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Clearly GreenSpeak
By: Eddie Bugg PE, LEED AP

Sustainable Retailers

12:04PM on Mon 14 Jun 2010
Following up on my previous blog post, I have to ask, “What’s keeping large volume retail chains from building green?”
Here are my “Top Four Arguments” for Chain Retailers to consider Sustainable Building Design:

 The Building builds the brand (or, weakens it) – Let’s face it.  The first image we have of a brand’s products or services is most often projected by the structure they provide for their employees and clients.  Green companies offering green products and services are expected to build green buildings.

• Increased Revenue – A no-brainer here.  Independent studies show that customers shopping in stores carrying out sustainable building design SPEND MORE MONEY. (Click here  to see summary of study from Heschong Mahone Group.) While online sales continue to grow, consumers often make their purchases on the sales floor.

• Improved Customer Experience – Natural daylighting, views, natural ventilation, and thermal comfort are just some of the attributes of sustainable design that enhance the customer experience.  And, obviously, glazed storefronts have been providing an effective means to showcase products and get consumers in stores for a long time.

• The Power of Volume Of all the businesses out there, Retail Chains should be able to recognize the value of efficient repetition.  While geography and weather can skew results, if one prototypical store (restaurant, bank, hotel, etc.) is designed effectively, many of the attributes can be repeated in other locations reasonably.

So, what do you think?  Are retailers building stores consistent with their sustainable messaging?  If not, why?

Best regards,
Eddie Bugg

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Sustainable Storefronts

4:01PM on Fri 14 May 2010
I think it’s time to raise the bar on storefront performance. “Sustainable Storefronts” can no longer be an oxy-moron. Higher performing, ultra-thermal storefront and entrance systems need to become the rule, not the exception. That being said, I wanted to take a look at where we are now and address some market misconceptions.
Question 1:  All things equal, when do transparent, ultra-thermal building envelopes have the greatest impact on overall building energy-efficiency —  on typical mid- to high-rise commercial office space or typical stand-alone retail structures?  To the surprise of some, we find that buildings with smaller floor plans tend to benefit the most.  Common sense applies here:  Glazed envelopes enclosing smaller areas (high wall-to-floor-space ratios) deliver the greater impact.

Atrium of
The Terry Thomas building in Seattle, Washington utilized Kawneer Trifab® VG 451T thermal storefront framing, and GLASSvent®  visually frameless windows.  Storefront framing was used for the exterior facade and the atrium (shown at left) on the LEED Gold certified building.
Question 2:  When is a curtain wall not a curtain wall?  Answer: When it’s storefront. The confusion lies in the product category verses the product application. Most readers will be able to define “curtain wall”, but how many times have you heard someone ask to apply a storefront product to a curtain wall application?  Clearly, the motivation of the inquirer here is product cost.  Consider the opposite and seemingly more common occurrence: Is it just me, or are we seeing more curtain wall product used in storefront applications?  One of the many reasons may simply lie in the fact that curtain wall products offer more sustainable solution options with higher thermal performance.  I’m inclined to believe that there is as much Kawneer 1600 Wall product erected in single span applications as in multi-floor curtain walls. 

What do you think? 
    Are sustainable storefronts possible?
        What would an “advanced” storefront look like?


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LEED: Minding the Gap

7:52AM on Mon 26 Oct 2009
Mid the gap-1

Most folks know that “Mind the Gap” is European for “Watch Your Step”.  More specifically, the warning points to an inherent space that exists between a mass transit vehicle and the stationary platform.  The question is:  What does that have to do with LEED?

My 2-Cents-Worth
Twocents1_60x50_ Well, I would hardly consider myself much of a blogger.  I still can’t imagine why anyone would want to read my thoughts on any subject.  But, when it comes to LEED, you’re probably reading the same kind of stuff that I am…

  • LEED is not perfect…LEED is broken…LEED is too subjective, etc. 
    My 2-cents-worth response:  To some degree, I agree…but, LEED is evolving.  While it may be far from perfect, there’s simply no better green building rating system out there.  And, the USGBC membership is committed to continuous improvement.  Do you recall the original version?
  • LEED building projects are underperforming. 
    My 2-cents-worth response:  I suppose it depends on how you measure “performance.”  LEED is not an energy code.  While this rating system weighs energy efficiency heavily, (unlike other standards) LEED drives other equally critical performance metrics (e.g. water efficiency, indoor environmental quality, building materials selection, etc.).  Bottom line, building projects are built for building occupants…they should “perform” for them too.
  • Who’s going to pay for these expensive sustainable building projects? 
    My 2-cents-worth response:  We’ve been “paying” for crappy building projects for far too long (consider high utility costs, poor personnel productivity, negative environmental impacts, etc.).  We’re better than this.
  • LEED is on the way out. 
    My 2-cents-worth response:  Who knows?  Not me.  I still can’t believe folks would prefer to type a message on a phone instead of talking on one.

