Vertima’s environmental consulting helps businesses go green

October 20, 2021 by  
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Businesses worldwide have begun looking for ways to increase the sustainable components of their companies while decreasing the environmental impact of inefficient buildings,  waste  and pollution. One Canadian company has stepped in to act as a consultant for businesses looking to make those kinds of changes, and it’s called Vertima.  Started in 2008 by Josée Lupien and Jean DesRosiers, Vertima is a group of environmental strategies professionals that have the answers companies are looking for regarding everything from building materials to air quality inside the office. Related: Google’s first retail location earns LEED Platinum certification The team at Vertima offers expert advice in its collaborations with real estate developers, manufacturers and training organizations. One of its top goals is to support businesses as they seek to achieve LEED ® certification. Vertima also guides businesses toward carbon-neutral practices and helps them become more eco-responsible. The company has analyzed and validated over 1,000 products with environmental properties and features and has completed more than 91 sustainable building certification projects, including LEED, WELL and Green Globes. The team has developed over 250 collaborative workshops on integrated design processes (ICP) and trained over 950 professionals in the construction industry. To entice businesses to invest time in listening and learning through the training programs, Quebec’s Commission des partenaires du marché du travail has recognized the program in a way that gives training credits to employees who participate. Vertima training is also approved by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) for those maintaining their LEED® specialized professional designation. According to the Vertima website, “We offer high-quality professional consulting services to meet the needs of our clients and create economic,  environmental  and social value through each mandate.”  Most recently, Vertima completed the WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management for the Place Ville Marie (PVM) business campus. Ivanhoé Cambridge, the client on the project, is the first company in Canada to obtain the certification. It’s a standard that highlights PVM’s commitment to the highest standards for cleaning and sanitization, emergency preparedness, health service resources and air and water quality management to respond to the pandemic and meet the future needs of PVM’s occupants. In another recent project, the team offered guidance for the environmental requirements and performance during construction of the new Maison Radio-Canada, owned by Broccolini, and similarly for the Ericsson corporate campus, a LEED® gold-level project of MONTONI. “We want to make a difference by facilitating the implementation of environmental strategies within companies,” said Lupien, LEED Fellow, WELL AP, President of Vertima. “Through our team of passionate and highly skilled professionals, we create economic value for any company that wants to update its certifications or environmental practices.” + Vertima Images via Vertima and Pixabay

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Vertima’s environmental consulting helps businesses go green

99.9% of scientists agree climate crisis is caused by humans

October 20, 2021 by  
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99.9% of scientists globally agree that burning fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal is the main cause of climate change. They also concur that climate change is caused by human actions, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The case for global action at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, where world leaders will meet to discuss the climate crisis , is strengthened by the study. In 2013, a survey since 1991 culminated in the conclusion that 97% of scientists viewed that climate change was caused by human actions. The other three percent were of a contrary opinion. Related: United Nations rejects youth activist climate petition This study has been expanded by a recent  Cornell University  paper that shows a significant decline in dissenting voices. Over the years, evidence continues to mount, showing that global warming is being caused by burning fossil fuels. In the latest paper of peer review literature, several scientific studies were examined to determine those with contrary opinions. From 2012 to 2020, 3000 random sample studies were reviewed. Only four papers published in little-known journals turned out to be skeptical of the fact that climate change was being caused by humans. Furthermore, the researchers searched the full database of case studies within the highlighted periods for skeptical keywords such as “natural cycles” and “ cosmic rays ,” and only found 28 papers published in minor journals. These publications account for less than 1% of all the papers published. “It is really case closed. There is nobody of significance in the scientific community who doubts human-caused climate change,” said Mark Lynas, lead author and visiting fellow at Cornell University. Although the scientific community seems to be in agreement, the general public remains misled on issues of climate change. Big oil companies have been running advertisements that allude to a lack of consensus on the issues of climate change. In a similar manner, politicians have also managed to confuse the public about the matter. As reported by The Guardian, “only 27% of US adults believed that “almost all” scientists agreed the climate emergency was caused by human activity.” Additionally, most senior Republicans cast doubt on the link between human action and the climate crisis. 30 U.S. senators and 109 representatives still won’t acknowledge that human actions have caused climate change. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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99.9% of scientists agree climate crisis is caused by humans

