Means and Methods of Sustainable Construction: Part 1

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As the Construction Phase of the Brock Environmental Center project approaches, discussions have begun of how to support the integrity and sustainability of the Center throughout the construction process.

In order to achieve Living Building Challenge (LBC) certification, the means and methods of construction must be as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible. The Center is designed to have a net-zero impact on the environment, so using sustainable construction processes that support the mission of the building are critical.

Living Building Challenge Construction Specifications

The LBC provides a framework for the symbiotic relationship between people and all aspects of the built environment, including construction. The Materials Petal specifically strives to reduce the impacts of construction on the environment by offsetting the damaging consequences such as its carbon footprint.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation SAve the BayIt also specifies that teams must reduce or eliminate the production of waste to help conserve natural resources during all phases of the project: Design, Construction, Operation and End of Life.

In order to satisfy the Living Building Challenge requirements and the “Save the Bay” mission statement of Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Hourigan has investigated and incorporated the following zero carbon footprint construction means and methods into the project’s overall execution plan.

Minimizing Fossil Fuel and Carbon-based Emissions

One of the main principles of the Site Petal of LBC is that each new project should contribute to a “car-free lifestyle.”  The Center’s visitor parking lot will be off-site, so parking during construction will also be off-site. By having construction workers walk to the project site, this will help minimize the fossil fuels that leak from vehicles from contaminating the soils near the bay.

To further minimize carbon-based emissions, all excavators, generators, and forklifts will be fitted with “dry scrubbers” (similar to a vehicle’s catalytic convertor) to reduce fossil fuel and carbon based emissions.

Conserving Electricity and Water

The construction offices provided will incorporate “green technology” with mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems designed to use less energy and water than normal systems. In lieu of piping in treated water from the public grid, a deep, fresh water well will be installed to utilize existing water for construction use.

The technology that will be implemented in the electrical systems to conserve energy will involve the following:

  • Two mobile photovoltaic solar arrays will be used to provide power for construction of the building and the onsite temporary offices.
  • Site security lighting will minimize the amount of time the nighttime security lighting is allowed to operate with the use of a motion detection system.
  • Electric scissor lift will be used in lieu of using multiple forklifts in order to raise material from the ground level to the main building floor to access to the elevated 1st floor of the building.

These three initiatives will minimize the use of electrical power from the public grid and further contribute to saving energy and saving the bay.

Protecting the Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake bay foundation pleasure house pointOne of the major contributors to the poor health of the Chesapeake Bay is sediment, which is carried to our waterways from erosion and construction sites. Too much sediment turns the water cloudy, which blocks sunlight from reaching the aquatic grasses that serve as food and habitat in the bay.

To protect the bay as much as possible during this project, one initiative will be to construct an impervious containment area around the temporary toilet areas in order to eliminate any harmful detergents from infiltrating the surrounding soils caused by “spill overs” from the normal cleaning process.

In addition, not only will there be the normal construction debris dumpster, but there will also be separate 30-cubic-yard labeled recycling containers for paper, metals, and plastics located directly adjacent to the building to recycle construction debris. This will conserve the valuable natural resources already contained in the debris and reduce the carbon footprint of the manufacturing process required to fabricate new materials.

During the entire construction phase, our full-time onsite Quality Control Manager will “police” all deliveries to verify that no hazardous construction materials are delivered to the site in accordance with the “Red List” restrictions of the Living Building Challenge requirements.

We will continue the discussion about specific construction means and methods that will be utilized to minimize and reduce the carbon footprint of the construction process in part 2 of this blog post.

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