Whether undertaking a renovation, renovation/expansion, new construction, or capital upgrade project, library administration, trustees, and the municipalities they serve are increasingly approaching these projects with sustainability in mind, especially as more municipalities enter into compacts for energy reductions in public buildings by a targeted year. On this episode, we talk with Building Evolution Corporation's (BEC) Wesley Stanhope, BEC's Founder and CEO, and Ken Neuhauser, BEC's President, about practical steps you can take to plan for and implement partial and whole-building projects that achieve energy goals while not compromising on other aspects of building performance.
In this podcast, various companies and firms are featured, sharing their expertise and knowledge with library building project stakeholders in an effort to create a better, more informed experience. In no way does the featuring of these companies or firms on this podcast constitute an endorsement or a promotion of those companies or firms by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. These interviews are meant to serve as an educational resource only.
Andrea Bunker: 0:00
Welcome to Building Literacy: Public Library Construction, a podcast for librarians, trustees, and local officials who are exploring or undertaking a renovation, expansion or new construction project for their library. My name is Andrea Bunker, and my name is Lauren Stara, and we are the library building specialists who administer the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program, a multi-million dollar grant program run by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, the state agency for libraries. While this podcast is Massachusetts-focused, stakeholders in library building projects everywhere may find helpful information within these episodes. From fundraising and advocacy campaigns to sustainability and resilience to the planning, design, and construction process, there's something for everyone. If there is a public library building project topic, we have not covered, but that is of interest to you, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or me at email@example.com.
Andrea Bunker: 1:10
On this episode of Building Literacy, we venture into the realm of building performance and commissioning. This is our first in a series on sustainability for public library buildings. We're joined by two experts in the fields of sustainable design and building science: Wesley Stanhope, the founder and CEO of Building Evolution Corporation, and Ken Neuhauser, president of Building Evolution Corporation. Welcome to our show!
Andrea Bunker: 1:34
So as part of Building Evolution Corporation, you play a role as commissioning agents and also deal with building science and building performance. Can you tell us a little bit more about your company's role in the construction process and also the credentials that you both bring to your positions?
Ken Neuhauser: 1:57
Sure. So I would say our role starts long before the construction process that just wanted to add that because we serve as a technical advocate for the owner to make sure the owner's goals have represented in the design and and carried out in construction. So really, it has to start even before designed to make sure that the goals of the owner are articulated and understood. A lot of our clients tend to be institutional clients or research institutions, affordable housing developers, and these are all organizations for whom the function of the building is absolutely mission critical. But the people running the organization they have expertise in other areas than running buildings and understanding how buildings operate. Well, they might know what they need their buildings to do, they usually don't know exactly how to get the building there, and that's that's where we come in to help translate what the owners are trying to do. And this is people in our industry. I should say so folks in our industry and people that do work like us, they look at translating the goals of owners and operators and the trustees running these buildings into what is that mean in terms of the systems in the design and the construction and operation. So, Wes, I'll hand it over to you.
Wesley Stanhope: 3:16
Yeah, so typically we would start and the pre construction as Ken was speaking about. And that's where we would try to assist the owners with the question such as, What are the goals that they want with the project? And you know, what are the issues that they have with the buildings now? What do they want to address? And part of that is what's called an owner's project requirements, OPR. And it's setting down those that list of details of what what's a road map for that building and to address the goals and that could help guide the design team into, you know, what are they trying to address with the project. Is it the building enclosure, the mechanical systems, the electrical lighting upgrade for the building? And that will help define the design requirements for the actual project. So that is preconstruction, pre-design. And then we try to we, you know, we assist the actual design team with reviewing the actual design, so there's a lot of parts to the actual building. It's not just the building is singular, but as many components as the enclosure systems, which is like the walls, the roofs, the windows. It's what's trying to keep the outside out in the inside in and we're conditioning. One of that, we're conditioning the inside, and we're doing that with mechanical systems. So we are looking at what is the design? Mechanical systems that need to work with the enclosure systems, and they're usually different design teams, different design practices. But we are forming that bridge between the owner and design practices to try to ensure there's a holistic design to the actual upgrade, and then it's doing the actual quality control and quality assurance of the actual construction process itself. And part of that, Ken, do you want discuss about the actual mock ups for the construction process for the enclosures?
Ken Neuhauser: 5:18
Sure. That's one way of engaging in the construction process, where where things may be unfamiliar to the folks putting the building together, it's gonna be real useful to to get out there on site with folks, and help help guide the. You know in a mock up would be installing a particular component, let's say a window, to understand how the window is is going to work in this system. And then once that's understood, they could go out and do so on other windows do. But it's, the purpose of really engaging in there when something is unfamiliar, it's about helping everybody succeed, because you you certainly want the you want the builder to succeed. You want the owner to succeed and get what they're looking for, and you want the design to be successfully implemented. But if we. if people are siloed and have their head down, doing their own task and sticking to what they believe is is their lane. I think they missed the opportunities to collaborate and get success for the whole team.
Andrea Bunker: 6:18
And what are your respective backgrounds in terms of this type of work? And, um, I know, Wes, you have some library experience as well as a trustee, and if you'd like to expound on that a little bit.
Ken Neuhauser: 6:34
It's a good question. How did we get here?
Wesley Stanhope: 6:39
Yeah, so my background is in construction engineering and management originally, and I was over in Ireland and worked with design and rehabilitation of a lot of buildings on projects for about a decade. Um, and while over there got into liking a lot of older buildings and how to make buildings more effective and how to actually make them work better into the future. More sustainable but more energy efficient, more durable and effective. When I came back to America, because I was originally from here but moved over there for 17 years. So when I moved, when I moved back to my original hometown, which is Southbridge, Massachusetts, I became a trustee of Jacob Edwards Library, and, as a trustee there, working with Margaret, whose the director, not only helping with being a trustee, but also helped with the building itself in developing a plan for reviewing, analyzing the existing building systems and helping to come up with ways to shift the building into the future by looking at what building systems need to be upgraded because they're coming towards end of life for are end of life. And how would you come up with a capital investment plan to change those systems to better adapt the building into the future and be able to serve the community.
Ken Neuhauser: 8:12
And Wes, I think it's also fair to say you you've got a veritable alphabet soup after your name. You've done a lot of work to get a bunch of credentials in terms of commissioning, existing building commissioning
Wesley Stanhope: 8:24
Correct. So I also have a master's degree and sustainable design from Boston Architectural College, and I'm certified energy manager, an existing building commissioning professional and certified commissioning professional. I think I'm missing out on, oh, certified passive house consultant. So there's other other educational steps I had along the way.
Andrea Bunker: 8:45
Ken Neuhauser: 8:47
Yeah, I guess. I don't know if you need the whole background. It started many years ago. I could tell you that. I left a perfectly reasonable career in economics. After reading Jane Jacobs that went back to school for architecture. I was interested in architecture and urban planning with with the idea of how translating something I always wanted to do, which was I was always interested in how buildings work and how buildings get built and design of buildings, realizing that that's actually something that has social value and it could serve people to do right in the built environment. So I have stuck around for a couple of master's degrees and have been working not so much as an architect, per se, but I've been working in the energy efficiency and building performance field I guess the past, uh, a little more than 20 years now and have also taken some roles in my town of Maynard, Massachusetts. I've been on the Conservation Commission for a number of years and the historic commission as well and the School Building Committee, and I think all of these things are about how the our built environment interacts with our community and our natural environment around us. The work that we've been involved with, I think we both were deeply involved with energy efficiency, energy audits, utility efficiency programs, which was great in getting us out there. Lots of hands on looking at buildings, face to face, involved with project teams and owners and design teams and understanding that process very well. I think what was for both of us discouraging is that the energy efficiency would often become the driver. Now it is very important. But it shouldn't be pursued at the expense of many other things about building performance, which are important, and the reasons that we build buildings like the comfort, the durability and the operability of buildings. So we, uh, we did after we overlapped in one of our previous companies. We worked together, and we realized that we both have this this notion of building performance as something much broader than energy and the idea that energy performance, energy efficiency is what you get when you do everything else right. We took these ideas. Wes got this company started and I joined him, and it's been it's been a thrill being able to get out there and actually deal with buildings the way that we think they should be handled. So I think we're really what's important is not so much dealing with buildings, but it's giving people that are responsible for buildings, you know, giving them good guidance and good advice to help them get the buildings to where they need to be to serve the people that use them.
