iiSBE News for February 2010

IiSBE February Update 8 March, 2010

Stop Press!

Emilio Mitre, Director of International Affairs for GBC España, has informed us that GBC España has finally acquired the status of fully Established Council of WorldGBC, according to the decision of the WorldGBC BoD meeting in London, on February 28th, and a last interview on March 2nd. GBC España will keep its commitments as the Spanish Chapter of iiSBE, and intends to maintain and improve its presence and relationships within it. It is good to see a local group that has friendly relations with both of the global umbrella organizations.


The Seoul SB10 conference

Ten SB conferences will take place this year as part of the SB-series sponsored by iiSBE, CIB and UNEP on a three-year cycle. The first of the 2010 regional events took place during 20-24 February on the campus of Hanyang University in Seoul. The conference chairs were Dr. Sungwoo Shin, Dean of Engineering, and Jang-Yeol Sohn, President of the Korea Institute of Architects.

In addition to a selection of 140+ high-quality refereed technical papers, several keynote speakers of interest made presentations, including Mahjoub Elnimeiri of IIT in Chicago, S.K. Ghosh, a U.S. consultant, Jay Golden from Arizona State University, Shuzo Mrakami, CEO of BRI in Japan, Ken Yeang, architect (Malaysia and UK), Ronald Rovers from Zuyd University in Netherlands, Noguchi Takafumi, Tokyo University ,Toshiharu Ikaga, Keio University, Raymond Cole, UBC in Canada, and Nils Larsson, Executive Director of iiSBE.

The sessions were arranged in three symposia: SB Education, Very Tall Buildings (VTB) and SB, and SB evaluation. Jay Golden made a special presentation on the Sustainability Consortium, a very interesting U.S. initiative he has helped to launch along with Walmart and many other large U.S. companies and technical organizations. The purpose of the consortium is to improve all sustainability aspects (environmental, social, economic) of the whole Walmart operation and its supply chain. For the architects and engineers in the audience, this presentation provided interesting insights into a sector that is, for them relatively unknown.

More directly relevant to designers was the Tall Buildings session that provided many interesting views on the sustainability of various forms of tall building implementation, as well as the considerable lack of structural logic in many recent tall building designs. Several of the participants, including Shin, Elnimeriri, Ghosh, Yeang and Takafumi, have extensive high-level (excuse the pun) experience in designing very tall buildings, and Moro will shortly be leading the sustainability assessment of two VTBs in Torino, Italy. Given the increasing level of interest in such buildings in many large cities, the session was important in laying many facts on the table, although all agreed that intensive research on the performance of VTBs is needed before one can decide whether a sustainable VTB is in fact a possibility.

The conference provided an occasion for Andrea Moro, President of iiSBE, to announce the launch of iiSBE Korea, the latest of iiSBE Chapters to emerge around the world. IiSBE Korea is headed by Dr. Shin.


Pilot project for sustainable housing in Song do, Korea

The last day of the conference described above was devoted to a technical visit to three huge urban developments located in proximity to the Inchon International Airport. The project of most specific interest was a nearly-completed three-storey housing project which contains five apartments that are identical in their physical characteristics, but are designed to various levels of performance that reflect Korean performance standards that will be applicable to the period 2011 to 2025. The units will be heavily monitored, and they should provide a wealth of valuable information for the industry as it implements the new requirements.

In more detail, the project contains one baseline or reference unit, designed and built to current standards. The other four units provide step-wise performance improvements that will be applicable to standards that will be applicable in 2011, 2015, 2020 and 2025. We will bring you more detail about this project in next month’s news.


Seminar on sustainable urban development at NTNU, Trondheim

The Faculty of Architecture and Fine Art at the National Technical University of Norway (NTNU), sponsored a one-day technical seminar in Trondheim on 9 February. The purpose of the event was to discuss issues and possible development solutions that may be relevant to the forthcoming development of a large tract of urban land in Trondheim that will be redeveloped as an urban mixed-use neighborhood. The event was organized by Annemie Wyckmans of the Faculty of Architecture and Fine Art, and invited outside speakers included Serge Salat, senior researcher at CSTB in France and N, Larsson of iiSBE. The events in Trondheim also included a workshop with PhD students in the Department of Civil and Transport Engineering on performance assessment systems.


