Living at the Cutting Edge of the Green Building Trend.
Adding Beauty and Energy Efficiency to LEED Certified Projects

Paul Nutcher, CSI CDT
Green Apple Group

Building teams throughout North America are realizing a rapid movement toward green building. New design strategies and an increasing use of more sustainable products will be required to support this movement. Such effort will maximize points toward the voluntary LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building projects. It will also result in compliance with new national sustainability standards and updated local building and energy codes. Because of this reality, L&M Construction Chemicals commissioned Paul Nutcher CSI CDT of Green Apple Group, LLC to investigate the possible LEED credits available to building teams when a polished concrete floor is included in

  1. the design and construction of new buildings, and
  2. renovations to existing buildings.

Back in the late 1940's, a new concept was sweeping through the building industry. It was called "air conditioning." It transformed the industry. A few decades later, the industry found itself learning its alphabet: four infamous letters that also transformed the industry: O S H A.

Now there's another innovation for the current generation of AEC industry professionals. It's called "GREEN" or sustainable construction, and it is expected to become standard practice in years to come. Not too many years ago, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) developed a measurement system of a building's environmental qualities as a way for project teams developing owner occupied facilities -- mostly office buildings -- to gain third-party validation for their efforts in building an environmentally responsible structure. It was named Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design, or simply LEED. In simplest terms, a green or LEED certified building is a structure that exceeds building code in energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality and overall environmental impact.

Today, with increasing concerns about global warming, electric power outages or "brownouts," the high price of energy, oil and natural gas, and other geopolitical forces in recent times, what started as a way to add value to real estate portfolios is now hard to ignore. With a quick survey of contemporary building news, one can see that the voluntary LEED standards are beginning to enter local building codes from San Francisco to Miami.

One of the many strategies for building teams tasked with following the LEED rating system is looking early on in a project's timeline for ways in which the project can gain points toward a LEED-certified structure. Because it sets benchmarks from a whole building perspective, LEED is ultimately a predictor of building performance and not a product rating system. However, project teams will still need "green" products, capable installers and maintenance plans in order to go from a registered LEED project to final LEED certification.

The FGS/PermaShine Concrete Floor Polishing process, developed by L & M Construction Chemicals, is an ideal example of how a product for Polished Concrete Floors can be used to assist a building design team in earning points toward LEED certification.

FGS/PermaShine System (MasterFormat Section 033500 Concrete Finishing, and/or 030130 Maintenance of Cast in Place Concrete) is a patented, dry method of concrete floor or concrete surface restoration using the process of grinding a concrete surface to be resurfaced while extracting and retaining dust during the grinding process. This polished concrete process can contribute points toward certification in the LEED for New Construction and Major Renovation program in the categories that follow on page 10.

Understanding LEED: Almost as much fun as a day at the D.M.V.

There are most certainly advantages of the shift to "Green" sustainable building design and construction. Even if you're not a gung-ho environmentalist, building Green and LEED certification are just plain good for businesses. But let's face it—understanding LEED is not exactly something that most people want to spend their time doing.

The time and money required for training and to sort through the volumes of cryptic guidelines and learning all the acronyms would make Stephen Hawking reach for the aspirin bottle. (This stuff makes the tax code look simple.) So what's a business owner supposed to do?

Fortunately, L&M Construction Chemicals has done a lot of the work for you. First, head to www.fgs-permashine.com. You can download a white paper from the website that does a pretty good job of distilling the information. It's free as long as you enter code CN0907 in the request form.

The other option is to just call us. We're more than happy to work with you to bring your next concrete floor project into LEED certification.

Want help?
Contact L&M Construction Chemicals
US: 800-362-3331 • Worldwide: 203-393-0010

LEED and Green Polished Concrete Floor Systems

In projects where the concrete floor, along with other structural components, comprises more than 75 percent, or up to 95 percent, of the materials in the original building, the FGS/PermaShine process may assist a building team with points toward LEED-certification of a major renovation, under the LEED Materials & Resources (MR) Category Credits MR1.1 & MR1.2 for Building Reuse. Each credit section provides for 1 point each.