Andrea Bunker: 11:36
I think often times in the public arena, public building arena, it's not something that they're used to pursuing. So I'm kind of curious about your different assessments that you do and I know that you had three different levels or four different levels of service that you outlined. Um, in some of your answers. Do you ever come into a project post-assessment days or into the design phase where there have been no assessments done or no goal-setting whatsoever? Um, and how do you handle that?
Wesley Stanhope: 12:15
Wesley Stanhope: 12:16
Yes, we there are projects where we come in even towards the end of the design phase, and buildings would have some fairly serious problems, and sometimes they would have problems or issues with them when it comes to durability or could be high humidity, could be issues going on with the actual mechanical systems, and the design is in full swing and it's not being addressed. So there are projects like that. We have some going on right now that we're working on that are similar to that. And it is sometimes difficult because you have a whole team, um, that are already been working on a project and have gotten, you know, it could weigh down the actual you know, for a few months working on the project. And now you're trying to tackle problems that either they did not see or maybe they did see but did not feel that was within the scope of the project. And it's indelicate because you're dealing with, you know, the design team, their people, and you can't just wrestle them into a change. You gotta let them see why the change is important both to the building, well, you know, to the durability to indoor air quality. If they don't take on the board, the actual recommendations, how is it going to affect into air quality of the building and how that's gonna affect the occupants? Whatever the issue is with the building. And let them see why it's important to make changes, even if they are 80 or 90% design phase, and hopefully, you know, a lot of the times they will take on board the recommendations. But you know it is, uh, is a thing you you take on delicately but stern enough that you have to show them what is the impacts of not doing the recommendation and let them see the ah ha moments of why it's important so that they could take it on board and adapt to the building design to make that improvement. Ken, do you want to expand on that?
Ken Neuhauser: 14:20
It's always tough to be brought in late on a project. It's, it puts nobody in a good position. You know that at that point, the budgets have usually been set and people have spent all their design fees. They don't want to go back and redo things. And the owner brings us in as a hired second guesser. Nobody likes a second guesser, but I think it's important to keep in mind that as costly as it may seem to take a pause during design and redesign things and do what I would call a pre-construction retrofit, if that better aligns with what the building and the owner and the organization need. Ultimately, it's better to spend those resources then, rather than have used all of the construction resources, which are usually orders of magnitude beyond the design resources. Organizations are going to spend a lot more on their contractor than on their architect. So we need to keep that in mind and help organizations avoid building in a problem because what they build in is going to be something they contend with for decades if not longer. Who knows when they would have the resource is to address an issue if it was built in. So it's it's worth getting things right at the design phase and it is awkward. We do have to approach it delicately. It's not great position to be in, but we try to keep our keep our eyes on what the owner is really looking for, and if we can steer it in a positive direction than the discomfort we go through in those awkward moments is worth it.
Andrea Bunker: 16:01
Before the goal setting and assessment phase, you're interacting with the owner prior to them having an architect or is there usually a design firm on board at that point?
Ken Neuhauser: 16:13
Ideally, it's prior to, but often there is already a design firm engaged and that process is usually rolling. I say it's better to do an assessment before engaging a design firm because understanding what the building needs, understanding what the owner needs, the owner can develop a really good, it might be in a RFP, or however they were soliciting the services. We can talk later about the owner's project requirements and by carefully crafting the RFP according to, that's the request for proposals, according to what the owner needs, that can self select among the pool of potential applicants, right? By saying what they really want, they would get people who are interested in delivering that. We're more likely to get folks who are capable and interested in participating in that endeavor. If there's already somebody on board, they may have a notion of of how to get the project through and what the project needs, and maybe they hit it spot on, and that's great. And I don't want to malign the industry. There certainly are other folks who could do that.
Andrea Bunker: 17:26
And can you talk a little bit about the different types of assessments that you do in that redesign phase?
Ken Neuhauser: 17:32
So different types of assessments, um, sometimes we're in there specifically trying to diagnose a problem, performance problem. Whether it's a comfort issue, run away energy use, air quality moisture. We get in there to try to diagnose and look at the interaction between the different systems and what is causing this issue. And in other cases, it's typically, especially before designing a project and before taking on a major renovation. It's it's a good idea to get in there and see if there are any issues lurking. So, for example, if if a library is looking at doing a major heating/cooling system, replacement or roof replacement or window replacement, it's a good chance that they've identified what the most urgent needs are. But what if there's something more urgent that's not on their list? And if they go ahead and spend the resources and then discover a year or two down the road that there was a real big problem, then the resources are gone, so it would be useful to go in there with a real open mind and just look at all the different systems of the building, crawl through it, attic crawl space, basements, inside, outside and understand where the building is relative to where it wants to be. If somebody takes on an assessment like that, then they could chart out a path for how to get to where the owner wants the building to be. And that may not be in the in the present project. It's probably something that will happen over time, but the important thing is to make sure that the goals of where the building needs to be in the future, that direction is set so that when there is a even a simple project is undertaken, in the short term, the owner can make sure that those, all those steps, are at least going in the direction taking the building where it wants to go, where it wants to be, and to avoid doing things today that are going create obstacles tomorrow.
Andrea Bunker: 19:28
So those assessments are key in terms of something you had mentioned in one of our previous discussions, which is planning forward or a building in general. And I think a lot of our libraries are experiencing HVAC systems that are now reaching 20 years and roofs that are having to be replaced. So these small upgrades, well they're really not small, they're large, but they're not a full renovation, renovation/expansion, or a new building project. But they are trying to meet some sort of energy efficiency as their municipalities make these compacts for either net zero or carbon neutral or LEED for their public facilities by a certain time. So can you talk a little bit about planning forward and upgrades in terms of what they should be thinking about to pursue this?
Lauren Stara: 20:27
And I would just interject that that would be both for an existing building and a potential new building.
Wesley Stanhope: 20:28
So you're looking at standards or how to plan?
Andrea Bunker: 20:39
I think that's interesting, because the standards... I think for librarians, we see these energy efficiency standards that are out there, and we think you build to that. But one point that you had made that really resonated with me is that you should look at what the goals for your building are separately from those standards. And if a standard happens to fit those goals, then that's optimal, but not designing to a standard without thinking about you're building as a whole.
Ken Neuhauser: 21:16
Andrea, I think that's exactly it. Too often we see, because people are looking for some direction as to what what represents a good building or good performance. So there are standards out there and check lists that people can go through. But we've seen too many times that that becomes really the driver of what the project is all about, and people end up, you know, we call it points chasing, chasing points on, for example, a LEED checklist, which, not that it's a bad idea to pursue LEED. But to make changes because they're in a checklist is not that's not a good rationale, for for making those measures. So what you said is is, I think true, the people responsible for the building, the operators and the trustees, really need to understand and set goals. What is the building want to be? What, what are the performance objectives for the project and get those really set and established. And then if there happens to be a program that fits, fantastic, go for it. But but we would not advocate selecting some standard and then letting that drive the design. You know, we don't think that serves the client's interests are ultimately that of the building. There certainly things out there that we think are great. We use passive house on new construction. I don't think, I wouldn't rule it out on existing buildings, either. There are programs out there and structures that help people. These really should be brought in as a matter of some quality control as just keeping people honest rather than being in the driver's seat. They're very good for that purpose.
