Article Date: 06/07/2013

ConstructionPro Week Profiles 22 New Green Building Publications

By Steve Rizer


ConstructionPro Week has profiled 22 green building publications that various government agencies and trade associations have released this year. The publications cover a wide range of topics, from strategies for achieving net-zero homes to energy modeling to commissioning to indoor air quality. The profiles include abstracts and such details as document titles, page lengths, authors, and other information. In many of the profiles, links to the reports are included, while ordering information is included within the other profiles.


Title: Strategies to Achieve Net-Zero Energy Homes: A Framework for Future Guidelines Workshop Summary Report


Author: Nancy McNabb


Abstract: “The National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST] Measurement Science Roadmap for Net-Zero Energy [NZE] Buildings Workshop Report [NIST TN 1660 -- March 2010] identified a number of broad challenges to achieving NZE high-performance green building technologies. To further develop that report and to create a framework for a future guidance document on design and construction of NZE homes, NIST hosted the Workshop on Strategies to Get to Net-Zero Energy Homes [in September] 2011. The workshop was attended by a broad segment of the residential building stakeholder community, including those with interests in architecture and design, technology and equipment, real estate, and human behavior as it pertains to energy efficiency. A number of important topics were considered for achieving NZE in new and existing homes, including the potential scope of future guidelines for design, technology, and installation; elements needed to assist consumers in evaluating NZE options during home construction and purchase decisions; and factors of human behavior that will influence successful use of guidelines.”


Published: April 2013


Citation: NIST SP - 1140


Link to the report:


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Title: Benefits and Costs of Energy Standard Adoption in New Commercial Buildings


Author: Joshua Kneifel


Abstract: “Energy-efficiency requirements in current energy codes for commercial buildings vary across states, and many states have not yet adopted the newest energy standard edition. As of December 2011, states have adopted energy codes ranging across all editions of American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ [ASHRAE] Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings 90.1 (-1999, -2001, -2004, and -2007). Some states do not have a code requirement for energy efficiency, leaving it up to the locality or jurisdiction to set its own requirements. This study considers the impacts that the adoption of newer, more stringent energy codes for commercial buildings would have on building energy use, operational energy costs, building lifecycle costs, and cradle-to-grave energy-related carbon emissions.”


The results of this report “are based on analysis of the Building Industry Reporting and Design for Sustainability database, which includes 12,540 whole building energy simulations covering 11 building types in 228 cities across all U.S. states for nine study period lengths. The performance of buildings designed to meet current state energy codes is compared to their performance when meeting alternative building energy standard editions to determine whether more stringent energy standard editions are cost-effective in reducing energy consumption and energy-related carbon emissions. Each state energy code is also compared to a ‘Low Energy Case’ building design that increases energy efficiency beyond the ASHRAE 90.1-2007 design. The estimated savings for each of the building types are aggregated using new commercial building construction data to calculate the magnitude of the available savings that a state may realize if it were to adopt a more energy efficient standard as its state energy code.”


Published: February 2013


Citation: NIST SP - 1147


Link to the report:


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Title: Multizone Airflow Models for Calculating Infiltration Rates in Commercial Reference Buildings


Authors: Lisa Ng, Amy Musser, Andrew Persily, and Steven Emmerich


Abstract: “Sixteen commercial reference buildings were created in the multizone airflow and contaminant transport program [CONTAM] in order to support physically based airflow calculations and indoor air quality analyses that are not possible using the existing EnergyPlus input files of these buildings. The EnergyPlus models were created for assessing new technologies and supporting the development of energy codes in pursuing building energy-efficiency improvements. These models employed an oversimplified approach to infiltration in which infiltration rates were input as constant values. A number of additional inputs had to be defined for the CONTAM models to realistically account for airflow, including the addition of several building zones. Annual airflow simulations were performed in CONTAM for six of the reference buildings. There are clear relationships between the infiltration rates calculated by CONTAM and weather, which are not exhibited in the EnergyPlus results. In addition, the envelope airtightness values assumed in either approach have a major impact on calculated infiltration rates. The results of this study provide a baseline for subsequent use of these models to investigate design approaches and technologies that are intended to reduce building energy consumption, improve indoor air quality, or both.”


