ESD - SUSTAINABLE PROJECTS & MASTERSPEC  ESD Image Bali hotel

First published April 2013
Revised and updated August 1 2017

PART 1 - INTRODUCTION

DEFINITION OF ESD

There are a number of definitions of the acronym ESD

  • Ecologically Sustainable Development
  • Environmentally Sustainable Design
  • Environmentally Sustainable Development

The first one is a broad all encompassing macro level description defined along the lines of

"… using, conserving and enhancing the community's resources so that 
ecological processes, on which life depends, are maintained, and the total
quality of life, now and in the future can be increased".


In the building industry, ESD is also used as an abbreviation for Environmentally Sustainable Design. Masterspec adopts the broader meaning of ESD, using the term 'development', to cover issues beyond design, such as construction and maintenance.

This report outlines how a Masterspec based specification can be used to give effect to ESD principles and opportunities in the building context.

ESD PRINCIPLES

The principles of Environmentally Sustainable Design can be expressed as;

  • Client commitment:
    • The single most important principle for achieving ecologically sustainable building design is client commitment.
  • Whole of life thinking: 
    • About the life cycle of the building; that is, its design, construction, use, refurbishment and demolition.
  • Design influence: 
    • It is at the design stage that many of the impacts of a building are locked in
  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): 
  • The whole of life impact of various initiatives on the environment.

From these, it identifies a number of opportunities for ESD in building design: 

  • Social sustainability and occupant satisfaction
  • Indoor environment quality
  • Energy management
  • Commissioning and operations
  • Transport
  • Ozone layer depletion<
  • Choice of materials
  • Waste minimisation
  • Water use reduction

These principles include not only the more familiar environmental factors such as energy and waste reduction, but also broader social factors such as accessibility by the whole community and provision of public space.

ROLE OF THE SPECIFICATION IN ESD

A basic principle of building contract documentation is that the specification puts into effect design decisions. In order to produce an ESD specification, appropriate design decisions must first be made. A non-sustainable design cannot be transformed into a sustainable one just by specifying. For example, it is not possible to achieve thermal efficiency through the specification alone, it must be designed in. The role of the specification, in this instance, is to enable the full ESD potential of the design to be achieved.

It is, however, possible to improve on the environmental impact of any design through the specification by mandating low toxicity materials, energy and water efficient appliances, and so on.

In summary, an ESD specification focuses on:

  • Giving effect to ESD design decisions not shown on the drawings.
  • Specifying ESD appropriate materials and methods of construction.
  • Specifying components and products that permit the implementation of ESD

Masterspec, as a master specification system, is not written as an exclusively green specification. It is a specification system that can be customised to give effect to a green design on specific projects. 

ESD AND THE BUILDING CODE (NZBC)


The NZBC incorporates a number of mandatory environmental provisions. These primarily relate to energy conservation (NZBC H1 Energy Efficiency), restrictions on contaminates (e.g. NZBC G13 to G15)  and improving the comfort and amenity of buildings for their occupants (e.g. NZBC G4 to G8).

Although the NZBC does not have a lot of direct ESD provisions, it is possible to use Acceptable Solutions (e.g. minimum timber treatments), to meet the ESD objectives. However, the limited direct ESD provisions of the NZBC means, the ESD commitments made by designers will often far exceed the NZBC and/or push toward Verification Method or Alternative Solution answers, rather than the Acceptable Solution provisions of the NZBC.

ESD AND ENVIRONMENTAL RATING SCHEMES

ESD and environmental rating schemes incorporating ESD into a project, start with the client’s commitment, either initiated by the client or suggested by the designers. Since ESD decisions can have implications such as increased project cost, designers should ensure they have the client's agreement to ESD rather than acting unilaterally.

Although ESD can be on an generic ad hoc basis, a more structured approach, such as the adoption of an established voluntary environmental rating schemes, is more likely to result in the desired outcome that may be more beneficial to the client. With the latter approach, designers make appropriate ESD design decisions to conform to the chosen scheme (and, of course, in compliance with the NZBC ESD provisions).

In New Zealand a number of rating schemes are available for evaluating the environmental design and performance of various types of buildings based on a number of criteria including management, indoor environmental quality, energy, transport, water, materials, land use and ecology, and emissions etc.

