Gaia Q1 / March 2016 Newsletter


Building on 2015's total of 15 projects and 4.186M square feet of LEED certified space, below is a quick round-up of the LEED certified projects since our December newsletter; we're picking up the New Year right where we left off! Six (6) more projects and 2.09M square feet have achieved LEED Certification!

+Watson Land Company Bldg 836 - (LEED-NC Gold) LEED, Energy Modeling and Commissioning of a 503k sf speculative warehouse/distribution center in Chino, CA.

+Watson Land Company Bldg 831 - (LEED-NC Gold) LEED, Energy Modeling and Commissioning of a 330k sf speculative warehouse/distribution center in Chino, CA.

+Douglas Park Shell Building - (LEED-CS Certified) LEED, Energy Modeling and Commissioning of the 142k sf shell building in Long Beach, CA.

+UCLA Saxon Suites - (LEED-NC Platinum) LEED consulting for the 86k sf renovation of residential suites. 

+Whittier Recreation and Family Center - (LEED-NC Gold) LEED Consulting for the 21k sf recreation, family, and community gathering/learning complex in Whittier, CA.

+Redlands Logistics Center - (LEED-CS Silver) LEED, Energy Modeling and Commissioning of the 1M sf shell warehouse building in Redlands, CA.

It's Elementary, Watson

The recent batch of certifications included Watson Land Company’s 19th and 20th LEED certified building. This total consists of one LEED-NC Platinum project, 18 LEED-NC Gold projects, and one LEED-NC Certified project. 

-          20 buildings (1 LEED Platinum, 18 LEED Gold, and 1 LEED Certified)
-          6,780,987 sf
Water Savings
-          1,641,015 total gallons of water saved from indoor plumbing fixtures
Energy Savings
-          15,236,940 total kWh saved
-          $2,148,018.32 total energy cost savings
Waste Reduction
-          108,700.59 tons of construction waste/demolition diverted from landfills

Per the website, the reduction in electricity use for these 20 buildings equals 10,500 metric tons of greenhouse emissions removed from the atmosphere. This mitigation of CO2 emissions is equivalent to the reduction of 25 million miles/year driven by an average passenger vehicle or 1.18 million gallons of gasoline consumed, or carbon sequestered by the addition of 269,000 tree seedlings grown for 10 years or 8,600 acres of U.S. forests. Well done, Watson!

