Monthly Archives: August 2013

Building Your Brand from the Inside Out

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Branding is an essential tool for any organization. An organization’s mission, goals, values, physical environment and employees are all necessary for a successful brand.

It is important for a company to brand itself internally, with the help of employees, before publicly marketing a brand. During branding, organizations must remember:

  • Employees are full-time ambassadors of the brand
  • To make internal branding a priority
  • A company’s brand is more than just a symbol. It’s a relationship with the customer, which starts with the employees

Jay Rottinghaus, client leader for BHDP’s Branded Environments team, talks about an organization’s best opportunities to internally brand itself for success, the barriers to branding and his branding tips in an article, Building Your Brand from the Inside Out, for the American Management Association.

University Chemistry Labs Redesigned

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BHDP has redesigned the way university chemistry labs should look and feel. Out with cinderblock walls and dated furniture, and in with custom labs, state-of-the-art cameras, flat screens and lounge areas. 

George Kemper, architect and senior laboratory planner at BHDP, explains in the March/April issue of School Construction News how BHDP worked with Cleveland State University to transform its chemistry lab into a flexible space, incorporating environmentally sustainable materials, that gives pride to the students and staff. 

What is the minimum requirement of a federally mandated Energy Code?

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In my last post on this topic I laid out the case for how we will eventually have a federally mandated energy code.  The next obvious questions:  What will be the basis of that code? And who will author the standard?  

This is the point where you get barraged with a confusing series of letters and numbers, so bear with me I’ll try to make this as painless as possible. At the end of the day you will understand that there are two main bodies that will drive the process. The first one is The International Code Council (ICC) which came into being in the mid-1990’s when three separate long-established code organizations, BOCA, SBC and UBC, consolidated their efforts into a unified international force. And the second is The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) with its affiliates IES and ANSI.

ICC publishes a series of 15 codes ranging from the International Building Code, to the International Fire Code to the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).  The IEEC was first published in 2000.  Its current 2012 edition allows conformance to its prescriptive requirements or references ASHRAE 90.1 – 2010.  ICC documents have long been favored by state and local governments when adopting codes. ASHARE has established best practice standards for the design and construction of mechanical systems since the 1890’s. They have specifically interested in energy conservation since the oil crisis of the mid 1970’s when they published ASHRAE 90.  The most current edition is ASHRAE 90.1 – 2010. 

Now remember back to the recent financial crisis of 2009 and the Stimulus bill also known as the Americans Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  By accepting State Energy Program funding and submitting letters to the DOE assuring compliance with section 410 all states have committed to the following:

(2)  The state, or the applicable units of local government that have authority to adopt building codes, will implement the following:

  • (A) A residential building energy code (or codes) that meets or exceeds the most recent International Energy Conservation, or achieves equivalent or greater energy savings.
  • (B) A commercial building energy code (or codes) that meets or exceeds the ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1 – 2007 or achieves equivalent or greater energy savings
  • (C) A plan to achieve 90% compliance with the above energy codes within eight years.  This plan will include active training and enforcement programs and annual measurement of the rate of compliance.

If you read the last post you know that the DOE has subsequently made a determination that the States must also comply with ASHRAE 90.1 – 2010 by October 13, 2013. As of this writing seven  states have adopted this code, four of which have deferred compliance until a later date. It appears that most states are favoring attempting to adopt the ICC standard because it includes the residential code and references the ASHRAE standard which is more familiar to them.  For compliance with it commercial code requirements of ICC 2012 you may follow its prescriptive requirements or comply with ASHRAE 90.1 – 2010, but be careful.  Its prescriptive requirements are not equivalent to ASHRAE and therefore do not meet the letter of the ARRA mandate.

