Sustainable Buildings

In preparing for this speech I decided to choose something related to my field of study. After searching through several journals I came across one titled: Sustainable Buildings, Applying Prevention Through Design. A. The journal article was published by Professional Safety. Jun2013, Vol. 58 Issue 6, p76-80. 5p. B.This article was contributed to by three authors: Mohammed Albattah, a graduate student from the University of Colorado at Boulder who is a LEED Green Associate, Marielle Roucheray, a former graduate research assistant within the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering at University of Colorado at Boulder, and lastly Matthew Hallowell, a Ph. D. who is the assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering at University of Colorado at Boulder. C.This article goes into detail about a new tool that AEC (Architects, Engineers, and Contractors) can use when constructing a sustainable building using the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification program. II. I chose this article because having been in construction for twenty years I have seen a great deal of injuries that could’ve been avoided. I am a supporter of the LEED’s certification program but at the same time I understand the extra sustainability can and does lead to injuries or deaths.III. The authors’ thesis explains what LEED is, why it can cause more injury than typical construction, and a new model they believe can be used to decrease such injuries when working on a sustainable project. IV. From the above mentioned article I will be discussing three main points: LEED, injuries sustained as a result of certain credits being sought after in the LEED’s certification program, and finally the new tool proposed by the authors of this article that can decrease such sustainable construction injuries. Body I.LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design was first implemented in 1998 in an effort to make buildings and design more sustainable (environmental friendly). Sustainable building is an accelerating trend in the AEC (Architects, Engineers, and Contractors) industry. LEED is the most recognized green building initiative and is a certification system that evaluates the potential environmental performance of a building over its life cycle. II. In a study conducted by Fortunato it was shown that design elements and practices implemented to achieve LEED certification affects construction worker safety and health.The study revealed that of the 55 applicable credits, 12 increase safety risks when compared to conventional projects, citing that workers are exposed to unfamiliar situations and work at height and near electrical systems, unstable soils, and heavy equipment. According to Dewlaney, the most significant negative effects to safety are the green roof credit (causing a 19% increase in eye strain while installing reflective roof membranes; on-site renewable energy (24% increase in falls to lower level during roof work); and construction waste management (36% increase in lacerations, strains, and sprains).In a survey done by Smallwood in 2004 it was concluded that design had a negative impact on worker safety in 50% of reported injuries. Gibb, Haslam, and Hide also found that changes in facility design could reduce these injuries by as much as 47%. Behm added that out of 226 injuries and 224 deaths, design was a contributing factor in as many as 22% of injuries and 42% of fatalities. III. Although several tools have been developed for the implementation of PTD or Prevention Through Design, I will be concentrating on the tool developed by the authors of this article.The authors used information from previously developed tools in order to come up with a more useful and practical tool, which is basically a decision support tool in the form of a PDF and HTML web page. The tool focuses on the convergence of LEED, PTD and construction safety. LEED for new construction’s most recent checklist is used as an interface for the tool itself. For each credit in the following categories the tool will project any added risks to certain design decisions: falls to lower level, falls to same level, overexertion, exposure to harmful substances and other.The authors asked 16 participants who had an average of 18 years’ experience and had completed two LEED projects to test the tool on an active LEED project and provide feedback. The overall rating of the tool was 7. 7 out of 10, suggesting it is indeed a useful tool for safety in design. IV. Although LEED is an excellent certification program for the sustainability of buildings, it does not address the safety risks involved in pursuing such credits. Even though studies have shown increases in risks while pursuing these credits, there is always the possibility that an injury occurred due to employee error.The new tool proposed by the authors is useful, but it will not easily gain acceptance among designers who feel the responsibility of worker safety rest solely on the shoulders of the contractor. V. Because of today’s increasing demands on energy it has never been more important to have a program such as LEED to help govern more sustainable decisions. Studies show that there is an increase in worker related injury and death when certain credits of the LEED program are being pursued, which is the reason the authors designed this PTD tool.Testing has proved that the authors’ tool is useful and will improve construction practices for sustainable building designs. VI. This article is relevant to the field of construction because it addresses a major concern over increased safety risks to workers during the construction of sustainable buildings and offers a solution to the problem. Conclusion I. LEED is a certification program intended to increase the sustainability of buildings, thereby conserving energy. Studies have shown that of the 55 applicable credits, 12 contribute to increased safety risks.The authors have designed a tool in the form of a PDF and HTML web page which aids in the safety of design, using prevention through design. II. Although studies have shown that there is an increase in safety risks on green building projects it must be noted that this may have nothing to do with LEED or sustainable building design. However, the authors make the assumption that these injuries are most likely associated with the pursuance of certain LEED credits and have designed a tool to address the increased safety risks.


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