CIRCA Receives Award for CT Coastal Resilience Planning

The Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation (CIRCA) at the University of Connecticut (UConn) recently announced a contract awarding just over $8 million to UConn from the Connecticut Department of Housing (DOH) for administration of a grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDR).  UConn submitted a proposal to DOH in June 2017 for the project, “Development of the Connecticut Connections Coastal Resilience Plan” (C3RP).

CIRCA, with the support from faculty at the Urban Ecology and Design Laboratory of Yale University and Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, will use this $8 million NDR award to develop the C3RP.  The planning process will involve extensive public input and coordination with state agencies and regional Councils of Governments and municipalities.

Through these partnerships, CIRCA will develop a resilience planning framework and assessments, develop implementation plans, assess flood risk, evaluate adaptation options, and engage stakeholders in New Haven and Fairfield counties to address vulnerabilities to future climate change and sea level rise.  The C3RP project will run through May 2022 and will extend activities from an initial 2016 award from HUD to implement pilot projects in Bridgeport.  This 2016 award led to a vulnerability assessment that includes maps of flood risk and social vulnerability and a conceptual resilience framework for the Connecticut coast.  More on these products can be found here:  In addition to the recent $8 million award to UConn CIRCA, additional funding will go to continue the pilot projects in Bridgeport.

In their announcement of this $8 million award, HUD highlighted the priority to “extend the existing planning effort to more communities in New Haven and Fairfield Counties with the goal of providing accessible downscaled inland and coastal flooding information at the watershed scale for inland and coastal municipalities.” When referring to the C3RP specifically, HUD said the award would “support the State’s efforts to bring these approaches to other at-risk communities along the I-95 corridor by contributing to planning efforts, including economic and climate modeling.”

Check back for project updates.

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U.S. Green Building Council Announces 2017 LEED Homes Award Recipients

Crescent Crossings, winner of the 2017 CTGBC Green Building Awards' Residential Award of Honor, has just been announced as this year's winner of USGBC LEED Homes Award for Outstanding Affordable Project. CTGBC wishes to extend its congratualtions to the entire Crescent Crossings team! This is a well deserved award and helps to put Connecticut on the green building map!



Click here to read about all of the 2017 LEED Homes Award recipients.

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Health & Safety Funding Available for Multifamily Property Owners

Announcing second round of the EnergizeCT Health & Safety Revolving Loan Fund

The Connecticut Green Bank seeks proposals from qualified applicants to fund health and safety improvements in multifamily affordable housing under the EnergizeCT Health & Safety Revolving Loan Fund. Obtained from the State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), this Fund consists of $1.5 million available as "gap funding" loans and limited grants that permit owners of multifamily housing, serving primarily low income residents, to remediate health and safety issues that must be completed in conjunction with energy upgrades.

Applicants must submit proposals by Friday, July 20, 2018, at 12 pm. Requests for clarification are due Friday, June 22, 2018 at 12 pm, and will be addressed during a webinar on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 at 12 pm.

To access the Request for Proposals, please click here.

To register for the webinar, please click here.

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LEED must be updated to address climate change

This article by Greg Kats originally appeared on GreenBiz.

Leed certification on building

This is part one in a pair of stories, adapted from a set of comments published by the author on an online discussion group from October to April. Part one is here.

Over the last 20 years, LEED has become the dominant U.S. green building design standard and is the most influential standard of its kind globally. This is an extraordinary achievement and has made for healthier, more productive and greener homes, workplaces, schools, hospitals and public spaces for tens of millions of families, students and workers.

But LEED has not kept up with the accelerating urgency of climate change or the availability of low and no-cost ways to deeply cut carbon — particularly from steep declines in the cost of clean energy options (such as the 60 percent cost reduction of residential solar since 2010) — that make these now the cheapest electricity source in most states. The rapid growth in the ability to buy onsite and offsite solar and wind under a power purchase agreement (PPA) structure allows LEED building owners to buy carbon-free power at a fixed price at or below conventional utility rates. These onsite and offsite wind and solar options allow most LEED buildings to switch to 100-percent, zero-carbon power at low or no cost — and in many cases can reduce the future cost of electricity (PDF).