Wesley Stanhope: 22:46
You mentioned about the timing, the life cycle timing of building components where you have, you know, libraries where there, which is any building but libraries where, you know, the boiler system might be 20 years old and it's got a expected life expectancy of 25 years. And maybe the roofing system is coming up on 30 years old. Different components have different life expectancies. They're not gonna let class 100 years for 100 year building. They have different cycles for when they need to be replaced. You could charter when everything was originally installed, when it was replaced, and come up with a life cycle of the components. And that's typically a facility condition assessment. But we put a spin on it and have a performance based facility condition assessments. And with that you look at all those components, when are they due for replacements and chart out a road map for these replacements and maybe an estimated budget for how much will it cost to replace that boiler, and how much would it cost to replace the air handler and the roof and the windows and those major components that make up the building enclosure and the mechanical systems and other systems as well. And it gives a road map of a budget into the future for system replacements. But then you add in the performance aspect. If you know that a boiler is going to cost, say, $40,000, $50,000 to replace, but the enclosure has improvements coming up around the same year as well, now you could start to see where things collide on budgets and impact your operational costs. But if you are able to leverage the enclosure replacements like, say, window replacement, roof replacements and improve the enclosure and you say add exterior insulation and wrapped the building with exterior insulation, you could bring down the heating requirements and then, instead of replacing the boiler and kind, you're looking at it holistically, and now you could replace it with maybe a variable refrigerant flow system or a smaller boiler, somehting that's more effective. In increments steps you could bring the building into a higher performance and better durability and better quality by looking at it over the long term during the normal life cycle upgrades that's required just to maintain the building. So getting out of that replacement kind cycle.
Ken Neuhauser: 25:13
That's really a process of using the capital planning process and predicting these major replacements and capital maintenance, using that to evolve a building to a different level of performance. By leveraging these components when they need to be replaced rather than replace in kind, ask well, do we want to go back to that system.Would we rather change to something different. Usually, when a roof is being replaced pretty obvious, that is the least cost opportunity to upgrade that whole roof assembly to something that can lower the heating and cooling loads. And similarly, when windows are being replaced, well, that's that's really the least cost time to make the increment and change how those windows work.
Andrea Bunker: 25:59
Oftentimes, we see the capital improvement plans on a five year cycle? Do you recommend it being longer than that? A long term planning process?
Wesley Stanhope: 26:12
Yes, because a lot of the actual building components are going to last longer than five years. And, you know, if you have mechanical like a boiler that was installed maybe seven or 8, 10 years ago, it will still have 15 years left on its life span. You're gonna wanna have more of, ah, 20 to 30 year outlook. The only caveat with that is nobody has that crystal ball to see what's gonna happen in 20 or 30 years, time or even next week at five years. Yeah. So we have a really good understanding of what the condition the building is today if we did an assessment of it and we got a good idea, maybe, of how it's gonna be in a year's time. But after five years, even two years, three years, four years, okay, It's kind of getting to being too far out... to if the maintenance of the building was to change slightly, it's that five year outlook starts to change drastically, but we still want to plan for financial upgrades in 10 years time in 15 years time. So at least you know how changes today or in five years, you know, impact that budget for the future.
Ken Neuhauser: 27:22
And we're talking about libraries here, right? And libraries, those air institutions that are really a part of our community and part of what defines our society. And so I hope we're thinking of keeping those community and society going for more than five years. So we want to be looking far into the future. And by the same token, um, we know that these are libraries. Very seldom does the library have gobs of resources to be able to go through radical change, which is why it needs to carefully think about where does it want to get to in the very long term, as a need to evolve and understanding as, West said that, you know, we really we none of us can predict the future, but we can certainly set long term goals and understand if we set a goal, each step we take should be in that direction. That's what the planning forward is about, and that's why we need to set a long goal so that we can understand and let that inform the steps we take in the near term.
Andrea Bunker: 28:26
Can you give us a brief overview of each of those different standards so that our listeners can hear a little bit about that?
Ken Neuhauser: 28:34
So you your interested in new construction, the ones that would be applicable to a new construction project?
Andrea Bunker: 28:42
I think for both. It could be or a renovation, we have a lot of historic structures that are renovated and expanded. But we also do have new construction is part of our program as well.
Ken Neuhauser: 28:54
Well, you know, I would start with just saying setting, setting goals and measuring things, and it doesn't have to be a formal program, you know. Understanding, for example, a simple metric would be the energy use relative to the floor area of the building, which is often called the energy use intensity. Even just looking at that would be a great start that would give people a handle on things. Looking at the budget over time for the tickets for maintenance and the service requests. Are there... How is the building doing as far as being able to not need a whole lot of work and upkeep. That would be a good measure of success. These are examples of things that I think you know that the library administration and and the people working there as well as trustees could come up with simple metrics and measures that are important. Beyond that, there are formal programs. Living building challenge, I think, is the, that would be certainly the highest standard to achieve. And there it's It's very ambitious. And it would essentially means that a building is independent on its site relative to energy, water, that it is beautiful by somebody's metric and that it avoids toxicity and its materials, achieves optimum support for human health and occupation and use, so that the living building challenge I would say that that is certainly the highest standard. I don't know if that's within everybody's reach. Both Wes and I have been active with projects that are using passive house and we find this. Again, this isn't the driver passive house of our work with projects, but we find that it really fits in well with an overall quality assurance and building performance motivation because it happens to be a really great risk management, protocol. Risk management in terms of managing risks of comfort issues, moisture issues, durability, systems not operating not working by having a really robust standard that is really out there, and people are drawn to it because of an energy and a climate impact motivation, and it certainly is fantastic for that. But the ancillary benefits and benefits entailed are those of great risk management. So those are two programs. I think energy star is one that's closer to entry level. There is, of course, LEED as well. Myself, I have an aversion to it because I'm I'm really not good with paperwork and bureaucracy. So I tend to, even though I was involved with LEED for homes pilots and getting those going and some early multi-family projects in the state to get to get those projects through LEED, I haven't been doing very much of that in the past decade or more.
Andrea Bunker: 31:53
So many of our libraries are more familiar with LEED, but we heard from the design firms that code and stretch code have caught up to where LEED was about five years ago. Um, could you give us a definition of code and stretch code and talk about whether or not you think they're doing enough for energy efficiency?
Ken Neuhauser: 32:13
I'd like to say and probably sidestep your question a little bit there, Andrea. Talk about, you know, what the building code is. And at the end of the day, the building code is what is enforced in any local jurisdiction. So it really comes down to interpretation and enforcement and empowerment of individuals. I just think it's important to establish off the bat. There's that distinction, sometimes disparity, between what is the written building code and what is the building code in effect in any community. So with that said, you know, the building code has certainly progressed over the years. But we do need to remember that the code is something well, it's limited in that it can only look at specific criteria and criteria that are easily inspected and verified. Performance and especially a holistic of performance doesn't really work that way and can't be achieved with a check box or checklist, rather. Code is great in that it can protect people from themselves or protect people from particularly bad practices, but it doesn't do anything to assure integration of everything together or a holistic approach. I think the stretch code gives a little bit more, you know, and whether there's some because of the way Stretch code works. And it's a leap frog thing where it leap frogs over the base code. And then we have the stretch energy code that gets ahead of it, and then the base code catches up. So it's it's sometimes depending on what year people listening to this, the difference is strong or less strong. But one of the things that's in the stretch code currently is that it does have some performance measurement requirements. So on the residential side there is HERS rating required, which is a third party who is in there, which is, I'm sure, handy for the building inspector to have somebody else who could be the bad guy running around it and pointing it at issues and then that that HERS rating also involves a blower door test or an air leakage test of the building. And that is something that gives you a good idea of whether things are well integrated because there may be the code compliant level of insulation, there may be the all the right nails that are holding up the sheathing, and the structure is is meeting the standard. But how well are these things put together is really the question, and a simple air leakage test is a good it's a good proxy for hell well the whole building is integrated. And Wes, you probably have some thoughts on that as well; I have been babbling on for a while.
