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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 02-05-08, 10:44 AM   #1
gwd
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LEEDS Formula

A friend was telling me something screwy about a new office building going up. Apparently the owner wants to score LEEDS points for environmental friendliness. They considered bike amenities, bike access, bike racks and showers. Apparently the formula was based on the expected number of workers in the complex. Ok, they get points for the bike lanes, and they get points for the bike racks. But the number of bike racks had to be proportional to the number of workers. Then the number of bike racks determined a number of showers. My friend said the number of showers made the building loose so many LEEDs points for water usage that it counteracted the gain in points for bike transportation so they cut the bike amenities from the project. I can't get the details on the formula from my friend because her end of the project is HVAC, she just heard the bike overview in a meeting. She was just telling me this because it made no sense to her. Maybe they didn't plan on water saving shower heads?
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Old 02-05-08, 06:53 PM   #2
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I personally kind of agree with this assessment. Showers will permit the building to use more water. I work in a building that has showers and I notice that several people who take showers spent a considerable amount of time spraying hot water on themselves. It seems like when the boss is paying, they feel no compunction towards economizing... or maybe they spend 45 minutes in the shower at home.

I would throw out this revolutionary idea: as a society, we should be a little less sensitive about the smell of sweat.
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Old 02-05-08, 08:38 PM   #3
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I would love to see a complete list of rated items. I imagine that quite a few of the items are contradictory.

Showers obviously use water, but reducing the non-permeable surface area (parking lot) would have a positive impact.

Has anyone ever seen a permeable commercial parking surface? The only place I've ever seen it used is in housing developments.
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Old 02-05-08, 09:51 PM   #4
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Has anyone ever seen a permeable commercial parking surface? The only place I've ever seen it used is in housing developments.
Yes, when they paved the parking lot at the Living Desert in Palm Desert, CA, they used pavers. It was actually pretty nice.
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Old 02-05-08, 11:08 PM   #5
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I worked for an Architecture company that was LEEDS certified, and they tried to build according to LEEDS specifications as much as possible ... and I can see how the showers would be a detriment rather than benefit. Showers can use up a lot of water. Did they consider putting timers on the showers (i.e. 5 minutes max) or things like that?
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Old 02-05-08, 11:13 PM   #6
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I would love to see a complete list of rated items. I imagine that quite a few of the items are contradictory.

Showers obviously use water, but reducing the non-permeable surface area (parking lot) would have a positive impact.

Has anyone ever seen a permeable commercial parking surface? The only place I've ever seen it used is in housing developments.
I wrote an article about porous pavement several years ago. It's popular in some parts of Europe. Beneficial for the water supply, reduces run-off, and much higher traction in the rain than non-porous pavement. They also sometimes pave it in a colour-coded manner; I think colour-coded bike lanes would be pretty cool.
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Old 02-05-08, 11:17 PM   #7
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I wrote an article about porous pavement several years ago. It's popular in some parts of Europe. Beneficial for the water supply, reduces run-off, and much higher traction in the rain than non-porous pavement. They also sometimes pave it in a colour-coded manner; I think colour-coded bike lanes would be pretty cool.
I don't know if it is this porous pavement, but they have color coded lanes in some parts of Europe. The bike lanes are either pink or green. The whole lane is that color so you know exactly where you're supposed to be.
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Old 02-06-08, 08:04 AM   #8
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Does gravel=porous pavement?
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Old 02-06-08, 08:08 AM   #9
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There are two points available for water usage reductions reaching 30% of the baseline for the building as calculated using the Energy Policy Act. There is one point available for bicycle racks/storage for 5% of the buildings users measured at peak period and showers/changing rooms for 0.5% of the buildings full time equivalent occupants. There are no points for bike lanes. It would be hard to lose the one or two points (two points if they haven’t reached even a 20% water reduction) if they used occupant sensors in those showers. Those sensors can cut water usage dramatically and still give users enough water to quickly freshen/clean up after a ride to work.
If they did lose a point that would mean they aren’t doing enough things elsewhere in either water reduction (landscaping, low flow or not using grey or storm water technologies) or in the other 5 areas available for points. There are 69 points available with 26 needed to be certified.
Thank you to another design professional for setting the record straight. In my experience with previous LEED (NOT LEEDS! for the OP) projects, I have not found the shower point(s) to be negating to the water reduction points, if the plumbing engineer is on board with the LEED process.