However, in a world of accelerating climate change and fossil-fuel-funded denial, LEED has failed to maintain a carbon leadership role. LEED v4, the current version of LEED launched in 2013, was not stringent enough for 2013 — let alone for 2018. Many buildings receiving LEED Silver, Gold and even Platinum ratings deliver an anemic 15 or 20 percent lower energy use and CO2 reduction. Science dictates that serious green building standards today must deliver large reductions in CO2, and LEED must step up to this.

To address this urgent need, Kevin Hydes of the Integral Group, Emma Stewart of WRI, Mary Ann Lazarus of the Cameron MacAllister Group and I developed a proposal, "LEEDing on Climate Change," for adoption in the current LEED V4.1 upgrade process. The proposal would enable LEED to take a leadership role on climate change. It has been signed by more than 150 longtime green building leaders including David Gottfried, founder of both the USGBC and World Green Building Council, and LEED founder Rob Watson, and has been endorsed by groups including National Grid, Amalgamated Bank and HOK.

The proposal, submitted to USGBC in support of USGBC, has broad support on the LEED steering and advisory committees, as well as among USGBC staff. It sets out minimum levels of carbon reduction by level of LEED, reflecting the growing scientific urgency of climate change.

As the "LEEDing on Climate Change Proposal" noted:


A 2017 Scientific American article entitled 'The Window Is Closing to Avoid Dangerous Global Warming' warns that 'Deadly climate change could threaten most of the world's human population by the end of this century without efforts well beyond those captured in the Paris Agreement.' The Scientific American article quotes from a 2017 report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that states that; 'We are quickly running out of time to prevent hugely dangerous, expensive and perhaps unmanageable climate change.'

The moral, as well as the scientific, dimensions of climate change, have their deniers. Some deny the science. Others argue that responsibility for global warming can be left to future generations who will experience the largest costs of climate change but may have more money or technologies to manage or mitigate climate change. The moral or ethical aspects of when we take on responsibility for our own contamination of the earth has been spoken to directly by leading moral figures.

At the end of 2016, Pope Francis stated, "Every year the problems are getting worse. We are at the limits. If I may use a strong word, I would say that we are at the limits of suicide." Francis warned, "There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emissions of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gasses can be drastically reduced."

Current LEED CO2 requirements do not meet the call of scientists or the pope. But LEED has been able to change before and must do so again.

A LEED building that cuts CO2 or energy consumption by 15 or 20 percent is not a material step toward decarbonization. Buildings represent over 40 percent of energy use and almost half of the emissions changing our climate. They are central to any realistic rapid transition to a low carbon economy. And LEED — as the standard bearer for high-performance buildings — must be central to this transition. To lead, LEED must be a leader on climate change.

LEED immediately should be revised to require substantial minimum carbon reductions for each level of LEED certification, both for new LEED buildings and for LEED rating renewals.

For many or most LEED buildings, a combination of energy efficiency, onsite renewable energy (primarily solar PV) and direct long-term purchase of renewable energy can cost-effectively deliver large reductions of CO2 from building energy use. Like renewable energy, energy efficiency technologies such as LED lights, ground-source heat pumps and battery storage have over the last decade experienced deep and sustained cost reductions, making zero net carbon buildings increasingly viable. Onsite energy efficiency and renewable energy combined with power purchase agreement contracts to buy carbon-free electricity under long-term fixed-price contracts make net-zero-carbon building operations the lowest cost option today in a growing number of cities and states.

Deep cost reductions in energy efficiency and renewable energy also have made more aggressive green building standards such as the Living Building Challenge increasingly viable. But these newer standards effect less than one-hundredth of 1 percent of buildings. They lack the scale to rapidly drive deep carbon reductions in buildings necessary to limit the worst effects of global warming.

LEED can and must step up to this essential role.

If LEED fails to incorporate deep CO2 reductions as a requirement at higher levels of LEED, it will become increasingly irrelevant. Worse, by enabling buildings that are only marginally better on CO2 to claim a green mantle, LEED could impede the rapid, deep decarbonization we must achieve if we are to heed scientific consensus and the pope’s moral call to pull back from "the limits of suicide."

