Your building’s climate impacts begin with every mechanical, electrical, and envelope system on which it’s built. Identifying effective greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction measures requires an in-depth knowledge of a building’s systems and how they interact. That’s where our decarbonization service can help.
8 min read
5 min read
In Vermont’s commercial construction industry, the word is well out there by now that the 2020 Commercial Building Energy Standards mandate building air barriers receive special attention, to some degree – either at post-envelope construction by way of a blower door test, or throughout the construction phase by way of commissioning (no blower door test). I’ve discussed portions of this in the past when it was relatively new. The 2021 IECC release now also mandates either air barrier commissioning or blower door testing. It will be some time before states begin to adopt this version of the code, but it is only a matter of time. So, I thought it a good idea to get out ahead and discuss why I think we, as an industry, should be considering the two of these options in harmony, rather than separately.
5 min read
Nearly ten years ago, in June of 2012, Cx Associates launched our Green Incentives program. Initially aimed at reducing the carbon footprint of employee commuting and work-related travel, the program provided free bus passes to any employee who wanted one, a free personal CarShare Vermont membership, and provided “incentives” (rewards? More on this in a bit) for employees who walked or cycled to work. At the same time, we stopped offering free parking to employees.
In 2014, Cx Associates was awarded the 2014 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for our Green Incentives program. By most measures, the program was a success! We had achieved nearly 100% employee participation year over year, had reduced miles driven, and caused employees to walk and bike to work more frequently.
Or so we thought.
As we sat on our laurels for the next few (ahem, 7?) years, it began to become clear that we could do more. And in fact, the more we considered the “incentives” we were offering, the less they seemed like actual incentives, and began to look more like rewards. They were not really changing behavior. Many of our employees live close enough to the office that they would happily walk or cycle to work even if we offered free valet parking. Others were already committed public transit users and wouldn’t drive to work if we wanted them to. Our “award-winning green incentives program” sure sounded nice on paper and in our marketing materials, but there were no teeth behind it. We had failed to walk our talk.
3 min read
Main Street Landing’s Lake and College building on the Burlington waterfront houses important and community-loved businesses including Seventh Generation, Skinny Pancake, and the Peace and Justice center as well as a performing arts center and community gathering spaces. Main Street Landing (MSL) is a property owner member of the Burlington 2030 District, members of which aim to decrease their buildings’ energy, water, and transportation related emissions by 50% compared to the district baseline by the year 2030. MSL takes their membership seriously, fully committing to implementing changes year after year to work towards these goals.
4 min read
I’m excited to have recently joined the group of like-minded and down-to-earth individuals that comprise Cx Associates, and I’ve quickly learned that all of us here have a vested interest in expanding our minds and honing our craft. A huge part of that is information sharing with one another. In that vein, I’ve had opportunities to catch meaningful snapshots of the MEP commissioning process, allowing me to reflect closely on the process as I know it for the building enclosure. Lately, I’ve been asking myself, “What can be done better on the building enclosure side?” I think one of those things is employing installation checklists.
Topics: Building Envelope Building Enclosure
5 min read
How much greenhouse gas is in our electricity? This question isn’t just academic for those of us working to decarbonize buildings. In applications that use some combination of fossil fuel and electricity—which is common!—controls strategies for decarbonization depend on being able to make GHG comparisons between fossil fuels and electricity. These scenarios play out in day-to-day commissioning work.
4 min read
The rollercoaster that is the pandemic has shown us that fresh air and purging of room air has an enormous influence on the spread of a virus. The chance of contamination increases by viral load (how much of the air has the virus in it) and the length of time a person is exposed to this contaminated air. The purpose of ventilation is to move the air quickly away and out of the building to decrease both of these conditions.
Topics: COVID-19 indoor air quality IAQ
5 min read
I was recently involved in a commissioning (Cx) project that involved an owner’s training scope that went beyond the general Cx scope or LEED requirements and wanted to share my insights into this experience. For our standard training review scope, we ensure requirements for training are included in the specifications and review each subcontractor’s training plan ahead of the training session to ensure it will meet the requirements of the project contract documents. This also provides an opportunity for the owner to review the plan ahead of the training and indicate whether there are other items they’d like to see covered. However, this training review approach leaves a gap in the process, as the level of detail provided during the actual training session may not align with the expectations of the Cx agent or the owner/operator, and the starting expertise of the building operator varies greatly project to project.
Topics: building automation system training
2 min read
Few documents are as important to commissioning providers as the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR), it is our building block, our map and compass used to navigate the project to success from pre-design to occupancy. It's obvious this is an important document to us at Cx Associates, too. A search of our website resulted in three full pages of hits of the acronym. We’re know this document inside and out, from developing them, to reviewing pre-existing OPRs, to gently reminding contractors and designers that the document exists, but until about a year ago there was only one way around an OPR.
3 min read
Cx Associates is a mission driven engineering firm, applying concrete solutions to complex problems. A subset of these problems requires solutions that are a lot less tangible than the engineering solutions we seek to implement every day. Take climate change, for example. While the symptoms of climate change are real-world and concrete (rising sea level, measurable increase in extreme weather events that can be charted and graphed), the solutions to climate change are often conceptual and fraught with uncertainties. There is plenty of research to suggest that humanity has the technical solutions to climate change well within its tool belt. The uncertainly lies in application. What does a carbon-free transportation system look like? What’s the right mix of electric and public transportation and bike riding? How will populations be impacted when these changes mold habits and limit choices?