Published: February 2013


Citation: Energy and Buildings


Link to report:


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Title: Analysis of the NIST Commercial and Institutional Building Envelope Leakage Database


Authors: Steven Emmerich and Andrew Persily


Abstract: “In 1998, NIST published a review of commercial and institutional building airtightness data that found significant levels of air leakage and debunked the ‘myth’ of the airtight commercial building [Persily, 1998]. Since then, NIST has expanded and maintained a database of whole building envelope leakage measurements of U.S. commercial and institutional buildings. In addition to building leakage values collected from research publications, low-energy building programs and private pressurization testing firms, the database includes basic building characteristics -- such as year built, building type, floor area, number of stories, location, and wall construction type -- for many of the buildings. The purpose of the database is to establish default values for building simulation, estimate the energy savings potential of airtightness requirements in standards and codes, and identify opportunities for additional improvements in building airtightness performance. This paper presents an update of the currently available airtightness data from the NIST commercial building air leakage database. The U.S. commercial building envelope leakage database now contains data for almost 350 buildings including more than 50 constructed in the past decade. The data were analyzed to determine the impact on airtightness of factors such as building type and height. Significantly, recent additions to the database include numerous buildings constructed to meet the specifications of sustainable or high-performance-building programs, such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] rating system as well as buildings designed and constructed with air barriers, both of which tend to correlate with lower building envelope air leakage.”


Published: May 2013


Pages: 84


Citation: Air Infiltration and Ventilation Centre


Link to the report:


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Title: Using Multi-Zone Modeling of Particle Transport to Support Building Design


Authors: Dong Rim, Andrew Persily, Lance Wallace, William Dols, and Steven Emmerich


Abstract: “As building design and operation changes to meet the goals of sustainability, it is critical to address indoor air quality issues such that indoor environmental conditions are maintained. Among the indoor air contaminants of concern in this context are ultrafine particles, which have been shown to have significant health effects. Transport and fate of ultrafine particles in a building is a function of building ventilation and system operation conditions. The objective of this study is to investigate the use of a multi-zone airflow/contaminant transport model (CONTAM 3.1) for prediction of particle transport to support sustainable building design. Simulations were performed to predict outdoor particle entry into a building with different window positions, which were then compared with experimental measurements. The results indicate that indoor particle concentration varies with ventilation rate, particle penetration, and deposition loss. The results also suggest that the CONTAM model can be used in building design for prediction of particle entry into a building to investigate the impacts of various building design decisions and operating strategies.”


Published: February 2013


Link to the report:


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Title: Development of a Reference Material for Building Product Emissions Testing


Authors: Cynthia Reed, Zhe Liu, Steve Cox, Andrew Persily, and John Little


Abstract: “The business of measuring volatile organic compound [VOC] emissions from building products and materials has grown to include more than 100 laboratories, many with unique testing equipment and analytical techniques. For the purposes of labeling building products as ‘acceptable’ for indoor air quality as part of sustainable building programs, it is important for participating laboratories to demonstrate that its chosen methods can measure product emission rates within an acceptable uncertainty. Currently, equivalence between emissions testing laboratories is established with inter-laboratory studies. These studies can be time consuming, expensive, and do not provide a ‘true’ emission value for comparison. To reduce the need for inter-laboratory studies and improve the reliability of emissions measurements, the National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST] and [Virginia Polytechnical Institute] have collaborated to develop a reference material that has an independently known emission rate. The prototype material consists of a thin polymethyl pentene film that is loaded to equilibrium with a VOC [volatile organic compound]. Extensive testing at NIST and other measurement laboratories have shown the film to behave as a homogenous and consistent emissions source. Current research efforts include evaluating the film performance at different environmental conditions and expanding the approach to include other chemicals. The use of reference materials in product emissions testing has the potential to provide an independent test method validation approach that can instill more confidence in product labeling programs.”


