News and Events

Design Industry Response to Climate Change

January 03 2019

In recent weeks, I have noticed an uptick in professional design journal editorials regarding industry response to climate change. These editorials may have been in response to the release of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ( IPCC ) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C (SR15 ) and of the Federal Government’s Fourth National Climate Assessment. Both of these reports indicate that if drastic and significant action in not take in the next decade, the environmental, human and economic impacts of climate change will be catastrophic. The design professions bear an enormous responsibility to address climate change in every project they undertake, these editorials are telling the design professions that they can no longer look the other way when it comes to doing something about climate change.

I want to share portions of several of these editorials with LightLouver LLC customers and friends to rally your continuing support of immediate and significant action on climate change.

Engineering News Record Editorial of November 5th, 2018

How to do Better on Climate Change

Our industry can no longer look the other way at the impacts of climate change. Whether or not you believe our crazy weather and increasing heat are caused by human activity, the facts are irrefutable – the world’s communities are experiencing more frequent flooding, stronger hurricanes with massive storm surges and intense and long-lasting droughts. The recent report from the United Nation’s IPPC says the world has just 12 years to get matters under control or the effects will be irreversible. If it doesn’t entire cities may have be walled in to protect them from sea-level rise; other cities may simply have to relocate to areas where there is less flooding or drought.

Since 2007, the architectural profession has made sustainable design a part of it ethical code. In 2018, the code was expanded to say architects should work with their clients to incorporate strategies to anticipate extreme weather events. The National Society of Professional Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers also encourage sustainability.

While designing for climate change can be expensive, the National Institute of Building Sciences  has shown that for every federal dollar spent on disaster mitigation, $6 on average is saved on disaster mitigation. Engineers and architects need to include those costs and benefits in their presentations and underscore that when it comes to the future, a penny saved isn’t necessarily a penny earned.

If we continue to rebuild without thinking about the future, we will continue the existing cycle of rebuilding, over and over again, wastefully, without longer-lasting structures and systems. We must do better at using new approaches and incorporating resilience into designs.

Pretending that climate change isn’t real, or doing nothing about it, goes against fundamental ethics.

ARCHITECT, The Journal of the American Institute of Architects, October 2018

A Positive New-Zero Attitude

The 2016 Paris Agreement focused on the effects of a 2-degree C ( 3.6-degree F ) increase in average global temperature, and gave the world a deadline of 2100 for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero. A new U.N. report, undertaken the behest  of island nations concerned about sea-level issue, looks  more conservatively at a 1.5-degree C ( 2.7-degrree F ) increase. The findings are alarming, to put it mildly: the outcomes of even this lower temperature hike will still be disastrous, and we will be all but resigned to that fate in little more than a decade unless we act immediately. To minimize the catastrophic risk, humanity must reduce emissions by 45% by 2030, and achieve total carbon neutrality by 2050.

It’s net-zero hour, folks.

If you think the internet has been disruptive, just wait until rapid decarbonization takes hold. Of course, we already know that achieving carbon neutrality is technically possible. The process calls for an estimated clean energy investment through 2035 of 2.5 percent of global GDP. While that’s a staggering amount of money – roughly $2.4 trillion per year – financing humanity’s survival may seem easy compared to the social and political challenges the  task entails.

….in a net-zero energy economy, there’s no avoiding the fact that there will be likely be limits on growth. But that doesn’t mean there will be limits on opportunity…….

Decarbonization isn’t about constraints, it’s about smarter decision-making, based on better information.

….The terrible consequences of inaction are increasingly evident – just ask the residents of the Florida Panhandle. Now we must focus on the essential value of taking action, beyond survival.

ARCHITECT: The Journal of the American Institute of Architects, October 2018

Existing Buildings: The Elephant in the Room ( Carl Elefant, FAIA, 2018 AIA President )

For those who knew of me before I became AIA President, it is probably for coining the phrase: “ The greenest building is …one that is already built.”

…..Building-sector statistics are compelling, architects have been busy beavers since World War II. From coast to coast, the U.S. has accumulated to many buildings that economic projections estimate that over the next 30 years more than twice as many will be renovated than newly constructed. To put it another way, today’s early-career architects will spend more time renovating buildings than designing new ones.

Existing buildings are a resource for tackling climate change. Buildings represent “embodied carbon.” Keeping and using existing buildings avoids the release of massive quantities of greenhouse gases, emissions caused by needlessly demolishing and replacing existing buildings. Retrofitting existing buildings to meet high-performance standards is the most effective strategy for reducing near- and mid-term carbon emissions, the most important step in limiting climate disruption. Existing buildings are also a resource for leaning about life before buildings were addicted to fossil fuels, and cities and towns were addicted to automobiles in the name of progress.

