Notes from the 2019 Municipal Green Building Conference

The Gas Company here in Los Angeles hosts an annual Green Building Conference event.  This was my second year in attendance.  I heard attendance was over 700 this year, up from 600 last year.  Here are my notes from the conference.  Keep in mind that there are three times more lectures going on than a person can attend.  That way people can attend a variety of topics depending on what they are interested in.



Notes from the 2019 Annual Municipal Green Building Conference and Expo

by Guy Van Meulebrouck PE

I had a great time at the conference this year, learned a lot, saw some new products, networked. I will be back next year for sure.

The opening address was interesting. I learned that southern California is nearing it’s goal for 20% of our natural gas coming from re-newables. The most important thing I took away from this lecture was the importance of people opening up communication with people they don’t know and talking with them about options for Green Buildings. If we don’t do it amongst ourselves because we care about the future, then the government will have to do it for us. It is already law in California that buildings have to be net zero energy by a rapidly nearing future date. The photo above shows a low water landscape and the entrance to the conference.

Passive Cooling. I attended a fascinating lecture by Callison RTKL architects who use four different modeling soft wares to perfect passive cooling designs. Some of their designs for cooling outdoor areas and indoor areas are not only ingenious and workable but also visually stunning. Grasshopper was mentioned as a free software that they use for 3D modeling for the performance of their passive designs. Their designs incorporated effect use of shade, natural air movement (using stacks), misting, day-lighting, storing cool from night air, water features, strategic use of plants, local wind patterns, and phase change materials.

Next I attended a lecture on Food Waste Recycling. This is a proven and reliable technology that is commercially available in a variety of budget and size options, all of which have pay-backs of 5 years or less. Basically, buildings that serve a lot of meals would take waste food and paper products and dump them into a vessel that grinds and ferments (without odor) and produces natural gas and electricity from it!! There are some nice perks to adding this to a large kitchen/food service: less money spent on garbage pickup (“tipping fees” as they are called), free fertilizer for landscape, plus advertising and bragging rights for being environmentally responsible.

Near Zero Trash, Things got even more interesting when they started talking trash. The lecture on zero waste buildings drew so much more of a crowd this year than last year that people were standing in the back and even sitting in the aisles. Consultants who specialize in reducing the amount of trash that leaves a building pay for themselves. This topic goes beyond recycling. Trash removal fees (“tipping fees”) have gone up so much lately. The tipping fee increases was attributed to two things: local regulation of trash pickup companies has forced them into distinct territories so that there is no overlapping of territories where competing trash companies waste fuel driving all over. This created a monopoly which of course drove prices up. Secondly, evidently Chinese freighters were hauling our trash back to China instead of having massive fleets of freighters returning to China empty. So the quality of our trash has diminished to the point where the Chinese were unable to process it.

The new 2019 codes lecture was sparsely attended. The 2019 Title 24 expanded to over five volumes (good grief!!). Residential structures will be 7% more energy efficient and commercial will need to be 30% more efficient-although it was not clear to me if that was just commercial lighting or for the entirety of new commercial buildings. Green House Gas emissions (GHG) is written into the 2022 Title 24 codes but the exact amount of GHG paperwork is in the 2019 Title 24 code hasn’t been fully explored yet.

There was a display for a local company that will create lumber from cut down trees (a good contact to know).









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