Published: February 2013


Link to the report:


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Title: Standard Formaldehyde Source for Chamber Testing of Material Emissions: Modeling and Preliminary Tests


Authors: Wenjuan Wei, Cynthia Reed, Andrew Persily, Yinping Zhang


Abstract: “Formaldehyde is recognized as a harmful indoor air pollutant for human health [IARC. 2004] and is emitted from building materials, including urea-formaldehyde resin in pressed wood products. Environmental chambers are typically used to measure formaldehyde emission rates from these products. However, there is no formaldehyde standard reference emissions source available to assess the overall performance of these chambers. In this paper, the development of a liquid-inner tube diffusion-film-emission [LIFE] formaldehyde reference is described. A similar LIFE reference was previously developed for toluene (Wei et al. 2012). The formaldehyde source consists of a Teflon container that holds a 16 percent formaldehyde-water solution. There is a small hole in the container lid that is covered with a thin polydimethylsiloxane film.”


Published: February 2013


Link to the report:


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Title: Energy Efficiency: Better Coordination among Federal Programs Needed to Allocate Testing Resources


Author: U.S. Government Accountability Office


Abstract: “The three key federal energy efficiency programs -- minimum energy efficiency standards led by the [U.S.] Department of Energy [DOE]; EnergyGuide, led by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC); and Energy Star, led by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with support from DOE -- take different approaches to the shared goal of improving the energy efficiency of selected categories of household appliances and consumer electronics. The scope of products covered by these three programs also varies, and a number of products are covered by only one program, while others are covered by two or all three.”


The agency provided the following examples:

  • “Minimum energy-efficiency standards establish a national minimum level of energy efficiency for selected categories of products and are designed to eliminate the least efficient products from the marketplace. These standards currently apply to 33 categories of products, including refrigerators and dishwashers.”
  • “EnergyGuide provides information displayed on a label attached to selected products that enables consumers to compare the estimated energy cost and energy consumption of different models within a given product category. EnergyGuide covers 16 such product categories, including televisions and dishwashers.”
  • “Energy Star identifies the most energy-efficient models within a given category of products. Manufacturers of qualifying products can display an Energy Star label on their products that is widely recognized by buyers as an indication of energy efficiency. The program also encourages manufacturers to improve energy efficiency of some models so that those models qualify for the Energy Star label. Energy Star covers 37 such product categories, including televisions and washing machines.”

Federal programs to increase the energy efficiency of household appliances and consumer electronics “are fragmented and overlapping, with one area of duplication. The programs are fragmented in that three federal agencies are addressing the same broad area of national need --improving energy efficiency. The programs are overlapping in that they target similar users --consumers. While fragmentation and overlap may result in duplication of resources, GAO found that these three programs are not broadly duplicative because they are not engaged in the same activities and do not provide the same services; however, GAO identified one duplicative activity within Energy Star. Specifically, GAO identified duplication in some testing activities undertaken to verify that products meet the criteria for carrying the Energy Star label. EPA [the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] and DOE each manage separate verification testing programs and while the agencies coordinate to minimize duplication, GAO found 11 instances in which identical models had been tested twice in the same year -- about 1 percent of the products tested. This duplication occurred because EPA does not communicate to DOE about some models that have been selected for testing until after the tests are complete; therefore, some models were tested twice, while other models went untested. As a result, the agencies cannot ensure that scarce testing resources are maximized, either by eliminating unnecessary duplicative testing or reallocating resources toward testing additional products. To limit the potential for duplication in the current Energy Star verification testing activities, GAO recommends that EPA take steps to better communicate to DOE the models selected for testing so DOE can avoid testing the same ones. DOE and EPA acknowledged the importance of coordination, but EPA disagreed with the draft recommendation, citing concerns it could be labor intensive to implement. GAO revised the recommendation to clarify EPA’s flexibility in implementing it.”