Wesley Stanhope: 34:55
Well, yeah, the code is a starting point, you know, it's the it's not the finish line for a building performance, so it's, you know, it's it's the least that you need to do in order to satisfy the the building officials. So it's not. It's not something that we should necessarily be thrilled about meeting, you know? Yes, we do have to meet code, but it doesn't mean that we have a high performance building. It is looking at each individual component and specifying what it needs to be minimum in order to be approved. It's not necessarily looking at how does it all interact with each other to work and function as a building. I't looking at what's the minimum insulation level you need within a wall, but not how that entire wall assembly works to effectively maintain the indoor air environment. And how does that work with the heating and cooling system within the building. It doesn't go that far. So being able to take it to the next level and look at how does the building actually perform, how to improve the actual, not just energy efficiency level, but the indoor air quality and the moisture management inside the building is very important, and that's something that just looking at individual components we're not going to really achieve that. So it's a starting point. It's not the finishing line.
Ken Neuhauser: 36:20
And, you know, I would answer that code is that's the minimum legal standard we can build to today. Um, and we don't build institutions for today. We build institutions for the decades to come, so it's nice that code is there as a guard rail, and it does have some good safety standards, and it obviously it addresses a lot more than energy efficiency. But if we're building a building for decades to come, we don't want to use the standard of the minimum legal, uh, practice today.
Andrea Bunker: 36:57
So, code is really more reactionary than visionary.
Wesley Stanhope: 37:00
It's been like that for a few 1000 years. It started in Mesopotamia. That's where the first code was. And actually it was a performance based code where buildings were falling down and the King of Mesopotamia came out with a building code that said if a building fell down that the builder had to lose, um, value worth that building. And if it killed a person in that building, well, then someone in that builder's family would have to die as well. And that was the first performance code. Luckily, we don't have code like that today.
Ken Neuhauser: 37:31
That was the first building code, right?
Wesley Stanhope: 37:33
And then the next building code came around, which really was with London Fire, and we figured out you know how to make buildings and build communities closely together and limit the risk of fire. But everything was a reaction to to each other of when there was a fire, we figured out how to build things that were, you know, don't believe chimneys out of wood. OK, OK. And when buildings start to fall down when they get bigger, we figured out how to make them not fall down. So it's always a reaction, not looking forward to the next 20, 30 years of what could be a problem. It was we've had a problem for the past 20 years or 10 years, how do we fix that problem today, but not looking to the future?
Andrea Bunker: 38:14
And I think now we're seeing a shift in that mentality and our municipalities at least as they look at the sobering news about climate change and resiliency efforts. And more and more of our communities are trying to make these compacts for net zero or carbon neutral by a certain decade. We do know that if things are not addressed within this decade, then it will be even more difficult to achieve any sort of mitigation to the climate change that we're seeing now. Are you seeing a call for a net zero or carbon neutral buildings in your work?
Lauren Stara: 38:52
And can you define? Can you define what those terms mean, please?
Wesley Stanhope: 38:56
Well, what we're finding is that we have clients that are definitely concerned and are looking at how do they get their buildings and campuses to reduce the actual energy and carbon being consumed on their their buildings and campuses? They are concerned about the building's they're building today, the new construction and looking at constructing to high performance buildings, such as passive house or other, you know, just even without even being branded as a as an actual certification, just a high performance building enclosure, mechanical systems, and looking at what is the embodied carbon in their existing buildings or what's the embodied carbon in the new buildings that are going to be built because if we don't tackle the problem of the building materials that we are building with and making smart selections with the building materials, the energy efficiency's kind of mute, and that is if we're looking at two different types of insulations, one type of insulation might have two or three or four times the amount of embodied carbon than the other. So we need to be smart about what types of materials were selecting during the renovation or new construction to ensure that the building itself is not being, not intensifying the carbon problem and also look at the existing building and what can be retained because it already has the carbon inside of it through the previous construction. And that is an important aspect of retaining existing buildings. Ken, do you want to add on to that?
Ken Neuhauser: 40:34
Sure, I think it's... you didn't directly ask about existing buildings and historic buildings, so we should probably get back to that. But I do want address, you know, the question about net zero and carbon neutral, what do they mean, where are we seeing this? So, there's all kinds of different definitions for net zero. Basically, it means that on an annual basis, the site produces as much energy as it uses, and some people like to look at that on a source level, meaning, well, if we back it all the way up to the energy needed at the power plant, which is actually three times the energy that you actually get on site by the time it gets to the meter. Or do we look at just the property line, so there's subtleties to the way that can be defined. But at the end of the day, it's really about having a super low energy building and having buildings that whether it's directly on site or through some other relationship can be part of the generation of energy as well. The carbon that I think gets more confusing, often this is more about carbon being shorthand for carbon dioxide, or carbon dioxide equivalent, , meaning the greenhouse gas or global warming potential, right away I'm getting a little confused as well, this is something we need to think about in terms of embodied carbon. It's really, what is the impact that's represented by materials. And if we go ahead and manufacture a bunch of materials, we have to go ahead and mine the ore, we have to refine the ore, we have to form it into shapes, transport it probably through heavy trucking across the country. These are all the steps that use an enormous amount of energy and have an enormous impact, so if we are going to build a new building out of steel, we are going to face all of those impacts in addition to the operational impact of the energy that's needed to heat and cool and light the building as well as the systems and other energy uses within the building. That's a bit about what the definitions are, and I'm not sure that's helpful, but that's kind of the way I think about it. I will say that we are certainly hearing a lot of our clients, our institutions, our municipalities. They're wondering if it's possible. They know they should and maybe feel a little bit of obligation to try it, but haven't yet been convinced that it's possible. We think it is, but the biggest barrier to achieving a zero emissions or carbon neutral building is that we have to do something different. And really, change is the hardest thing, but it's not that we don't have the technology, it's not that we don't have the resources, it's more that we have to do something different, because if we want different results, we have to do something different. If we want buildings to perform different, they will have to be different.
Andrea Bunker: 43:44
And I know that often times are historic structures might be under partial purview of the historic commission, um, or at least consultation of a historic commission. If you're looking at the building envelope and changes to that, there are challenges posed by trying to satisfy both the energy efficiency and the historic nature of the building itself. Have you run into any issues like that?
Ken Neuhauser: 44:11
Of course. Yeah, very significantly so. I think you know it's this is good to keep in mind. We've already touched on this, but the historic building has a leg up because it's already built, right? Heard it said that the greenest building is the building we don't build, and you know, of course, the next greenest building is one that's already built because that only has to mitigate its operational impacts. But the third order greenest building and one that has to try pretty hard is building new because you have to mitigate both the operational and the construction and land consumption impacts. So historic buildings, existing buildings, they have a leg up because they're already built. And can we mitigate? The question is, can we mitigate their operational impact? I don't consider myself an expert, but I did actually, one of my degrees was in performance in the context of historic preservation. So I'm aware of some of the issues and the restrictions, the limits. But I think there's also a whole lot of misconceptions that are preventing us from addressing the performance of buildings. So I think there's there's more performance to be gained than people realize with existing buildings, even historic buildings. You know, for example, people often think we can't safely insulate on the interior of a masonry building. That's not necessarily true. That is true in some cases, but it's it's more. The answer is more of a it depends kind of question than no, we absolutely can't do this. And Wes, I don't know if you have some other examples, like exposed masonry, whetherthat's authentic or not.
