SBA Blog

Creating Eco-Friendly Outdoor Rooms with Carol Venolia

jwong | June 13th, 2014

SBA guest instructor Carol Venolia is offering a dynamic class on “Creating Eco-Friendly Outdoor Rooms,” on June 21 at Santa Rosa Junior College. Carol says, “This is a one-Saturday class in which I’ll teach students how to design their own outdoor living spaces to increase their health and vitality, improve their home’s energy efficiency, and enhance the ecosystems where they live.”

For more information about the class, visit Creating Eco-Friendly Outdoor Rooms.

For more information about Carol Venolia, Architect and Domestic Nature Goddess, visit her website, Come Home to Nature, or her Facebook page.

AIA-Seattle has an opening for a new full-time position – Program Manager

Tedd Corman | May 19th, 2014

AIA-Seattle has an opening for a new full-time position — Program Manager — a great opportunity for someone with talent, experience, and room for professional development. Resume and letter due May 30th! Learn more:

Zero Net Energy Homes Online Course

Erin Scholl | January 29th, 2014

nesea-Building Energy Master Series

Marc Rosenbaum is one of the most popular and best-reviewed speakers at the Building Energy Conference every year. Why? Because he is an engaging speaker, extremely honest, meticulously detailed, and curious by nature.

This course is an opportunity to study under Marc – to ask him questions and become his pupil for a full ten-week semester. You’ll will walk away with a comprehensive understanding of all of the key components of a zero net energy home – envelope, systems, and renewables – and how they fit together, with key pitfalls to avoid, and numerical guidelines on sizing peak heat loss, glazing amounts, and solar electric systems that will empower you to confidently design a zero net energy home.

Successful students will actually do a full design of a Zero Net Energy Home, and earn NESEA’s ‘Zero Net Energy Homes Professional Certificate’.

Approved for 25 BPI credits, 10 GBCI credits, 12 AIA CEUs + Six MA CSL Credits (1 hour for Code, 1 hour for Workplace Safety, 1 hour for Business Practices, 3 hours for Energy)

Learn more & sign up here.

…and for all you SBA Program fans, you should know that SBA Program Academic Chair Ann Edminster’s book “Energy Free: Homes for a Small Planet” is the textbook for this course.

Energy Free Homes for a Small Planet

Energy Free: Homes for a Small Planet, by Ann Edminster, SBA Program Academic Chair











Read the rest of Zero Net Energy Homes Online Course »

“The Future of Energy” World Premier at the Transitions Film Festival, Melbourne, February 21, 2014

Erin Scholl | January 27th, 2014

We’re happy to announce that the film “The Future of Energy” will have its World Premier at the Transitions Film Festival in Melbourne Australia which runs from February 15th-23rd, 2014. This festival specifically showcases ground-breaking films from around the world on topics of community empowerment, social enterprise, and innovation.

Please watch the first trailer here.

Happy New Year: Upcoming SBA Program Events

jwong | January 6th, 2014

Happy New Year from all of us at the Sustainable Building Advisor Program! We’re excited for the New Year and the upcoming spring term.

Read the rest of Happy New Year: Upcoming SBA Program Events »

SBA Program New York: Special Appearance by Dr. Dickson Despommier, author of ‘The Vertical Farm’

Erin Scholl | December 5th, 2013


Dr. Dickson Despommier, author of The Vertical Farm

Lecture + Brunch + Book Signing

Please join the NYC|SBA Sustainable Building Advisor Fall 2013 cohort in welcoming Dr. Dickson Despommier for an innovative discussion about solving the world’s food, water and energy crises.

“The Vertical Farm: Keystone Concept of the New City!”

Green Building Center of NY
35 West 37 St. Penthouse btw. 5th and 6th Ave.

Space is limited to the first 25 registrants!
Register now:

Sunday, December 8
9:30am – 12:30pm
$20 donation

“As Emeritus Professor at Columbia University and Adjunct Professor at Fordham University, I have always been interested in ecological process and the damage we have caused to the environment by encroachment (mostly to make room for farmland). At present, I am engaged in a project whose mission is to produce significant amounts of food crops in tall buildings situated in densely populated urban centers.”
see: and The Vertical Farm: feeding the world in the 21st century, hardcover, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, New York; soft cover, Picadore Press, October, 2011


SBA Program Seattle: Trip to the Bullitt Center

Erin Scholl | December 3rd, 2013

The Bullitt Center in Seattle is known as the “Greenest commercial building.” The Seattle SBA Program class got a chance to see the many sustainable strategies firsthand on a recent tour. Please enjoy the following photo tour.