Envelope Commissioning

By Landon Nemoto

Regarded as a construction best practice, Commissioning has long been a prerequisite for all LEED rating systems in addition to being a prerequisite for the California Green Building Code. Commissioning, a third-party-led process intended to enforce the Owner’s Project Requirements during a project’s design and construction phases, typically verifies the installation and performance of energy consuming systems such as HVAC, lighting, domestic hot water, renewable energy, and landscape irrigation systems.
Beginning with LEED Version 4, commissioning the building enclosure system has become an option for the enhanced commissioning credit opportunity, provided ASHRAE Guideline 0 and NIBS Guideline 3-2012 guide the process. These governing documents ensure that the enclosure is commissioned in a similar fashion to the aforementioned systems: review and document the design, produce a commissioning plan that outlines the process for the commissioning team, verify installation via checklists, verify equipment performance through testing, and produce a commissioning report to document the issues encountered and their resolutions throughout the process.
The California Green Building Code has taken a more gradual approach to enclosure commissioning, indicating that a project’s Owner’s Project Requirements may include discussion of any energy-efficiency measures desired by the owner, which includes measures related to the envelope.
The code’s nudge of reminding us to consider the building enclosure is likely laying the groundwork for the explicit inclusion of enclosure commissioning in future editions. This is a familiar routine, an opening salvo in the usual tug-of-war between “the way we’ve done it” and “the way we should do it” played in the hopes of exposing the most people to a new idea while angering the least amount of people with its gradual adoption.
Practically speaking, projects in this current code cycle are following a few routes. The most popular route is to wave a hand at the code—mention that the enclosure comprises high-performance materials while not requiring any enforcement of their installation and performance. This method conforms to the code and saves the owner money on enclosure commissioning efforts. Another route is to require enclosure commissioning in the OPR but allow the enclosure commissioning authority to define the scope of testing. This method does not expose the Owner to questions of what assemblies and materials should be tested, what constitutes a passed test, and what the procedures are to rectify a failed test. The last route is to incorporate the testing recommendations from the enclosure commissioning authority into the OPR so that the Owner, designers, and commissioning authority understand the enclosure performance goals early in the project. This last method is most desirable to deliver a successful building enclosure; however, this method is usually the least popular–industry inertia in action.
Some forward-thinking building owners and designers already implementing enclosure commissioning are doing so in a limited fashion, choosing to simply focus on matching the qualities of the installed components to their manufacturer cutsheets—for instance, verifying that the installed insulation R-value matches the design R-value. While this is a worthwhile exercise that satisfies the “verify installation” portion of enclosure commissioning, it overlooks the value of verifying the performance of the enclosure as a whole. Does the enclosure prevent water and moisture intrusion? Does it perform as an adequate air barrier, keeping the outside air out and the inside air in? A window matching its design specifications may negatively impact the building should its surrounding detailing allow air infiltration or water leakage.
So, what tests provide a fair indicator of enclosure air and water tightness?
A Whole Building Air Leakage Test is a simple but valuable way to measure a building’s air tightness. Test personnel temporarily install a fan blower door assembly at a chosen doorway to the exterior. Personnel activate the fan, both pressurizing and depressurizing the building, while an accompanying software program records the rate of building air leakage. This rate of air leakage should be verified against the allowable rate of air leakage given in the OPR.
Should the test fail under this constraint, test personnel can perform some diagnostic testing to pinpoint areas to repair. Thermographic imaging via infrared camera can indicate air leakage, provided the fan blower door assembly is active and given an adequate temperature difference between indoor and outdoor air. Also, test personnel can use a theatrical smoke machine or smoke bottles during pressurization to observe pathways where indoor air can escape to the outside. Typical air infiltration pathways include at window details and piping penetrations.
Chamber Testing of select window assemblies is a valuable method to verify enclosure water tightness. Test personnel construct and affix a chamber to the interior of the window assembly. At the window exterior, test personnel affix a spray rack. During testing, the spray rack sprays water at the exterior while the chamber is negatively pressurized; the window fails testing when water leakage in the assembly is observed.
Spray testing without a chamber is an option as well, as test personnel can use a spray rack or spray wand to spray the exterior with water. The test failure condition is the same—if water is observed within the assembly, the window fails. The project team should be aware of how many windows and window types are to be tested, as well as how many must be tested in the event of test failure.
These tests are administered by qualified professionals that provide the project team with written documentation of test results.
By performing periodic quality assurance site visits, the enclosure commissioning authority can reduce the number of enclosure issues discovered during testing. While observing installation of enclosure components, the enclosure commissioning authority can regularly interact with and reeducate component installers to ensure adherence to the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Further, components installed incorrectly can be rectified prior to being covered up.
To review, enclosure commissioning follows a similar outline to commissioning of energy consuming systems. In order to maximize its value, enclosure performance goals should be included as part of the OPR. The commissioning authority reviews the design with these goals in mind, followed by creating a commissioning plan to ensure that the achievement of these goals can be tested and verified. As construction progresses, the commissioning authority makes several site visits to ensure adequate installation. Once the enclosure is completed, qualified testing personnel test the enclosure according to the OPR’s requirements and the commissioning authority’s direction. Once all repair strategies are recorded and test forms collected, the commissioning authority provides a comprehensive commissioning report documenting the entire process.
Enclosure commissioning, while not mandatory, is an industry best practice gaining traction. By understanding the process and its goals, a project team can be confident that their enclosure performs as intended.

Upcoming Events

MGBCE - 15th Annual Municipal Green Building Conference & Expo
April 21, 2016 | Downey, CA

Greenbuild International Conference and Expo
October 5-7, 2016 | Los Angeles, CA
Greenbuild is coming to our backyard in Southern California!

ULI Case Study & Site Tour: LA Bioscience Corridor & La Kretz Innovation Campus
March 29, 2016, 5:30pm to 8:30pm | Los Angeles, CA

Southern California Development Forum: WATER
April 14, 2016 | Los Angeles, CA

Truth + Transparency: Confronting the Barriers to Change
May 11-13, 2016 | Seattle, WA

California's New 2016 Title 24 Standards
June 28, 2016 | Downey, CA

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved.
Gaia Development is committed to quality customer service and attention to detail. If you have any questions about our services or green buildings, please do not hesitate to contact us.

4051 Glencoe Ave Suite 5
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
(310) 591-8172