Why Tech Start-Ups Are Embracing Green Building

Tech start-ups are partial to Green Building and all things environmental...and with good reason!

Today’s technology companies — especially start-ups — are increasingly embracing the idea of sustainability. They are industry leaders when it comes to green buildings, green work spaces, and environmental stewardship.  Established companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook are already on the technology cutting edge so it seems like a natural fit that their offspring also support innovative, energy-efficient building technology.

As Boss Magazine points out in a recent issue, the building industry should pay attention to this trend. The global tech market is expected to grow another 4% this year, making it a $3 trillion industry. Technology continues to be one of the fastest-growing sectors in the economy.

Technology companies also lease a reported 42% of all the commercial square footage in the major metropolitan markets of North America. For comparison, that’s double the space leased by the financial industry.

Going green is being driven by many factors in the tech company landscape.

Millennial employees and consumers prefer green companies: Both are a target market for most technology companies. The Millennial generation is more environmentally aware; they are looking for business practices that reflect an awareness of climate change. A recent poll indicated that three out of four millennials are willing to pay more to do business with enterprises they perceive as championing sustainability whether it with be solar-powered data centers, urban roof gardens or recycled building materials.

Saving money on energy costs: Early-stage tech companies are often strapped for cash; it behooves them to save on energy costs. Alternative energy sources, more efficient lights and appliances, can make a difference. For a start-up, amortizing an initial investment in energy efficiency can make for significant cash savings over time.

Remodeling is trending: Prime commercial real estate is difficult to find in high-demand areas. Start-ups looking to lease a space, as well as giants like Amazon looking to expand, may consider recommissioning an older building versus buying or building a new one. It can sometimes be more economical to remodel and incorporate new, green, energy efficient systems into an older building. But not always! Buyer beware.

Environmentally friendly practices: In addition to supporting green building and eco-friendly operations, many new tech companies also produce goods or offer services to help others become more environmentally conscientious.  Many tech companies not only practice eco-friendly operations, but also produce goods or services that help others live a greener lifestyle.  In fact, the demand for green building has driven growth in a new sector of tech startups – those focused on producing energy efficient systems and materials.

Tax incentives: Tax credits and rebates, at both the federal and state levels, are also driving green building. Financial incentives for green upgrades such as loan programs with reduced rates, grants, and rebates, can help improve a growing company’s bottom line.

Worker morale: Public health researchers have found that green-certified buildings improve employee decision-making and daily performance. One recent report indicated that people working in green buildings had  26 per cent higher cognitive function and 30 per cent fewer incidences of what’s come to be known as “sick building syndrome.” Healthy, happy employees are crucial for a company to thrive.

A Clear Trend

Green building for rapidly-growing tech companies makes good sense on many fronts. A green, environmentally conscious start-up can attract high-caliber employees in a highly competitive market where young companies are vying for employees with tech giants.

Using sustainable materials and reducing their carbon footprint also allows tech startups to resonate with new customers who are more environmentally minded. Most importantly, it also allows them to save money on recurring energy costs. And being profitable at the end of a start-up’s first year keeps investors happy!

It’s not just a “best practice” for new companies. More and more businesses are embracing sustainable, green building. Leaders in the built environment – architects, developers, construction and building material companies — are increasingly committed to using sustainable materials and buying from manufacturers with eco-friendly practices.

It’s all good news for Mother Earth!


STO Product Featured in Multi-Family Passive House

Passivehaus certification ensures a minimum of 90% in energy savings.

LUCHA, a leading affordable housing developer in Chicago, has just built the first multi-family Passive House in the state of Illinois. The landmark project in the Humboldt Park neighborhood has been certified by PHIUS — the Passivehaus Institute organization in the U.S. – with a projected energy savings of 90% over conventional construction.

The first multi-family Passive House in Chicago. Photo: Gordon Walek

The Passivhaus Institut was established in Germany in 1996, to promote design, construction and insulation practices that make a building envelope more energy efficient and resilient. The goal was to construct walls and windows that are airtight – keeping warm air inside during the winter and cool air contained during the summer.

In addition to an energy efficient building envelope, a “Passivehaus” building also incorporates advanced cooling and heating systems as part of the design. It encourages balanced heat- and moisture-recovery ventilation as well as solar utilization. While advanced technologies, appliances and systems such as climate-controlled zone programming are important for energy conservation, most building professionals agree that the building shell is the most critical component in achieving a zero-energy design.

The Passivehaus organizations in the U.S. and in Germany both work to educate contractors and property developers about the PH standard and train companies on how to measure and certify buildings.

Certification Process

While there are differences between the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification and PHIUS certification, the programs are aligned to encourage high energy-efficient performance in the built environment. Passive House certification also sets air quality and health standards and requires additional testing to ensure the standards are met. According to many industry experts, when it comes to green building and energy conservation, Passive House certification is rigorous, but the resulting construction delivers absolutely superior energy efficiency.

The Passive House project in Chicago was designed by Landon Bone Baker, and the six-unit multi-family residence, is part of LUCHA’s Tierra Linda Project which will include other affordable housing units in the area. To capture energy efficiencies and ensure an effective air and moisture barrier, the contractor and architect for the Passive House complex chose StoTherm® ci with StoColor® Lotusan® for the building’s exterior cladding. Having worked with Sto in the past, they knew the Sto products would ensure they received the coveted PHIUS certification.

The StoTherm® ci system integrates continuous insulation (ci) with air/moisture barriers and drainage, offering a wide range of textured finish options to create an aesthetically pleasing, sustainable wall cladding. This high-performance system not only saves energy but improves indoor comfort and air quality while maintaining maximum curb appeal and lowering overall life-cycle costs.

