EDG NEWS - Special Edition

JULY 2013

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NASA's satellites capture smoke over the Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore from illegal fires set in Sumatra. See Singapore & Malaysia engulfed in haze.

(Image: NASA Earth Observatory)


Haze engulfs Singapore, with the 1970's Golden Mile Complex beyond.

(Image: flickr/a10101100)

From the Editor

Hello from the new EDG Editor!

I am honoured to have the opportunity to serve the EDG community of readers and contributors.

I come to EDG with a background in architectural practice, building science research and sustainable design consulting, and I have a great respect for EDG's role as a direct link between environmental design research and design practitioners. As a publication read by architects, designers, ESD consultants and services engineers alike, I see EDG as uniquely positioned to address multiple perspectives with sound environmental design guidance. I think it is imperative to acknowledge multiple - both creative and analytical - ways of thinking and working, as these only enhance one's problem solving toolkit. It is my hope that EDG's environmental design guidance can highlight new opportunities for design teams to build on their knowledge and add immense value to our built environment.

With the global CO2 levels hitting a very sobering 400 parts per million (ppm), climate adaptation is a rather hot topic these days. Here at EDG, we have some existing and soon-to-be-released Design Notes on climate change adaptation as it relates to designing for the built environment.

Other items in progress include a revision of the notes on daylighting as this, as with other passive design principles, reduces energy use and enhances the resilience of our built environment.

If there is a topic you'd like to see more or less of, or if you'd like to suggest any comments or ideas for EDG, please write to: edg@architecture.com.au.

Noy Hildebrand

Singapore & Malaysia engulfed in haze

Illegal fires from the Indonesian island of Sumatra engulfed Singapore and southern Malaysia in haze in the second half of June, pushing air pollution to record levels for at least three consecutive days in Singapore. According to government officials, Singapore's air pollution standards index reached 401 on 21 June, a record high for the city-state. (Note that 300 and above is considered hazardous.) Similarly, Malaysia declared a state of emergency after the air pollution index in southern Johor state reached more than 750 on 23 June, according to the Malaysian minister for natural resources and environment. This is not a new issue in the Southeast Asia. Similar haze events have occurred at a nearly annual rate in various areas in the region, including one in March. A senior aide to the Indonesian President said that the fires occurred in concession areas belonging to Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL). Back in 2008, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which actively promotes responsibly managed forests and certifies timber internationally, dissociated from working with APP in 2007 based on independently sourced information of APP's involvement in destructive forestry practices, obviously contrary to the FSC principles. As Australia becomes more interconnected with Asia, it will be interesting to see how these types of complex issues are acknowledged and addressed moving forward.

In the news

To mark the halfway point of 2013, below is a highlight of notable events in Australia and around the world thus far on the environment front:

The month of January in Australia broke the hottest average day on record for 14 of the 112 long-term climate stations in the country even though 2013 is not an El Nino year. These records continued into the first four months of the year with average temperatures hottest on record.

Biomimicry fans and others will appreciate Metropolis Magazine's article in the March issue on resilient architecture – 'Toward Resilient Architectures 1: Biology Lessons'. The Resilient Design Institute recaps key points of the above article in their blog post, 'How Biology Informs Resilient Design'.

One of the world's most sustainable office buildings, the Bullitt Center, opened its doors in Seattle (United States) in April. The Bullitt Center plans to be both water and energy positive. That is, it plans to collect and generate more water and electricity than it uses.
Read a first-hand account of the Bullitt Center by Alex Wilson.
Read a New York Times profile.

In early June, Bill McKibben was on his 'Do the Maths' tour in Australia following the publication of his Rolling Stone article 'Global Warming's Terrifying New Math'. McKibben marked his visit to Australia with an appearance on Q&A, and an interview on Lateline and Beyond Zero Emissions. For those of who are interested in divesting from fossil fuels and/or reef destruction, see Advocacy, publications and reports below.

Roman seawater concrete holds key to cutting carbon emissions

A research team from the University of California, Berkeley, examined the fine-scale structure of Roman concrete and described for the first time how the extraordinarily stable compound binds the material used to build some of the enduring structures in Western civilization. The discovery could help improve the durability of modern concrete, which within 50 years often shows signs of degradation, particularly in ocean environments. The manufacturing of Roman concrete also leaves a smaller carbon footprint than does its modern counterpart. The process for creating Portland cement, a key ingredient in modern concrete, requires fossil fuels to burn calcium carbonate (limestone) and clays at about 1,450 degrees Celsius (2,642 degrees Fahrenheit). Seven percent of global carbon dioxide emissions every year comes from this activity. 

