Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Updates on GREEN construction in San Diego

We're going GREEN!

This article makes me so happy to read about the popularity of energy efficient construction and features! (Link below from

A LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) designation is one of the most popular green certification programs used worldwide. The Executive Director of the US Green Building Council in San Diego reports that in 2016, San Diego had the largest number of new LEED registrations since 2003. It is now the trend to have energy efficiency in new construction and standards are getting higher and higher. This is great news! San Diego truly is the finest city 👊

A local architectural firm BNIM San Diego states they are shifting away from petroleum based products and they are designing net-zero buildings, meaning the total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on site. I hope to see more companies following their lead on green construction.

Green, greener, greenest

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The siding on architect Eric Naslund’s home is made from rice husks. 
“It formerly was kind of a waste product from the production of rice,” said Naslund, a principal at Studio E Architects in downtown San Diego. 
No longer. Rice husks are abundant, tough to burn and resistant to fungus. What’s not to love?
A host of green innovation is taking place in the construction industry today. 
“Recently, we did a high-rise downtown where we draped a 160-foot photovoltaic panel down the side of the building,” Naslund said. “That kind of technology wasn’t available to us 20 years ago.”
That photovoltaic panel is at Celadon, an affordable housing project. It’s one of the tallest solar systems in the nation and provides power for the structure’s common areas. The LEED Gold certified building sports a rooftop with 4,000 square feet of vegetation to minimize heat absorption from the sun, along with of host of other sustainable features. 
Changes in construction technology and design, and a growing demand for buildings that use less energy and water, coupled with increasingly stringent state building codes and local climate action plans, are producing ever greener buildings, said Beth Brummitt, president of Brummitt Energy Associates and a founding member of the San Diego Green Building Council.
“There definitely has been a maturing,” Brummitt said. “There’s kind of an explosion of things possible in a building now that there wasn’t 15 years ago.”
How green can you go? Pretty green, it appears. 
Among other things, buildings are being built with windows that open so fresh air can circulate, water is recirculated and used for irrigation, and instruments are installed that measure the performance of solar energy. Energy-efficient heating and air-conditioning equipment and LED lights are becoming the norm.
“From a project point of view, there are many things that can be done,” said Philip Bona of BNIM San Diego, an architectural, design and planning firm. “We have energy-efficient, double-glazed windows that we use. The walls all have some insulation.”
There’s also been a shift away from petroleum-based products, which can cause so-called sick building syndrome, to water-based materials.
Bona said his firm has moved forward into the design of net-zero buildings, those that produce enough energy to meet their own needs.
His firm designed Qualcomm’s Pacific Center Campus, two buildings that received LEED Gold certification. 
“The buildings’ east-west solar orientation and narrow floor plates promote natural ventilation and daylighting, and a high-performance façade design controls heat gain and glare,” the firm notes on its website. 
The complex includes a vegetable and herb garden, with the produce grown being used by the building’s cafeteria. The development won ENR magazine’s California’s Best Projects 2016 in the Office/Retail/Mixed-Use category for Southern California.
By state law, new residential buildings must meet net-zero standards by 2020, and new commercial buildings must comply by 2030, Brummitt said.
“In California, it’s becoming less a question of popularity and more a question of what the building code is requiring us to do,” said Paulina Lis, executive director of the U.S. Green Building Council - San Diego.
Brummitt said changing building codes and legislation has made even the worst building you can legally build in California today much better than those built in the past. 
“That reachable bar has gotten higher and higher, better and better,” Brummitt said. A green building built using the latest standards “might use one-third to one-half of the energy that it used 15 years ago,” she said.
Calina Ferraro, mechanical principal with Randall Lamb Associates, an engineering consulting company, said there’s strong emphasis on controls on the mechanical side and also on lighting to ensure that only what is needed is used.
New buildings have sensors that monitor lighting, heating and air-conditioning and turn them on and off as needed.
Similar attention is being paid to water consumption.
According to a study prepared for the California Homebuilding Foundation, a home built in 2015 uses 38.5 percent less water than a home built in 2005, and 47.75 percent less than a home built in 1980.
Kristen Victor, founder of Sustainability Matters, said her firm has designed water filtration systems that use rocks, sand and plants instead of traditional mechanical filtration, creating a garden-like appearance “so it’s not an eyesore.”
“We’re starting to see that much more mainstream in communities, in developments, in homeowner associations,” Victor said. “The public doesn’t even know it’s actually cleaning water.” 
Her company also emphasizes the use of natural lighting in buildings to save energy and create a more pleasant work environment.
“There’s been plenty of studies done that show designing buildings around the actual daylight, around natural ventilation and open spaces, increases the happy factor with people, so to speak,” Victor said. “What I’m seeing more often is fixed windows in combination with operable windows.”
Her firm helped make a Mission Hills restaurant, The Patio on Goldfinch, one of San Diego’s energy efficient eateries. The restaurant’s energy reduction strategies include natural ventilation with open-air patios; temperature sensitive operable windows; daylighting; high-efficiency mechanical systems; LED lighting; and phase-change material above the kitchen’s hard-lid ceiling to control the thermal heat load.
And it’s known for its food, too. 
Not so long ago, it was a rarity for new buildings to achieve LEED designations through the U.S. Green Building Council, Brummitt said. LEED rankings come in four levels — certified, silver, gold and platinum.
A LEED designation indicates that a building meets certain conservation standards, using less energy and water and emitting fewer greenhouse gases. There are other certifications, but LEED is the most common and most familiar.
“Last year, we had the largest number of new LEED registrations in San Diego, at least since 2003,” Lis said.
The drive for ever-greener buildings can raise the cost of construction, but advocates say the cost of green building materials is coming down as more manufacturers enter the market, and the long-term cost of a green building is far lower.
“What we’re seeing is multiple manufacturers getting into the [green] industry because the technology has gone from emerging technology to commercial technology,” Victor said. “We just did a project where we did a cool roof, a reflective roof that reflects heat into the atmosphere.”
The green technology often doesn’t end when a building is finished.
“We’re using measuring and verification equipment to fully understand how the buildings are operating,” Victor said. “That allows us to see if there’s any waste factor.”
Because they use less energy and water over time, green buildings make economic sense, Bona said.
“Generally, construction is under 10 percent of the cost. The other 90 percent is really the lifetime maintenance and the serviceability and the price of replacing the mechanical systems and roofing systems,” Bona said. “We try to have products that might actually cost a little bit more from a first-cost basis, but in the life of the building, they don’t have to be replaced that often.”
Naslund said the push for ever-greener buildings is a market trend that is strengthening.
“It’s especially important among people who are younger and look to the future and say, ‘I would like [the environment] to still be viable for me when I get older,’” Naslund said.
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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Synergy One lending, my preferred lender

From left: Sindie, myself, and Kaitlin with Synergy One lending

I had a great afternoon yesterday having a few meetings at my office. The Synergy One team presented at our office meeting and had inspiring information for the agents in regards to the charity work they are involved with.
They are my preferred lender and always get the job done and provide amazing service! What is even more amazing is that they are involved with non profits and make charitable donations in honor of the borrower to charities they have hand picked to work with. They have 2 programs which are 'Buy a Home, Save a Vet' and 'Buy a Home, Save a Child'. I look forward to continuing to work with them for many years to come and have the opportunity to donate to these causes!