The Impact of Wood Use on North American Forests (Print Course)

As green building has evolved beyond its initial emphasis on energy efficiency, greater attention has been given to the choice of structural materials and the degree to which they influence a building’s environmental footprint. Increasingly, wood from sustainably managed forests is viewed as a responsible choice. Drawing from a wide range of research publications, this course will examine the current state of North American forests, modern forest practices, and criteria for sustainability, and consider some of the challenges that could profoundly impact the future of the forest resource.

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Sustainable Solutions from the Most Visited City in the U.S.

As the most-visited city in the United States, Orlando is uniquely positioned to influence environmental stewardship in communities around the world. From meeting the foundational needs of local residents to providing an enchanting tourism destination in a changing climate, we describe how to leverage local characteristics to enhance sustainable efforts.

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Achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals via Architecture and Design (Print Course)

To help cities, urban planners, public institutions, and private entities ride the wave of global population growth and shifting market dynamics, and face the enormous challenges of sustainable growth and technology integration, the United Nations recently set 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

These goals are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all by addressing the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. This course will introduce you to the 17 SDGs and dive deeper in the five SDGs that specifically affect the architecture and design industries.

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Your Zero Net Energy Building May Destroy the Grid

With emerging standards requiring different forms of Zero Net Energy and aggressive owners developing ZNE buildings already it's an important time to look at the potential impacts net metered buildings can have on the historic grid structure and operations. High penetration of renewable energy can destabilize the grid operations and cause havoc for grid operators.

We'll provide a detailed discussion of the different definitions of ZNE and how they impact design and interaction with the grid. We'll outline current issues with high penetration of renewables on Hawaii's grid structure and how they may apply to ZNE building design for larger grid systems. We will provide building strategies that can enhance ZNE building design participation with the grid such as battery storage with renewables, demand response, thermal energy storage, and controls. Finally the team will outline ongoing changes to the grid structures and enhancements needed to prepare the grid for true ZNE buildings on a mass scale.

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Designing Building Spaces that Integrate Building Design and the Outdoors with Oversized Fenestration Products (Print Course)

Finding ways to bring the outdoors inside is a modern building design trend that continues to influence the specification process. Consumers’ desire to blend nature with the built environment incorporates a desire to increase the amount of natural lighting and nature inside the home or commercial space.

Research continues to evolve demonstrating the need for nature to be incorporated in the built environment, not simply as a luxury, but as an investment in health and productivity. Mounting pressure for building and design professionals to not only meet LEED standards and current codes, but exceed them, continues to leverage the need for sustainability, green building manufacturing, and products that address the needs and wants of the consumer.

Up until recently, it can be said that only luxury markets could afford the type of oversized windows and doors that permit the most amount of sunlight due to intricate design, complicated installation, and maintenance of oversized windows and doors. However, new products on the market are making this design and lifestyle trend more accessible and with more choices than ever.

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Occupant Aware Buildings, or Building Aware Occupants?

As technology and intuitive interfaces enable occupants to become more aware about buildings, buildings are becoming more aware of them. Smart buildings leveraging big data collected from thousands of inexpensive sensors and the IoT, promises to improve convenience and comfort, all in a more sustainable manner. Is this a win-win?

High performance buildings with passive design strategies require engaged occupants. Training these occupants for hoped behavioral changes, is both an imperative and a challenge. Even if trained people forget or don't care, or the specific people occupying a building changes.

Does this mean ultimately your building may know more about you than you are comfortable with, even though you are more comfortable in your building? Is the next generation of high performance only possible at the expense of personal privacy? Can we count on this additional layer of systems complexity to be reliable, affordable, maintainable and secure?

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Designing Restrooms for Sustainable Operation (Print Course)

Designing restrooms for sustainable operation requires unique strategies beyond those typically associated with green building. This course does not discuss the details of LEED certification or environmentally responsible materials and related documentation. Instead, the focus of this course will be to educate architects and designers on operational approaches that encourage sustainable restroom project design.

Thoughtful product specification considers energy costs, battery usage, waste, and usage of consumables that in turn allow the architect or designer the opportunity to educate the client on the benefits and incentives that sustainable design creates for both building owners and occupants. While architects and building designers who specify sustainable design products must take into consideration the economical investment necessary from the client, specifying for sustainable operation allows a restroom to operate both sustainably and cost-effectively while retaining the architect’s aesthetic vision.

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Why Exceed the Code: Maximizing Energy and Cost Savings in Pipe Insulation

Thermal insulation aids in stabilizing process temperatures; can minimize moisture condensation on below ambient temperature piping surfaces; increases fire protection; and contributes to noise abatement. Personnel protection against burn injury is a major benefit from thermal insulation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that “all exposed steam and hot-water pipes within 7 feet of the floor or working platform or within 15 inches measured horizontally from stairways, ramps, or fixed ladders shall be covered with an insulating material, or guarded in such manner as to prevent contact. In addition, the Insulation Institute provides other succinct reasons for insulating pipes beyond many current state and local code thickness requirements.

ASHRAE 90.1 minimum pipe insulation thicknesses are required for compliance with energy-efficient building design relative to many new buildings, building additions, and retrofit construction. A vapor retarder, which is required in addition to the insulation, will further reduce the likelihood of corrosion due to condensation on cold pipes. Finally, while insulation cannot prevent standing water in pipes from freezing, it can slow the process. This course will enable learners to analyze material types that may ultimately affect the long-term safety and wellness of occupants. By thoroughly examining ASHRAE 90.1, the need for building professionals to exceed the local code requirements will become apparent. Finally, the course will focus on utilizing software to specify pipe insulation, which will influence the project budget, energy-efficiency of a structure, and the long-term safety and wellness of occupants.

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RMI's Innovation Center: First-Year Lessons Learned

The Rocky Mountain Institute’s (RMI) Innovation Center illustrates the potential of achieving net-positive-energy performance in a replicable manner, serving as a demonstration project for the design and construction industry. Its first year of operation has offered many lessons around technological incorporation, financial replicability and incentivizing an integrated design process.


With four decades of leadership and advocacy for hyper-efficient buildings and economies, RMI is the ultimate client and occupant for such an innovative project. First-hand staff video interviews will address design process, system integration, performance and occupant satisfaction. RMI researchers guide attendees through the building with interactive video technology, providing commentary to frame the experience. Observations will be contextualized by members of the architecture and engineering team, translating lessons that can—and should—be applied to the next generation of high-performance buildings.

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Understanding Wood – How Next-Generation Designers and Artists Impact the Global Forest Ecosystem (Print Course)

Social responsibility should be at the forefront of every designer’s practice, as their designs impact raw material use, land development, and the health, safety, and welfare of building occupants.

This course will discuss one natural resource that is facing a significant threat from exploitation and development: the global forest ecosystem.

We will discuss how building product manufacturers can offer material alternatives that do not further dwindle the world’s endangered wood species. We will also dive deep into a collaborative project between an engineered surfaces company, Interlochen Arts Academy, and visiting artists to return a pine plantation forest to its native state while studying ecology, creating art, and educating a future generation of artists.

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