Design tools, simulations & related news

Climate Consultant

Wind Wheel in Climate Consultant 5 (image: Noy Hildebrand)

Ever wanted to visualise the climate in your area or at a project site? Climate Consultant is a free, simple to use, graphic-based computer program that helps architects, builders, contractor, homeowners and students understand their local climate. It uses annual 8760 hour EPW format climate data that is made available at no cost by the US Department of Energy for thousands of weather stations around the world, Australia included! Climate Consultant translates this raw climate data into dozens of meaningful graphic displays.


Radiation Rose in Ladybug (image: http://www.grasshopper3d.com/group/ladybug)

For the Grasshopper fans (and groupies) out there, meet Ladybug, a free, open source plugin to help designers create an environmentally conscious architectural design. Ladybug allows you to: import and analyse standard weather data in Grasshopper; draw diagrams like Sun-path, wind-rose, radiation-rose, etc; customise the diagrams in several ways; run radiation analysis, shadow studies, and view analysis for your design inside Grasshopper.

Thermal Comfort Tool for ASHRAE 55
The Center for the Built Environment (CBE) at University of California, Berkeley has created a web-based thermal comfort tool. Links to documentation and tutorials are also available.

Open-source energy data management software
For those interested in measuring building energy use, the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is making Energy DataBus, its energy tracking software, open for public use. Energy DataBus tracks, stores and analyses energy-related, time-series data, and can be used on facilities ranging from a single building to a large campus for energy data management needs. For more details, see the press release. The system is available for free download by request.

Should we expect energy modeling to predict building performance?
The green building industry focuses far too much on energy modelling to predict performance, not to make early design decisions, according to BuildingGreen.


Advocacy, publications & reports

Gigatons of CO2 visualised
Gigatons of CO2 visualised (image: informationisbeautiful.net)

How many gigatons of CO2 ... ?
Have a hard time visualising our carbon emissions? The great thing about this image is that it also links the temperature rises with each scenario, as well as the types of issues we will have to face. See the full image.

Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map
Here is a recent report issued by the International Energy Agency on the climate change trends, global energy policy and managing climate risks to the energy sector. Go to the report.

Are you accidentally investing in climate change?
Over 55 per cent of mandatory pension contribution is invested in high-risk, high-carbon assets with less than 2% being invested in low-carbon assets. So while you may be intentionally spending your money according to your own values, you may be accidentally investing your money in things you are completely opposed to, like high-carbon industries. If you are interested in writing a letter to your superfund see this template.

For those who would also like to divest from reef destruction, see http://www.marketforces.org.au/banks.html

Events & training

Open House Melbourne
If you like building tours, this is a great weekend to be in Melbourne. There are usually at least a few buildings that address sustainable design in interesting ways. Sat 27 and Sun 28 July.
Web: www.openhousemelbourne.org

2013 IES Dr Albert Dressler Daylight Design Award
This award is open to all architecture practises that would like to enter a completed project in Victoria (within the last two years). This project can fall under any category (i.e. commercial, residential, hospitality, retail etc.) as long as the design recognises and promotes the importance of daylight and how it ultimately affects the people that are using the space.
When: Entries close Wed 31 July
Web: IESANZ website

Workplace of the Future Design Competition
The Workplace of the Future is open to all designers, architects and interior architects, industrial designers, workplace designers, design students as individuals or as groups collaborating on projects. The $7500 winning prize and the $2500 runner-up prize are intended to support designers whose entries reflect considerations of the systems of workplace (how we'll work, communicate, interact, plug in, charge up, present and function, etc in 2020). Your solution could be a re-design of an existing workplace, and include technology solutions and mobility issues, which can include systems thinking, sustainability, materials exploration, progressive technologies, function and provocative form. Interdisciplinary collaborations are encouraged.
When: Entries close Wed 31 July
Web: Metropolis Magazine website

Green Cities 2014: Beyond the Baseline is seeking submissions for its Melbourne event on 18 and 19 March 2014. Green Cities 2014 will be a forum for discussion, demonstration and debate on how to go beyond market challenges, beyond green wash and beyond the baseline. Do you have techniques, concepts or visions to share? Submit your speaker abstract for a chance to secure an 8 to 10 minute speaking spot at Green Cities 2014.
Submissions due 31 July

Melbourne Forum
Melbourne Forum
The Melbourne Forum is a series of free public talks with the goal of increasing the development and refurbishment of commercial buildings in Victoria to achieve greater levels of sustainable performance.
When: 17 Sept, 5:30pm for a 6pm start. Presentations will finish at approximately 7.30pm, after which drinks and finger food will be served.
Where: The Treasury Theatre, Lower Plaza, 1 Macarthur Street, East Melbourne
Web: http://bit.ly/MelbForum


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