Sustainability ENews Vol12#2 Perspective Better Bldg

The Masonry Society



Sustainability E-News

Perspectives on Better Buildings



January 31, 2020



Volume 12, Number 2






From The Editor

In another sign that the emphasis is shifting toward carbon emissions Pittsburgh recently adopted a net-zero energy ready requirement for government buildings. I found this quote from the article linked below interesting. “Previously, the City required a LEED Silver standard for municipal buildings—the change to Net Zero Ready will create a more direct focus on energy efficiency and carbon reduction, while also avoiding the administrative and cost burdens of LEED certification.” Fortunately buildings don't have to be LEED certified to be designed with sustainability in mind. Are the buildings you work on seeking LEED certification or are they pursuing other types of certification? Or are they bypassing third-party certification entirely? Share your thoughts with me at the email below.


Christine "Tina" Subasic, PE, LEED AP


NOTE: Inclusion in this newsletter is not an endorsement of the products and materials featured, nor have these products been evaluated by TMS or the editor. Furthermore, the views expressed in the articles featured are those of the article authors.






Several of the articles below offer perspectives on how we can do a better job of creating more sustainable buildings and communities. ~Tina


Pittsburgh city buildings ready to go Net Zero


Pittsburgh’s Mayor William Peduto signed an ordinance for net-zero government buildings, taking action to save money on operating costs and as an important step toward the city’s climate goals. This follows the Pittsburgh City Council’s unanimous vote on October 15, 2019 to pass an ordinance requiring all new or renovated City government buildings to be net-zero energy (NZE) ready. Read more here.


Building momentum: How we can change the conversation around climate change


Adaptive reuse of existing buildings is sometimes the greenest solution. Some people who see existing buildings as relics of a once bustling city immediately write them off to history. On the other hand, there are those who see these structures as diamonds in the rough, and the key to securing a city’s sustainable future. Read more.


Two architects check the pulse of sustainable building practices


Amid mounting concern about the changing climate, designers are moving beyond standard solutions. Clients don’t just want to cut VOCs and energy use, they want architects to help them significantly reduce a project’s carbon footprint—including the impact of individual components before they’re installed. Amid the pressure to surpass even LEED standards, two architects from RECORD’s latest and past Products of the Year contest juries shared their view of next steps here.


DOE offers webinars to learn more about the Better Buildings program


Learn more about the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings program via monthly webinars that are open to the public. The Better Buildings Alliance was formed by DOE with the goal of improving the energy efficiency of buildings by 20% over a period of 10 years.


Top trends: 5 ways construction will evolve in 2020


Though the nation's second-largest industry seems like it doesn't change much, there are myriad, nuanced forces that shape the way contractors do business and build structures. Here are the top trends to expect in 2020.



LEED v4.1 made several improvements to requirements and as a result new tools and forms have been developed. Read more below. ~Tina


New tools for LEED v4.1 in LEED Online


USGBC has recently launched new tools for LEED v4.1 in LEED Online to support the precertification and initial certification of individual projects using LEED for Building Design and Construction (BD+C) and LEED for Interior Design and Construction (ID+C). Explore the new features.


Top 10 USGBC announcements of 2019


USGBC made 2019 the year of LEED v4.1. The latest version of LEED officially opened registration for projects in new construction and residential, as well as cities and communities. There were plenty of other big announcements, campaigns and reports in 2019, too—from significant LEED milestones to a new emphasis on equity. Take a look at some of the top announcements from the past year.


The first article linked below discusses building product ‘healthiness in use’ rating using "HealthRATE™" - an international program that looks at the toxicology of products as they exist after all the chemical reactions in the manufacturing have been completed. This program tries to address the question “what effect will this product have on me, my colleagues or family?” Something that a new ASTM work item also tries to address. ~Tina


Demystifying the opacity of ingredient hazard transparency


The idea that we should all transparently know the health and ecological risks of the ingredients in products we purchase is a sound and desirable one. But it is how we interpret and deal with the relatively ‘opaque’ and highly complex chemistry and toxicological information that transparency reporting makes available that is where we run into troubles. Having toxicological Information is one thing, understanding, accessing and using it effectively and efficiently to inform product choice and determine healthiness, is a completely different thing. Given that toxic precursors exist in many products but don’t appear in the final product, is it reasonable to expect every purchaser or specifier to learn and deal with organic chemistry and human and ecological toxicology just to choose a sustainable product? This writer of this article doesn’t think so.


Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production


The USGBC recently published a brief on the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal 12, Responsible Consumption and Production. Read this article to learn more about sustainable choices in production.


Brick made from recycled materials requires little energy


University professor Gabriela Medero has developed a brick that is 90% recycled construction and demolition waste and that uses one-tenth the energy of traditional brick manufacturing. The K-Briq provides better insulation than a conventional brick and is designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by taking kilns out of the equation, Medero says in this article. The K-Briq is claimed to produce just a tenth of the CO2 emissions of a traditional fired brick, is said to use less than a tenth of the energy in its manufacture, and can be made in any color.


Philippine students' concrete one of the top inventions of 2019


Eco-friendly concrete developed by civil engineering students at the University of the Philippines is among Eco-Business' top sustainability innovations of 2019. The concrete is a combination of recycled materials, such as fly ash and waste glass, and pozzolanic tuff, a common type of porous rock. Read more.



TMS has several new webinar offerings for 2020, including one on LEED as noted below. And it's not too early to start making your plans to attend the TMS Spring Meetings in Charlotte, NC this year. ~Tina


Upcoming Webinar: What’s New in LEED v4.1


The latest version of LEED, LEED v4.1, was released in early 2019 proved a challenge to many designers and manufacturers. The Materials and Resources credits were particularly problematic. This new webinar explains how LEED v4.1 attempts to address these issues by adding incremental achievement levels and revising the thresholds and criteria in many of the credits. To register for this April 9, 2020 webinar, click here.


The Masonry Society Spring Meetings

Registration is now open for the TMS Spring Meetings to be held in Charlotte, NC April 30 - May 2, 2020. For more information on the upcoming meeting and TMS Committee activities, visit the TMS website.

To Subscribe, click here.


To be a 2020 Sponsor, click here.


Advancing the Knowledge of Masonry