Meeting the solar mandate in California, silica standard enforcement, the release of a new construction standard in the U.S., and combating flood danger
Houston’s Lessons Learned from Harvey Include Lack of Awareness by Residents of Flood Danger
A lack of a coordinated regulatory environment for development and a failure to adequately warn residents of potential flooding dangers made flood impact worse from Hurricane Harvey, according to a new report. The report by Colorado nonprofit ISET-International, the American Red Cross Global Disaster Preparedness Center, and Switzerland-based Zurich Insurance, also recommended making flood insurance more appealing to home and business owners. The report precedes an August election that will ask voters to approve $2.5 billion in bonds for flood control projects.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall last August as a Category 4 hurricane and caused an estimated $125 billion in damage in Texas. Thousands of homes in the Houston area were damaged.
The report cited numerous steps that could have been taken in the years before Harvey that would have reduced the impact of flooding from area reservoirs. These included not allowing homes to be built in the surrounding floodways and giving adequate disclosures about flooding risks to home buyers.
BREEAM New Construction Standard Launched in U.S.
U.K.-based Building Research Establishment (BRE) has teamed up with architecture, engineering, and design firm HOK to introduce a new green building certification program to the U.S. The new program, BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) New Construction standard, will be piloted by HOK this summer. BREEAM rates the sustainability of buildings and infrastructure based on performance benchmarks.
BRE is bringing the new system to the U.S. after the successful domestic introduction of its In-Use standard, which allows owners of existing buildings to assess sustainability. BREEAM, with more than two million registered projects and more than 560,000 certified buildings in 77 countries, is the top global green certification program by volume.
BRE uses independent assessors to verify that the buildings meet BREEAM requirements. HOK will advise BRE as it adapts the system for the U.S. construction market.
OSHA Releases Memorandum Outlining Enforcement of Silica Standard
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a memorandum outlining the initial enforcement of the standard for respirable crystalline silica in general industry and maritime. The new standard establishes an eight-hour, time-weighted average permissible exposure limit, action level, and associated requirements.
Most of the standard's provisions became enforceable June 23. During the first 30 days of enforcement, OSHA will offer compliance assistance for employers who make good faith efforts to comply with the standard. The agency intends to issue interim enforcement guidance until a compliance directive for the standard is finalized.
Most California Builders Likely to Contract out to Meet Solar Mandate
Most California builders will likely contract out to add solar power to their homes. The Golden State’s new energy efficiency code requires most new homes to add solar panels, but all but the largest builders will hire specialists to install PVs, according to a California Building Industry Association official.
An exception is Lennar, which founded its own solar installation company, SunStreet. The company will offer solar services to other builders as well as Lennar.
DOE’s Building Energy Codes Program Identifies What’s Working in Efficiency Codes
The Department of Energy’s Building Energy Codes Program has supported research teams that gather baseline construction practices and trends across states. The study findings indicate that some key measures are met more successfully than others.
For example, the vast majority of window u-factor observations across states met or exceeded state code requirements, a trend that was observed across all states and climates studied. Similarly, cavity wall insulation almost always exactly met the prescriptive (R-value) requirement, although there was generally room for improvement in terms of installed quality.
Lighting observations were much less consistent, commonly ranging as widely as 0 to 100% high efficacy.