Message from the Chair
Having been involved in the building industry, and in particular the HVAC sector, for over four decades I have witnessed many changes both in technology, and means and methods of construction. Many of those changes were driven by the sudden and dramatic rise in the cost of energy. There was a time in the 70's that outdoor air for ventilation in office buildings was reduced to 5 CFM per person (now it is 20) to save energy. Some systems were designed to handle 3 CFM per person because infiltration, or building leakage, made up the other 2 CFM. Indoor thermostat set points were 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter. Indoor air quality was more of a suggestion not a requirement. Then, as the building envelope became tighter and infiltration was brought to a minimum the "sick building syndrome" was born. It was determined that sick building syndrome was caused by things such as out gassing of toxic substances from paints and adhesives, inadequate air filtration, inadequate ventilation, poor quality lighting, inadequate air volume and temperature control, inadequate natural light, just to name a few. Poor ventilation and moisture control led to mold and mildew conditions never before experienced because older structures leaked so badly that there was always ventilation.
That was just the indoor environment. The outdoor environment was in as bad a shape, or worse. Recycling was limited at best. Landfills, it was discovered, were emitting dangerous levels of methane gas and toxic odors and were being closed down. Does anyone remember the infamous garbage barge that left Islip, New York and sailed down the East coast looking for a place that would take the garbage? The barge returned over 5 months later, but with the garbage! There was no separation of discarded building materials; and post-consumer products, what was that? Emissions from boiler plants were out of control, electric demand was growing faster than utilities could keep up, there were fuel oil and natural gas shortages, HVAC and refrigeration equipment was grossly inefficient. To put it mildly, things were out of control.
The 80's found a building industry in transition, maybe even scrambling. The problem was that each sub-industry operated in a silo. In many cases new products were selected by trial and error. Only a few industries, such as HVAC and electrical, attempted to set protocols to which manufacturers would comply. However, the rest of the building industry would advance, so they thought, without understanding the synergistic nature of a building. It sometimes seemed the building industry forgot the most important component, the occupants. In the 80's we saw vastly improved building materials such as high-performance glass and insulating products and the advent of control systems using a PC and windows as a platform. These software based systems were powerful but cumbersome and not always reliable. Most system software was proprietary making hardware integration difficult, and sometimes impossible. Backnet, LON and Modbus protocols were not yet fully developed or implemented. We saw asbestos abatement and recycling taking hold. We saw energy efficient products from light bulbs to air conditioning units to boilers. We even started to see emerging and re-emerging technologies such as geothermal systems, solar and wind power generation.
There was, however, a missing component. That missing component was a guide to tie all of these technologies, products, ideas, services and initiatives together. The industry needed a guide and a rating system. The industry needed LEED. In 1993 the USGBC was founded to promote sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. In 1998 the USGBC began development of the LEED rating system. Now there was, and is, a comprehensive system of inter-related standards covering all aspects of the development and construction process. Management and ongoing development of the LEED rating system has grown from six volunteers and one committee to hundreds of dedicated professionals and dozens of committees.
When I began serving as a USGBC-LI Board member in January 2007 there were just 60 Long Island Chapter members. I accepted my nomination to this Board because I believed I could make a difference. It is a privilege to continue to serve this Chapter and now lead a Board that is made up of very talented and dedicated men and women. This Chapter, only 6 years old, has made a positive impact on the building industry here on Long Island and indeed also has made a positive impact on those who live, work, worship and play in these buildings and institutions. I am looking forward to a very successful and productive 2012. So, my challenge to my Board and to all Chapter members is to get involved and stay involved because we all can make a difference!
Rudy Holesek - Chairman