Monday, September 24, 2007

Back to the drawing board...literally

Learning lessons every day...

One difference in building in a rural community versus an urban one is that building codes and other mandatory regulations may not be as strictly enforced (if enforced at all). And although the Greenbush project will be employing only licensed contractors, the general consensus was that architectural blueprints were absolutely unnecessary to obtaining bids and permits, and that the floor plans, elevations, and architectural specifications about LEED should be more than sufficient to obtain some construction bids. I was skeptical, but we are trying to build a project that local people could do in exactly the same way. So if they say they don't need blueprints...

Two months into the bidding process, and the project still had no solid bids. Contractors want to bid on the project but are skeptical on giving hard numbers without actual blueprints. I definitely understand and am now kicking myself; some of the green building techniques are different from the norm and the specs, especially about LEED, can be confusing. So right now we're bidding out drafters to draft the blueprints, and the project start date has been put on hold.

We're looking at Spring 2008 to break ground, instead of Fall 2007.
While this will sadden the Greenbush community (and saddened me as well), I am confident that this will end up working out better for everyone. The extra time will allow more education on LEED, Energy Star, and green building techniques to not only the building contractors, but to the general community as well. It will give Greenbush more time in the media spotlight. And it will ensure that the project is done correctly, instead of just pushing forward.

I also have to remind myself that this program is not about just building a "green" house; it's about green building education and utilizing local materials as an economic development stimulus; sometimes we're creating new paths than what people are used to, and it takes a little bit more time. I also remember that the Aitkin project started off just as slowly as this one seems to be, but that in the end, it was a huge success. So thank you to all of the Greenbush people that have continued to support the project. We couldn't get it done with your insight, help, and support. It's going to be a great project, just hang in there!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Credits WE 3.1 & WE 3.2, Indoor Water Use

One challenge I've heard voiced about LEED is that regional needs are not weighted fairly enough. For example, water consumption reduction is vastly more crucial in the dry Southwestern part of the US than in the lush Pacific Northwest, but currently LEED gives the same points for all areas across the US and has no prerequisites to follow on water consumption for dryer areas. LEED does require that at least 3 points are achieved through the Water Efficiency (WE) category.

Here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes we don't have large issues with water consumption, but that doesn't mean that we won't some day or that it's not important.

This specific category has a maximum of 6 points. We are trying for 4 of the 6.

As you can see, we're choosing two from the WE 3.1 credit, and one from the WE 3.2 credit. This is the wording used in our construction specifications concerning water fixtures:

All indoor water-using structures must meet the following requirements:

  • Lavatory faucets average flow rate must be less than or equal to 2.0 GPM
  • Showerhead average flow rates must be less than or equal to 2.0 GPM
  • Toilets, including dual flush toilets, must have an average flow rate that is less than or equal to 1.1 GPF
Note: We have not signed up for WE 1.1, which is a rainwater harvesting system, but we may include a rain barrel or look into this further later.