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Old 02-06-08, 09:53 AM   #10
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I worked for an Architecture company that was LEEDS certified,
Technically speaking a LEED building gets LEED certified and a person gets LEED accredited.

Good idea though on putting a timer on the shower. People should just be freshening up after a bike ride and shouldn't need a full sauna.
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Old 02-06-08, 10:51 AM   #11
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I shower every workday at work and so do up to ten other folks any morning - I think there are six stalls - usually half used at any point in time. No one takes long showers that I've seen. My shower at work is always quicker than at home. 5min timers would go unused.

The water usage (for commuters) is not an added burden on the local resource. It is is just shifting of 'ownership' of resource use. Of course it is an add for LEED points and that is what counts.

The 'cost' could be taken not from a commuter bucket, but perhaps an employee fitness bucket - showers enable other non-commuting activities such as lunchtime running or ballgames. That of course is an added resource, not traded.
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Old 02-06-08, 11:57 AM   #12
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The 'cost' could be taken not from a commuter bucket, but perhaps an employee fitness bucket - showers enable other non-commuting activities such as lunchtime running or ballgames. That of course is an added resource, not traded.
Agreed! Much of what the LEED point system tries to emphasize (and not many building owners are savy enough to realize) is that overall lifecycle building costs include user wellbeing. i.e. more comfortable (natural daylight), fit (ability to take a lunchtime run and have a shower), content users will be less sick days used = more productivity = less total overall costs.
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Old 02-06-08, 12:16 PM   #13
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from my pov in the building industry LEED can be both good and bad. lots of things that are done in the spirit of green building don't count for LEED points, other things you have to scratch your head on.

often, you do not get credit for 'not' doing something.


in the case of showers for commuters - more bikes on the road = less cars, fitter employees and a pocitive environmental gain, regardless of the shower issue.

true, there is a potential for more water usage - but if people decide not to bike commute, (or walk, even better) do they drive and then on the way home drive more to a gym, using the shower there?

its a bit of a shell game. i'm working on a project now that is trying to get to LEED gold. the very design of the building doesn't support certain aspects of the credits the archi firm wants to get - so we are fighting the design in order to 'pick up points'. the whole process of 'green' building needs to be overhauled - its a systemic problem - not just about the design of the building itself, but of the society that the buildings serve. its great to have a LEED platinum home or office - is it still great if you get LEED platinum on your 6,000 sq ft. home for 2 people? or have your LEED office building out in the boonies, far away from rail, bus, or the ability for people to walk or bike to work, much less do other services nearby?

there are some good things about it... and I think it is a great first step. hopefully as society changes, LEED will not be necessary. its funny how we have to pay more, work harder, and design smarter - to do good. the burden should be on the methods of building we want to discourage - and until LEED is tied to financing and lower interest rates on construction loans or govt grants - i can't see it having too much impact on changing society.

