Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Embodied carbon: next steps for GSA

 July 23, 2021 | GSA Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings


GSA’s Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings recently facilitated a two-day roundtable of policymakers and practitioners to identify specific, actionable steps GSA can take to reduce the embodied carbon in the agency’s design and construction projects. 

Embodied carbon refers to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the manufacturing, transportation, installation, maintenance, and disposal of construction materials.

“Buildings and Construction materials are responsible for 40% of carbon emissions, making them the fourth largest global contributor,” said GSA Acting Chief Architect Chuck Hardy, impressing upon the group a sense of urgency and setting the stage for the roundtable.

Discussions began with two key policy recommendations from GSA’s Green Building Advisory Committee in February 2021 to address procurement of low embodied energy and carbon materials:

  1. A material approach for all projects requiring environmental product declarations (environmental impact information about products that can be compared for items fulfilling the same function)
  2. A whole building life cycle assessment (LCA) approach for larger projects

The roundtable aimed to discuss how the entire lifecycle of materials, design, and construction can contribute to a reduction in the embodied carbon footprint, and brainstorm practical opportunities to effect immediate change.

The 50+ participants split into three breakout groups: one considering the material approach, another addressing the whole building life cycle assessment approach, and the third exploring alternative approaches.

The groups reconvened at the end of the second day to present their recommendations to GSA. Some of the practical steps they recommend include:

  • Total carbon is a priority metric: Make it clear to the marketplace that total carbon, which includes both embodied carbon and operational greenhouse gases, is a priority metric to GSA.
  • Embodied carbon in asset planning: Value embodied carbon in asset planning decisions to raise the importance of reusing existing and historic buildings.
  • Embodied carbon in tenant improvements: Identify the most common materials used in tenant improvements and consider their embodied carbon in making final material selections. 
  • Environmental product declarations: Require environmental product declarations and set parameters around how and where they are appropriate. 
  • Implement whole building LCA early: Implement whole building life cycle assessment (LCA) on projects across the country at the earliest possible stage to optimize impact.
  • Whole building LCA guidance: Provide clear guidance on how to create a whole building LCA, the tools to use, and the scope to include.
  • Embodied carbon benchmarking: Set embodied carbon benchmarking targets based on existing projects and ongoing data collection.
  • Refrigerant selection and leakage: Consider the embodied carbon impacts of refrigerant selection and leakage.
  • Embodied carbon education: Host education sessions for both GSA and the broader industry community to explain GSA’s embodied carbon approach and recommendations.

“As the custodian of more than 8,000 assets throughout the country, GSA has the opportunity to reduce embodied carbon for an impactful investment in the future,” said Hardy. “We will review our current projects with these recommendations in mind, so we can incorporate these suggestions in a manner that is both impactful and realistic.”

“We had an impressive group of experts [including Larry Strain of Siegel & Strain Architects] join us and the next steps are with GSA. We will have more discussions with our industry partners before proposing any policy changes,” said Don Horn, Deputy Director of the Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings. “This roundtable was an important step in determining potential practical applications and seeking input for making lasting and important changes.”


To read more, visit: https://www.gsa.gov/blog/2021/07/23/embodied-carbon-next-steps-for-gsa

Monday, April 19, 2021

Yosemite National Park to build $10 million visitor center

Groundbreaking on "welcome center" in 
Yosemite Valley expected by this fall

by Paul Rogers, Bay Area News Group

Published: April 14, 2021



An artist's rendering of the planned plaza and the new Welcome Center proposed for Yosemite Valley. Yosemite Falls is visible in the background. The Welcome Center will be located in a refurbished building that housed the Sports Shop in the eastern Yosemite Village. (Courtesy of Yosemite Conservancy/RHAA Landscape Architects)

IN A TYPICAL YEAR, more than 4.5 million people visit Yosemite National Park, many of them first-time visitors from other states or countries who are looking to find their bearings and figure out how best to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of one of America's most storied landmarks.