Published: March 2013


Pages: 26


Product Codes: GAO-13-135


Link to the Report:


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Title: Manufactured Homes: State-Based Replacement Programs May Provide Benefits, but Energy Savings Do Not Fully Offset Costs


Author: U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)


Abstract: “GAO identified three states -- Maine, Montana, and Washington -- that have developed pilot programs focused on replacing older manufactured homes using a combination of state and federal funds. The three programs were relatively small, accounting for about $4.5 million in spending, and [were] responsible for replacing 81 homes over about two years. The programs differed in requirements, including whether the land that the replacement home would occupy had to be owned or could be leased; the types of financing used, with some replacements requiring recipients to take on a partial mortgage; and the types of replacement homes.”


Program officials and representatives of organizations that aided them from the three state replacement pilot programs “identified three key types of challenges in implementing these programs. First, they told GAO that many potential beneficiaries were not eligible to participate because they had liens on their existing properties; they did not own or have a long-term lease for the land the homes would be placed on; or their credit histories made them ineligible for any type of loan. Second, these officials told GAO that some potential beneficiaries were unwilling to participate because they were mistrustful that such a program would be legitimate; unwilling to take on any debt, regardless of the poor condition of their home; unwilling to move from their current location; or unwilling to take on increases in property taxes resulting from increased home value. Third, they identified challenges that were primarily logistical in nature, such as the need to construct wheelchair ramps or update utilities, which could raise the cost of replacement.


In the three pilot replacement programs GAO examined, energy savings reportedly did not fully offset the costs of replacing older manufactured homes over a typical loan period. “The two programs that maintained information on energy use and estimated savings spent an average of about $56,119 per unit to replace each older manufactured home and estimated about $489 in annual energy savings per home. The average cost of replacement homes varied across the three programs GAO examined. The least costly program GAO examined was Montana’s, which replaced some older manufactured homes with used-but-newer-and-more-energy-efficient models, with an average cost of about $42,339 per home. However, state officials told GAO that these replacement programs were not specifically focused on energy savings and that energy efficiency gains were secondary to the health and welfare benefits of getting occupants into safer, more weather-tight manufactured homes.”


Published: March 2013


Pages: 24


Product Code: GAO-13-373


Link to the Report:


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Title: Energy Management and Conservation Program -- Fiscal Year 2012 Annual Report.


Author: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Abstract: “In fiscal 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] once again demonstrated leadership among federal agencies in reducing its environmental footprint and promoting sustainability. EPA continues to meet or exceed the federal sustainability goals required under the Energy Policy Act, Executive Order 13514, and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions, energy efficiency, water conservation, green buildings, solid waste diversion, and other environmental performance metrics. In FY’12, EPA focused on: reducing its Scope 1, 2, and 3 GHG emissions; implementing major energy-efficiency projects; procuring green power; carrying out water conservation and stormwater-management projects; improving and certifying its inventory of Federal Real Property Profile buildings as meeting the Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings; acquiring high performance sustainable buildings that exceed the environmental performance of the facilities being replaced; and raising its non-hazardous solid waste diversion rate.”


Publication Date: January 2013


Pages: 52


Product Code/Accession Number: PB2013100254


Price: $15, electronic document; $30 customized CD; $48 color document


Available from the National Technical Information Service:


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Title: The Construction Chart Book: The U.S. Construction Industry and Its Workers, Fifth Edition


Author: The Center for Construction Research and Training


Abstract: Chapter 9, entitled “Green Construction in the United States,” contains charts providing the following information: percent of construction establishments involved in green technologies and practices, 2011; LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-registered projects, 2000-2011; owners of LEED-registered projects, 2000-2011; LEED-certified square feet, by region, 2000-2011; LEED-certified square feet per capita, by state, 2011; and market value of new single-family residential construction, green versus non-green, 2005-2016 (projection).


Published: April 2013


Pages: 71


Available from CPWR:


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