For the next generation of architects, embracing the opportunities and challenges of existing buildings is the elephant in the room. How long before our profession notices?

ARCHITECT, The Journal of the American Institute of Architects, November 2018

Percent of Design Activity Devoted to Existing Building Projects

The results of the 2018 AIA Firm Survey Report reveal that 44 percent of design activity is dedicated to improving existing buildings. Typically, existing building work shrinks during strong construction markets ( like the one we are currently experiencing ), but this time it has continued to hold steady. The persistent activity demonstrates the shift in owner focus to making current assets as valuable as possible – and the impact of incentives for investment in improvements versus replacement. Through existing buildings work, architects can continue to have a tremendous impact on improving the efficiency of structures, combating the impact of climate change, and preserving history.

These editorials have one thing in common, they speak to the immediate and critical need to address climate change in every conceivable way imaginable. There is no single solution: there must be multiple solutions in every sphere of life and living. The causes of climate change – greenhouse gas emissions -- occur in all facets of life, and thus the solutions to climate change must be found and implemented within all facets of life. As architects, engineers and planners of the built environment, we must play our part in developing and implementing strategies that are sustainable and mitigate climate change.

We must always rememberWe do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

Fort Collins Utility Administration Building Wins Award

October 01 2017

Engineering News Record ( ENR ) has selected the Fort Collins Utility Administration Building as the best sustainable building project of 2017. Designed by RNL Design and constructed by Adolfson & Peterson Construction, the three-story, 37,500 square foot office building is only the fourth project in the world to be certified LEED Platinum for new construction under the U.S. Green Building Council’s version 4 standard. The building integrates numerous sustainable design features such as wall panels that combine framing and insulation; fiberglass high performance window frames and glazing; photovoltaic modules for power generation; a rain garden; and the LightLouver Daylighting System for deep, glare-free daylighting.

The LightLouver Daylighting System was selected over other side-daylighting strategies that were considered because it provided uniform, glare-free daylighting deep into the office areas. A unique mounting strategy was developed because of the fiberglass window frames that were used for the high performance windows.

See images of the project in the Portfolio section of the LightLouver web site.

LightLouver LLC Founder Leads Daylight Code Development Effort

May 01 2017

Michael Holtz, FAIA, Founder and CEO of LightLouver LLC, has since December 2015 led an effort to develop and incorporate daylight requirements into model building codes, such as the International Green Construction Code ( IgCC ) published by the International Code Council. Initially formed under the Daylight Management Council of the National Electrical Manufacturer Association, and later under the Indoor Environmental Quality ( IEQ ) Working Group of ASHRAE Standard 189, the working group formed by Mr. Holtz developed and put forward to the ASHRAE 189 IEQ Working Group three proposals: Daylighting, Glare Control and View.

As of May 2017, two of the proposals, Daylighting and Glare Control, have been approved for Public Comment, and hopefully will be included in the new version of the IgCC which is due to be published in the summer of 2018. The Daylighting code proposal focuses on the performance compliance path and references the daylighting performance metrics developed by the Daylight Metrics Committee of the Illuminating Engineering Society and published in LM-83.  The Glare Control code proposals seeks to ensure that an operable method of glare control is provided in commercial buildings to ensure the visual comfort is maintained.

This effort to develop a unified green building code could become the foundation for LEED Certification, and provides the basis for local and state building code jurisdictions to adopt a building code that addresses sustainable building practices. Widespread adoption of the IgCC would encourage and promote the design and construction of more energy efficient and environmentally-responsive buildings, including the integration of effective daylighting strategies such as the LightLouver Daylighting System.

Daylighting, LED Lighting and ROI

November 01 2015

Daylighting of architectural space is an integral part of architectural design. After all, humans occupy buildings, and humans desire a physical and psychological connection to the “outside” world. Additionally, all life on Earth, including human life, evolved under sunlight and our Circadian rhythms, which govern our daily living cycles and influence our mood and control our sleep patterns, developed in response to a connection to the outdoors. Apertures which connect interior building spaces with the exterior environment, such as windows, skylights, and atria, help define and shape the architectural character of the building, and thus are important elements of architectural design. Throughout history, these apertures have served multiple functions – view, fresh air, emergency egress, communication and so on. After the OPEC oil embargo of the mid-1970s, use of building apertures for their lighting energy saving potential – turning off or dimming electric lights when adequate daylight levels exist – has become an established strategy in new and existing commercial ( non-residential ) buildings. Thus began a trend which has had some serious unintended consequences. Let me explain.

Daylighting, LED Lighting and ROI (PDF)