Now, park officials and a leading Bay Area environmental group are working to make their experience a little easier by building a new $10.4 million visitor center in the heart of Yosemite Valley. Construction is planned to begin this fall with the new facility expected to open by the end of 2022 or early 2023.

Read the article in its entirety by clicking here or paste this url into your browser: www.mercurynews.com/2021/04/14/yosemite-national-park-to-build-new-10-4-million-visitor-center/


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Build Back Better Recommendations for the Built Environment

Siegel & Strain Architects joined more than 130 leading companies in the AEC industry in recommending immediate actions the Biden @WhiteHouse can take to combat #ClimateChange in their first 100 days in office. The letter landed on the right desk: Gina McCarthy, the White House National Climate Advisor, responded within 45 minutes to acknowledge all of the great ideas. Larry Strain helped draft the existing building section and there is work being organized around the topics in the letter. 


February 19, 2021

The Honorable Ms. Gina McCarthy
National Climate Advisor
The Honorable Mr. David J. Hayes
Special Assistant to the President for Climate Policy
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Ms. McCarthy and Mr. Hayes:

Thank you both for agreeing to receive this letter. The Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Leaders are an ad-hoc association of the nation’s most respected design, engineering and construction firms. We look forward to bringing our collective expertise to bear on the cross-agency built environment challenges and transformations that are foundational to the Biden-Harris Build Back Better plan.

The signatories here comprise 130+ organizations from across the country who provide design, engineering and construction services throughout the country and around the world. We are heartened by the capable and principled team you have put in place to not only provide leadership on climate and environmental justice, but to once again put the Federal Government in the role of accelerating real progress. Thank you for the climate action you have taken on your first days in office! The building sector actions we suggest below are necessary to achieve President Biden’s goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Globally, nearly 30% of greenhouse gas emissions come from operating buildings while an additional 11% of emissions are embodied carbon from building products and construction. Our industry’s work must move beyond simply net zero energy to net zero carbon, in order to deal with the full emissions picture. While combating climate change, we are also dedicated to transforming our communities for the better by addressing critical public health, water, material toxicity, and social equity challenges. We appreciate the Biden-Harris Administration’s strong statements on climate and environmental justice. To put these principles into action, our letter below outlines steps we encourage the Administration to prioritize to begin seeing positive impacts in the built environment sector within your first 100 days.

We would also like to underscore the importance of publicly available scientific data and tools from departments such as the EPA, NOAA and DOE that are critical to our work. The databases and tools that these Agencies and Departments have developed over many years have been invaluable to our industry (and many others) and should be restored and even expanded for the important work that lies ahead in the coming decades.

We assure you that the AEC industry is ready for the Federal Government’s leadership in this area. Your administration is in a unique position to accelerate market transformation and provide clear and consistent guidance and standards for a range of industries. Our group stands ready to be a resource for your team to help convey the positive impact that your sustainability and resilience policies can have on our industry and to promote their effective implementation. Thank you for your dedicated work and your consideration.

Our specific recommendations appear below, in these categories:

1 Enhance Federal Building Standards
2 Stimulate Building Reuse and Upgrades
3 Promote Healthy Housing and Resilient Communities
4 Electrify to Achieve a Carbon-Free Grid
5 Promote Material Health and Product Transparency
6 Promote Healthy Schools for All

[View the complete text of the recommendations, the signatory organizations, and the entire document here.]

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Two thousand saplings planted by volunteers on the site of the new Berkeley Tuolumne Camp

Berkeley Tuolumne Camp site view



Burned in the 2013 Rim Fire, Berkeley’s beloved Berkeley Tuolumne Camp is literally rising from the ashes as construction is well underway. Volunteers converged on the site recently to plant 2,000 ponderosa pine saplings in the hope that these will become the new forest that will eventually provide shade for the camp. Additional trees will be planted soon.