New resort area in Saudi Arabia breaks ground with Desert Rock

October 13, 2021 by  
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Saudi Arabia is about to see major development along the wadi vistas in the westernmost part of the country. The project being designed for The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) will be an expansive investment in driving tourism to the scenic and historic area. Award-winning firm Oppenheim Architecture is behind the current installment called Desert Rock, which is part of the larger Red Sea Project that will eventually see 50 resorts, 8,000 hotel rooms and 1,000 residential houses. Desert Rock broke ground this past summer and is expected to open for visitors at the end of 2022. Related: Mixed-use complex aims to minimize heat gain with greenery in Saudi Arabia Desert Rock is aptly named as it’s more than built from the ground up. It’s built into the side of a massive rock. While some might question the  environmental aspects of renovating the natural structure, the company has stated sustainability is high on its list of priorities. The rock that is removed from the mountainside will be used as a building material for interior and exterior walls and floors. Additional stone will be ground and, along with existing sand, used as the main building material. Processes within the building will focus on energy-efficient design elements that minimize energy consumption and aim to achieve the highest level of LEED certification. In addition to  passive design  techniques and energy-efficient systems, the building will incorporate water reduction strategies through rainwater harvest and native plants in the surrounding area.  Chad Oppenheim, founder of Oppenheim Architecture, said, “Desert Rock is one of the most dramatic desert landscapes in the world, which is why we wanted to use the architecture as a way to honor and respect it. By utilizing  natural materials  and integrating the resort into the rock, guests can connect physically with the destination and experience Saudi Arabia’s stunning, natural beauty.” Planners want to make the resort a cultural destination, hiring locals to educate visitors about the culture and history of the land. They also want to promote culture through art facilities. The outdoor and athletic opportunities include a spa and fitness center, remote dining, a lagoon, hiking, dune buggies and star gazing. Desert Rock is part of phase one of the project, which will include 16 hotels with a 2023 expected completion date. The destination will include luxury marinas, golf courses, entertainment, leisure facilities and an international airport. A 100-hectare landscape nursery that will provide an estimated 15 million  plants  to the resorts is up and running, while housing for 10,000 builders is complete and housing for an additional 14,000 workers is underway.  + Red Sea Development Company Via Oppenheim Architecture Images via Red Sea Development Company 

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New resort area in Saudi Arabia breaks ground with Desert Rock

Indeed Tower in Austin earns LEED Platinum for green features

September 10, 2021 by  
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A new office tower stands tall in Austin , and its sustainability features are breaking records. Indeed Tower, a recently completed AA office tower, earned 82 points toward a LEED v4 Core & Shell (CS) Platinum Certification. Awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council, this certification makes Indeed Tower the second-largest LEED v4 CS project in the U.S. and the fifth-largest in the world, according to a press release. The building spans 730,000 square feet and rises to 36 stories tall. About 35,000 square feet of this project includes the adaptive reuse of the historic Claudia Taylor Johnson post office. Campbell Landscape Architecture and Ten Eyck Landscape Architects contributed to the project’s 17,000 square feet of urban green space. Developed by Trammell Crow Company and Principal Real Estate Investors and helmed by architecture firm Page, this massive project took four years to complete. Related: See how this Austin home enjoys green views without windows “Trammell Crow Company set out more than three years ago to develop an office tower that was designed for the future. Indeed Tower was designed to meet and exceed even the highest standards of sustainability and accommodate the needs of current and future office tenants that demand a modern and evolved workplace,” said Brad Maples, Principal of Trammell Crow Company’s Austin office. Indeed Tower’s sustainable features begin with incorporating open, green spaces. Open space covers 46% of the site with the help of terraces and the large urban plaza. These spaces include plenty of vegetation, 75% of which is native and 25% is drought-tolerant. Water concerns are addressed through on-site rainwater management, low flow plumbing fixtures and EnergyStar appliances. These features help the building save 1.5 million gallons of water annually. The reuse of the existing structure also helps the project reduce 20% of its embodied carbon . In addition to the tower’s LEED Platinum certification, the project also earned Austin Energy Green Building 4-Star certification. A Fitwel 1-Star certification is pending. + Indeed Tower Images courtesy of Albert Vecerka ESTO Photographics and Page

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ODA’s vibrant new complex transforms a conventional DC block