To add to your alphabet soup of letters and numbers you also want to pay careful attention to several other ASHRAE standards.  These are ASHRAE 189.1 – High Performance Buildings.  High Performance buildings are not the same as minimum energy saving standards.  This is the standard you’ll be referencing if you’re doing a LEED building.  You should also be looking at ASHRAE 62.1.  It has now been re-written in “Code adoptable” language and will likely soon be mandated.  ASHRAE 62.1 is a prerequisite for a LEED building.  If the Letters and numbers are driving you crazy, forget them and think of this like this:

  1. Energy Efficiency – I must do ASHRAE 90.1 or IECC 2012
  2. Green Building – I must do ASHRAE 189.1 – Remember an important part of a green building is health and well-being so ventilation and humidity control is as important as conserving resources.
  3. Indoor Air Quality – I must do ASHRAE 62.1 – In many ways increased ventilation can be juxtaposed to Energy Efficiency.  ASHRAE has spent a lot of time coordinating 90.1 and 62.1 so they are not exclusive of one another. They’ve revised calculations that have been used for years to make them more representative of a building’s energy use.  This adds complexity to both the design process and the building automation controls.  In the old days we designed fresh air intake requirements for the worst case.   

Are we moving towards a federally mandated Energy Code?

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Building Codes, seen as instruments to protect public health and safety have traditionally been regulated by State Governments.  Energy codes are generally accepted as part of Building Codes.

As part of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 the Federal Government required States to establish standards for commercial building energy codes and to consider minimum residential codes based on current voluntary codes. This gave impetus to the creation and modification of ASHRAE 90.1/1999, 2001, ASHRAE 90.2, the Model Energy Code etc.  Since the creation of ASHRAE 90.1 the US Department of Energy has made four Final Determinations related to this standard.  They are as follows:

  1. July 15, 2002, DOE issued a final determination that Standard 90.1-1999 would achieve greater energy efficiency in buildings than the 1989 edition.  They requested compliance by July 15, 2004.
  2. December 30, 2008, DOE issued a final determination that Standard 90.1-2004 would achieve greater energy efficiency in buildings than the 1999 edition.  They requested compliance by December 30, 2010.
  3. July 20, 2011, DOE issued a final determination that Standard 90.1-2007 would achieve greater energy efficiency in buildings than the 2004 edition.  They requested that states certify compliance by July 20, 2013.
  4. October 19, 2011, DOE issued a final determination that Standard 90.1-2010 would achieve greater energy efficiency in buildings than the 2007 edition.  Since they were still in the Compliance window period of the previous determination they gave the states the option of certifying this code by July 20, 2013 and skipping the certification of the 2007 ASHRE addition.  States have until October 18, 2013 to request an extension of the deadline.

The answer is yes.  It’s a matter of time.  This Excerpt from Wikipedia outlines how the Government will and has used funding to impose other standards:

The federal system limits the ability of the federal government to use state governments as an instrument of the national government, as held in Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997). However, where Congress or the Executive Branch has the power to implement programs, or otherwise regulate, there are, arguably, certain incentives in the national government encouraging States to become the instruments of such national policy, rather than to implement the program directly. One incentive is that state implementation of national programs places implementation in the hands of local officials who are closer to local circumstances. Another incentive is that implementation of federal programs at the state level would in principle limit the growth of the national bureaucracy.

For this reason, Congress often seeks to exercise its powers by offering or encouraging States to implement national programs consistent with national minimum standards; a system known as cooperative federalism. One example of the exercise of this device was to condition allocation of federal funding where certain state laws do not conform to federal guidelines. For example, federal educational funds may not be accepted without implementation of special education programs in compliance with IDEA. Similarly, the nationwide state 55 mph (90 km/h) speed limit, .08 legal blood alcohol limit, and the nationwide state 21-year drinking age were imposed through this method; the states would lose highway funding if they refused to pass such laws (though the national speed limit has since been repealed). See e.g. South Dakota v. Dole, 483 U.S. 203 (1987).

The wheel has been set in motion to mandate more energy efficient buildings.  In Future Blog posts I’ll first attempt to help you understand the specific new standards that you’ll need to meet and then attempt to illustrate the new concepts that they will bring to the construction industry and practice of architecture.