Rating schemes available in New Zealand include:

  • New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC)
    • Green Star (Masterspec has supporting sections)
    • HomeStar (Masterspec has supporting sections)
  • Circular Economy Model Office
    • CEMO (Masterspec has supporting sections)
  • International Living-Future Institute (ILFI)
    • Living Building Challenge (LBC) (Masterspec has supporting sections)
  • Passive House

In addition to a buildings performance, there are systems for assessing the ESD performance of materials/products and services.  In New Zealand such a system is eco-label by Environmental Choice New Zealand (ECNZ).  ECNZ license products and services based on a life cycle analysis, unfortunately the range of products is limited.  There are a number of overseas systems, but relating the results to New Zealand can sometimes be difficult, unless they use a local rating assessment organisation such as EnviroSpec.
Other related schemes have narrower focus like WEERS (Window Energy Efficiency Rating System), WELS (Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme) and MEPS (Minimum Energy Performance Standards) which provide for labelling with star ratings for efficiency of products like, windows, appliances and fixtures.


PART 2 - INCLUDING ESD CONCEPTS IN SPECIFICATIONS

OVERVIEW

The ways in which the specification can be used to implement specific ESD principles can be divided into a number of broad categories.

  • Energy conservation and greenhouse gas reduction
  • Conserving other consumables (like water). 
  • Using ESD appropriate materials e.g. materials with low volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions. 
  • Creating a quality environment, both inside and outside the building, by incorporating ESD principles.

ENERGY CONSERVATION & GREENHOUSE GAS REDUCTION

Reducing building energy use reduces operating costs and the greenhouse gas emissions caused by that energy use. Initially this involves appropriate design to reduce energy dependence and make use of free natural sources through thermally efficient, passive design. The most direct way in which the specification can enhance this is by including energy efficient equipment such as for lighting, water heating and mechanical plant. The specification is also used to document design decisions intended to reduce the need for energy, such as glazing and insulation performance and air leakage.

Given this broad application and the fact that not all clients express an ESD commitment, Masterspec does not impose ESD. Instead it provides a framework in which clients and designers who wish to incorporate ESD principles and consider life cycle costs can do so while also enabling appropriate choices to be made for clients whose priority is lowest initial cost. For example: 

  • The Glazing work section can be used to document minimum performance to the NZBC, or ESD performance that exceeds NZBC minimum requirements.
  • The Fans work section can be used to specify a higher efficiency and quieter fan or a cheaper fan with lower efficiency and higher noise level. Which of these is achieved depends on the fan selected or the performance criteria the designer/specifier inserts in the respective fan schedule.

There are a quite a number of sections in Masterspec that can aid energy conservation, like 7125 SOLAR WATER HEATING SYSTEMS or 7717 PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER SYSTEM.

WATER CONSERVATION

There is considerable potential for conserving water by specifying water efficient fixtures and equipment. The Sanitaryware and tapware work sections can be used to specify higher efficiency fixtures. Like most other ESD provisions, appropriate design is the first step in water conservation.

In addition, where authorities permit the use of recycled water and rainwater, Masterspec includes the work sections 7142 GREYWATER SYSTEMS and 7112 RAINWATER STORAGE TANKS for specifying these systems, as well as the related section 7462 WASTEWATER TREATMENT SYSTEM.

MATERIALS

The most frequent use of the specification is to prescribe specific materials to meet design objectives, including ESD.

The Australian Department of Environment and Heritage notes that: 

  • The extent of knowledge gaps [about environmental impact] means that it is currently not possible to say that a given material is "sustainable"

They consequently recommends use of the term 'environmentally preferable'.

The specifier needs to select the materials to suit their particular design objectives, including ESD, and delete others.  Among the ESD issues to be considered are: 

  • Toxic and hazardous materials: If used, they must conform to manufacturer's recommendations, usually contained in the manufacturers' Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).
  • Alternatives: When considering materials to avoid known ESD problems, they should be assessed for the possibility of other undesirable properties.  The knowledge gaps about environmental impact and an absence of evidence, at this time, means it should not be assumed that alternative materials are safer or more environmentally preferable.
  • Durability of materials: Premature failure of materials can be a significant determinant of the useful life of a building.  To this end Masterspec provides many opportunities for specifying materials for greater durability.  For the purposes of ESD the durability requirements of materials would usually be beyond those required by NZBC B2.

ALTERNATIVE CONSTRUCTION METHODS

In addition to alternatives for materials there are also alternative methods to conventional construction some of which are included in Masterspec work sections for instance: 

  • Adobe brick earth building (Masterspec section 3351 ADOBE BRICK EARTH BUILDING)
  • Rammed earth building (Masterspec section 3352 RAMMED EARTH BUILDING)
  • Straw bale

There are many other alternatives, but like straw bale in its uncompromised form, without some coverage in the NZBC Acceptable Solutions it can be a challenge to get BCA acceptance.  On the other hand, Masterspec earth building sections are supported in part by NZBC E2/AS2, External Moisture, 1.0 Earth Buildings.