September 8, 2021 by  
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West Half by ODA New York is a multi-use complex that combines architecture, interior design and landscape design to promote environmentally-friendly construction and harness a sense of community. Located in Washington, D.C.’s Navy Yard, the 10-story project takes up a full city block and consists of 465 apartments, outdoor terraces and an inner courtyard, among several other amenities. While the top eight levels are strictly residential, the bottom two connect with the community at the street level through restaurants and retail. The building consists of volumes with bright yellow underbellies that playfully cantilever off each other in a horseshoe around a central courtyard. This push and pull effect creates terraces and balconies with views directed north towards the Capitol Building and south to Nationals Park. Since the floors are stacked to maximize the number of terraces and enhance the cascading effect of the pop-outs, the facade tapers in towards the courtyard as it ascends, creating a similar effect to the ballpark stands in the Nationals stadium close by. Related: Green terraces intersect a mixed-use tower in Shenzhen Innovative eco-friendly strategies make an appearance in the terraces and are the grounds for the building’s LEED Gold Certification. Cisterns harvest water to irrigate West Half’s many gardens. Extensive green roof systems cover 50% of the roof and require minimal irrigation and maintenance. Through the built-in planters on the roof and balconies, the facades grow and adapt to the changing seasons. The interior of the mixed-used development carefully considers human scale and experience. A rich material palette, natural light and optimal airflow have all been taken into consideration to make the spaces feel fresh and energetic. A blur between interior and exterior conditions is created through layers of transparency using floor-to-ceiling glazing and glass balustrades. JBG Smith, the developer, expressed that “the main challenge of the project was to develop an innovative approach that would comply with the strict Washington D.C. regulations for privately developed buildings, while creating something iconic for the neighborhood .” Because of the bustling surroundings, ODA and JBG Smith wanted the development to encourage richer, collective experiences for residents, stadium visitors and tourists . “This building is an expression of what the future of urban living can be,” said Eran Chen, founder and chief architect at ODA. + ODA New York Images by Scott Frances

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Project Legacy earns LEED Gold for circular, sustainable design

August 19, 2021 by  
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William McDonough + Partners announces the opening of “Project Legacy,” an innovative Cradle to Cradle building designed for Universidad EAN (UEAN) in Bogotá, Colombia . The university’s new center for technology and entrepreneurship was designed and built with the circular economy in mind — minimizing waste, contouring sustainable material selections and capitalizing on energy-efficient systems. Both the school and the architectural design set out to focus on the principles of circular economy . “The design elements that make up the building mirror the ambitions of the small and medium-sized entrepreneurs learning how to design and execute business plans guided by Cradle to Cradle and the Circular Economy. What an astonishing privilege to have a building that embodies the principles of the actual pedagogy that is taught in the university’s curriculum,” said architect William McDonough. Related: A LEED Gold-targeted health education hub joins University of Washington campus The most prominent feature is both striking and functional. It’s called the WonderFrame™ shade structure and clads the building with multi-colored and multifunctional panels. Designed by McDonough and constructed in a local Hunter Douglas factory, the WonderFrame™ was built for quick assembly and little  waste . The panels provide shade while simultaneously allowing natural light into the space. The system also provides ventilation, and the glazed windows offer energy efficiency as well as soundproofing. Excess heat is released through a chimney exhaust. These combined systems earned Project Legacy a label as the world’s first building to qualify for a new LEED Alternative Compliance Path (ACP) for naturally ventilated projects.   From the beginning, the project was set up to stand as an example of  green design  and sustainable construction. The circular economy thinking came into play starting with the demolition, where 99% of the construction debris was given new life and diverted from landfills. Not only is this a win for the environment, but the budget too. “Instead of spending $80,000 in disposal fees, we received $55,000 for our residue,” said Miguel Orejuela Duarte, the project leader for Universidad EAN.  Building from the ground up, the UEAN project required suppliers to meet certain standards. The policy is called RISE EAN, or “Route for Innovation and Sustainable Entrepreneurship.” One example of a company embraced through the program is Acemar, which provided FSC Certified  wood  veneer panels for the building. Rising to meet the standards set forth by RISE EAN, Acemar ultimately achieved Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Bronze for its product, which is a first in Latin America.  In addition to innovative design, the space offers functional space for classrooms, administration offices, seminar rooms, a cafeteria, indoor basketball court, exercise gymnasium and a 500-seat auditorium. There’s also a massive outdoor space to gather, relax or study. The building achieved LEED Gold certification and is among the first academic buildings in Colombia to be LEED-certified.  + William McDonough + Partners Photography by Jairo Llano

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Project Legacy earns LEED Gold for circular, sustainable design

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens LEEDs the way in green design

July 8, 2021 by  
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“Imagine the beauty of humanity living in harmony with nature .” This is the goal behind the ongoing work to raise the bar of sustainability in architecture at The Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) and other projects at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. The conservatory offers a closed-circle campus that, over the course of a year, produces more energy than it consumes through a combination of geothermal and wind systems along with solar panels . In fact, it ranks as the most energy-efficient conservatory in the world. It achieves this title through effective use of natural lighting , venting, earth tubes and fogging systems to cool and light the space without reliance on energy. Related: An off-grid home in South Africa features a conservatory for fully enjoying nature In addition to generating excessive energy, the project treats all water onsite for both human and landscaping needs. It collects rainwater as well as filtering water captured through natural landscaping, a lagoon system and permeable paving.  Throughout the process of updating the campus, the goal has been to set an example of what is possible in innovative, passive design . As a result, the project meets qualifications for six of the most desired certifications in green design. These include the Living Building Challenge, LEED Platinum, First SITES™ Platinum and First WELL Building Platinum as well as the achievement of the first certified BREEAM Outstanding In-Use Building in the United States award. The conservatory has also earned a Fitwel three-star rating. The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens invites visitors to wander through the campus, taking in the rain gardens, lagoon and atrium with lush greenery and native plants throughout. In fact, the conservatory has an obligation to promote green building practices with a central focus on merging human activities and nature in a sustainable way. According to a conservatory officials, “As Phipps’ education, research and administration facility, the CSL is an integral part of the Phipps visitor experience as a ‘living museum,’ focusing attention on the important intersection between the built and natural environments, and demonstrating that human and environmental health are inextricably connected.” + Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens Images via Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

