Aug. 1, 2007

Illinois is the second state to require green cleaning for schools. Minnesota Public Radio gets a new headquarters. Studies analyze the affect of dampness and mold on health and the economy. And more.

Compiled by Jenna Lassen 

Illinois is Second State to Require Green Cleaning for Schools
With a 52-5 Senate vote on May 16, 2007, Illinois became the second state to enact legislation requiring green cleaning in schools. The act calls for all elementary and secondary schools in the state to purchase environmentally sensitive cleaning supplies, reducing student and teachers' exposure to irritants and toxic chemicals while protecting the health of custodial staff who work closely with the supplies.

Bill Thompson, director of facilities at Lockport Township High School, Lockport, IL, implemented a green cleaning program 3 years ago and has seen the benefits in student attendance as well as cost savings for his school. "I've seen the negative health effects of traditional cleaning chemicals firsthand," says Thompson, "and I can tell you there's a better way."

The legislation authorizes the Green Government Coordinating Council to determine specific standards for green products. The bill will be signed by Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, and the state will then have 180 days to develop green cleaning standards. Schools will have an additional 90 days before they are required to comply with the standards.

More good news for school districts is found in the results of a pilot study on the cost of green cleaning. The study, conducted in Chicago Public Schools, showed green cleaning products to be cost comparable to and as effective as conventional cleaning products. These results are consistent with the findings in New York, the first state to require green cleaning in public and private schools. If schools find that green cleaning will cost more than traditional cleaning, they may be exempt from the act's requirements.

Mark Bishop, deputy director of the Chicago-based Healthy Schools Campaign, an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to healthy school environments, addresses the issue of schools' current cleaning supplies: "It's important to note that schools will be allowed to use their existing stock of cleaning chemicals ... but will only be able to purchase new products that comply with the standards when they replenish their supplies." Bishop predicts that the act will affect more than just physical health, stating, "With the 900 school districts in Illinois purchasing green cleaning products, we are driving the market to a greener and healthier place!"

The Green Clean Schools Act was introduced in the House by Rep. Karen May and in the Senate by State Sen. Iris Martinez. More information on the Green Clean Schools Act and bill status updates are available at (

New Headquarters for Minnesota Public Radio
The new headquarters building for Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) in downtown St. Paul, MN, seamlessly integrates a fresh addition with the recently remodeled existing building, resulting in a new, 120,000-square-foot facility that programmatically supports and architecturally defines the iconic public-radio institution.

The glass, zinc, and brick facility, designed by Minneapolis-based HGA Architects and Engineers, houses 375 employees (previously housed in three buildings throughout downtown) in a state-of-the-art office, studio, and interactive environment designed to promote better, smarter, and higher levels of production in the creation of MPR's award-winning content.

U.S. Glass Fiber Demand to Exceed 8 Billion Pounds in 2011
The Glass Fibers study from Cleveland-based The Freedonia Group Inc. states that glass fiber demand in the United States is projected to expand by 2.3 percent annually to 8.1 billion pounds in 2011, valued at $7 billion. The best growth is anticipated for glass wool fiber, with overall demand constrained by slow textile glass fiber advances as nanomaterials displace glass fibers in reinforced plastics.

Gains in glass wool fiber (fiber glass insulation) demand will reflect rebounding demand in non-residential building markets, particularly in the office and commercial segment. Efforts are being made to improve energy efficiency in manufacturing and climate-control functions, with increasing insulation use per structure.

Studies Analyze Affect of Building Dampness and Mold on Health and Economy
Two studies to be published in the Indoor Air journal have quantified the considerable public health risks and economic consequences in the United States from building dampness and mold.

One paper by William J. Fisk, Quanhong Lei-Gomez, and Mark J. Mendell from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), Berkeley, CA, finds that building dampness and mold raise the risk of a variety of respiratory and asthma-related health outcomes by 30 to 50 percent. Says Fisk, "Our analysis does not prove that dampness and mold cause these health effects. However, the consistent and relatively strong associations of dampness with adverse health effects strongly suggest causation by dampness-related [pollutant] exposures."

The second paper by Fisk and David Mudarri of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uses the results of the first paper plus additional data to estimate that 21 percent of current asthma cases in the United States are attributable to dampness and mold exposure. Mudarri and Fisk suggest that "a significant community response" is warranted given the size of the population affected and the large economic costs. Preventive and corrective actions include better moisture control during a building's design and moisture-control practices during construction.

URA Fosters Green Development in Pittsburgh
Seeking to build on Pittsburgh's reputation as a leader in green building practices, the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) intends to offer incentives, including discounted interest rates and other financial assistance, to encourage such development. The URA will offer reduced interest rates on some of its more popular loan programs to developers who earn a LEED rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED-certified developers will not have to make principal or interest payments on the URA loans for 12 months.

EPA Program Recognized by American IAQ Council
The Glendale, AZ-based American Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Council has approved a program to reward its certificants who assist schools with indoor air quality issues. The American IAQ Council will grant up to 12 recertification credits per year to Council-certified professionals who help implement or maintain the IAQ Tools for Schools program, either as school employees or as unpaid volunteers.

Motel 6 Develops National Recycling Program
Motel 6 recently an­-nounced the first national fluorescent light bulb and battery recycling program within the hospitality industry. The first chain to implement this type of program without a federal mandate, Motel 6 will roll out its program regionally over a 6-month period. In January of 2006, Motel 6 began its extensive retrofitting of fluorescent lighting, which consumes 75-percent less energy than conventional bulbs.

Batteries, light bulbs, and electronic equipment typically contain mercury, lead, and other heavy metals that are considered hazardous to the environment. By initiating this recycling program, Motel 6's waste is guaranteed to be properly recycled in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations

ASHRAE Publishes New Handbook Volume
New chapters on room air distribution, integrated building design, and chemical, biological, radiological, and explosive incidents are contained in the new 2007 ASHRAE Handbook titled HVAC Applications.

HVAC Applications also contains updated chapters on a broad range of applications, written to help HVAC design engineers and others use the fundamentals, equipment, and systems described in other ASHRAE Handbook volumes. New chapters include:

  • Room Air Distribution, which contains information on air-distribution strategies, tools, and guidelines for applications and system design.
  • Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Explosive Incidents, which describes such events and their effect on buildings, occupants, and equipment.
  • Integrated Building Design, which describes the process and activities that support collaboration among design participants and identifies major project milestones.

The volume covers diverse topics such as retail facilities, fire and smoke management, solar energy, and HVAC-related electrical issues. 

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Buildings, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations