This Week's Codes and Standards, April 8

LEED v4.1 now available, the risk of ill-fitting construction equipment for women, renters' electric car conundrum, Chicago's passive house passes polar vortex test, and addressing affordable workforce housing shortages

By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | April 9, 2019
LEED v4.1 now available, the risk of ill-fitting construction equipment for women, renters' electric car conundrum, Chicago's passive house passes polar vortex test, and addressing affordable workforce housing shortages
Photo: Unsplash/Josh Edgoose

LEED v4.1 Now Available for Residential/Homes, Cities and Communities

 

LEED v4.1 is now available for residential/homes, and cities and communities. LEED v4.1 certification emphasizes performance monitoring, fully integrated design, social equity and human health factors. For the residential market, LEED v4.1 combines aspects from four previously-existing LEED for homes rating systems (LEED for Low-rise homes, LEED for Midrise Homes, LEED for Core and Shell and LEED for New Construction) into three rating systems – LEED v4.1 Residential: New Single-family homes, LEED v4.1 Residential: New Multifamily homes and LEED v4.1 New Multifamily homes core and shell.

The updated rating system is designed to make the decision to implement LEED easier for residential projects. LEED credits that have a higher value to homeowners and residents, such as health and well-being improved comfort, energy and water savings, green and healthy materials, are prioritized. Options have been added to existing LEED credits that lower both hard and soft costs to achieve certification.

For the LEED for Cities and LEED for Communities rating systems, LEED v4.1 expands on the earlier performance-based approach to support planning, design, operation and performance management phases of new and existing cities and communities.

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Employers at Risk When Using Construction Equipment not Sized for Women

 

Poorly fitting equipment is a leading cause of injury in service members, according to a recent Department of Defense report. The military has had difficulty supplying women with correctly fitted equipment, and construction companies face the same challenge. Ill-fitting gear can pose safety risks including snagging on ladders and exposing the body to hazards.

Companies that don’t address this issue risk losing workers they try hard to attract and retain, and they could expose themselves to lawsuits for injuries or for failing to provide equal opportunity if a lack of equipment means a woman can’t do her job. According to a review of more than 330 union contracts in the last five years by Bloomberg Law, provisions on personal protective equipment were included but none included language covering gender-specific gear. One expert says employers should put pressure on equipment vendors to supply appropriately fitted gear for women.

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Renters who Want to Drive Electric Cars with Solar Power have Limited Options

 

It’s possible for eco-conscious renters to drive electric cars powered by the sun, but it takes extra effort. When putting solar panels on the roof of the home is not an option, electric car owners might be able to purchase vehicle solar panels or portable solar panels that are placed on the property if the landlord allows them.

Community solar, where you buy solar power from your utility or through a third party that runs the solar farm, is an indirect way to drive by the power of the sun. Another option is a renewal energy tariff with the local utility. This method pays the power company a little more every month to get a guarantee that the local grid gets renewables added to at least offset an individual’s usage.

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Chicago Passive House Successfully Passes Polar Vortex Test

 

A Chicago house built to Passivhaus standards was able to keep the interior comfortable even when the mercury plunged to -24°F this past winter. Ellis Passivhaus, a renovation and reconstruction built to the EnerPHit (renovation) standard, used just a Mitsubishi air source heat pump during the bitter cold snap.
 
Conventional wisdom has held that heat pumps are not efficient at such low temperatures, but that wasn’t the case at Ellis Passivhaus. The home maintained an interior temperature of greater than 71°F throughout the polar vortex event while using roughly 10% of energy of the average Chicago home.

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New Initiatives Address Shortage of Affordable Workforce Housing

 

There’s an acute shortage of affordable housing in many areas of the U.S., but a couple of notable programs have emerged recently to address it. Two initiatives, one in California and one nationwide, may be paving the way for the development of more affordable and workforce housing.
 
California recently expanded its two-year old multifamily Mixed-Income Loan Program, designed to address the so-called “missing middle.” Nationally, the creation of opportunity zones is generating a buzz for injecting new vitality into depressed areas. One good sign: a KeyBank executive told GlobeSt that its 2018 affordable pipeline was at a record $2.5 billion, with activity this year expected to at least match that.

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