While stormwater compliance might be the first federal environmental program that comes to mind in the construction industry, the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) other half provides voluntary, "green" building tools and resources.
From ENERGY STAR to Environmentally Preferable Purchasing to GreenScapes, EPA provides guidance to help the businesses go beyond compliance with regulations to enhance the environment and human health-all leading to a company's competitive advantage and an improved bottom-line. For more information, visit www.epa.gov/greenbuilding.
If your company hasn't been asked to employ "green" building materials and methods on a project yet, chances are you will be soon. Environmentally preferable and healthy building practices for homes, offices, retail, hospitals, etc. are becoming mainstream due to rising energy costs and the public's increasing environmental awareness. And the market is responding to this demand with a mind-boggling number of building materials and rating schemes claiming their environmental superiority in as many ways.
The green building market is expected to become a $60 billion industry within the next five years.
While certain practices have become the norm for green projects, construction firms are increasingly finding not only new materials and methods specified, but new approaches to incorporating "green" in construction documents. A new model from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may set the benchmark for construction specs-helping to level the playing field among construction firms seeking to "go green."
Whose Role is It?
Think that green building is only the architect's role? Think again. Construction firms hold tremendous responsibility when it comes to the environmental performance of a building project. In fact, approximately thirty-nine points in U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) are dependent upon the contractor's actions. The following are just a sampling of the ways in which contractors can contribute to green building:
- erosion and sediment control
- construction waste management
- building material selection
- indoor air quality management during construction
- construction equipment retrofits to control diesel emissions
- oil spill prevention
- noise and light pollution prevention
- tree and stream preservation
- building commissioning coordination
The Federal Government: Leading by Example
Owning approximately 445,000 buildings and leasing an additional 57,000 buildings-the largest real estate portfolio in the world-the federal government recognizes that its facilities have tremendous impact on the natural environment, the economy and the thousands of people that work in, live in and visit these buildings every day. Stepping up to this responsibility, the federal government has promulgated a number of policies, mandates and Executive Orders that establish "green minimums" and guide federal agencies in their decision-making during the design, specification and construction phases of a new building and/or renovation.
Many agencies are incorporating ENERGY STAR (a joint program of the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy to promote savings plus protection of the environment) and the LEED® rating system into construction and renovation projects. In addition, several agencies have implemented their own green building programs and policies that raise the bar beyond compliance with the aforementioned green mandates and further address areas such as green power, healthy indoor environments, environmentally preferable construction products, low impact landscaping techniques and sustainable brownfield redevelopment.
And so, federal building construction projects are subject to countless environmental goals and mandates, including:
- The Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings, www.wbdg.org
- EPA's Final Guidance on Environmentally Preferable Purchasing, www.epa.gov/oppt/epp
- Greening of the Government Executive Orders, www.ofee.gov
- EPA's Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines for recovered content, www.epa.gov/cpg
- USDA's Biobased Purchasing Program, www.biobased.oce.usda.gov
- ENERGY STAR® and the Department of Energy Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) Product Efficiency Recommendations.
- The Energy Policy Act of 2005
- ASTM International standards, LEED®, Green GlobesTM and other rating systems and standards
The Federal Green Construction Guide for Specifiers
Despite these strong mandates, the federal government continues to face challenges in implementing green building. A key issue has been that, although a "Solicitation for Offers" may state an agency's general environmental goals for the project, there is often little guidance defining "green," and no means for agencies to ensure they get what they want in the end. To address this need for a comprehensive guide for procuring green construction and renovation services, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership with the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive and the multi-agency-sponsored Whole Building Design Guide, developed the Federal Green Construction Guide for Specifiers http://fedgreenspecs.wbdg.org.
The Guide is a voluntary tool, including more than sixty sections, organized according to the Construction Specifications Institute's MasterFormat. Developed with the input of numerous federal agencies, like the General Services Administration and the Department of Defense, as well as key private sector stakeholders, such as the Associated General Contractors of America and other professional and trade associations, the guide assists in specifying environmental performance requirements of materials and installation methods. The sample language-intended to be inserted into project specifications as appropriate to the owner's environmental goals-also prescribes the quality standards of construction procedures to be executed on the project. And key in building owners' efforts to demonstrate results, the guide lays out the contractors' submittal requirements. In addition, through a number of notes, the guide educates specifiers about life cycle impact issues, federal environmental mandates and helpful resources on green building.
What began as a Guide for federal agencies has grown into a practical tool for architects and specifiers working on public and private sector construction projects of all shapes, sizes and uses. The Guide reflects more than 100 public comments received from July 27, 2004, through January 14, 2005. The comments can be viewed at www.regulations.gov (Advanced Search: Document Search: EPAHQ-OPPT-2004-0092).