Wesley Stanhope: 45:54
Oh yeah, over in Europe, you wouldn't have that. You don't have that when the buildings being renovated because they're going to re-plaster, re-render the outside of the building because, ah, masonry wouldn't be exposed. It's not supposed to be. But when it comes to the existing building, there's other on aspects of it. So Ken touched on, or we both kind of touched on the fact that there's the embodied carbon and there's the embodied energy within the building. But another topic that actually I spoke with some of my students on about two weeks ago was that you know when existing buildings that are in our towns, there is also the embodied community. And also a key thing for me as well as vernacular design. That if we have historical buildings that are built for the location, that is very important because a lot of buildings today are built with anywhere architecture versus the vernacular design that makes, say, for top of Massachusetts, New England andMassachusetts, Massachusetts. If you have the older historical buildings that are vernacular design, that's something that's hard to come by. And that's another type of embodied energy. These are buildings that yes, it does take some creativity and some thought process of how to make him perform. But they've already performed for a long time, and they've performed and provided service, and they could still continue to provide service. And the solutions to get them to being a higher performance building might not be as difficult as you know some people might think. It just might it wouldn't be the same as a typical modern day construction box that's anywhere architecture,
Andrea Bunker: 47:40
Can you defne vernacular design for us, please?
Wesley Stanhope: 47:44
Yes, vernacular design is the term used, especially if used back over in Ireland. But some of the especially back in Ireland. Vernacular design is an architecture, type of architecture, that is built in a locality. So let's say, for example, if you were to look at...Over in Ireland, you have roofs that have a 30 to 45 degree slope. They're designed to shed water with overhangs so It's a lot of rain in the country. So the roofs are designed to take that rain and shed it off the building. And if you you know there's different types of techniques that were that came apart, came to being part of the building design over hundreds of years of evolution, of building construction. And people get attached to that building design because that makes that building design, you know, an Irish building design. But if you go down to the Mediterranean Italy, they'll build the buildings different because buildings adapted and evolved for that climate in that location. And if when you come to New England, we build buildings different here than they would in a different part of the world. We figured out over many centuries how to build buildings naturally for our climate and for our community. And that is what's called yes, the vernacular design for the building for the area. Now in the past, 100, 150 years since the Industrial Revolution, we've been able to just pump energy into buildings and build buildings anyway we want, you know, glass metal boxes and you orientate, um, any direction we want. And we moved away from a vernacular design. And that's where we have buildings that are that traditional design that makes you say, for example, for house in New England to be a a salt box, you know, an old saltbox colonial, they were designed for the northeastern winds. That's why one roof pitch is actually lower down to one story to push that northeastern wind up over the actual roof and have less of an effect on the actual building when it came to the winter winds. That's a vernacular design that adapted to the climate and conditions and became a design feature that people have grown to know and love in a New England home. Now they don't necessary orientate the houses that direction. It's something that is embodied within the actual building that we don't get any more if we destroy the building.
Andrea Bunker: 50:12
So part of building new is also looking at your siting and for your energy efficiency and looking at your orientation, even though we might be renovating historic buildings and they might be greener because they're already built. Are there any advantages to building new?
Wesley Stanhope: 50:29
Yes. I mean, it depends on what building we're looking at. I mean, we can't just have a blanket statement that every building that's existing is better than a new building. Some buildings are going to have a lot of issues with them. And sometimes the amount of issues that are related to a building make it to a breaking point that investing money in the building no longer makes sense, unless it's like a national treasure.
Ken Neuhauser: 50:59
But and I think we have to be honest that some buildings are more a lesson than an example.
Wesley Stanhope: 51:03
A lesson for failure?
Ken Neuhauser: 51:08
Well, yeah, you know, we should learn from these buildings, not not necessarily emulate them. Some buildings just are that way, and we have. So we need some humility and looking at what we have built in the past.
Wesley Stanhope: 51:18
So you do want to expand so others know about that, Ken? What do you mean by humility?
Ken Neuhauser: 51:24
Sure. You know, sometimes we just have to acknowledge that, um boy, that it seems like, you know, back in the sixties and seventies. It seemed like a good idea at the time to import California architecture and have those aluminum frames with the glass infill. But we need to have the humility to acknowledge that that maybe wasn't the best idea. And we should probably let that go and move forward with something different. And this is really the part of evolution when when people say we don't build them like we used to, they're talking about the buildings that are still here because they've demonstrated some sort of fitness to their situation. And so what we see are the examples that were built appropriately for their for their resource available, resources and climate and locality. We don't see the many lessons learned along the way because those those buildings are long since gone. So there's there's that level of of humility when we look at buildings that were built in the past, and which ones do we want to take with us into the future and how far into the future?
Wesley Stanhope: 52:32
So we see the ones that are built at their time that were built way past code standards. If we look at a modern day equivalent, they weren't just built to code back in the 1700s. If they're still here today, they were built to a really high standard back then if they still survived.
Ken Neuhauser: 52:51
Yeah, I think I'm living in an example of one that probably is more of a lesson that an example. I've found, I have a 100 year old home, and I found many really, really creative things that kind of defy physics and gravity. But we're doing what we can to hold it together and keep it going for a while longer. You were asking about new buildings. What? What were you asking?
Andrea Bunker: 53:15
So we had talked a little bit about how the greenest building is a building that already exists. But is there a case to be made for building new? Is there an advantage from an energy efficiency?
Ken Neuhauser: 53:31
Yeah, yeah, I would just correct and say the greenest building is one that we don't build at all. Greener would be one that exists, but sometimes yes, building new, if the program and the project is to build a new building, we have the materials technologies available to us today that it's really not much of a leap to make a building that is a zero emissions building. We can make buildings today for zero to no incremental cost that that are gonna actually help us out on the need to reduce our greenhouse gases and global warming potential over the next decades.
Wesley Stanhope: 54:12
And get back to what I was saying there, too, that that sometimes you do have a building which is 100, 200 years old, and the costs for maintaining or upgrading it outweighs the cost for building new. And sometimes that's where the decision, is made to demo and replace, unless it is a national heritage building or something really significant, so you want to invest the money in. And there is, ah, facility that you know of that I to the assessment of last year that it did require does require a lot of work. And that's where decisions would need to be made of whether where the that facility maintains and renovates or find a way to replace the building. Because sometimes that cost is so high, is it better to go into a new building? And that's part of that performance conditions assessment to figure out what is the cost of replacements versus the cost of building new. There are case, that's why is that would be a individual, not a blanket statement, but individual case by case, you know, assessments.
Ken Neuhauser: 55:19
And I I think it's I will always want to qualify that. And maybe this is because I am, you know, quite ah, fond of historic buildings that when we make the comparison, does it cost less to build new, do we also get the same result? Because we can look back and periods of history. Civic buildings are beautiful and the resources and care that was put into civic buildings in the kind of construction quality where I said I could look up the hill it at an old, uh 1909 school building. And it has nice brickwork, great detailing and woodwork. It was not a particularly fancy building of its time, but the Pope can't afford to build that quality today. So we do have to recognize maybe it. It feels like it's less expensive to build new, but where he may not be looking at a parody in terms of quality between existing buildings and and what we would call an acceptable building today.
