DAYLIGHTING BOOSTS KIDS' GRADES AND STORE SALES
A new study, one of the largest and most rigorous ever on natural light in schools, suggests children learn faster and do better on standardized tests in classrooms with more daylight. Heschong-Mahone Group, a Sacramento-based energy consulting firm, conducted the research for the California Board for Energy Efficiency and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Statisticians analyzed test scores of more than 21,000 elementary school students in school districts in Capistrano, California; Seattle, Washington; and Fort Collins, Colorado. The study found that learning rates were 26 percent higher in reading and 20 percent higher in math in classrooms with the most natural light. The research also looked at daylighting's effect on retail sales, finding that sales in stores with skylights were up to 40 percent higher compared with almost identical stores in the same chain without skylights. While daylighting strategies such as skylights, well-placed windows, and reflective surfaces have long been advocated as a way to conserve energy, builders or building owners may be more excited about daylighting's effects on people. The new daylight research is "one of the better recent studies that indicates there are effects here worth looking at," says Steve Selkowitz, head of the building technologies department at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, who coordinated the scholarly review of the findings. - The Sacramento Bee, 28 Jun 99, p A1, by Carrie Peyton. [Order a copy of the studies: <http://www.h-m-g.com/toppage11.htm>]
COUNTY TENANTS PROMPT GREEN DESIGN
King Street Center, a new [327,000-square-foot] Seattle office building that will house King County's departments of Natural Resources and Transportation, was designed to optimize the building's energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and resource conservation systems. The building, nearing completion, is a joint venture of King County and developer Wright Runstad & Co. "Green" elements weren't part of a preliminary design from architectural firm NBBJ, according to County project manager Laurel Rhoades. But when the County tenants suggested a green building, the developer, consultants, and subcontractors agreed enthusiastically. "At every turn we said, 'Is there a different way we can do this?'" Rhoades says. "It was very informal, and it seemed to work. The results showed we were willing to work together, and go for big-ticket items like water reclamation, carpet and lighting." The lighting, which relies on sweep sensors, occupancy sensors, and daylight dimmers, operates at only .86 watts per square foot overall - 28 percent below the maximum allowable under the city's energy code. In the basement, three giant tanks store rainwater that supplies 60 to 80 percent of the building's water for toilets. Contractor Lease Crutcher Lewis recycled 80 percent of construction debris. - Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, 10 Jun 99, by Jon Savelle. [Full DJC text: <http://www.djc.com/data/news/19990610/10053354.htm>] [More: <http://splash.metrokc.gov/dnradmin/press/990618ks.htm>]
NEPAL CARPET INDUSTRY EXPLORES NATURAL DYES
Nepal's largest industry - carpet production - is looking at ways to reduce its reliance on the imported synthetic dyes that have largely replaced traditional natural dyes. Nepal's hundreds of small carpet producers use few process controls, and large quantities of synthetic dyes are currently discharged into Nepal's rivers, potentially affecting millions of people. A Nepali organization, the Institute for Legal Research and Resources, has hired chemists to investigate the challenges to using natural dyes. These include color quality and fastness, as well as sufficient supplies. Research is also needed to determine if natural dyes would be an environmental improvement. Although vegetable dyes are free of heavy metals, it isn't clear that they produce less biological or chemical oxygen demand in wastewaters or don't cause adverse health effects in some workers. Also, some vegetable dyes are fixed with mordants that do contain heavy metals. There are good indicators, however, that using vegetable dyes is technically feasible, and the international carpet market appears responsive to them. Some dye producers, including Colorado-based Allegro Natural Dyes, already specialize in natural dyes. And the Rugmark Nepal Foundation is considering expanding the Rugmark labeling system, which currently represents carpets made without the use of child labor, to cover environmentally responsible production as well. - Journal of Industrial Ecology, Vol 2, No 4, p 7, by Burton Hamner. [More on Allegro: <http://www.sni.net/ecolor/>]
INNOVATIVE DESIGN MAY SLASH SUPERMARKET'S ENERGY COSTS
For a new Sainsbury's supermarket due to open this fall in Greenwich, UK, architect Chetwood Associates set two tough environmental targets: halving energy consumption compared to standard stores and achieving an 'excellent' rating under the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM). Chetwood used daylighting as a primary energy reduction strategy, but since supermarkets display products on their walls, the architect introduced glazing into the roof and located services under the floor instead of overhead. To avoid the glare of direct sunlight, which can wash out display lighting, fade products, and rot fresh produce, jagged sawtooth skylights face north. Externally mounted louvers prevent sudden changes in internal light levels. Chetwood decided against photochromic dimmable glass (too expensive), internal shading (difficult to control solar gain), and external blinds (which need to retract when windy to avoid damage). The building's design also calls for passive ventilation. Air is first drawn through ducts that run under earth mounds surrounding the building, then travels from an underfloor void into the bases of merchandise gondolas, where kick-plate grilles introduce it to the store. Vents in the sawtooths' tips exhaust air through the roof. Although Sainsbury's and Chetwood won't know whether they've met their environmental targets until the doors open, the design has already won the winning entry in a green supermarket competition sponsored by English Partnerships [the Government's urban regeneration agency]. - Building Design, 2 Jul 99, p 19, by Gareth Gardner. [More: <http://www.j-sainsbury.co.uk/company/environment.htm>]
US EXECUTIVE ORDER TARGETS GREENHOUSE GASES, ENERGY USE
President Clinton has signed an Executive Order on "Greening the Government through Efficient Energy Management." With more than 500,000 buildings, the Federal Government is the nation's largest energy consumer, spending roughly $8 billion a year. The Executive Order  released June 3 calls for federal agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent from 1990 levels by 2010. The order also calls for building energy consumption to be reduced 30 percent from 1985 levels by 2005 and 35 percent by 2010, with somewhat lower targets for industrial and laboratory facilities. Among its numerous provisions, the Executive Order lists specific goals for the Million Solar Roofs initiative: 2,000 solar energy systems installed on federal facilities by the end of 2000 and 20,000 systems by 2010. Federal agencies with eligible buildings must strive to meet the Energy Star Building criteria for energy performance and indoor environmental quality by the end of 2002. And within 120 days of the Executive Order, the Department of Defense and General Services Administration (consulting with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency) are to develop and issue sustainable design principles for the siting, design, and construction of new federal facilities. - Environmental Building News, Jun 99, p 2. [Full EO text: <http://www.ebuild.com/Archives/Other_Copy/Executive.html>]
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