With the City of Philadelphia adopting LEED standards for City projects, we spoke with Tim McDonald of Onion Flats about municipal buildings and the future of sustainable technologies.
"Buildings account for over 50% of global warming. The making and operating of buildings account for over 50% of green house gasses. If anyone thinks we can make an impact on any level, then the buildings must be part of the solution. Its not about choice anymore, it is what must be done. LEED is effecting (building) codes. The way we are building will be the standard in the next five years. We'll help that along, by showing people it does not cost more," McDonald explained.
With the City adopting LEED Sliver standards for their projects, the City is moving to meet it's goal of meeting it's Energy Goals, set by Greenworks, the City's Office for Sustainability.
Greenworks Energy Goals
1. Lower City Energy Consumption by 30%
Click here for Link to Goal 1
2. Reduce Citywide Building Consumption b 10%
Click here for Link to Goal 2
3. Retrofit 15 percent of Housing Stock with Insulation, Air Sealing and Cool Roofs
Click here for Link to Goal 3
4. Purchase and Generate 20 percent of Electricity Used in Philadelphia from Alternative Energy Sources
Click her for LInk to Goal 4
The Bill (Bill 0800025) is intended to be an effective tool for fostering integrated design and high-performance construction in major City building projects. The LEED-silver requirement applies to construction projects over 10,000 square feet that are primarily funded by City capital dollars and are controlled by the City. To emphasize energy efficiency, the ordinance requires that projects be designed and constructed to use at least 20% less energy than basic, code-compliant structures. The ordinance applies to capital projects undertaken by all departments and agencies across the City, including the Airport, Water Department, and Public Property,' commented, Katherine Gajewski, Director of Sustainability for the City of Philadelphia. Click Here for LEED info
Onion Flats, a leading developer in the Philadelphia area has the first LEED platinum certified project in Pennsylvania with its 9 unit Thin Flats Click here for Thin Flats project in the Northern LIberties section of the City.
McDonald and his brother Pat formed the company in 1997. Howard Steinberg and brother Johnny joined the company in 2005. As well as Onion Flats the developer, sister companies Plumbob, Inc. provides architectural services and JIG provides construction management. The company offeres green roofs, solar systems and rainwater harvesting under its brand name GRASS. Click here for Link to GRASS
"Green roofs, triple the life of the roof. Ultra-violet light is what kills roofs. A green roof is a Certified storm water management device that holds the first inch of rain/hour. Instead of holding in tanks, you hold it on your roof. This reduces your cooling bill," commented principal, Tim McDonald.
Green roofs provide many ecological and aesthetic benefits, including:
- Controlling storm water runoff, erosion and pollution
- Improving water quality
- Mitigating urban heat-island effects, cooling and cleaning the air
- More than doubling the service life of the roof
- Conserving energy
- Improving the aesthetic environment in both work and home settings
- Reducing sound reflection and transmission
- Creating wildlife habitat
- Increasing Property value
SOLAR SYSTEM BENEFITS
Sunlight is the most abundant resource available to us. Solar energy can be used to heat domestic hot water, heat our homes, heat pools, and provide electricity.
Systems that harvest the heat from the sun and use it to heat water for domestic hot water or heating are called solar thermal systems. Systems that convert light from the sun into electricity are called solar PV (photovoltaic) systems.
Solar PV systems in the city are often grid-tied, meaning they supply the electrical grid with excess electricity when it is not being used at the installation site. The electric company measures how much electricity is supplied to the grid through net metering and pays to the owner of the solar PV system for it.
Once the initial expense of the system is recovered (called the payback period), solar systems continue to provide free energy for years.
RAIN WATER HARVESTING BENEFITS
Water is the most precious resource on earth. Rainwater harvesting is collecting the rain that falls on a site so that it can be used for car washing and irrigation of landscaping and gardens. Permeable paving allows water to soak into the ground, increasing ground water levels.
Without a harvesting system, rainwater flows into the sewer system. The relatively clean rainwater mixes with black water and needs to be treated in a water treatment plant. It also taxes the sewer system, which can cause flooding in basements.
Rain water harvesting helps keep basements dry and reduces the amount of energy needed in treatment plants to treat black water. In areas with public water supply, homeowners can wash their cars and water their landscapes and gardens with free water instead of paying the water company for tap water.
The company recenly partnered with Pottsbown based Landmark Building Systems.
BLOX Sustainable Building Systems is a new business, brand and partnership between Landmark Building Systems and Onion Flats, LLC. Landmark is a modular building manufacturer located in Pottstown, PA with thirty years of commercial factory-built building expertise. Their vast experience utilizes an efficient and streamlined, assembly line process that produces dormitories, schools, multi-use commercial, multi-family residential, correctional facilities, offices and laboratory buildings.
Onion Flats is a Philadelphia based, award winning, internationally recognized Development/Design/Build Firm, known for their leadership and pioneering in sustainable building practices; for achieving the highest LEED Platinum ratings in the country, and at the SAME cost as typical code built construction.
With these combined core competencies, BLOX offers clients a fully integrated, turn-key, design/build remedy. BLOX places all development disciplines under one roof, reducing time, miscommunication, cost, and waste, and takes full responsibility for all aspects of the project from beginning to end.
The company is combining a steel and modular and building industry-into the manufacturing industry. Will provide a modular system for large scale projects. We are capitalizing ieffeciences into standard buildings."
"We’ll give you LEED platimun building in half the time," commented McDonald.