Andrea Bunker: 56:20
In terms of the historic buildings, you touched upon the fact that you can indeed make them more energy and efficient. But in terms of the cost, it might be a little bit more than what a municipality can afford. But if you plan properly, can energy efficiency goals be achieved with minimal impact to that overall budget with projects? Is it going to be always difficulty to make a building more energy efficient in terms of cost? Or can you your plan proper energy efficiency within that budget?
Wesley Stanhope: 57:01
Yeah, with an existing building, you have the advantage of cash flow. You're not setting out a large amount of cash on day one. If you have a good plan over the next 5, 10, 15 years of items that need to be upgraded and what are you going to upgrade to to improve the performance, you could budget the cash flow accordingly to shift that building into a better roofing system, a better deep energy retrofit for the enclosure over the next five years and then tackled mechanical systems. You could shift it into a higher performance over a five year plan or a 10 year plan, whereas if you have a new construction to get the demo the existing building and build new. And you need that cash today. Which would cost more? Not too sure, but you do have the advantage of the cash flow. If you were to renovate an existing building over time, as the capital improvements are required.
Ken Neuhauser: 58:04
I will admit that I have to concede that it's it's not always easy to fix an existing building. Um, I mentioned I have a 100 plus year old home, and a couple of years ago a friend and I we put in a ducted Heat Pump System. I learned a really good lesson. I learned that next time I'm gonna put in the ductwork first and then build the house because putting ductwork an existing building this really a bear. It's quite a chore. So it's it's not always easy to do what needs to be done and to move a building to better performance. And there's also that, you know, the the first do no harm. What we do know about an existing building is that it's working. We may not know why, but so we have to be very careful and proceed with caution that we don't do something that causes it to not work and causes a problem where there wasn't a problem before. I think in general we have the knowledge in our field to be able to proceed appropriately and do things that are safe to mitigate risks and to put buildings in a better position relative to their moisture risks and their comfort risks and their energy performance. But it's it's gonna be easy. It takes work, takes a lot of thinking and probably a lot of crawling around in tight spaces, I'm afraid to say.
Lauren Stara: 59:24
I just wanted to mention that I really appreciated what has been said about civic buildings and the cultural importance and how valuable historic buildings are. But I also want to make sure that our listeners understand that today we're talking about building performance and energy efficiency only, and and those are not the only factors in the decision of whether to keep a historic building or to build new. There is a huge factor of functionality in public library buildings that historic buildings really struggle to meet, and so we'll be addressing that in a future episode.
Ken Neuhauser: 1:0:05
Great. Thank you, Lauren.
Andrea Bunker: 1:0:07
So in terms of your commissioning work, I don't know if many of our listeners know what commissioning actually is and what the advantages of having it done are and what the different levels may be.
Wesley Stanhope: 1:0:21
Commissioning started with boats, actually, many long, long time ago. You don't want to send a boat out into the ocean to fear off storms and mighty waves unless you know that all the components work right for fear that it sinks so ships would be commissioned and tested and all the components and the whole system together would work before it would take on passengers and take out the seas. And then airplanes ends up being commissioned as wealth. But when there's a failure in a boat or an airplane it's pretty significant. When they bring on commissioning into buildings buildings, you know, fail, but usually buildings fail quietly in the background. There's something wrong with the building, mechanical systems or of the enclosure, and a lot of people inside a building don't even realize it. So what is commissioning? Well, it's looking at looking at the actual building systems, the enclosure with walls, windows, roof, as also looking at, you know, mechanical systems like the heating, the cooling dehumidification, ventilation systems, looking at their individual parts. So if you were to take a ventilation system, look at individual parts of the fans and motors, the actual dampers that adjust the amount of air come out to your spaces, then looking at the entire system itself as an air handling system, a ventilation system to see how is all those sum of those parts work together to condition the air for your location space and then to ensure that the entire system works as a building. The actual commissioning should start pre-design, as we talked earlier on, um, in this, you know, discussion. We want a start at the base of design, start pre-design and to to really do commissioning, you want to ensure that the owner sets out their goals and the commissioning agents should be there to help the owner figure out what are the goals for this project and then ensure that the goals are put, are incorporated within the actual design documents. And that's the drawings and specifications that the architects and engineers will develop over the design period, and the commissioning agent will no look in review holistically the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, architectural drawings and trying to be that bridge to make sure that, yes, those goals are gonna be achieved with the current design and when their construction starts being that quality control of the actual components going in during the construction and testing through mock ups, inspections and functional testing the components and systems to work effectively and then into operations. If it's all done from base of design through design and construction and operations, that's quality assurance. If commissioning, though, say, for example, not to pick on it but LEED commissioning that is stripped down commissioning. And that's where you have really kind of getting a little bit of design review and some testing at the end. And that's kind of more on the lines of quality control. And with that, it's, you know, did you... Ken you say it better than I do.
Ken Neuhauser: 1:3:43
There's quality control commissioning when quality control asks, Did you get what you ask for? And then quality assurance asks, Do we ask for the right thing? So it's it's important it doesn't do you much good to get what you ask for, if you didn't ask for what you need. So that's the importance of having the commissioning be quality assurance commissioning but also integrated throughout the design process and the pre-design even to help the the owner to find the goals. That's quality assurance, and there are different levels that are implemented. And obviously somebody that's as Wes described is somebody who is going to be looking at the designs for the mechanical and electrical and architectural systems. This has to be a person or an organization that understands buildings very well. But they what they do, though, is they represent the owner because they, you know, the poor owner, in the case of a library, let's say, they have enough to do just trying to try to keep that library going. They don't, we can't expect them to also be an expert in building systems. Maybe they are, and that's great. But if not, uh, how would a library trustee know whether the design is meeting their goals or not? So that it would be useful for the for the library to have an advocate on their side.
Wesley Stanhope: 1:5:10
It's important that the conditioning, you look at what kind of to what depth the commissioning come into a project. If you're doing the quality assurance, it starts with basic design all the way the end to operations. Quality control is design, and then a little bit of design and a little bit of testing sprinkled in. But as Ken mentions, there's also is, are you just doing some mechanical commissioning? Or is it mechanical and the enclosure and how does the building actually perform together as one system? There are a lot of commissioning agents that will only look at some of the mechanical equipment. And will just test to make sure you got what you paid for, but they're not looking at how does that mechanical equipment interact with the enclosure in the fabric of the building? So if there is a humidity issue, well, then it must be mechanical equipment's fault, whereas it might be the enclosure's fault. So being able to look from commissioning agent's point of view, having someone or a team that looks at both the enclosure systems and mechanical systems together in design, pre-design, design and then construction to ensure that the systems will work together to reduce risk for the owner is important.
Ken Neuhauser: 1:6:26
That's risk of not meeting any of their goals or requirement. Yes, and then is, so you talked about the commissioning process as it relates to new construction. But there's also retro-commissioning, and there is continuous commissioning and re-commissioning. Can you talk about those and how they might relateto a building?
Wesley Stanhope: 1:6:46
Yeah, so retro-commissioning it would be for building that has never had commissioning done before. So picture any of the existing libraries that you have that could be 5, 10, 50 years old and they've had different components over the years, replaced. With retro-commissioning, you would attempt to determine through design documents or details on the existing systems. How should those systems operate based on the original design intent, and then test the equipment to figure out how they actually do function or do they even function? There's times where you figure out that the fans don't operate on some parts of the system. Or maybe there's actuators if parts of the heating system that don't actually work, so that's why there's comfort problems or freezing problems in parts of the building. And so you do tests on the components to figure out what components don't work and why the overall system has issues, but you don't just stop there because that was designed five years ago or 15 or 20 years ago. What if that design from back then does not meet the needs today? Okay, codes might have would have changed, but what if that part of library was for storage of books, but now it's been re-purposed for a Children's community, you know play area or a different purpose. Maybe those systems do not function properly for what the new purposes or what the intended purposes for that location. So it's developing simple fixes or little capital plans or major capital plans for the library, uh, to better get the systems to serve current needs for the building with the existing systems or upgrades that's required to make it serve the current needs. Does that make sense?