New iiSBE Italia website launched

The new year marked a re-launch of the iiSBE Italia website, with a transition from a static to a more content-oriented, dynamic portal. The new website uses Drupal, the open source software which also powers the new iiSBE website. The redesign included an overhaul of the graphical interface (which is part of the larger communication program of iiSBE Italia, to create a recognizable image both on the web and in the "real world"), while the new software offers higher networking capabilities, from forums to private workgroup areas, in order to make the iiSBE Italia website stand out in the crowd of Italian sustainable building websites. The future areas of development will be a Protocollo ITACA forum for Q/A's from Italian users and an Academic Network portal to help researchers connect and showcase their work. Currently the website already collects all the regional versions of Protocollo ITACA and showcases iiSBE to Italian speakers, with what might well be the most updated link collection.


ITACA Expert Training

In collaboration with the Order of the Architects of Torino we are working on the pilot course for professionals to become ITACA Experts. The participants will learn, in 40 hours, the basics of SBmethod and the practical application of the ITACA criteria through theory and examples. The final exam will focus on assessment, with a simulation of the ITACA application on an example building. The participants will be certified as ITACA Experts and enter the list of recognized ITACA Experts at national level. The pilot course is also the occasion to create the first ITACA handbook, currently under development: the lessons on criteria will be integrated with thorough documentation for the participants; after the course these documents will be the foundation for a structured guide to ITACA, which will probably hit the shelves by this summer.


Working with Regione Piemonte

iiSBE Italia has just signed a formal agreement with Regione Piemonte for the next three years for extensive support on sustainability. Starting from the past work on the Region's housing program (development and validation of ITACA self-assessments), iiSBE Italia has been awarded a stronger role in the process: new areas include the creation of a support desk for ITACA users, the development of ITACA assessment for commercial buildings, a new pdf-based assessment tool, the collection and analysis of data from the past two years of the housing program (ca. 120 buildings), and more. This agreement also confirms the assessment of the new Regione Piemonte headquarters; iiSBE Italia has assessed the skyscraper in the predesign phase. The work will now continue with the development of a specific ITACA tool for tall buildings in the design and as built phase, with the support of an international panel of experts from the iiSBE Tall Buildings Committee.


Green marketing and certification issues in Prague

Petr Hajek send news that the Czech Sustainable Building Society (CSBS) – iiSBE Czech and Envi-A Ltd. organized a workshop in late February titled Green marketing – international certification of buildings. The workshop was held in a new Czech National Technical Library in Prague and was focused to perspectives of building certification in Czech Republic. There were around 70 participants mainly from the developer, investor and academic areas. Five presentations were given by Petr Hajek, Antonin Lupisek and Martin Vonka from CSBS iiSBE Czech, Vaclav Matousek from Skanska Property and Petr Vogel from Czech Green Building Council (CzGBC). Petr Hajek focused on the general situation in certification on international level, including SB Alliance and EU activities. Antonin Lupisek showed some comparison of different approaches based on analysis of 17 international and national tools. Martin Vonka presented new version of SBTool CZ – assessment tool developed in cooperation of CSBS iiSBE Czech and research centre CIDEAS at the Czech Technical University in Prague. V. Matousek presented concept of SKANSKA international in the field of green certification oriented to the use of LEED. Finally, P. Vogel introduced CzGBC (founded in 2009) and presented its perspectives on building certification.

The discussion was very open and useful. Developers and investors are aware about the strength of green marketing. For this purpose they need internationally recognized certification tool with clearly and simply defined structure of requirements, to have the possibility to ask designers to design buildings to achieve highest rating in certification process. From this perspective LEED is considered by many developers and investors to be the best option, having already achieved marketing recognition around the entire world. Of course, LEED must be adapted to local conditions to give meaningful results, and this is not always done.

If we want to start more objective assessment of the complex building quality based on local/regional conditions, it is necessary to develop very strong tools based on internationally recognized certification methodology. In this context, there is still a major opportunity for the SB Method. Regionalized versions (SBTools) can link locally adapted international certifications to international certification processes – combining SB Method international recognition, SBA core initiative, CEN350 methodology and results of EU research within the FP scheme. An extremely important goal for iiSBE should be to focus on PR activities that will increase recognition of the SB methodology. One of the particular tasks could be collection of all buildings rated according to SB Method (by different regional SBTools like SBTool Verde, Protocollo SBC, SBTool PT, SBTool CZ). This could be used as a reference in recognition process of all SBTool family of tools.
It seems that in many countries the final solution will not be decision about a single rating scheme, but a parallel use of several rating systems. Developers and investors will probably prefer (especially in the near future) marketing-oriented tools (like LEED). A family of regional SBTools, adapted for specific national conditions but based on the complex SBTool international rating methodology and SBA CORE structure, can play important role in complex quality rating of buildings based on latest scientific results.

The essential problem is not a name of the tool but the quality and relevance of SB rating.