RECYCLED MATERIALS

A key issue in the sustainable use of buildings is the extent of recycled materials used, and the selection of materials that can be effectively recycled at the end of their functional life.  The distinction can be significant as there is arguably considerably less ESD merit in using recycled materials initially if they cannot be later recycled. In such cases a new, non-recycled, material that can be recycled at the end of the building's life may (or not) be a better ESD choice.

As part of a life cycle assessment, consider what percentage of material can be recycled, whether recycling facilities exist at a reasonable distance from the site, and whether the proposed construction method enhances or hinders recyclability. Nail fixing, for example, may make otherwise recyclable timber unsuitable for recycling. 
Specifiers also have the option of reusing appropriate existing materials and equipment on site.

The Masterspec section 1256 WASTE MANAGEMENT uses the REBRI (Resource Efficiency in the Building and Related Industries) system for recycling, salvage and disposal management.  Masterspec also has a number of demolition sections that cover reuse, salvage and disposal.  And of course the section 2151 RELOCATION OF EXISTING BUILDINGS is the recycling of whole buildings.

OZONE DEPLETION

The most common ozone depleting substances are chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants, which are now prohibited.  There are, however, other substances of lower (but not zero) ozone depletion potential that remain in use.  Masterspec mechanical plant sections (7632 DUCTWORK INSULATION and 7642 MECHANICAL PIPING INSULATION) generally prohibits their use in the manufacture of insulation materials.  Ordinary modern wall and ceiling insulation materials do not usually fall into the depletion category.

For ozone depleting substances in existing air conditioning plant and components, Masterspec includes provisions for their responsible management and recovery during demolition in the section 7600 MECHANICAL GENERAL.

INDOOR AIR QUALITY

Indoor air quality can be affected by the following:

  • Contaminants originating within the building such as:
    • Off-gassing from building materials and furnishings
    • Carbon dioxide generated by occupants
    • Microbial contaminants including bacteria and moulds
  •  Contaminants originating outside the building – particulates such as carbon and pollen.
  • Temperature and humidity.

These can be addressed by the following: 

  • Contaminants caused by building materials and furnishings can be reduced by appropriate specification, for example low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints.
  • Contaminants originating from other sources can be reduced by a combination of appropriate design and specification.  For example, carbon dioxide levels due to occupants can be reduced by appropriate fresh air ventilation levels (design) while particulate levels can be reduced by efficient filtration (a combination of design and specification).
  • Microbial contaminants (including Legionella) inside the building which can be reduced by designing and specifying systems to reduce or eliminate potential microbial breeding conditions.
  • Mould which can be reduced by designing and specifying to prevent moisture accumulation, rain infiltration and condensation.

Measures to improve indoor air quality are primarily dealt with in the appropriate work sections related to painting under the Masterspec 6700 series of sections and Mechanical services under the Masterspec 7600 series of sections.  Minimum requirements are set out in NZBC G4 Ventilation.

OUTDOOR AIR QUALITY

Masterspec contains many provisions for improving outdoor air quality in the immediate vicinity of the building and in the wider environment:

  • Reducing the risk of microbial, particularly Legionella, contamination (a combination of design and specification).
  • Reducing emissions from plant (e.g. boilers).
  • Reducing dust and other emissions during demolition and construction.

LIGHTING

Artificial lighting represents a major energy load in buildings and the designer can, and should, take steps to minimise its impact by:

  • Designing illuminance and luminance levels to suit the application.
  • Selecting lamps and ballasts to minimise energy consumption.
  • Designing lighting control systems to minimise wastage, particularly in unoccupied spaces.
  • Providing lighting controls to reduce lighting levels in day-lit spaces.

The Masterspec Electrical sections provide the ability for specifying energy efficient lighting products and control systems to reduce lighting energy use.

For natural lighting, commensurate with daylight and sun glare constraints, the building fenestration design should optimise both the level and penetration of natural lighting within the building.

Masterspec sections cover controls to reduce or increase lighting, making use of available daylight and include internal and external sun control devices for natural lighting and thermal control.  This ranges from Masterspec sections on, windows, glazing, internal and external blinds, internal curtains etc.

NOISE AND VIBRATION

Masterspec includes provisions that facilitate the specification of building elements to reduce the transmission of impact and airborne noise.  For noise generating mechanical plant, it includes provisions to specify limits on noise generated and, if appropriate, noise reducing equipment such as acoustic louvres.