In 2022, Berkeley Tuolumne Camp will celebrate its 100th anniversary.  The City of Berkeley hopes to reopen it in time for the anniversary in June 2022. Families will return to see a place that will seem both familiar yet different, says Scott Gelfand, executive director of Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp (FOBTC).

[Excerpted from the article on berkeleyside.com]:

The old camp was 22 acres; the new camp will be 30 acres after the Forest Service determined that Berkeley camp could occupy more land. All the buildings will now be 10 feet apart to provide additional firebreaks. The same structures are being rebuilt and will look the same. But the pipes and infrastructure will be completely new and there will be some extra bathrooms.

Most importantly, the new camp will be fully ADA compliant, making it easier for people using wheelchairs and other mobility devices to get around, said Gelfand. The old camp had virtually no access for people who needed accommodations, said Scott Ferris, Berkeley’s director of Parks, Recreation and the Waterfront. Now, about 10% of the family and staff cabins will be wheelchair accessible as will the archery range, beach, island in the middle of the lake, nature center, the recreation and dining halls, common areas and the pathways around the camp, he said.

“It’s an amazing difference,” said Ferris. “The old camp was built in 1922. There was no access at all. We’re going from that to the best publicly owned camp in the state, perhaps in the country, in terms of accessibility.”

Read the entire article here:

Volunteers plant 2,000 pine saplings at re-emerging Berkeley Tuolumne Camp

Friday, March 26, 2021

Siegel & Strain Architects has an opening for a Technical Architect

Siegel & Strain Architects is a vibrant, award-winning, women-owned, 26-person East Bay firm with a diverse range of projects. We are a design- and research-oriented practice with a national reputation for advancing sustainable design. We work with innovative sub-consultants and use forward-looking materials and systems. Our portfolio includes civic and educational projects, camps and retreat centers, schools, recreational buildings, custom homes and historic buildings. Our work can be viewed at www.siegelstrain.com. Current projects in design include:

  • Several National Park Service projects including visitor centers and historic renovations.
  • Lab, office, and maintenance support facilities for local utilities.
  • A 41-unit net-zero housing project.
  • Rehabilitation of former Coast Guard facilities to serve as affordable housing in West Marin.
  • A major addition to a church in Berkeley.
  • Civic, community, and overnight camp facilities for the City of Berkeley.
  • Facilities in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
  • Environmental education facilities at a nature preserve in Sonoma County.
  • A youth camp in Southern California.
  • New housing and dining hall at a meditation retreat center.
  • We are wrapping-up construction of a new public library and renovation of a Boys & Girls Club recreation center.
We typically work in collaborative teams of two or more people each with specific roles and responsibilities on individual projects. We are looking for a Technical Architect to work on projects in schematic design through bid support with an emphasis on iterating design solutions, materials and assembly research, consultant coordination, document production and organization, detailing, and QA/QC processes.

Qualifications:


  • Degree in architecture from an accredited architecture program
  • 15+ years of experience in architecture offices 
  • Strong design skills
  • Ability to research, problem solve, and iterate design solutions
  • Proficiency in Revit, AutoCAD, Sketch-up, and Adobe Suite 
  • Strong organizational, writing and interpersonal skills 
  • Expertise in preparing construction documents and details, particularly for Type V construction
  • Significant experience with California building codes analysis and documentation 
  • Significant experience with consultant coordination and project management
  • Experience in construction administration
  • Experience on community-serving projects is a plus
  • LEED accreditation, green design experience is a plus
  • Experience working on re-use or historic buildings is a plus 
  • Proficiency in energy, daylighting or similar modeling/analysis is a plus
  • Licensure


Salary is commensurate with experience. Benefits include nine paid holidays, paid time off, FSA, health insurance, professional development allowance, testing reimbursement, transit reimbursement, and 401(k) plan.


How to Apply:

Please e-mail cover letter, resume, references and work samples. 

Format: PDF format required. No compressed files please.

Address to: resume@siegelstrain.com

Subject line: Technical Architect


NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE.

Siegel & Strain Architects has an opening for a Project Architect

Siegel & Strain Architects is a vibrant, award-winning, women-owned, 26-person East Bay firm with a diverse range of projects. We are a design- and research-oriented practice with a national reputation for advancing sustainable design. We work with innovative sub-consultants and use forward-looking materials and systems. Our portfolio includes civic and educational projects, camps and retreat centers, schools, recreational buildings, custom homes, and historic buildings. Our projects can be viewed under the Projects tab on the website www.siegelstrain.com. Current projects in design include:

  • Several National Park Service projects including visitor centers and historic renovations.
  • Lab, office, and maintenance support facilities for local utilities.
  • A 41-unit net-zero housing project.
  • Rehabilitation of former Coast Guard facilities to serve as affordable housing in West Marin.
  • A major addition to a church in Berkeley.
  • Civic, community, and overnight camp facilities for the City of Berkeley.
  • Facilities in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
  • Environmental education facilities at a nature preserve in Sonoma County.
  • A youth camp in Southern California.
  • New housing and dining hall at a meditation retreat center.
  • We are wrapping-up construction of a new public library and renovation of a Boys & Girls Club recreation center.

We typically work in collaborative teams of two or more people each with specific roles and responsibilities on individual projects. We are looking for a self-starting project architect to work on projects from pre-design through construction phase. 


Qualifications:

  • Degree in architecture from an accredited architecture program
  • 8-12 years of experience in architecture offices 
  • Strong design skills
  • Ability to research,  problem solve, and iterate design solutions
  • Proficiency in Revit, AutoCAD, Sketch-up, and Adobe Suite 
  • Strong organizational, writing and interpersonal skills 
  • Experience preparing construction documents and details, particularly for Type V construction
  • Experience working with California building codes
  • Experience in project management and consultant coordination
  • Experience in construction administration is a plus
  • Experience on community-serving projects is a plus
  • LEED accreditation, green design experience is a plus
  • Experience working on re-use or historic buildings is a plus 
  • Proficiency in rendering and parametric programs is a plus
  • Proficiency in energy, daylighting or similar modeling/analysis is a plus
  • Licensure or progress toward licensure


Salary is commensurate with experience. Benefits include nine paid holidays, paid time off, FSA, health insurance, professional development allowance, testing reimbursement, transit reimbursement, and 401(k) plan.


How to Apply:

Please e-mail cover letter, resume, references and work samples. 

Format: PDF format required. No compressed files please.

Address to: resume@siegelstrain.com

Subject line: Project Architect


NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE.


Thursday, February 18, 2021

Redwood Visitor Center recognized with two awards




Redwood National and State Parks welcome over 130,000 visitors per year at their existing Kuchel Visitor Center. Save the Redwoods League has undertaken a project in collaboration with its park partners as well as the Yurok Tribe to design a new, expanded visitor center on a site two miles inland from the existing facility. The new visitor center will serve as the gateway to the Parks, a place to learn about the redwoods, the watershed, the wildlife, active restoration efforts, and the cultural heritage of the area. The design has been closely coordinated with a major ecological restoration effort on site and a trail network expansion.

The proposed visitor center is designed to form a literal gateway to the park's many trails leading to the redwoods. Two gabled wings joined by a covered breezeway mark the start of the primary pathway into the forest. The eastern gable, housing most of the visitor center functions, slopes up to capture soaring views of old-growth redwoods while the smaller western gable, housing the screened picnic area, will capture panoramic views of the restored Prairie Creek watershed.

The building is designed to be all-electric and to achieve net-zero energy. The design optimizes orientation, building envelope and shading to minimize external loads.  Natural ventilation is employed at the exhibit hall with the rising ridge, ceiling fans, and operable vents near the peak. A photovoltaic system will produce enough on-site energy to achieve net-zero. 

pEUI: 25 (0 with photovoltaic array)

Siegel & Strain Architects is honored to have received two design awards late in 2020. Read more about the project and awards here: