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I By THYDA DUONG Long Beach Business Journal A s revisions to California building and energy codes are beginning to take shape so too are the opportunities for the design and construction industries to lay the foundation for long-term change in the form of sustainable construction. Updates to the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards commonly referred to as Title 24 include a requirement that all residential buildings be built to a net zero energy consumption standard by 2020 meaning the building must produce as much energy on site as it consumes on an annual basis. All new commercial buildings must be net zero by 2030. For some the changes may also mean a different kind of green in the form of increased costs. This was the most monumental code change since the inception of the energy code in 1978 said John Gillett Chief Operations Officer at Energy Inspectors Inc. which provides energy efficiency and sustainable consulting as well as third-party inspection services to production homebuilders. I think long term theres no question that its going to have a positive effect on the reduction of carbon emissions he said but there is the unintended consequence of increased costs which could have an impact in the short term on the economy. Gillett added that the new provisions could add 2000 to 3000 in costs for an average pro- duction home. A potential savior he noted is the possi- bility of increased long-term solar leasing options for h o m e o w n e r s which could elim- inate a major ex- pense to builders. It could be the white knight that rides in here and saves the day he said. Were just not certain if thats quite what the economics would allow for yet. For some the expenses associated with sustainable building materials must also be weighed with the overall environmental cost. When you build without using renewable resources theres a tremendous cost on our world environment said Dana Cuff founding Director of cityLAB a think tank within UCLAs Department of Architecture and Urban Design. Were developing new strategies for sustainable construction that have new economies built into them both in terms of the actual costs of the materials and in terms of finding more affordable means to develop sustainable construction Cuff added pointing to the emergence of new kinds of large-scale wooden buildings that may be cost-comparable to steel frames as an example. Nevertheless builders are increasingly integrating sustainable elements into new homes. Gillett noted rapid migrations to tankless water heaters enhanced heating and cooling systems that have progressively become 20 to 30 more efficient over the past five years and increased usage of LED lighting as examples. Solar he added will likely become the norm. Within five years youre going to see 80 of new homes have some solar panels installed . . . so were going to see architects having to adjust their roof lines. New Definitions Of Sustainability As builders continue to explore energy-efficient structures and mechanical systems Walker Wells Vice President of Programs at Global Green USA cautions against singular approaches to sustainable building. With these specific mandates on energy and water I think theres a risk that we lose the holistic perspective of green building design Wells explained noting that those looking to reduce heating and cooling needs for example could logically reduce the size of a homes windows. The result however is less natural daylight and more artificial lighting in addition to an unpleasant living environment. It might work well from an energy perspective but from a livability perspective it may actually be significantly worse he said. I think these are the challenges that happen when you break off issues individually and dont look at them in relation to other factors that make up a green building. Similarly Cuff encourages individuals to explore newer definitions of sustainability that take into account neighborhoods communities and ecosystems at large. We have to build sustainable cities at the same time we build sustainable buildings Cuff said. We cant continue to build more sprawl. . . . We need to find ways to improve the quality of life and the environment in the suburbs while also increasing the density there. Cuff points to cityLABs Backyard BIhOME as an example of new strategies to build and live more sustainably. Designed by Kevin Daly Architects and UCLA architecture students the BIhOME is an ultra-modern demonstration project that explores alternative designs for sustainability incorporating a lightweight tubular frame and an Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene ETFE building envelope with imprinted photovoltaic cells that collect solar energy in addition to serving as a biome by providing habitats for other species. It tries to address a full environmental agenda in a space thats less than a two-car garage Cuff said. For The Olson Company redefining traditional living environments and embracing sustainability have long shaped its approach to building said Senior Director of Operations Thomas Moore. The company specializes in infill developments that re-tool underutilized properties allowing it to avoid disturbing untouched land while creating communities that are pedestrian-and transit-friendly. The company was also an early adopter of Leadership in Energy Environmental Design LEED certification for its properties added Vice President of Purchasing Karen Hoover who noted that all of the companys communities built since 2007 are LEED certified. As an industry homebuilding continues to evolve with changing concepts of sustainability and the statewide requirements shaping the long-range energy plan for California. I think the level of knowledge is increasing and therefore sustainable building feels less disruptive to the standard way of doing business Wells said. The goal would be for every building to be a green building. I 18 Sustainable Construction A New Blueprint For Addressing Californias Energy Plan Solar panel installation is a growing industry within Southern California. 2015_OlsonCompanyInTownLiving_PortAnniversary 8815 117 PM Page 18