USGBC is considering adopting these minimum carbon reductions in LEED in its current upgrade process. It should be strongly encouraged to do so and applauded for its leadership if it leads on this. Stepping up to this role is both a scientific and moral necessity as well as an opportunity for LEED to fulfill its potential to be truly transformative.

You may find the proposal discussed above here.

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Home Toxins: Remnants from Antiquated Building Practice

By Shawn Tallet, Outreach Coordinator, Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center

The advent of sustainable building practices has resulted in the most environmentally-responsible efforts to date. Green building policies have been implemented in cities across the country, and the introduction of certifications like LEED and Passive House have made it clear that resource-efficient construction and technology are here to stay. While energy and resource efficiency are primary pillars of green construction, the commitment to occupant health and reducing environmental pollution are perhaps two of the most important factors in the process. New certifications like WELL and Fitwel recognize this and are being designed to focus on health and wellbeing in buildings. Due to the implementation of modern technology and sustainable efforts, most human carcinogens have been factored out almost entirely in building practices, including asbestos, lead, and formaldehyde. While these toxins have been used decreasingly, they can still pose a serious problem in demolition and retrofits, especially in underserved communities.

A Hazard to Health

Asbestos is well-known for its insidious effects on human health. Once lauded for its durability, strength, and fire-resistance, the material eventually fell out of favor with builders because of its carcinogenic effects. Although the mineral’s use in building products has been heavily regulated since the passage of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), any home built before 1980 runs the risk of containing asbestos. The material is commonly found in insulation (especially vermiculite), plaster joints and compounds, tile and flooring, and roofing. Asbestos poses an immediate danger when particulate matter containing loose airborne fibers is inhaled, which occurs when asbestos-containing materials begin to break down. The most imposing health threat caused by asbestos exposure is mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, stomach, or heart. Life expectancy of patients is generally 12-21 months upon diagnosis, and the disease has no cure.

Paint on the Wall

In 1978, the government placed a ban on consumer usage of lead-based paint, due to the health effects observed in people exposed. During the Industrial Revolution and onward through the majority of the 20th century, lead was most commonly used as an additive in paint. Similar to asbestos, the heavy metal was added to paints because of its accelerated drying rate, durability, and ability to resist moisture. But lead poses a tremendous health risk, especially to children, including behavioral and developmental problems, reduced IQ, and even seizures or coma at very high levels of exposure.

Today, lead can most commonly be found in older homes. Poorly maintained houses with deteriorating and chipping paint pose a risk for lead exposure, as well as lead-contaminated dust. Testing for the element’s presence can be done using a swab test kit, or a professional inspector can take samples to have it analyzed.

A Colorless Chemical

Formaldehyde is a chemical commonly used in building materials such as pressed-wood products, glues and adhesives, and permanent-press fabrics. Characterized by its lack of color, high flammability and strong odor, formaldehyde has been declared a known human carcinogen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The effects formaldehyde has on the body vary, especially due to the amount of exposure a person receives. Formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound (VOC) and may cause irritation to the eyes, throat, and mucous membranes at lower levels of exposure. Substantial or chronic exposure to formaldehyde can result in throat, nose, and blood cancers, as well as fluid buildup in the lungs. Factory and construction workers run an especially high risk of exposure to the chemical. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently passed an emission standard for wood products containing formaldehyde, which is anticipated to diminish health risks associated with persistent contact with the chemical.

The Future: Responsible Innovation

Green building practice has put mindfulness of toxins at the forefront of planning and development, and is sure to offset the remnants of a polluted past for future generations. The trend toward not only energy efficiency, but occupant safety and environmental consciousness seen in WELL and Fitwell practices, has allowed designers, architects, and builders to pinpoint their client’s exact needs while keeping their buildings safe to inhabit. Through persistence and adherence to changing policy, green building practice will hopefully usher in a new status quo for the construction, life cycle, and demolition of structures, all while making toxins an afterthought and remaining conscious of poor building practices of the past. 

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CTGBC.

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