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A report recently published by researchers from the University of Colorado has generated considerable buzz within the high performance construction industry. According to Matthew Hallowell, assistant professor of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder, he and his fellow researchers found that LEED construction locations had a 50 percent higher injury rate than non-LEED sites. Hallowell and his team visited and made observations at various LEED and non-LEED construction sites, pored over injury reports, and conducted interviews in their process of completing their study.
The report is interesting and provocative. I would like to highlight a key finding from the report, the summary of key findings from which follows. Prefabrication of buildings such as the modular construction techniques we use here at Capsys may greatly or mitigate many of these increased risks.
We thank the author for his work and suggest that you readers seek out the entire report and form your own conclusions
Key Findings from Research:
Design for Safety Techniques for Green Building Components
Reports and Authors:
Collective results of this study have been organized into three manuscripts, which have been
accepted or are in review by the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management:
Safety Risk Identification for High Performance Sustainable Building Construction
Bernard R. Fortunato III, Matthew R. Hallowell, Michael Behm, Katherine Dewlaney
Safety Risk Quantification for High Performance Sustainable Building Construction
Katherine S. Dewlaney, Matthew R. Hallowell, and Bernard R. Fortunato III
Safety Risk Mitigation for High Performance Sustainable Building Construction
Katherine S. Dewlaney and Matthew R. Hallowell
The US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
(LEED) program represents the largest program in the United States for the measurement,
verification, and certification of green buildings. A recent study found that LEED certified
buildings have a recordable injury rate that is 9% higher than traditional, non-LEED
buildings. This finding served as the impetus for the present study, which aimed to (1)
identify and evaluate the safety and health risks associated with the design elements and
construction management practices implemented to achieve LEED certification by
conducting eight detailed case studies; (2) quantify the percent increase in base-level
safety risk through 37 interviews with designers and contractors who had completed an
average of four LEED projects and 100 traditional projects in their average of 18 years of
experience in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry; and (3) identify and
describe strategies that reduce the safety risk associated with the design and construction
of high performance sustainable projects by conducting 26 additional interviews with
experienced designers and constructors. The study revealed 12 LEED credits that
increase safety risks on construction projects when compared with traditional, non-LEED
alternatives. The study also revealed that there are feasible prevention through design
techniques, technologies and controls, and management strategies that can be
implemented to mitigate these risks. The results of the study were packaged into a first-generation decision support tool that provides designers and construction managers with
safety suggestions for their LEED projects.
Workers on LEED construction projects are exposed to work at height, with
electrical current, near unstable soils, and near heavy equipment for a greater
period of time than on traditional projects.
Workers are exposed to new high risk tasks such as constructing atria, installing
vegetated roofs, and installing photovoltaic (PV) panels that are not present on
The most significant impacts are a 36% increase in lacerations, strains and
sprains from recycling construction materials; a 24% increase in falls to lower
level during roof work because of the installation of on-site renewable energy
(e.g., PV panels); a 19% increase in eye strain when installing reflective roof
membranes; and a 14% increase in exposure to harmful substances when
installing innovative wastewater technologies.
Designers and contractors identified prefabrication, effective site layout, and alternative products as methods to prevent injuries that specifically relate the hazards of each sustainable element.
Specifying low VOC materials reduces health-related risks for construction workers
who perform work in enclosed environments.
This research has revealed the substantial need for a detailed lifecycle analysis of
the safety impacts of high risk and common sustainable building technologies.
Although these technologies may have substantial environmental benefits, many
have been shown to result in greater exposures to known occupational hazards
during the construction process. Further research is needed to evaluate the safety
risks during manufacturing of sustainable materials, shipping, installation, and
For more information, contact the lead author:
© Copyright 2011, CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training. All rights reserved This research
and report was funded by CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training as part of a cooperative
agreement with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH (OH009762). The research is
solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NIOSH. CPWR, the
research and training arm of the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, is uniquely situated to
serve workers, contractors, and the scientific community. For more information, visit www.cpwr.com
Tags: Bldg 92, Green Building, High Quality Construction, Lean manufacturing, LEED, modular building, Non Combustible Construction, offsite construction, Park Terrace, Prefabrication, sustainable construction
So says the National Recourses Defense Council in a recent article posted by our friends at “Living Green Magazine”. We’d like to share the article with you. We agree that Modular Construction is at the forefront and leading the Green Revolution in construction.