Andrea Bunker: 1:8:42
Yes, it definitely does. In terms of our buildings and many of the libraries that we work with, it is rare to find an HVAC system that functions properly. And in our newer buildings, it's very difficulty for our library directors and whatever type of facility of staff that they have, which could be very minimal to none at all, to try to figure out these building maintenance systems and make sure that everything's functioning properly. So we're wondering, do simple systems exist within the parameters of energy efficiency, or does that have to be mutually exclusive? A simple system or energy efficient system?
Wesley Stanhope: 1:9:28
It doesn't have to be exclusive. There are systems out there that are simple are and there are systems out there that are more complex. And there are systems out there that start off simple, but then get layered on with more complexities than what need to be. Um, I've been into buildings where they would have had a simple boiler plant for heating, where maybe, say, four or five boilers for building. And they added in a control system to control the boilers together as a team and then secondary control added onto the primary control. And then a third control controlling the second control that was controlling the first control and even gets confusing trying to talk about it. And they were wondering why the system doesn't work and nobody knows what to do. And when I was doing taking a look at the building with them, I brought out some screwdrivers and wrenches and just disconnected two of the control systems and left it as one. And I said, well, get your HVAC contractor back to explain why those air there but just run it with this one for now because it was layer, it was adding in too many layers of complexity of controls. So you could have simple systems with relatively simple controls that could get you to a higher performance. And you could go to a really complex system that should be really efficient but maybe cannot be understood even by the people who install them sometimes because they're interacting with many other systems that that person did not install. So you have air handling units which are moving air around the building, and you have heating and cooling. And there's a lot of different systems, and there are ways of doing it more simple.
Andrea Bunker: 1:11:12
What are questions that our directors in trustees and other stakeholders should be asking in terms of getting a system that works?
Wesley Stanhope: 1:11:22
From the mechanical point of view, one of things that Ken and myself push for, is ask to design team to separate the ventilation from the heating, cooling, and dehumidification system. And what that means is that too many times the design will use a large air handling units system to try to do it all. And that's where it will try to bring outdoor air for fresh air for breathing inside of a space and exhausting here. And it will also be the system that's going to try to condition of space. You know, heat and cool it and dehumidify the space and moving a lot of air has got a lot of VAV boxes, variable air volume boxes, that are all these controls connected to each other where, as if we could try to separate that and just have a simple energy recovery ventilator, which is a ventilation system that will bring outdoor air into your building and provide fresh air, exhaust air out of places you want exhausted, but it'll transfer the energy between like heating. Transfer the heat or cool if you're on the air conditioning mode between two streams of air but not the air between them. So you don't get ah, you're not losing on energy for the ventilation. Then you're allowed you're able to ventilate your space to what you need, you know what you should be ventilating it for, but then you have a separate system that's providing the heating and cooling and dehumidification just for what's needed in those spaces. And it's a simpler, simpler concept and more effective.
Ken Neuhauser: 1:13:00
Wes, you said something there, well you send a lot of things? A key thing their key take away is yes, the ventilation system, it should be separate from the heating and cooling system. You also said that it's a heating, cooling, and dehumidification system and that's a I think it's a really important thing for people to grab onto as we as our buildings of all forward and we do better and better at making them more energy efficient. Well, you know the cooling load is starting to be about balanced with the heating load, and also we see that there's a Dehumidification load that needs to be addressed because there, if we do a good job, we're not gonna have that air conditioner running to cool things and and taking up moisture as it's cooling because we're already cool. But we still need to dehumidify, especially if we're gonna let people in buildings because people they cause all kinds of problems. So that's an important thing to make sure that dehumidification is part of it. I want to say one other thing for for the stakeholders of public library projects, that is, they should ask their designers what can we do with the building enclosure? The building overall, to reduce the loads? You were asking before about these systems that are really complicated, people seems that we can't get systems to work or systems that are that people can operate. Well, what we need to do is yes, make systems simpler, but also make us less reliant on systems, which, in other words, we need to reduce the load that we're asking these mechanical systems to carry. So if we can do that with our with our building enclosure and the way the spaces arranged, the kind of lighting and computer equipment we put in the building so that we don't need a huge mechanical system to handle the heating and cooling needs. It could be a very small and very simple system that would be easier and operate. Oh, and by the way, if it gets small, it'll probably be familiar because it will be a very similar to a residential kind of system.
Andrea Bunker: 1:15:14
So that goes back to the planning process, as you are speaking about previously, Wes, and how when you use your capital plan correctly, then you can go ahead and make sure that these different upgrades are done in advance of having to deal with your larger mechanical systems.
Wesley Stanhope: 1:15:35
Wesley Stanhope: 1:15:36
I was just gonna ask a while ago in the discussion, you mentioned the concept of deep energy retrofit, and we didn't really get into that. And I think that's something that our listeners would be really interested in because many of them are in historic or otherwise existing buildings. And they, there's not a major renovation in their future, but if there are steps that they can take to improve the efficiency of the current buildings, I think they'd like to hear about it.
Andrea Bunker: 1:16:09
And I believe that there's deep energy retrofit and there's partial deep energy retrofit. Is that correct?
Ken Neuhauser: 1:16:15
Which is yeah, that's a way of saying it's ah going deep with maybe a few components, which is not a bad idea of staging a deep energy retrofit. I'd love to talk about deep energy retrofits. So is that Is that what you're asking?
Lauren Stara: 1:16:31
That is exactly what I'm asking. I'm very, very curious about what that really means and how that works.
Ken Neuhauser: 1:16:44
Well, a deep energy retrofit is, I don't know if I can come into in all three of those words, because it's it's not just about energy, right, because it's about the energy, the durability, the comfort, the operability. But essentially what it means is retrofitting the building enclosure and the building mechanical systems to make it a very low energy, high performance building. So what does that mean? Well, it depends on what we're starting with, because there's different strategies that would be used in different kinds of buildings. Probably the easiest place to start would be a typical wood framed building, and let's say typical wood frame building, we'll call it a 200 year building, but do you know we put 25 and 50 year cladding on on these buildings, so at some point that cladding is gonna be need to be replaced the clapboards or the shingles, and that is the least cost great opportunity to vastly improve their performance of the wall. So a deep energy retrofit and there have been some books about it. Mass save produced a nice guide a couple of years back. A deep energy retrofit on a wood frame house would involve letting the people still live there and use the building, but you would essentially got it from the outside and wrap the building in first air control and water control. So you help the building to be airtight and have very robust water control layer so that you don't have leaks into the building. You can then add insulation. This is the best time to do it, and that will help. That it will actually done right can actually improve the durability of the building. And we would proceed around the building like so, the windows, you know, windows I'm actually looking at some windows right now that are, probably about 100 years old, but were probably not intended to last that long. So windows are a wonderful opportunity to reduce the energy use of the building because a whole lot of energy goes through windows, so if the window is being replaced, or even if it is going to be left in place and a window put over the window so that I know that sounds a little weird. But we could address the windows with all kinds of different strategies. But essentially we would significantly reduce the energy flows through the building enclosure. And then, when we significantly reduce the energy flows through the building enclosure, well, then we may wanna have a different kind of mechanical system, not just because the system we have is now oversized, but probably it's also inappropriate for the kind of building that we now have. We will, for one, probably want to pay more attention to cooling loads. Heating load may not be as significant. Dehumidification will be an issue, and also ventilation will be something that we want to take care of. And this is not that we can't open windows to get ventilation. Of course we can. But in the winter, that certainly doesn't make us comfortable. And if we do so in the dog days of summer, where it's really hot and humid out, opening the windows can actually present some real risks of damage and health problems inside our building. So ventilation becomes a becomes a system that we need to pay attention to in a the deep energy retrofit building. So at the end of it, a deep energy retrofit gets us a low energy, high performance building, and we have to acknowledge and recognize along the way that it's it's a very different kind of building than we started with, but I would say the good part is it's the building that is on that familiar site. The building can retain details that we can't afford to build today, if we're building new. People can continue use of the building, which is important. And at the end of the day, we're left with something that is positioned. It leapfrogs the current building standard. We can leapfrog an existing building to well ahead of current standards and give it, refresh it for another 50,100 years.