These projects can include buildings with large expanses of structural concrete floor, walls, and roofing that can be reused, such as in warehouses or retail showrooms. FGS PermaShine also can reduce the environmental impact from construction or demolition, because the polished concrete process involves resurfacing an existing concrete floor and the elimination of demolition, as is the intent of these Materials & Resources Credit categories.

Depending on the size of the floor, the FGS/PermaShine process may also contribute to maintaining at least 50 percent of the interior non-structural elements and therefore extend the life cycle of the building's existing concrete flooring, walls and roofing materials in order to comply with MR Credit 1.3. It is important to know that MR Credits 1.1 & 1.2 address floors, roofs and walls but only in cases where the materials, including the concrete, is structural. All three MR credit categories require that a renovation be NOT more than twice the original building size or these credits cannot be pursued.

Under the LEED category of Energy & Atmosphere, from one to 10 points are available for Optimized Energy Performance. A concrete floor with FGS/PermaShine can qualify for points in this category because it can be part of a whole building approach to energy efficient design. The thermal mass of a concrete floor and the reflective finish of the FGS/PermaShine process are attributes of this system that can provide improved energy performance.

In particular, the thermal properties of concrete floors can reduce the cooling and heating loads within a building envelope. The energy required for lighting interiors can be reduced with the reflective floor process. The number of LEED points available in this section of the Green Building Rating System will depend on the area of the building with concrete flooring. For example, if the building team can document that the concrete floor has increased the energy efficiency of a building by 10.5 percent over the baseline building performance rating per ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2004, then LEED-NC awards 1 point. Theoretically, up to 10 points could be awarded for a 42 percent increase in energy efficiency.

Polished concrete floors can help building teams gain LEED points in the Materials & Resources category under Credits 3.1 and 3.2 by Material Reuse of 5 percent of the building materials cost, and up to 10 percent. The potential for LEED points in this category comes from refurbishing permanently installed concrete flooring, because this strategy reduces the materials demand and impact of extracting and processing raw materials. To gain the points in this category, the project should utilize existing materials that cost at least 5 percent, and up to 10 percent, of the total materials on the project.

The FGS/PermaShine process can reduce the quantity of indoor air contaminants that are odorous, irritating and harmful to the comfort and well-being of installers and occupants of a building as required by the LEED Category Environmental Quality Credit 4.1 for Low-Emitting Materials: Adhesives and Sealants. The chemical treatments in FGS/PermaShine are VOC-free and comply with South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Rule #1168 and do not exceed the VOC content limits established in SCAQMD Rule #1113, Architectural Coatings. The Adhesives and Sealant Credit provides one point toward certification.

Innovation will gain LEED points, too.

The above LEED credit section references are for suggested applications of FGS/PermaShine. The LEED applicant is ultimately responsible for determining the product attributes that will help provide LEED-certification of a building project. Still, there are also more potential points on projects involving FGS/PermaShine installations within the Category of Innovation in Design (ID). This category is for points toward sustainable design strategies currently beyond the scope of LEED.

The mechanical, dry polishing and chemical installation method of densifying a concrete floor through the FGS/PermaShine process can qualify project teams for LEED points in the Innovation in Design category. This is because of the low impact the FGS installation method has on indoor air quality and the surrounding environment. The FGS/PermaShine process creates only trace amounts of particulate matter during its application. In fact, certified installers can polish a concrete floor overnight, while valuable retail stock remains on shelves. The ground particulates are collected in a vacuum capturing system, and may have the potential to be reused. In addition, maintenance of an FGS/PermaShine floor is lower in cost and environmental impact than the constant waxing and maintenance of other flooring options. These are the sustainable attributes of an FGS/PermaShine installed floor that can contribute to LEED Innovation in Design points.

Under the LEED-NC categories, an FGS/PermaShine Polished Concrete Floor System can assist building teams in obtaining a minimum of five LEED points, as long as the overall design meets or exceeds the LEED building performance standards.

FGS/PermaShine can also potentially assist in gaining points in other LEED Green Building Rating Systems, including LEED for Existing Buildings (EB), LEED Core and Shell, LEED for Homes, as well as others still under development, such as LEED for Schools, LEED for New Retail construction, and LEED for Healthcare, among others.

