Fin MacDonald

Information on me and my current projects

Tag Archives: green building

What is next for Green Building?

The theme of Greenbuild in Toronto this year is “What is next for green building.” With that in mind I have been thinking a lot about just what the future will hold. The LEED construction rating systems don’t contain any requirements for green building operations after construction. The LEED Operations and Maintenance rating system was created to remedy this, however right now it is under utilized. I think one of the things that will happen next is that more buildings will seek the operations certification as well. Recently the Empire State Building as well as Toronto’s TD Bank tower have both obtained LEED Gold certification under this rating system. These iconic buildings set a fine example for others and prove that LEED is not just for new buildings. By greening our existing buildings we move one step closer to the ultimate goal of green cities.

Green cities are another thing that will happen next. Both the USGBC and the CaGBC have buildings in their strategic plan as being a stepping stone to the ultimate goal of green cities. Before we can have this outcome we will face some significant hurdles. City infrastructure will need to be improved to allow buildings to share resources. The notion of net-zero will need to shift from the scope of the building to the scope of the city and this will require more advanced water and electrical facilities. I have no doubt that LEED will eventually develop a rating system or guide for green cities.

People will be a big part of what is next. I believe Emerging Green Builders (EGB) will play a significant role in the future. EGBs are young professionals less than 5 years into their careers or students. I am an EGB and our group was educated with sustainability in mind. We are freshly starting out and have our whole careers ahead of us. It is safe to say that we will be involved in whatever happens next for Green Building. I’m excited to be a part of it!

Final ThermalWise Update

With my summer work term at a close I can look back at a successful summer with ThermalWise. We were able to get the tasks done for the website we had set for ourself at the start of the summer, which feels great. AtlanticGreenBuilding.ca is really starting to take off!

We added a map to the website which shows products manufactured in Atlantic Canada. You can enter your postal code it it will zoom in on products close to you. This helps builders and owners find products that are from the area, and not shipped in. By buying locally you reduce transportation related emissions as well as help the local economy. Have a look at the map here.

Eight different videos were produced by us this summer, as well as 10 new or improved project profiles. The videos showcase green building projects in the area and include interviews with people involved whenever possible. These videos turned out very professional, and make the profiles much more interesting to viewers. The ThermalWise team has expressed an interest in hiring us to produce additional case studies in the future, which means they are obviously impressed with our work. You can view the project profile and videos here.

I’ve learned lots about green building products and services through this job. I was fascinated with all the innovative ideas that were put on the market in recent years. Researching these products has taught me a lot about green washing and how to detect it. By developing and sticking to strick criteria for listing products we were able to identify which ones were actually green and which ones were just faking it.

By developing case studies I’ve learned about and witnessed different building strategies. One of the most interesting was the combination of Passive House standards with LEED certification that was used by Passive House E-Design and Leonard Construction when building the Hawkins House. The Hawkins House is the first passive house in Nova Scotia and possibly the greenest home in the province. It uses Passive House which focuses on extreme energy efficiency, and combines it with LEED which contains the broader green strategies related to materials, energy and water use, sustainable landscaping, and design innovation. There is a workshop on Passive House and LEED combination at the Greenbuild Expo this fall and I will be attending for sure!

This job has identified a career path for me that I didn’t always consider. I’m really interested in Project Management. A lot of the work we did at ThermalWise was very dynamic. It was always different and required different skills and different planning. Project management is the business of working on different projects for a fixed time period with unique challenges and outcomes. When I look for my next job I’m going to try to find one that will put me to work in project management. This time of work ensures every day is different, challenging, and exciting.

NSYCC Debrief

This week is the end of my work term with ThermalWise through the Nova Scotia Youth Conservation Corps. The Corps held a debrief exposition at Mount Saint Vincent University to wind the program down. Each crew was responsible for putting a booth in the exposition to showcase our summer projects. Members of the community were invited to attend including the Minister of the Environment the Honorable Sterling Belliveau.

It was interesting to see what the different groups got up to this summer, and hear stories about their adventures. We all took part in a feedback session that tried to answer some key questions:
- What would you change?
- What were some of the challenges you faced?
- What did you learn?

Another event was a roundtable discussion with people working in the field of environmental science. They discussed what led them to where they were today and told us about what kind of work they did in their jobs each day. It was very interesting. This was followed up with a workshop on interview skills including some mock interviews. It is great to be told by someone who does a lot of interviewing what they are looking to hear!

I very much enjoyed my summer working with the youth corps and I think that it is a great program. I’ve learned a lot in my position and I’m sure I will take that knowledge with me as I move on from here.

ThermalWise Update

My two month work term with ThermalWise through the Nova Scotia Youth Conservation Corps is now half over. Things have been going spectacular so far. The office is a very dynamic place to work and there is always something new and different to do. The website Atlantic Green Building is coming along great and we have completely reviewed all the green products and services listed to make sure the information is current. We are working on adding a map of product origin so that builders can locate regionally manufactured materials. Buying regional materials cuts down on transportation related energy emissions. The LEED rating system also awards points for using a certain amount of regional materials.

The project profile section has been completely redone. We have been using a new format that includes background information, green features, and post occupancy performance. We updated all of the old profiles to the new format and added some new ones. The new project profiles we created so far are The Halifax Seaport Farmers MarketThe Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute, and Dalhousie’s Mona Campbell Building.

We have also been doing some video tours of buildings as part of some of the profiles. The most impressive one we have done so far is for the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market. I’ve embedded the video here:


Aside from the webpage I have also been able to take part in two different stages of the LEED for Homes process. ThermalWise is the LEED for Homes provider for Atlantic Canada and I was able to participate in a preliminary evaluation as well as a pre-drywall inspection. One of the LEED projects we are working on is also seeking the German Passive House standard. I was able to assist with the blower door test at this location.

The weeks remaining are going to be just as exciting and I will provide another update at the end of the term.

   

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