Within the past year, Capsys has achieved a LEED Gold certification for our Park Terrace apartment building project in Yonkers, NY and achieved LEED Platinum for our Building 92 project in Brooklyn, NY. Our steel frame, midrise modular construction system, while aimed at a different market segment of construction than the corporate examples named in the article, will continue to contribute Sustainable Construction solutions to our clients.
We’ve been testing a suite of products from Verve Living systems in our office and, so far we are very impressed. Verve’s products provide easy, convenient or even passive ways to save energy. Their products fall into four main categories:
- Occupancy detection devices that sense motion and, when no motion is detected over a given time span, can wirelessly communicate with lighting and HVAC systems to close circuits or kick back temperature settings thereby saving on energy costs while keeping the space comfortable. We see a wide range of applications in the Hospitality Industry for these products.
- Heating and cooling controls produce energy savings by adjusting the thermostat automatically. This technology is useful for all types of residential applications.
- Battery-free or lumen/solar powered user interfaces – door/ window switches and remote controls – that allow you to wirelessly control the lighting and temperature. Imagine never having to change batteries in your remote controls!
- Lighting and load-control products that enable total control over lighting and outlets. So you can sit in your living room with the wireless controller and turn on or dim lights anywhere in the house.
A link to Verve’s web site is listed below. Please visit them. We think their products, when used in conjunction with our Modular Construction technology offer almost any residential or hospitality construction project a sustainable, energy efficient alternative to conventional site/craft construction.
Public/Private Residence Hall construction is a fast growing trend in the academic world. Below is a link to a New York Times article about this trend. Our non-combustible modular construction system is the perfect solution for providing precision-built, green and sustainable residence halls while minimizing campus disruption by using our system that reduces construction times by 50%
For more information on our GreenFlex Residence Hall solution along with sample plans, please visit our website also linked below.
Our friends a Building Design+Construction magazine do a great job and we recommend that you keep up with their highly informative website and magazine. The article linked her is entitled: “Rental Renaissance, The Rebirth of the Apartment Market”. It details how the Rental Market is finally starting to pick back up since the 2008 collapse of the entire housing market. It’s definitely recommended reading.
Please click on the link below:
Safety and efficient response will always be paramount in fire safety. Getting occupants to a safe area and allowing dedicated professionals to effectively extinguish fires and other hazards are number one!
Capsys is engaging in thorough research and study to increase the efficacy of passive methods for ensuring this. Sprinkler systems are a highly effective active protection measure, but not the only one. We must spur innovative passive measures and research to provide for safer and more safety.
With the start of the New Year it seems we are bombarded with predictions of future trends from every futurist or futurist wannabe. But many of them are fun and thought-provoking so it seems a good idea to gather a few of the better ones together and let you scan them. We at Capsys hope your New Year is safe, prosperous and “Sustainable” (to use 2011’s most overused buzz word one more time!)
Leading Leglobal green building consultant Jerry Yudelson, says green building will continue its rebound globally in 2012 in spite of ongoing economic difficulties in most developed economies.
“Green Building Consultant Lists Top Ten Green Building Mega-Trends for 2012”
Our friends at Focus on Renewable Energy published this list of the articles published in their newletter that generated the most hits and comments during the last year.
“Top 5 favorite articles published in 2011”
The good folks at the website Jetson Green published this list of “What are the 5 major
“Green Home trends for 2012”
And lastly, the folks at Green Building Advisor listed these as their annual picks for the most innovative products for the coming year.
“Top 10 Green Building Products for 2012”
As earlier blog entries have informed you, in 2010 Capsys was contracted to supply 24 modular sections to be used as an exhibit space and administrative office complex for the official museum of the Brooklyn Navy Yard – Building 92. The Navy Yard is where our manufacturing complex is located, so we leap at the chance to be involved!
Building 92 has recently been recognized by the US Green Building Congress with certification as a LEED Platinum project. We are very proud to have played a part in the project and thought you might enjoy seeing some additional images of the Building 92 museum. The following web-link is to an article in “Inhabitat New York City” a website devoted to green design, architecture and innovation in New York City. The web link contains a 14 image slide show of image of building 92. Enjoy!