The Bullitt Center, Seattle, WA

01 Work progress photo wall

Photos were taken every month during the project and lined up on one wall in the visitor center chronologically. Visitors can track the entire project by scanning the wall.

02 Students ready for tour sm


Seattle SBA students and guide Rob Peña at the Bullitt Center.
03 Items used during const sm

There are a number of displays showing some of the construction items used in the project.

04 Details of solar sm

Displays explain different sustainable features of the building. This one shows the details of the solar PV system which provides 100% of electricity needed for the building (net zero over the year).

05 Water filtration sm

These units filter the rainwater collected from the roof for re-use inside the building and for irrigation.

06 Composters sm

Basement composting units handle all solid waste from all the bathrooms on-site. They are cycled every day and emptied once per year.

07 View from Stairwell sm

To encourage occupants to use the stairs and not the elevator, the main stairwell is located outside the conditioned space of the building and offers a scenic view of downtown Seattle.

08 Smartstrips sm

Each floor of the building has a power budget to keep energy use within the amount produced by the solar PV system. Controllable ‘smartstrips’ manage power use by individual workstations and can be shut off remotely as needed to save energy.

09 Daylighting sm

The building is designed to allow maximum use of daylighting in the office spaces.

10 Greenroof sm

A green roof helps manage rainwater and filtered graywater.

12 Open space sm

The building is not filled, so the tour got to see what the floors look like empty.

13 Structural wood sm

FSC certified wood was used throughout the building. Here we see large structural members supporting the upper floor.

14 Solar Overhang sm

In order to acheive net-zero energy each year, the PV system required for this six story office building had a larger footprint than the building’s roof. Solar overhangs at the edges of the building provide extra square footage to produce the electricity needed. Special permits from the City of Seattle had to be granted to allow the extension.

15 Parking garage sm

The only parking spaces for the building are in the bicycle garage.

The Made In America Green Home

Erin Scholl | November 25th, 2013

VISION house by

VISION House, Los Angeles.

When it comes to homebuilding materials, consumers increasingly want products that are American made and sustainable. In a recent Green Builder Media study, almost 85% of those surveyed had a positive association with the term “green” and wanted to be known for having a green lifestyle.

Green Builder Media ( is just one of the companies following this trend. For example, its VISION House Series ( showcases homes built around the country that highlight the latest in green design, building techniques and products.

“Sustainability doesn’t have to equal sacrifice, “says Ron Jones, president of Green Builder Media and internationally renowned sustainability expert. “You don’t have to give up beauty or quality when you choose a green product – there is a wide variety of smart, sustainable and cost-effective products made in the United States that are easy for homebuilders and owners to access.”

In an effort to stay on the forefront of the marketplace, Green Builder Media is creating a Made in America Green Products Database, which focuses on US made products and manufacturing facilities that support our nation’s economy and limit harmful emissions into the atmosphere by reducing the miles products need to travel to get to consumers.


All American Made House in Bozeman by Lewendal Construction, Inc.

Another proponent of Made in America building materials is green home builder Anders Lewendal, of Bozeman Montana. In 2011, this father and son team finished their “All American Made House,” a 2,000 sf, 2-story house constructed entirely of US made materials.

The idea of trying to build a home entirely from American made products was sparked when one of their clients expressed a concern in where their home’s components came from. The client asked the builder to use as many local products as possible. Lewendal Construction, Inc ( decided to take the idea further by building the home entirely from products sourced and/or manufactured in the US, while costing about the same as other homes of similar size and quality, but using only half the energy.

The project was a success, costing only about 1% more than it would have if built from the typical foreign made materials.

To find out what this could mean to the country, the Lewendals talked to the Boston Consulting Group to add up what the impact would be if every US builder spent just 5% of their construction spending on American made rather than foreign materials. The study showed that in one year that would create 220,000 American jobs.

Those numbers gave birth to the Lewendal’s “All American Home Initiative, asking fellow builders to join the “5% Club.” To help builders, their website offers a list of suppliers of American made products. By specifying American made green products, builders and homeowners aren’t just helping the economy, they are helping the earth as well, since American made green products are generally sourced and produced with higher environmental standards.