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The Toranomon-Azabudai Project puts health before business

July 2, 2021 by  
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The Toranomon-Azabudai Project, a collaboration between several design firms, is a modern urban village built with nature and humans at its core and business on the perimeter. This multipurpose development in the heart of Tokyo is filled with lush green spaces and gathering areas. With an open outdoor floor plan, the design includes offices, residences, a hotel , an international school, retail shops, restaurants and cultural facilities. It will provide space for work, learning, recreation, interaction and relaxation. Related: Winning designs unveiled for the sustainable redesign of Saratov The Toranomon-Azabudai Project is a revamp of a long, narrow area that previously was broken up by deteriorating houses and buildings. Overall, the city infrastructure was in need of an upgrade. The goal of the developers and local residents was to update the area and provide all the amenities of a big city while keeping a small village feel. Toranomon-Azabudai District Urban Redevelopment Association, in collaboration with Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, Heatherwick Studio, Sou Fujimoto Architects and developer Mori Building Co, among others, acknowledge a common vision of placing the landscaping and central square first, then working the three high-rise buildings in afterward. This is in direct contrast to most developments, where buildings take precedence. The philosophy honors the two pillars of green and wellness at every stage. Some buildings will feature green roofs , and the central square will be enrobed in trees, flowers and waterscapes. The entire neighborhood will be powered by 100% renewable energy sources, which will meet the targets stipulated in the RE100 international environmental initiative led by the U.K.’s Climate Group. Developers also plan to meet the criteria to earn WELL and LEED-ND certification . The project is working to set an example for solutions to modern concerns around carbon emissions, loss of biodiversity and lack of accessible healthcare.  Construction began on August 5, 2019 and has an anticipated completion date in March 2023. Once complete, it is expected to support 20,000 employees and 3,500 residents, plus welcome 25-35 million visitors per year. + Mori Building Co. Images via Mori Building Co.

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Perkins + Will overhauls a boring concrete warehouse into beautiful LEED Gold offices

August 23, 2017 by  
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At first glance, it’s hard to imagine that this gorgeous light-filled building was once an uninspiring concrete monolith. It’s a testament to the architectural might of Perkins + Will , which transformed the 1940s military warehouse in San Francisco into the LEED Gold -certified Bay Area Metro Center. Constructed with recycled materials, this eight-story adaptive reuse project features soaring ceilings with state-of-the-art offices, community hearing spaces, a boardroom, and ground floor retail. Located at 375 Beale Street, this massive 525,000-square-foot building once served as a navy supply warehouse during World War II and exuded an air of impenetrability with its fortress-like facade. Perkins + Will and interior design firm TEF did away with the monolith’s bleak appearance with the addition of ample glazing and an seven-story-tall atrium that floods the building with natural light . The transformation created a welcoming and collaborative environment that consolidates four government agencies and offers diverse amenities including retail, workspaces, open coffee bars, and even bike storage. Reclaimed timber is used throughout the interior to lend a sense of warmth to the concrete structure. Wood rails were repurposed from the building and nearby sites as was the timber used for stair treads, countertops, and wall finishes. Splashes of greenery enliven the building including a tree well on the sixth floor, garden patio on the eighth floor, and a landscaped garden outside the main public hearing room. Related: Form follows function at Shanghai’s new bioclimatic Natural History Museum Perkins + Will wrote: “As part of a required seismic retrofit, shear walls were introduced at all perimeter walls to reinforce the structure without compromising the opportunity for open offices. Addressing both seismic and daylighting issues, a seven-story atrium was carved out the of the center of the building, both reducing the structural mass of the building and bringing much needed daylight to the building’s interior, decreasing energy use while creating a welcoming atmosphere. The atrium and interconnecting stairs also provide the opportunity for informal encounters between the various agency employees.” + Perkins + Will

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Perkins + Will overhauls a boring concrete warehouse into beautiful LEED Gold offices

A tale of two ‘living’ buildings in the Capitol

July 13, 2017 by  
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Measuring the intangible value of two Living Building Challenge and WELL Building certifications in Washington, D.C.

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A tale of two ‘living’ buildings in the Capitol

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