The Final Review

Burnham’s Blog

The Final Review shares the knowledge of Burnham’s experts in building permit expediting and code compliance. Learn about different jurisdictional building permit requirements, and stay up-to-date on the Americans with Disabilities Act and local accessibility standards. Follow the latest in sustainability, including building energy codes and sustainability design developments.

2018 Illinois Energy Conservation Code Preview: Residential Buildings

Oct 9, 2018 9:00:00 AM

This is the last post in our three-part series on the upcoming adoption of the 2018 Illinois Energy Conservation Code (Illinois Energy Code) based on the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). In two prior posts, we discussed the history of the Illinois Energy Code, some of the differences between the current version of the IECC and the 2018 edition, and the changes to the IECC’s commercial building provisions. This post details some of the revisions to the IECC’s residential building provisions that are likely to impact the Illinois Energy Code.

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2018 Illinois Energy Conservation Code Preview: Commercial Buildings

Oct 2, 2018 9:01:00 AM

In a previous post, we discussed the upcoming adoption of the 2018 Illinois Energy Conservation Code (Illinois Energy Code) based on the 2018 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). We documented the history of the Illinois Energy Code and some of the differences between the current version of the IECC and the 2018 edition. This post discusses some of the specific changes to the IECC’s commercial building provisions that are likely to impact the Illinois Energy Code.

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Looking Ahead to the 2018 Illinois Energy Conservation Code

Sep 25, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Illinois is in the process adopting the 2018 Illinois Energy Conservation Code (Illinois Energy Code). As required by state law, Illinois must adopt amendments to the Illinois Energy Code based on the latest version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), a model code that is updated on a three-year cycle. The new version of the Illinois Energy Code will be based on the 2018 IECC. Over three posts, we will preview some of the changes we are likely to see in the 2018 Illinois Energy Code.

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More than Solar: California’s Ambitious Net Zero Energy Building Goals

Jun 12, 2018 10:00:00 AM

There has been a great deal of press about California’s recently adopted mandate that all new homes must have solar power beginning in 2020. What has been missed is that this new rule supports California’s very progressive goal that all new construction attain net zero energy use for residential buildings by 2020 and commercial buildings by 2030.

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Drawdown 2018 EcoChallenge Makes Climate Solutions Accessible

May 31, 2018 11:15:00 AM

We’ve been highlighting Project Drawdown’s strategies for fighting climate change since the beginning of year, including green roofs, cement, and the number one solution to global warming, reducing air conditioning refrigerants. The majority of these solutions are focused on a larger scale involving urban planning and global initiatives, but Project Drawdown also has actionable items for individuals and local groups. This year, Project Drawdown and the Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI) debuted the Drawdown EcoChallenge to spur action on these items.

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Recent New York State Changes to Increase Energy Efficiency and Storage

May 30, 2018 10:00:00 AM

New York has been at the forefront of state-level work to combat climate change. Recently undertaken initiatives and regulatory changes are part of the state’s aggressive push to increase sustainability and transform the electrical grid. Programs to deploy more energy storage and improve buildings’ energy efficiency are among the 2018 developments in New York State.

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Understanding California’s New Energy Benchmarking Regulations

May 8, 2018 10:00:00 AM

The California Energy Commission (Commission) recently finalized the rules implementing California ‘s new energy benchmarking program, the first statewide energy benchmarking program for commercial and multi-family residential buildings. Commercial buildings falling under the California Energy Benchmarking Regulations (Regulations) must submit their energy use data by June 1, 2018, and multi-family residential building need to comply the following year.

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The Overlooked Benefits of District Energy Systems

Apr 12, 2018 1:15:20 PM

District energy systems (DES) for heating and cooling, particularly in dense urban areas, are a key vehicle for increasing sustainability. Although some forms of DES have existed for over a century, worldwide use is growing, and the technologies they employ are evolving. Project Drawdown ranks district heating, a form of DES, as number 27 in its 100 solutions to global warming. While district energy systems are being used throughout the United States, there is much room for growth and more needs to be done to promote their advantages.

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New York City Adopts Laws to Increase Energy Efficiency

Apr 10, 2018 10:00:00 AM

New York City recently enacted several progressive laws to improve buildings’ energy efficiency. These new requirements are in keeping with the City’s commitment to combat climate change. In June 2017, Mayor de Blasio issued the Climate Action Executive Order stating that New York City would adopt the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and directing city agencies to develop plans for reducing greenhouse gas ((GHG) emissions. According to the Inventory of New York City Greenhouse Gas Emissions, buildings are responsible for 67 percent of the City’s GHG emissions, and therefore, it is critical to adopt measures to increase their energy efficiency.

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Vibrant Cities Lab: A Map for Accessible, Equitable Urban Forestry

Apr 6, 2018 12:00:00 PM

Last month, we covered urban reforestation as part of our Project Drawdown series and highlighted the importance of green infrastructure in the fight against global warming. The Vibrant Cities Lab (Lab), an initiative by the US Forest Service, American Forests, and the National Association of Regional Councils, advocates for urban forestry in the United States by providing resources for cities seeking to improve their tree canopy or green space. By bolstering the urban tree canopy and mandating living roofs, cities will reap major benefits: urban heat island reduction, better stormwater management, new wildlife habitat and increased biodiversity, better and more efficient building cooling, and aesthetic improvement among others.

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Drawdown: Cities Must Mandate Living Roofs to Fight Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Mar 27, 2018 10:30:00 AM

Green roofs - and other green building components such as green walls - provide a host of benefits: aesthetic improvement, stormwater management, heat island reduction, increased biodiversity, and building cooling. Though not yet ubiquitous, a city building with a landscaped, accessible roof is now considered a desirable amenity that promotes a healthy workplace and provides cost-effective cooling benefits. 

Project Drawdown ranks green roofs and cool roofs as #73 in their list of solutions to global warming, with an anticipated 0.77 gigaton reduction in carbon dioxide and $988.46 billion in operational costs by 2050. The Project Drawdown impact statement is as follows:

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Beyond Recycling: Creating a Circular Economy for the Built Environment

Mar 13, 2018 10:00:00 AM

The building community can help combat global warming by using materials more efficiently and reducing waste. The extraction, production, and transportation of the materials necessary for building construction are significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, particularly due to the amount of energy they use. Project Drawdown ranks industrial recycling, including the recycling of construction waste, as number 56 of its 100 solutions to global warming.

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Call for Architects to Increase Chicago Sustainability

Feb 28, 2018 10:08:35 AM

A recent program, City of Chicago: Pushing the Envelope, was designed to inspire the architectural community to do more to help Chicago meet its sustainability targets. The Illinois Green Alliance, AIA, Passive House Alliance Chicago, and Living Building Collaborative Chicago hosted the event on February 21, 2018, at the beautiful new West Loop offices of Skender Construction.

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Update: Status of New Federal Energy Conservation Standards

Feb 23, 2018 9:00:00 AM

We are providing an update on six new energy conservation standards relevant to the building industry that the United States Department of Energy (DOE) delayed in response to directives by the Trump administration. In an April 2017 blog post, we highlighted important energy efficiency requirements DOE froze when they were close to completion. Now, largely due to litigation, all these rules have been fully adopted or are moving closer to being effective.

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Rethinking Cement: Key to Lowering Greenhouse Gases

Feb 6, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Cement is projected to play a critical role in reducing greenhouse gases (GHG). Project Drawdown ranks alternative cement as number 36 in its 100 solutions to global warming. Given the large-scale use of cement across the globe, mitigating cement-related carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions would have a measurable impact on climate change. Yet, determining and implementing the best ways to reduce worldwide cement-related CO₂ is a complex process that will have a major impact on the building industry.

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Car Bans, Congestion Pricing Plans Target City Traffic

Jan 26, 2018 11:00:00 AM

Transportation researcher Anthony Downs introduced his traffic equilibrium theory, the Law of Peak-Hour Expressway Congestion (Law), in a 1962 paper. Citing that “on urban commuter expressways, peak-hour traffic congestion rises to meet maximum capacity", the Law is applied to urban roads as whole: no matter if a road is widened or additional lanes are “built in and around American cities, you can’t stop cars from jamming them up.” image by Daryan Shamkhali

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Preparing for Reductions in Air Conditioning’s Global Warming Potential

Jan 16, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Choosing the right kind of air conditioner or chiller in your building project will help you proactively prepare for future refrigerant requirements. Project Drawdown ranks refrigerant management as the number one solution to global warming. The refrigerant hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) is the primary culprit in climate change resulting from air conditioners and chillers.

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Introducing Burnham Nationwide’s Climate Change Drawdown Series

Jan 4, 2018 10:30:00 AM

How can we in the building industry take effective steps to reverse global warming? We hope to answer this question over the coming year.

With the start of 2018, we are launching the Burnham Drawdown series on our blog, The Final Review. The inspiration for this series is the book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken.

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NextGrid: Modernizing Illinois’ Electrical Grid

Dec 20, 2017 10:30:00 AM

Illinois embarked a collaborative planning process for the state’s electrical grid in in March of 2017, called Utility of the Future, “NextGrid” Grid Modernization Study (NextGrid). In order to properly modernize Illinois’ electrical grid. NextGrid is examining a variety of topics over an 18 month period and engaging a broad variety of stakeholders. Interested members of the building industry may actively participate in NextGrid by joining one of the NextGrid working groups or submitting comments during different stages of the NextGrid process.

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Groundbreaking California Law to Reduce Construction Materials’ Carbon Footprint

Dec 6, 2017 10:00:00 AM

California’s Governor Brown signed into law the California Buy Clean Act, AB 262, on October 15, 2017. The manufacture and processing of many construction materials is a significant source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The progressive new California mandate requires state authorities to only award state infrastructure contracts to construction contractors using low-carbon emitting versions of designated materials. Cement, the largest contributor of construction materials GHG emissions, is noticeably absent from the new law. Hopefully, as the California Buy Clean Act is implemented and the GHG limitations for construction materials become customary, there will be greater openness to also setting emission limits for cement.

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