Andrea Bunker: 1:20:50
Is there any other essential information that our stakeholders in public library projects need to know for they embark on a project upgrade or a larger building project for energy efficiency?
Wesley Stanhope: 1:21:05
That's a further that we'll key thing is gonna be planning set out their goals before they actually undertake the actual design. Do an assessment of what you have there at the moment. What are the issues that you have with the building? What can you address now with your project would be a good idea. Just I'm just kind of recapping. What would be a good thing to do as well is set out the actual financial goals with a capital plan and have it be a performance based facility condition assessment to a capital plan, so you're not replacing in kind. And that's for existing building. And for a new building, what are the goals for the construction for the end product? We know it's going to be a library, but what are the what was the energy efficiency goals? But don't don't just well on the energy efficiency, um, what are the into air quality, the durability, that maintenance type of goals are you gonna set forward for the project? I know you mentioned about the issues with controls operations because what we find is that, you know, setting our sights on the actual other items, such as I would just mention the durability and the operations and maintenance and stuff like that that it will drag along the actual energy performance of a project. If we focus just on energy efficiency alone, we miss out a lot of the other performance factors which are more important usually to building owners. So set out that performance goals and ensure they are encapsulated within the actual design. And ensure that there is a quality assurance process throughout the design and construction process that can ensure that expectations are met and exceeded
Andrea Bunker: 1:22:54
Do you have anything to add to that, Ken?
Ken Neuhauser: 1:22:55
Sure, I think with with all buildings, the real key is for the stakeholders in the organization community to get together and understand what are the goals? And be ambitious I would say. Be ambitious and start early, because if we plan and set the goals early, it makes the goals less daunting, right? As ambitious as it seems, if we just go ahead and get started on it, we can get there.
Andrea Bunker: 1:23:24
Thank you so much for your time and for your expertise. This has been great. Thank you so much.
Andrea Bunker: 1:23:32
Now a word from Gideon Nachman from Communities Responding to Extreme Weather, known as Crew. They work with the Massachusetts library system on community response to climate change.
Gideon Nachman: 1:23:42
Uh, so I am Gideon Nachman from Communities Responding to Extreme Weather, CREW, and I'm here to talk a little bit today about our partnership with Mass libraries and also our partnership specifically around climate resilience hubs. First to give a tiny bit of background about CREW, we do stand for communities responding to extreme weather, and we are an environmental organization that is a sister program of 350 Mass and Devest Ed and we're part of a better future project. But while those two organizations focused mostly on the either legislative or institutional fight against climate change, we really focus on the response side. We're not about mitigation, were more about adaptation. We're not a political organization. We're not a fundraising organization. We're an organization that's dedicated to building it on the ground equitable communal climate response. And we do that by, uh, working sort of block by block, city by city, step by step to make that happen. Um, and we have sort of three main parts of our program, but first, our CREW teams, which are local teams that come together to do events in a community that are climate mitigation events and then we also have Climate Prep Week, which is the last week of September. Last year we had 100 and 34 events all across the state, and I just want to shout out again the libraries. 90 of those events were events of libraries. Those were held in 80 distinct libraries across Massachusetts. So really bravo again to libraries. And I would be remiss here if I did not thank Michelle Eberly and Madeleine Charney, who I worked with in the libraries, who are really great people and have helped me a lot. So thank you to those partners. Um, and then the last thing is the Climate Resilience Hub program. And that's really what I want to talk about today. Um, we have as of April 14th we have 14 resilience hubs across the state that are up and running and ready to go and have signed our MOU. And 13 of those are libraries, and they're libraries all across the state, from Cape Cod to Berkshires in between sort of metro West, area South Shore, North Shore. So really like again we're trying to get statewide coverage and so someone might ask okay, well, what is a resilience, huh? And for us, the idea of a resilience hub is that you have community anchor institutions that we know people we've talked to librarians, pastors, rabbis, community center teachers, etcetera who want to do something about climate change. But don't yet now have the time, effort ,or resources to. And you have citizens in those communities who need and want to also do something about climate change but don't know where to go. So instead of sort of creating a new program, we're trying to have this mismatch. We decided that it would be great if the community anchor institutions like libraries and houses of worship and community centres to become climate resilience hubs, and the people who already use their programs could then have climate resilience as a part of, uh, the resources on offer. Um, and so it might look different for each one. But we've had libraries host green teams and have talks and, in some cases, provide cooling when it's too hot out. People who are at risk of heat stroke and that sort of thing. And anyway, so there are three main requirements to be a resilience hub. The first is that you host one climate resilience event that is open to all members of your community a year, at least one, but you have to host one. The second is to provide emergency preparedness informational materials that we at CREW make and provide free of charge to your institution. And those are things like fliers and pamphlets about what to do during an extreme weather event. A heat wave, flooding, extreme cold. How to prepare a go bag for your family, all that. So we provide those to you. You just have to make them publicly and openly accessible. And then to put a little, the third is to put a decal in your window that lets people know your a CREW certified climate resilience hub. And then from there, you know, we work on sort of meeting the best ways in which you can your library, might have certain capabilities that others are not. So that's what we do. Um, and the reason why I'm excited to work libraries and my librarians in particular is that I really, on a whole, on the larger basis have not met a group of people yet who care more passionately about their work and take their ethos of being a free, accessible, open community centered, um, institution, to the heart. Every librarian on that has only been eager and excited to do more and wants to do more, and it's just been very invigorating to work with them. Um, sort of. I know lots librarians have more on their plate than they can handle as it is, and so sort of, this idea is to give the climate resilience program to make it very easy and make essentially have CREW do a lot of back at work. ad for you just to do a little bit of a front end work. I think it's on everyone's minds now, so I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that, you know covid-19 I think, has exposed and highlighted a lot of the iniquities that always existed that librarians, I think, have known firsthand for a long time. Ah, lot of the iniquities around class and race and gender and age and ability status, and covid-19 has really highlighted how stark some of those differences are and how unfairly distributed, um, and how many gaps exist at local, state, and federal emergency response. And, again, for librarians, this might not have been news. It might have just been sad confirmation of what they already knew. Um, but for the climate catastrophe that's coming and in some ways already here, I think sadly, um, unless we really start to prepare, it's gonna hit disproportionately along those same iniquities. And it's gonna hit the same communities and those are the same communities librarians and other people serve. So that's why we do this work. That's why, um, we feel it's important. We feel that emergency preparedness now more than ever, has been highlighted as a necessary part of what it means to be a functioning society. Um and yeah, that is why what CREW is all about and why we're excited to work with libraries and how thankful and grateful we are for the Mass libraries and librarians that have been our partners so far. So if anyone wants to get in touch with me or learn more about this program, they can go to climatecrew.org. That's our website or email me at Gideon@climatecrew.org. Thank you so much.
Andrea Bunker: 1:30:56
Thank you for listening to our first episode in our series on Sustainability. In our next episode, join us as we delve into designing sustainable buildings from the architectural firm perspective as we talk all things energy efficient with Finegold Alexander Architects..