building smaller is better, even if it is not the greenest.
building smaller using local labor and materials is best, when you can do it.
in some cases, not building at all is even better - esp if you have a good structure to make use of - after all - look at all the embodied energy around in all the buildings we already have...
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Old 02-06-08, 01:37 PM   #14
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there are some good things about it... and I think it is a great first step. hopefully as society changes, LEED will not be necessary. its funny how we have to pay more, work harder, and design smarter - to do good. the burden should be on the methods of building we want to discourage - and until LEED is tied to financing and lower interest rates on construction loans or govt grants - i can't see it having too much impact on changing society.
ALL new commercial & civil buildings in Europe ~at a minimum~ have to meet what is considered LEED Certified level in the United States. I'd say we are behind the times.
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Old 02-06-08, 04:16 PM   #15
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Thanks for the responses. It reads like they could do bike racks if they wanted to. I'm not sure that showers should be considered necessary. Several of the engineers on the project drive to the work site and visit the nearby gym on the way home or at lunch. The gym will still be there when the building is finished. Also, for the past 4 years I've bike commuted to a workplace without showers. In the summer I freshen up in the restroom. I'll talk to my friend tonight about it some more.
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Old 02-07-08, 08:04 AM   #16
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Thanks for the responses. It reads like they could do bike racks if they wanted to. I'm not sure that showers should be considered necessary. Several of the engineers on the project drive to the work site and visit the nearby gym on the way home or at lunch. The gym will still be there when the building is finished. Also, for the past 4 years I've bike commuted to a workplace without showers. In the summer I freshen up in the restroom. I'll talk to my friend tonight about it some more.
One cool thing about the shower point is that in a case like a new LEED building going up on an existing college campus, if there are showers within some distance (I can't remember the exact distance) of the new building, say in a Campus Rec Center that the occupants of the new building can use, you can still get the point for showers.
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Old 02-08-08, 08:56 PM   #17
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I am not sure what any of the formulas involve in an LEED building, but it seems like a joke to me. I am an elecrician and am working on my first LEED building and I can see NO energy effeciancy steps taken anywhere. There are no timers or motion sensors to control lighting in the building at all, there are quite a few incandecent light bulbs, they use underground hot water to melt snow for a HUGE area outside (including the road). I have not seen this level of ineffeciancy in at least a decade.
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Old 02-08-08, 10:18 PM   #18
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I've been around and around with this on the commuter forum.

A bike commuter does not need a shower at work if he or she takes a shower before leaving home and changes out of their bike clothing immediately upon arrival at work.

Human stink comes from stale sweat on clothing and when sweat on the body does not evaporate, giving bacteria time to grow.

I smell far worse when I drive my car than when I ride my bike.
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Old 02-10-08, 01:09 PM   #19
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Another consideration is that just because people are taking more showers at work doesn't mean they're taking more total showers. I know that I don't shower at home if I'm planning to shower at work.

As for LEEDS in general--much more energy is used in buildings than in transportation. Even if everybody was carfree, we'd be less than halfway there.
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Old 02-11-08, 10:51 AM   #20
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I've been around and around with this on the commuter forum.

A bike commuter does not need a shower at work if he or she takes a shower before leaving home and changes out of their bike clothing immediately upon arrival at work.

Human stink comes from stale sweat on clothing and when sweat on the body does not evaporate, giving bacteria time to grow.

I smell far worse when I drive my car than when I ride my bike.
Yes folks have gone round and round on this. I disagree with you. I would not cycle commute for most of the year if I did not have a shower. I also don't live in relatively mild Davis, CA.

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Old 02-11-08, 11:43 AM   #21
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Yes folks have gone round and round on this. I disagree with you. I would not cycle commute for most of the year if I did not have a shower. I also don't live in relatively mild Davis, CA.

Al
I commuted for years and never had a shower at work. I took it real easy going in and hammered going home. Some of my jobs were blue collar so I was pretty filthy by the end of the day anyway. Others required a bit more decorum at work. But I can never recall arriving so sweaty that a full shower was required. BTW I DON'T live in relatively mild Davis, CA. I live in the muggy part of the Carolinas.

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Old 02-11-08, 12:17 PM   #22
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I am not sure what any of the formulas involve in an LEED building, but it seems like a joke to me. I am an elecrician and am working on my first LEED building and I can see NO energy effeciancy steps taken anywhere. There are no timers or motion sensors to control lighting in the building at all, there are quite a few incandecent light bulbs, they use underground hot water to melt snow for a HUGE area outside (including the road). I have not seen this level of ineffeciancy in at least a decade.
Funny story... my wife works in a newly constructed University dorm that is LEED Silver. The lobby (where she sits all day long) is constantly between 78-88 degrees. She ask the mechanical engineer why, and he said "because they didn't put any return air venting in the lobby". So she has been keeping the windows open during the winter just to keep the lobby temp under 78 degrees, total waste of energy, right?

Well today she figures out that the wall that the thermostat (which is non-adjustable by her) is mounted in a shaft wall up against the exterior that has NO INSULATION!!!!! So when it's 10 degrees outside the thermostat thinks it's 40 degrees in the lobby and blasts heat all day.

Being an architect myself, I'll thrown the first stone... Stupid engineers...
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