Read the rest of The Made In America Green Home »

Energy Benchmarking Classes from PG&E

Erin Scholl | November 20th, 2013


Benchmarking as a Business

December 11, 8:30am – 3:00pm Register here
Sponsored by Pacific Gas and Electric Company
EEFG’s Offices – 657 Mission St, Suite 200, San Francisco

Leveraging Benchmarking to Build Your Business – Given the implementation schedule for AB1103 and the City of San Francisco’s Commercial Building Energy Ordinance, thousands of commercial buildings across the state either are or will soon be required to benchmark their energy use with ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager tool. Offering this service can be a great way to launch your business, expand your services, or get your foot in the door with new prospects. In this full-day workshop, you’ll learn how to use advanced features of Portfolio Manager that will allow you to demonstrate just how (in)efficient your customer’s buildings really are and how to gauge the impact of energy improvements. You’ll also learn strategies for generating leads; how to price benchmarking-related offerings; how to cross-sell and up-sell your other offerings; how to demonstrate the value of efficiency in terms that your clients understand and value; how to motivate the various stakeholders to act on energy efficiency measures; and much more!


Benchmarking Energy Use in Commercial Buildings

December 16, 8:30am – 12:30pm Register here
Sponsored by Pacific Gas and Electric Company
EEFG’s Offices – 657 Mission St, Suite 200, San Francisco
AIA 4.0 HSW/SD and GBCI 4.0 CE (LEED)

Learn how to use the new and improved Energy Star Portfolio Manager tool! California law (AB 1103) will soon require the disclosure of an energy performance benchmarking score prior to selling, refinancing, or leasing certain whole buildings. Learn how to benchmark your building’s energy performance with the help of PG&E’s Automated Benchmarking Service – a free, easy-to-use service that automatically sends your commercial building’s energy use information to the EPA’s ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager every month. This class will include a hands-on benchmarking exercise using portable Wi-Fi hotspots so that attendees can evaluate an actual building from start to finish and see the ENERGY STAR score.


You’ve Benchmarked Your Building: What’s Next?

December 16, 1:00pm – 4:30pm Register here
Sponsored by Pacific Gas and Electric Company
EEFG’s Offices – 657 Mission St, Suite 200, San Francisco
AIA 3.5 HSW/SD and GBCI 3.5 CE (LEED)

Getting your building’s benchmarking score is just the beginning. This course explores how to set targets for improvement: estimating the actual amount of energy savings needed to reach a higher score; which low-cost and no-cost or capital upgrades might produce various magnitudes of savings; which utility incentive programs could help identify or finance those improvements; etc. It’s not about what your building’s score is today—it’s about what you want that score to be and how to get it there!

SBA Program Seattle: Trip to MOHAI, the Museum of History and Industry

Erin Scholl | November 19th, 2013


MOHAI Armory, Seattle

By E. Horton

MOHAI, the Museum of History and Industry, combines historic preservation and sustainability: MOHAI is the 1st certified LEED Platinum museum in Seattle.

Recently re-opened in Lake Union Park, the new MOHAI is welcoming tens of thousands of visitors and receiving one accolade after another.

The Seattle SBA class learned more about what’s behind the buzz from lead project architect Sam Miller, AIA, Partner, LMN Architects.

MOHAI’s new home is the former Naval Reserve Armory, an art-deco building designed by architects B. Marcus Priteca and William R. Grant as part of the Works Progress Administration, 1942. The battleship is the clue that this is not the new MOHAI.

In his comments, Miller stressed that the idea of letting “the building be the building” was key to addressing the challenges and welcome surprises that this project presented.

Among the challenges: Storage. The Armory was built over water; there is no below grade. Well, Lake Union is below grade.

Other sustainable building and design elements incorporated include no-VOC and low-VOC finishes (a majority of the terrazzo is original), denim batting installed in the gallery spaces for acoustic absorption, and clerestory windows in the atrium that maximize daylight  –  and pass muster with the exhibit design team.

MOHAI roof

So, where to locate MOHAI’s system of 7 air handlers and 2 chillers?
 On the roof of the building! This solution is not visible from outside the museum.



Design demand control ventilation. Note exhaust vents behind the enormous Rainier Beer “R” and feel for the in-take along the walls.


MOHAI floor

Inside, it was a priority to retain and improve the vast space of Drill Hall, where the original endgrain douglas fir floor is stunning and extremely durable.
























Read the rest of SBA Program Seattle: Trip to MOHAI, the Museum of History and Industry »