What Gap?

I’ll leave these debates to other folks smarter than me.  I think most of us would have to agree that sustainable, higher performing building projects are here to stay…and, likely to be more prevalent in the future.  Shifting to a more practical question, let me ask, “What is your business doing about it?”
Architects get it.  The AIA were probably the earliest adopters…and, it didn’t take long for their clients to see value in sustainable buildings.  Even state and municipal codes have been mandating the change.  Architectural firms (and even General Contractors) responded by building internal expertise and requiring LEED credentialing.  Suppliers were challenged too.  Products needed to address new demands, perform to higher levels, and be made from high recycled content materials.  And, in most cases, new processes and procedures for project documentation were created.  After all this time, I have two observations:  For a lot of reasons I won’t take the space to explain here, the sub-contractor (in our industry, the Contract Glazier) is the most critical piece in the process…and, unfortunately, the Contact Glazier remains the least informed and equipped.  Herein lies “The Gap.”

A Suggestion
A few weeks ago I mentioned that I attended the National Glass Association’s 4th Annual Glazing Executive Conference here in Atlanta.  At that event, I broached this very subject.  I suggested that if the NGA, GANA, or Contract Glaziers in general wanted to streamline the process, they may want to agree on a standardized way to provide support documentation for LEED projects.  I have since spoken with some NGA Board members who feel the same way.  What do you think?  Would there be any benefit to working together on this...or, would this initiative be a total waste of time?  Looking forward to your 2-Cents-Worth…

Best regards,
Eddie Bugg

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LEED: Friend or Foe?

10:05AM on Tue 06 Oct 2009

What’s In a Name, Anyway?
I always smile when I see or hear someone misspell or mispronounce the acronym for the US Green Building Council’s green building rating system.  I’m not sure why.  I just got back from the National Glass Association’s 4th Annual Glazing Executive Conference here in Atlanta.  And I know Southerners, including me, are known to have some unique dialects, but I heard LEED constantly referred to in the plural form:  LEEDS, LEEDs, or is it LEED’s?  I don’t know.  The biggest laugh came for me when I saw the sign posted outside my Breakout Session room read:  “LEDD:  The Role of the Contract Glazier”.  I chuckled to myself before thinking that the room might be filled with folks expecting to discuss energy-efficient lighting.  The sign is now proudly on display in my office.  Fortunately, I don’t take myself too seriously.

Anyway, how come people don’t seem to have a problem with other acronyms?  You never hear anyone refer to the National Football League as NFLS…the Federal Bureau of Investigation as FBIS (that would be the Foreign Broadcast Information Service)… or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as OSHAs.  I once heard another frustrated LEED speaker say, “LEEDS is a city in England!”  Turns out there is one in Alabama too.  Me, I just post the logo above whenever I get the chance.  We all find a way to cope.

An Underlying Problem
I suspect the real reason behind this tendency is not related to speech impediments, local dialect, or poor geography.  I reckon it’s hard to pronounce or spell anything correctly until you know what it stands for:  Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.  The USGBC website sums it up this way: “LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system,  providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most:  energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.”  It sounds simple enough, but comprehensive rating systems can seem daunting and burdensome…like the AP Top 25 College Football Poll.

We can’t spell LEED because we really don’t know what it means…or, why it should mean anything to us.  There’s no denying that the LEED building rating system is becoming more and more popular.    McGraw Hill Construction (2009) “Green Outlook 2009:  Trends Driving Change” reports “The overall green building market (both non-residential and residential) is likely to more than double from today’s $36-49 billion to $96-140 billion by 2013.”  And, if you work in the building and construction industry, LEED has surely impacted your business.  But, in what way?  We also read about “green washing” and the higher costs of environmentally-responsible materials.  And, then there are the claims that energy efficient designed buildings are not performing up to their promises.

Blessing or Curse?
So, tell me where you stand.  Is Sustainable Building Design and the LEED green building rating system here to stay?  We’ve heard the negative impacts of poorly designed  buildings.  But, will a new rating system turn this around?  And, what about glass and glazing products?  Energy efficiency level requirements continue to be cranked up to challenging levels (made even more difficult by potential ASHRAE 90.1 changes) that transparent openings will be severely limited in building envelopes.  And, then there’s all the documentation requirements.  So, tell me:  What has LEED done for you lately?

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