In general, if a building is designed and documented by others, the contractor's liability for meeting specific noise targets is limited to complying with the documents. Specifying both the detailed performance of components and acoustic performance to be achieved is likely to be fruitless contractually. The building and its systems must have either the required acoustic performance designed in, or if performance is specified, the contractor must be allowed to make changes to meet it.

In addition to covering noise generated after the building is complete, Masterspec also provides a framework for specifying limits on construction and demolition noise.

OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS

As part of Masterspec's broad scope, it specifies a number of other environmentally enhancing measures, for instance:

  • Corrosion resistance and durability. 
  • Vapour transmission.
  • Services commissioning.
  • Maintenance.
  • Sediment and other contaminate controls
  • Top soil re-use and tree protection

ESD INFORMATION IN MASTERSPEC

Besides sections that are directly related to ESD (like solar water heating or earth building, refer to Appendix for more) and ESD related clauses and options (like low VOC paint or untreated timber), Masterspec sections also contain guidance notes, particularly the "ESD Notes".  These notes serve a number of purposes, including alerting specifiers to ESD implications of processes and material, and providing suggestions on available options.

ESD LINKS

Green Building Council NZ  http://www.nzgbc.org.nz/

LBC - https://living-future.org/lbc/

CEMO - http://sustainable.org.nz/the-circular-economy-model-office-guide/

EnviroSpec (green product database & ratings) http://envirospec.nz

Environmental Choice NZ http://www.environmentalchoice.org.nz/

Ministry of the Environment http://www.mfe.govt.nz/index.html

Ecospecifier (Eco products) http://www.ecospecifier.com.au/

Energy efficiency (MEPS) http://www.eeca.govt.nz/

Water efficiency (WELS) http://www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/water/wels-scheme/index.html

Window efficiency (WEERS) http://www.wanz.co.nz/weers

 

APPENDIX - MASTERSPEC ESD ORIENTED SECTIONS

Although most Masterspec sections can be used as ESD sections with the appropriate choices or selections, there are some sections that are more directly oriented to ESD. They include but are not limited to the following:

1226CE CEMO PROJECT - SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

1226CS CEMO PROJECT - SELECTION SCHEDULES

1226GD GREEN STAR PROJECT – SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

1226GO GREEN STAR - TECHNICAL CREDIT SCHEDULE

1226GT GREEN STAR INTERIORS - TECHNICAL CREDIT SCHEDULE

1226HM HOMESTAR PROJECT – SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

1226HT HOMESTAR PROJECT - SUSTAINABLE  MATERIALS

1226LB LBC PROJECT – SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

1226LS LBC - IMPERATIVE SUBMISSIONS SCHEDULE

1226SP SUSTAINABLE PROJECT – SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS (generic)

1256 WASTE MANAGEMENT (for reducing waste to landfill)

2111 DEMOLITION (and other demolition sections, for deconstruction and recycling)

2123 ASBESTOS REMOVAL

2151 RELOCATION OF EXISTING BUILDINGS (for reuse and repurposing)

3350 EARTH BUILDING COMMON REQUIREMENTS

3351 ADOBE BRICK EARTH BUILDING

3352 RAMMED EARTH BUILDING

4221 TIMBER BOARD CLADDING

4351 TIMBER SHINGLE ROOFING

4511 EXTERIOR TIMBER WINDOWS AND DOORS

4611 GLAZING EXTERIOR (also related & branded sections)

4710 [or 4711] THERMAL INSULATION (also related branded sections)

5124 TIMBER BOARD LININGS

5432 TIMBER STRIP FLOORS

5530 [or 5531] BLINDS AND CURTAINS (interior & exterior, also related & branded sections)

6412 LINOLEUM SURFACING (also related branded sections)

6414 CORK SURFACING (also related branded sections)

6512 CARPET TILES (also related branded sections some with recycling schemes)

6700 PAINTING GENERAL (low VOC options, in related & branded sections)

7112 RAINWATER STORAGE TANKS

7125 SOLAR WATER HEATING SYSTEMS (also related branded sections)

7142 GREYWATER SYSTEMS

7462 WASTEWATER TREATMENT SYSTEM

7673 SPLIT UNIT HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS

7717 PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER SYSTEM

7862 BUILDING MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

8126 GABION RETAINING WALLS

8226 GRAVEL AND STONE PAVING

8331 PLANT PROPAGATION

8335 TREE PLANTING AND TRANSPLANTING

8337 WETLANDS PLANTING

8361 GREEN ROOFS

8363 RAIN GARDENS


Acknowledgement
Natspec  research and work with ESD specifying, as well as their continued help and cooperation, made this report possible.

 
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