Near-term expansion plans for the guide include new sections covering: Commercial Kitchen Equipment; Stormwater Management with Compost; Rainwater Harvesting; Vegetative Roof Systems; Constructed Wetlands; Integrated Pest Management; Structural Steel; and Indoor Air Quality Management-Moisture Control. In addition, guidance for using environmental management systems in construction projects and for building on environmentally sensitive sites is being developed.
EPA intends the guide to be a living document-expanding into new sections and raising the bar as the green building industry matures. To review and comment on the Guide, go to http://fedgreenspecs.wbdg.org and click on the "comments" button at the bottom of each page.
Alison Kinn Bennett is co-chair of the U.S. EPA's Green Building Workgroup. She can be reached by phone at 202.564.8859 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The July 2006 quarterly release of the Unified Facilities Guide Specifications (UFGS)-used by the Navy, Army, NASA and other federal agencies to develop their project-specific construction specifications-includes updates of more than fifty specifications based on the sustainability approaches in the Federal Green Construction Guide for Specifiers. To view the new, "greener"UFGS visit www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_org.php?o=70.
Sections for which Model Green Guide Spec Language has been Developed:
DIVISION 01 GENERAL REQUIREMENTS
01 10 00 Summary
01 30 00 Administrative Requirements
01 74 19 Construction Waste Management
01 57 19.11 Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Management
01 57 19.12 Noise And Acoustic Management
01 57 19.13 Environmental Management
01 40 00 Quality Requirements
01 41 00 Regulatory Requirements
01 42 00 References
01 50 00 Temporary Facilities and Controls
01 67 00 Environmental Product Requirements
01 74 13 Progress Cleaning
01 78 53 Sustainable Design Close-Out Documentation
01 91 00 Commissioning
01 79 11 Environmental Demonstration and Training
01 78 23 Operation and Maintenance Data
01 81 30 Green Power Requirements
DIVISION 02 SITE CONSTRUCTON
02 41 13 Selective Site Demolition
DIVISION 03 CONCRETE
03 30 00 Cast-In-Place Concrete
03 40 00 Precast Concrete
DIVISION 04 MASONRY
04 20 00 Unit Masonry
DIVISION 05 METALS
05 05 00 Common Work Results For Metals
05 10 00 Structural Metal Framing
DIVISION 06 WOOD, PLASTICS, AND COMPOSITES
06 05 73 Wood Treatment
06 10 00 Rough Carpentry
06 16 00 Sheathing
06 20 00 Finish Carpentry
06 60 00 Plastic Fabrications
06 90 00 Alternative Agricultural Products
DIVISION 07 THERMAL AND MOISTURE PROTECTION
07 10 00 Dampproofing and Waterproofing
07 20 00 Thermal Protection
07 30 00 Steep Slope Roofing
07 33 63 Vegetated Roof Covering
07 50 00 Membrane Roofing
07 55 63 Vegetated-Protected Membrane Roofing
07 92 00 Joint Sealants
DIVISION 08 OPENINGS
08 14 00 Wood Doors
08 50 00 Windows
DIVISION 09 FINISHES
09 29 00 Gypsum Board
09 30 00 Tiling
09 51 00 Acoustical Ceilings
09 65 00 Resilient Flooring
09 65 16.13 Linoleum Flooring
09 68 00 Carpeting
09 72 00 Wall Coverings
09 90 00 Painting and Coating
DIVISION 10 SPECIALTIES
10 21 13.19 Plastic Toilet Compartments
10 14 00 Signage
10 81 16.13 Bat Houses
DIVISION 11 EQUIPMENT
11 13 00 Loading Dock Equipment
11 30 00 Residential Equipment
11 28 00 Office Equipment
DIVISION 12 FURNISHINGS
12 10 00 Art
12 48 13 Entrance Floor Mats and Frames
12 59 00 Systems Furniture
DIVISION 14 CONVEYING EQUIPMENT
14 20 00 Elevators
DIVISION 22 PLUMBING
22 40 00 Plumbing Fixtures
DIVISION 23 HEATING, VENTILATING AND AIR CONDITIONING
23 70 00 Central HVAC Equipment
23 30 00 HVAC Air Distribution
DIVISION 26 ELECTRICAL
26 50 00 Lighting
DIVISIONS 31-33 EARTHWORK, EXTERIOR IMPROVEMENTS AND UTILITIES
31 10 00 Site Clearing
31 31 00 Soil Treatment
31 25 73 Stormwater Management by Compost
32 71 00 Constructed Wetlands
32 10 00 Bases, Ballasts and Paving
32 12 43 Porous Paving
33 16 20 Rainwater Harvesting
32 90 00 Planting
DIVISION 48 ELECTRICAL POWER GENERATION
48 14 00 Solar Energy Electrical Power Generation Equipment
48 15 00 Wind Energy Electrical Power Generation Equipment
48 30 00 Biomass Energy Electrical Power Generation Equipment
Construction Business Owner, January 2007