Credit: calvin chiu

The House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, H.R. 2454, energy and climate legislation that includes provisions for green building incentives. One provision, the Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Performance program, supports the creation of retrofitting initiatives for buildings that offer incentives such as credit enhancements, interest-rate subsidies, and initial capital for public revolving loan funds. The Green Resources for Energy Efficient Neighborhoods Act provides incentives for financial institutions to provide lower interest loans and other benefits to consumers who build, buy, or remodel their homes in an energy efficient manner. Other provisions include the Building Energy Performance Labeling Program to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to create model building energy performance labels; extension of power purchasing authority for federal agencies, allowing the federal government to enter contracts to purchase renewable power for up to 20 years; and the EPA’s WaterSense program, which receives permanent authorization to designate products as water efficient. More information is online at energycommerce.house.gov.

As part of LEED 2009, the U.S. Green Building Council requires building owners to provide energy- and water-consumption data for five years starting when the building is occupied. USGBC reserves the right to revoke building certification if data is not submitted. There are three options for submission: recertify under LEED for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance on a two-year cycle; annually collect and submit consumption data; or sign a release so USGBC may collect the data directly from utilities. Individual buildings that are not metered because they use a central plant are required to report data. This exception may apply to buildings on military bases or university campuses. “There is all too often a disconnect, or performance gap, between the energy modeling done during the design phase and what actually happens during daily operation after the building is constructed,” says Scot Horst, USGBC’s senior vice president of LEED. “We’re convinced that ongoing monitoring and reporting of data is the single best way to drive higher building performance.” For more information, visit www.usgbc.org.

Houston-based International Facility Management Association (IFMA) and Johnson Controls, Glendale, Wis., released their third-annual Energy Efficiency Indicator survey, revealing that North American business leaders continue to express robust interest in energy efficiency, but their actions to improve buildings have weakened. Seventy-one percent of the 1,422 survey respondents said they are paying more attention to energy efficiency now than they were 12 months ago, and more than half the respondents—58 percent—said energy management is very or extremely important to their organization. However, for a consecutive year, research showed a decline in capital and operating expenditures for energy efficiency. Many respondents reported taking fewer actions or none at all toward improving efficiency in the past year. Limited funding, a desire for greater incentives and shorter payback periods, uncertainty about energy and regulatory policy, in addition to the uncertain economy, all contributed to the setbacks. For more information, visit www.ifma.org.

What: Designing & Building with FSC Awards 2009, from the Forest Stewardship Council, Minneapolis, www.fscus.org

Deadline for entry: Oct. 1

Details: Celebrating U.S. and Canadian green-building architecture and construction using FSC-certified materials, the awards are open to homeowners, architects, interior designers, general contractors, builders, consultants, and other professionals committed to using FSC-certified wood. Two awards in two categories—residential and commercial/institutional—will be presented at Greenbuild International Conference and Exposition 2009 in Phoenix in November. Visit www.fscus.org for more information and an application form.

What: The ZEROprize, sponsored by ZEROfootprint, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, communities.zerofootprint.net

Deadline for entry: Rolling

Details: The ZEROprize is open to design teams that use re-skinning and other retrofitting technologies on an older concrete high-rise structure to reduce its carbon, water, and energy footprint to net-zero while also maintaining high architectural design standards. Among the entry requirements: Buildings in the competition must have a net-zero footprint for one year; must have been constructed of reinforced concrete between 1945 and 1990; and must have a minimum of 150 units or 150,000 square feet (13,935 m2) of floor space. Energy for the structure must be produced by devices within the building and its nearby property and cannot be powered by fuel brought to the building.

For more entry guidelines (including documentation that must be submitted and details on other building restrictions), visit communities.zerofootprint.net/building-re-skinning-competition.

The U.S. and China signed a memorandum of understanding as a joint commitment to reach an international agreement to address climate change. The world’s top two greenhouse-gas emitters said the development elevates climate change as an issue for the countries and vowed to hold regular consultations on the issue. The agreement calls for cooperation in areas such as renewable energy, sustainable transportation, and natural resource conservation, but lacks firm emissions reduction targets. “Cooperation on climate change, clean and efficient energy, and environmental protection can serve as a pillar of the bilateral relationship, build mutual trust and respect, and lay the foundation for constructive engagement between the United States and China for years to come, while also contributing to multilateral cooperation,” the memorandum states.

A proposal converting McMansions into biofilter water treatment plants took top prize in the Reburbia Design Competition. Sponsored by Inhabitat (www.inhabitat.com) and Dwell magazine, the competition challenged architects and designers to address problems facing present-day suburbia.

The grand prize of $1,000 went to Calvin Chiu for “Frog’s Dream: McMansions Turned into Biofilter Water Treatment Plants,” a proposal that converts abandoned suburban tract homes into manmade wetland areas (rendered above).

More information on the grand prize winner, as well as second- and third-place proposals and a People’s Choice winner are available online at www.re-burbia.com.

Former Vice President Al Gore is slated as the opening keynote speaker for the 2009 Greenbuild International Conference & Expo in Phoenix. Speaking at Chase Field on Nov. 11, Gore will be joined by nine-time Grammy award winner Sheryl Crow and USGBC president, CEO, and founding chair, Rick Fedrizzi.