Archive July 2010

Understanding Effective Utilization of Materials Key Part of LEED Certification Process

The commercial construction industry evolves each year, with new tactics and techniques to help keep costs in line and, more recently, to help the environment. To that end, LEED certification continues to grow in construction, with as many as 20 percent of construction projects expected to be LEED certified by 2013.

The materials used in LEED certification continue to evolve. Builders receive credit for using wood that is tracked and managed by the Forestry Stewardship Council, which helps keeps forests sustainable worldwide. Other materials can also be key factors in gaining LEED certification as they allow for innovation points to be earned.

Recycling materials and the use of such environmentally friendly materials can create as many as 13 points in the LEED Certification grading scale, under the Materials and Resources credit. Those credits can come in a variety of ways, including the use of salvaged or refurbished materials. Builders can also gain a point by using at least 10 percent of its materials from a regional source, within 500 miles of a building site. Another point can be earned by having at least half of the wood for a project managed by the FSC.

All of those scenarios are just part of the LEED certification system, but coordinating that kind of project can be a challenge. Justin Black, LEED AP for CM Black, said that the LEED Certification process necessitates a thorough understanding of knowing where to find the best materials and how to incorporate that while maintaining a LEED certification strategy.

“There is a balance that you have to understand,” he said. “Sometimes, the distance to obtain the best materials can make it a challenge to maintain your optimal green building strategy.”

Black said the company is always investigating the latest LEED certification trends, as well as new ideas in the commercial construction marketplace. He said LEED certified projects are here to stay, and CM Black is ready for the changes that come as part of the process.

“We understand the challenges that companies can face when they investigate the green building option,” he said. “We always try to work with them to help determine the best course of action from the beginning. The more you know from the start, the more success you’ll have in meeting your goals.”

Signs Point to Commercial Construction Turnaround

Commercial construction has been one of the hardest hit industries during the ‘Great Recession,” but there are some indicators that show the business is starting to return.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported in June that major life insurers – which often create commercial construction loans – are starting to ease terms and lower interest rates for commercial real estate loan portfolios. Some architects are starting to see a turnaround as well.

Thomas Fridstein, the head of global architecture for AECOM, is one believer.

“We are seeing the private sector picking up,” Fridstein told CNN last month. “I feel like we’ve been through the worst, we’ve sort of hit the trough of the recession and things are on the upturn. We’ve had some major commercial clients contacting us about projects potentially starting up again, so that’s a very positive sign.”

Some states have seen a decrease in unemployment in the construction industry, including Maryland, where the backlog for commercial construction projects has increased 20 percent this year. Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist Anirban Basu told the Baltimore Business Journal that he sees that increase as “a sign that non-residential construction’s rebound is spreading beyond government-financed projects and is increasingly private-sector motivated.”

That’s an encouraging sign for an industry that saw a 16 percent decline in 2009 and expected to see another 12 percent slide in 2010 by the AIA Consensus Construction Forecast Panel. But that forecast may be revised thanks to the current indicators, which could begin the road to recovery.

“It hasn’t been easy in the past two years, but we are hopeful that this really is the start of the turnaround,” CM Black President Emmitt Black said. “We’re looking forward to serving more customers.”

Recycled Materials Making Big Impact

As green building grows, many construction companies are turning toward an increase in recycled materials.

Those materials can help reduce impacts on the environment associated with the extraction of raw materials and resources involved with making new products, and also help projects to earn their LEED certification. New construction that has at least 50 percent recycled waste diverted from landfills earns one LEED certification point, and new construction with 75 percent recycled materials earns two points.

Projects from across the country are using those recycled waste materials to keep costs down and make an impact. Here are some recently completed structures and their recycled waste figures:

•Orchard Garden Hotel San Francisco, 77 percent.
•Office Depot, Austin TX, 80 percent
•Nationals Park, Washington DC, 83 percent.
•Proximity Hotel, Greensboro NC, 87 percent
Maintaining such a high percentage of recycled waste can be demanding, but construction companies such as CM Black have used meticulous tracking methods to ensure an optimal rate. CM Black is currently constructing the Levine College of Health Sciences Building at Wingate University, and that building has an 89 percent rate of diverted waste to date.

CM Black uses a certified waste report for the project, which tracks all materials in the project and how they are currently being used. CM Black officials receive regular reports, and can then determine how efficiently materials are being used.

“We want to know exactly where everything is going and how it is being used,” said Justin Black, LEEP AP for CM Black. “This system allows us to do that.”

That kind of meticulous following is also useful to earn LEED certification points. The U.S. Green Building Council recommends that builders use several techniques to reach such a high standard, and CM Black uses many of them. CM Black has designated haulers for the materials, and has implemented a thorough construction waste management plan.

“There has always been a market for recycled materials and waste management,” CM Black President Emmitt Black said. “You always want to make sure your resources are being utilized, and LEED certification gives companies even more incentives to recycle.”

Wingate’s Levine College of Health Sciences Building Tops Out

CM Black celebrated the topping out of its latest project at Wingate University on June 22, with students, faculty and college administrators joining in the celebration for the Levine College of Health Sciences Building.

The 69,000-square-foot building is scheduled to be completed by June 2011, and will house the School of Pharmacy and Physician Assistant Studies Program. CM Black and Wingate officials celebrated the “topping out,” signifying that the structural steel frame of the building is now complete.

The celebration included presentations and a tour of the building. The new building is located on Main Street in Wingate on the University’s main campus. It will significantly expand the Wingate University School of Pharmacy, physician assistant studies program and make room for other needed programs in the health sciences field.

“We now have a magnificent building in the making,” said Wingate University President Dr. Jerry McGee, thanking donors and friends who made this project possible.

The June 22 event was capped off by the installation of the final structural beam which was signed by donors, school officials and School of Pharmacy students, who will utilize the building upon its completion in 2011. The steel beam will remain visible even after the completion of the project, located in the building’s attic level.

“We wanted to come up with a way for students to become part of the celebration,” CM Black President Emmitt Black said. “Obviously they are a big part of Wingate, and this will give them a way to be recognized in the years to come.”

The building will be the second LEED certified building in Union County. The architect for the project is Yates-Chreitzberg-Hughes Architects of Concord. The project continues a relationship between CM Black and Wingate that started more than a decade ago. Other facilities built by CM Black at Wingate include the Cannon Hall Annex, Hayes Classroom, The George A. Batte Fine Arts Building, and the Watson & Beam Hall three Student Housing Facilities.

“We are thrilled to have reached the topping out phase of construction of the project, and are still on target to reach our June completion date,” said Emmitt Black. “We take pride and value in our relationship with Wingate, and look forward to working with them in the coming year.”