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Constructive Constructions for Environmental Justice

In light of the social justice and police brutality events over the last year, and throughout the course of our country’s history, I felt it was important on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day to once again read his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” — to take these moments to reflect on how I am upholding Dr. King’s dreams, or rather how my actions prolong the frustrations Dr. King wrote about in his letter.

As an engineer, I’ve pledged to “serve humanity by making the best use of Earth’s precious wealth.” And with every building I leave my fingerprints on, I aim to combat the injustices that Dr. King worked toward bringing an end to.

On California’s famous Pacific Coast Highway, the inequity is clear as you drive from one city to the next. Although I doubt any part of the United States is exempt from this truth, Los Angeles and its surrounding neighborhoods demonstrate that many buildings in working-class communities were not constructed with an equitable foundation. These buildings were constructed in a United States that had (and still has) exclusive classes developing systematic barriers to pin races against each other. This narrative might seem grim, but buildings stand for generations and any environmental injustice embedded in them will stand even longer. Our past constantly surrounds us, and it serves as a reminder that every building I help design and construct will stand long after I am gone.

The loss of Dr. King was tragic, but he had hope. Hope he left instilled in future generations to work toward justice and equity for a “more perfect union.”  I hope at the end of my career, I will feel that my work celebrated communities for their culture, and did not transform or displace them through the forces of gentrification. That my work created equitable opportunities in a clean, green, and healthy community.  And finally, that my work fulfilled my pledge to serve humanity through the lens of environmental justice. It is not enough to be an engineer for the world, I need — as engineers, we all need — to be “societal engineers,” working to design constructive constructions for environmental justice.

An Ode to GIS in Green Building

Photo courtesy of ESRI.

What comes to mind when you think of Geographic Information Systems (GIS)?

Maybe some of the latest beautifully crafted New York Times maps, like the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election Results map or the constantly updated map that tracks the Coronavirus Outbreak in the United States. Or maybe you recently used Google Maps to navigate to a new take-out restaurant to shake things up during quarantine. Out of all the examples that come to mind, I can almost guarantee that green building isn’t at the top of your list. However, GIS is an increasingly important tool for the green building industry, and it has huge potential for future growth.

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The Top 5 Green Building “Buzzwords” of 2020

2020 has been quite a year. The pandemic that altered nearly every facet of our lives, the wildfires burning across the western US, waves of social change rising around the globe, and a presidential election like no other. But we weathered through the uncertainty and found new ways of going about our daily lives—and so did the green building industry.

As we wrap up the year, we put together a list of the top five green building “buzzwords” of 2020. We hope that these buzzwords will give you a glimpse of key ideas that have shaped the green building landscape this year. 

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Confused About Carbon? Let’s Break It Down.

One of the biggest buzzwords in the green building industry right now is carbon, and for good reason. Carbon is, after all, inextricably linked to the greatest threat faced by humankind: the climate crisis. Though very simple when taken at face value, carbon has a lot of intricacies as it relates to the green building industry. From embodied carbon to net zero carbon to carbon sequestration, the variations are endless! Let’s dive deep into the vast world of carbon and define these terms.

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Filling the Health & Wellness Gap With Gold

The Japanese art of Kintsugi highlights flaws by repairing cracks with gold.

When an item is broken or flawed, the American culture is to buy a new one! Fix it quickly! Find the cure! It is rare to take the time to reflect and think…what caused the issue?

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Navigating Net Zero Energy and Net Zero Carbon Building Certifications

Kate is a Project Management & LEED Intern at Verdical Group, assisting our Project Management team with project research, analysis, and certification documentation. She is a student at UCLA pursuing a B.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in Environmental Systems & Society, as well as a Minor in Geographic Information Systems & Technology (GIS&T). She holds her LEED Green Associate credential and is actively involved with USGBC-LA.

The time to build a net zero future is now. If we’re going to have any hope of curbing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the impacts of the climate crisis, net zero energy and net zero carbon buildings need to be in the picture.

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Shedding Light on Daylighting: A Comparison of LEED, WELL, Fitwel & LBC Credits

Shruti is a Project Management & LEED Intern at Verdical Group. She is currently a student at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) pursuing her Master of Arts in Design for Sustainability. She is a LEED AP BD+C and Fitwel Ambassador.

Introduction

The positive effects of daylight on human health & wellbeing have been studied for many years, and the results of these studies have been well-integrated into green-building & wellness-centered rating systems.

This article will analyze daylight credits across four rating systems: LEED, WELL, Fitwel, and the Living Building Challenge, to understand their unique intent and documentation requirements. Understanding the nuances, synergies, and interconnections within these rating systems can help us in designing better strategies for successful green buildings. It will also enable us to see possibilities and likely outcomes of combining different rating systems to improve occupant health and maximize building performance.

We created a table listing the four rating systems and discovered the following similarities & differences:

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Commissioning: From Start to Finish

Verdical Group provides building commissioning services to ensure our clients adhere to commissioning obligations for construction, CALGreen Code, and Title 24 requirements in the state of California, as well as other authorities having jurisdiction for commissioning requirements.

The goals of commissioning are to produce a building that meets the future requirements of its occupants, ensure equipment operates efficiently to reduce energy usage, provide a safe and comfortable environment to tenants, and leaves the facility management staff well trained to operate the building.

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Why Hosting a Virtual Event is a Good Idea (And How to Do It!)

During the time of COVID, face-to-face interactions have become limited. When your business purpose relies on bringing people together to share experiences, limiting interactions can cause quite the hurdle. For the past seven years, Verdical Events has brought people together through our annual Net Zero Conference. 2020 was looking to be a promising year for the growing event; however, with the pandemic, our team was forced to think outside the box. How could we still bring hundreds of people together, increase engagement, and meet our event’s primary goals? A virtual event!

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California Has Quickly Become an Epicenter for Climate Change: How Green Building Can Contribute to Remediation

Meredith Cook is Verdical Group’s Events & Marketing Intern. She holds a BA in Urban & Environmental Policy from Occidental College.

When I began working with Verdical Group in July, I was well aware this would not be like the other office experiences I have had. I had been schooling and working remotely since March, accustomed by then to the ins-and-outs of video calls and the new norms many have adjusted to. What I did not expect, however, was just how much stress the world would be under in the months I have been with Verdical Group.

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