Senior Associate Broker with the Corcoran Group, this distinction allows Emma to bring a different perspective to the table for sellers, buyers and developers alike. Originally from Santa Barbara, CA, Emma was raised in London, England and is no stranger to the intricacies of real estate. She gained first-hand knowledge from her family who are highly involved in various aspects of the business, from lending and sales to landowners, developers and investors. An long time East Village condo owner with her Swiss husband Dave, a product designer, Emma also resides on The Nature Conservancy’s Young Professionals Development Committee and is a proud member of the East Village Community Coalition, the East Village Parks Conservancy, the New York Restoration Project and The US Green Building Council’s NY Chapter where she sits on the LEED for Homes evaluation committee. She also resides on the board of her condo association and is currently “greening” her own building. Outside of work she can be found cruising the city on her bike, playing tennis or discussing food at great length. Emma has also volunteered as a one-on-one mentor since 2002. Her “little sister”, now 17, stands a head taller than Emma and is receiving high honors in her junior year of high school!
This event is hosted and co-sponsored by Pratt Institute.
November 16, 2005
Healthy and Breathable Buildings
Wednesday, November 16th, 6:30-8pm
Where: Hafele Showroom
Wendy Meguro, MIT and Wayne Tusa, USGBC-NY
Thanks very much to Ms. Meguro and Mr. Tusa for their presentations at our November forum. Wendy Meguro of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology discussed how recent technological developments and concern for the environment have propelled the design of large-scale naturally-ventilated buildings and will provide three case studies: the San Francisco Federal building, London’s Swiss Re building, and the Genzyme building in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Wayne Tusa, founder and President of Environmental Risk and Loss Control, Inc. and a Board Member and Liaison/Communications Committee Chair of the NY Chapter of the USGBC, talked about indoor air quality and health. As an environmental consultant with over thirty years of uniquely broad based environmental expertise, Mr. Tusa provided an in depth presentation on the health impacts of suspected environmental building hazards as well as strategies for mitigation and avoidance.
March 1, 2004
Since 2004, GreenHomeNYC has presented monthly articles on green building construction, renovations, and management in The Cooperator,
a Yale Robbins newspaper serving 3,300 New York City cooperatives and condominiums.
Fumes and Formaldehyde
Taking Steps to Detox Your Building
By Joshua Radoff
Everyone knows the air in New York isn’t the best stuff in the world to breathe. But what most people don’t know is that the indoor environment is often more polluted and toxic than the world outdoors. In fact, a recent EPA study found that the indoor concentrations of 20 toxic compounds can be as much as 200 times higher compared to the relatively pristine urban outdoors. So let’s start with a basic – and, hopefully, obvious – principle: If it’s poisonous, carcinogenic, triggers asthma, or wreaks havoc on your nervous system, you probably don’t want it in your building. Seems like common sense, right? And yet most of the products we use to build and maintain our buildings are portable Superfund sites, making their way Trojan Horse-like, into our common and living spaces. The good news for building owners and managers is that once you know what to look for, keeping the toxins out is a relatively easy thing to do.
Read on at The Cooperator Web Site.
February 20, 2004
Toxics, toxics, toxics. They are all around us, especially in our homes and offices, according to speakers Cameron Lory and Paul Novak at GreenHome NYC?s monthly forum, Non-toxic Building Materials. To a crowd of nearly 40 people at the Herman Miller Showroom, the speakers identified toxics in everyday materials and suggested ways to mitigate exposure to them.
Cameron Lory is a green building specialist at Inform, an organization that partners with government agencies and private organizations to promote cost effective, innovative and environmentally responsible practices. Her specialty is chemical hazards prevention. During her presentation, she focused on lead, mercury, polychlorinated biophenyls (PCB) and arsenic, chemicals that are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic, which means they cause harm to humans and the ecosystem. Ninety-two percent of persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals leave manufacturing facilities through products shipped to consumers, not through emissions out of smokestacks. These include building products, such as HVAC components, lighting systems, textiles and furnishings, roofing, pipes, and interior finishes. Therefore, awareness of these chemicals and knowledge of alternatives is critical during the designing, construction, and maintenance phases and is emerging as an important component of green building standards.
Mercury, for instance, can be found in thermostats, switches, gas and water flow meters, boilers, standing pilot lights, and other equipment. Ms. Lory suggests specifying mercury free systems when possible. Where unavailable, she stressed the importance of requiring mercury disclosure and ensuring proper disposal of the product at the end of its life. Mercury is also found in fluorescent, compact fluorescent and high intensity discharge lamps. However, use of these systems is essential for energy efficiency, and there are products with lower mercury content, such as Philips Alto lamps. For lighting, Ms. Lory recommends retrofitting old lighting systems with energy efficient technology, purchasing ?energy star? products, purchasing lamps with the lowest mercury content, and recycling spent lamps.
Brominated flame-retardants also affect indoor air environments. Due to building codes and other fire standards, concentrations of brominated flame-retardants, which have a similar structure as PCBs, are rapidly increasing. The retardants are used on furniture, upholstery, drapes, and electronic products. To date, the best solution is to request disclosure and, when possible, alternatives. Audience members suggested some emerging alternatives, which are more popular in Europe. Hopefully legislation to outlaw certain types of brominated flame-retardants will lead to more sustainable technologies for fire prevention.
Ms. Lory concluded her presentation with a passionate description of the hazards of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). Throughout the PVC life cycle, from manufacturing, product use, and disposal or destruction by fire, it releases some of the most toxic substances including dioxins, hexachlorobenzene, metal stabilizers, and phathalates. Products containing PVC are ubiquitous including resilient flooring, carpet backing, scrubbable floor coverings, shower curtains, acoustical ceiling tiles, roofing membranes, window and door frames, gutters, pipes, and, of course, siding. Luckily alternatives for some of these products are easy to find and can be found on the Inform website (www.informinc.org).
Paul Novak, founder of Environmental Construction Outfitters (E.C.O.), offered more solutions for healthier buildings. E.C.O.?s mission is to provide people with building/interior design materials and home products that are environmentally friendly, safe, natural, recycled and sustainable. The company also strives to offer the means of attaining good indoor air quality in home and office, and especially, to assist chemically-sensitive people. E.C.O. makes available the highest quality sustainable products for developers, contractors, architects, and homeowners in four product categories: natural, sustainable, recycled, and healthy. Mr. Novak caries water-based, formaldahyde free, and ones that use non-solvent glues.
After over 13 years in the environmental construction materials business, Mr. Novak has seen a significant increase in demand for these products. This is largely due to education through the internet and product and health warnings on the news. The majority of his customers are young families that are educated on the topic. When working with contractors, he stressed the importance of ensuring they use the materials correctly. One wrong decision, whether the glue or finishing, can eliminate the health benefits of the other material decisions. E.C.O. offers free phone consultation to discuss the concept of healthy buildings. Listing sustainable products in not sufficient since different people have different needs and sensitivities. However, E.C.O.?s product categories are listed on the website, http://www.EnvironProducts.com.
Mr. Novak concluded his speech by presenting some of his favorite building materials. These include the following:
Wall insulation made out of old jeans. The denim out performs fiberglass in R-rating and acoustics.
Natural wools and fibers for carpeting.
Natural cleaning agents
Pre-consumer recycled rubber
Bamboo, which is especially good for chemically sensitive people.
Cork. However, due to the popularity of cork, which grows back on oak trees in seven to nine years, the supply has not been able to keep up with demand and, “the trees are taking a beating.”
Sustainably harvested wood from Maine or felled lumber.
During a question and answer period, the speakers spoke of Green Seal, costs, and legislation. Green Seal, similar to LEED, is a good start, according to Paul Novak, but it needs to be more discerning. As for the costs of non-toxic building materials, he estimates today that prices on average are three to five percent greater, however, a decade ago it was around 30 percent. The prices for the glues, paints, and wood are competitive, but his choice for insulation is twice as expensive due to the cost of shipping.
Cameron Lory mentioned the importance of building standards, not just legislation to promote the use of healthier building materials. Both speakers did speak of emerging regulations in the region. Currently Westchester County (and soon in New Jersey), tax breaks are available for the use of products that are listed as sustainable alternatives. It is important to be careful when following these lists as they may contain materials that while more sustainable than the standard choice, are still toxic products.
Please join us next month at the Hafele Showroom for the March forum on Energy Efficiency.