It takes a minimum of 26 points to gain LEED Certification for a building in addition to meeting several prerequisites. The additional points needed for LEED certification in buildings using FGS/PermaShine can be gained in other categories, including sustainable site and water efficiency.

More than LEED: Other Green Building Initiatives

While LEED is considered the national benchmark for sustainable design, construction and operation of buildings, FGS/PermaShine can also help building teams comply with many other "green" building standards, including the Green Building Initiative's Green Globes and various other national and regional standards.

The bottom line is that project teams need to be aware of LEED and prepare to adopt its guidelines because it is the first widely accepted green building rating system and because it is currently being translated into local building codes. In addition, many other military, federal, state or regional sustainable building guidelines and energy codes contain many of the same or similar requirements as LEED for compliance. The program for translating LEED language into building codes is called the Standard 189P project.

Standard 189P is being developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in conjunction with the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESAN) and the USGBC. According to the USGBC, "Standard 189P (Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings) will provide a baseline for sustainable design, construction, and operations in order to drive green building into mainstream building practices."

There are many other initiatives by non-governmental organizations, including the Clinton Initiative, that are pushing for the green building movement to be a success. With the support of 40 mayors from the world's largest cities, this specific initiative seeks to repeat the organization's success in fighting the global AIDS epidemic by now fighting climate change on the same scale.

The Architecture 2030 Challenge is another initiative of significance because it calls for architects to design buildings that will reduce their CO2 emissions by 50 percent today (2007). The initiative also seeks a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2010, and for buildings to be net carbon neutral by 2030.

Green Polished Concrete: A sustainable flooring option that improves the triple bottom line.

FGS/PermaShine is an exciting new development for this movement because it addresses three of the most important benefits of green or sustainable building: 1) It enables increased profitability for project teams through more energy-efficient buildings, 2) improved occupant health, and 3) a reduction in overall environmental impacts.

A large benefit of the FGS/PermaShine Polished Concrete Floor System is the long-term energy savings because of a concrete floor's thermal mass, which improves indoor comfort by allowing for more efficient and improved individual workstation temperature controls. (Temperature at an individual's workstation is the leading complaint by building occupants concerning indoor environmental quality, according to the USGBC.)

With increasing concerns regarding Sick Building Syndrome, there is growing evidence that a green workplace, such as one with a VOC-free FGS/PermaShine Polished Concrete Floor Process, improves productivity and results in less absenteeism.

The overall environmental impact of the FGS/PermaShine Polished Concrete Floor System is less than other floor finishes because material requirements for this system are VOC free, reusable and recyclable. In addition, while the dry or mechanical application process is not specifically addressed in LEED at present, it has a high potential for gaining a point for Innovation in Design because this process conserves water. It also is a non-slurry producing process which results in less residual byproduct to be disposed of in municipal landfills.

Answering tomorrow's needs with new products today.

The green building movement and its inevitable transformation of the AEC industry will create opportunities for manufacturers that embrace, understand and respond to the current initiatives. Manufacturers such as L&M Construction Chemicals, ones that continue to stay current on the trend toward sustainable product development, manufacturing, distribution, installation, maintenance and material reuse (or deconstruction), will gain strong footholds within the architectural community because of their commitment to green practices.

Call L&M Construction Chemicals for more details on how its FGS/PermaShine Green Polished Concrete Floor system can help your building qualify for "green" building standards.
800-362-3331 or visit www.fgs-permashine.com.


Paul Nutcher, CSI CDT
Green Apple Group
About the author
Paul Nutcher CSI, CDT writes and speaks frequently on green building and other construction topics. He is the Communications Director for the Central Florida Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. His is a board member of the Greater Orlando Construction Specifications Institute and a member of the Construction Writers Association. Mr. Nutcher also is a principal and executive vice president of the Green Apple Group, LLC, a full service advertising and public relations agency specializing in strategic marketing programs for manufacturers of building products. He has a bachelor's degree in English writing from the University of Pittsburgh and lives in Central Florida.

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© 2007 L&M Construction Chemicals, Inc. | ConcreteNews September 2007.

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