StoColor® Lotusan® exterior coating was chosen due to its water- and dirt-repelling characteristics, and self-cleaning qualities derived from the organic structure of the lotus leaf.  Sto Lotusan® enhances an exterior’s resistance to mold, mildew and algae with high water vapor permeability, and lowers maintenance costs by extending cleaning and re-coating cycles. Available in any color within the extensive StoColor System, Lotusan is UV-stable with excellent color retention.

With Sto’s advanced building science and materials, LUCHA was able to secure the PHIUS energy-efficiency rating. They also created a multi-family complex with pleasing aesthetics that is impervious to the extreme weather conditions of the region.

It is estimated that there are now more than 60,000 passive-house certified buildings worldwide with nearly 500 in Germany, and more elsewhere in Europe. And while there are only 46 PHIUS certified buildings in the U.S. today, there is a rising level of interest (especially in residential construction) in major metropolitan areas such as Chicago and New York.

LUCHA is to be applauded for the organization’s commitment to Passive House building and the Tierra Linda project – a sustainably-oriented development that brings affordable housing with green technology to low-income residents of Chicago.  In addition to improved heating and cooling efficiency – improving occupant comfort — this commitment will also help decrease energy costs for renters.


Aloha from Sto at the Pacific Building Trade Expo

Sto will be exhibiting at the Pacific Building Trade Expo in Hawaii -- Stop by Booth #555p and meet their building material experts.

Sto Corp is a proud sponsor of the 2018 Pacific Building Trade Expo at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu on November 14, where they will also be exhibiting. The Trade Expo is held in conjunction with the 3-day Hawaii Design Symposium that has been presented by the AIA and Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) for the past 19 years.

The Symposium will bring together some of the most creative architects, landscape architects, planners and design professionals in Hawaii as well as the Northwest and Pacific Region. They will explore this year’s symposium theme: Building Voices: Livable Cities & Communities. The primary focus areas will be: Design in Coastal and Extreme Climatic Conditions; Healthy Citizens & Communities; Community Mobility & Housing for All.

Over 300 local and national vendors will be presenting at the Expo, including Sto Corp (Booth #555p). Sto will be showcasing StoTherm ci systems, StoGuard air and moisture barrier, Sto RapidGuard, and Turbostick– products and solutions to address some of the key issues being discussed at the expo seminars on resilient design and city planning.

Admission to the expo is free to all AEC industry professionals. It’s a good excuse to grab your swimsuit and sun screen and head for the islands!


Architecture Empowered by Advanced Wall Technologies

309 East Paces in Atlanta employed StoPanel Techonology to save time and money and to ensure aesthetics were preserved.

Creating the landmarks of the future…preserving the icons of the past, while staying on top of cutting-edge design and technology. These are the challenges architects face today. For more than 100 years, Sto has been working with design professionals to provide innovative materials and processes to enhance the built environment. StoPanel Technology manifests this spirit of innovation. The company’s prefabricated, insulated exterior wall systems produced in a manufacturing environment can simplify the construction and renovation process without forsaking design aesthetics.

StoPanel Technology can cut weeks (even months) out of a typical construction schedule. StoPanel cuts costs and  eliminates the need for multiple trades to be on-site since the wall sections arrive complete and can usually be installed by a relative handful of workers.The solution is also ideal for densely populated sites where there is little room for scaffolding.

One example of how StoPanel Technology saved time and money, is the restoration of an Atlanta, Georgia landmark: 309 East Paces, built in 1963 and located in the now trendy Buckhead area of the city. The owners of the 12-story building, Knox/Redan, wanted to preserve the building’s aesthetics — selecting a brick design with large industrial-style windows for the restoration. They had limited time and a tight budget.

The general contractor, Balfour Beatty Construction, used StoPanel Classic NExt ci as the cladding, incorporating StoCreativ®️ Brick and StoCreativ Granite to achieve the look of natural materials without the added cost, weight and labor.

Using StoPanel Technology saved the owners $500,000, enhanced the energy efficiency of the building and proved to be a faster and safer method of construction on the nearby busy Atlanta streets. The panels were installed in 22 working days, cutting valuable time off the schedule, eliminating weather delays, minimizing work done at high levels and reducing neighborhood disruption.

This vintage beauty with a new face provides just one example of how StoPanel Technology is revolutionizing the construction and renovation industry today.


Construction Specifier E-book on Protecting Against Water Intrusion

Construction Specifier's e-book on protecting against water intrusion is a must read for industry professionals.

With Hurricane Michael having just left the Florida Panhandle a wet mess — pummeling the built environment and everything in its path with wind and rain — it seems timely to mention a valuable e-book that Construction Specifier has published on water intrusion.

The primer — Protecting Against Water Intrusion— is part of the publication’s “Best of Series” and features four sections. The first outlines the seven “Ps” for successful rainscreen design and execution. Those “Ps” would be: product selection; penetration in the air vapor barrier; perimeters; parapets; pre-installation preparation and testing; positive drainage and of course… performance.

In the next section — “Put Penetrations to the Test” – two architects discuss the effect of cladding attachments on air and water barriers. They note that building enclosure design involves balancing the demands of air and water protection with the thermal requirements.

Chapala One luxury condominiums in Santa Barbara, CA needed a reliable waterproof enclosure to eliminate water intrusion on both vertical and horizontal surfaces.

They conclude that available guidelines for detailing and testing the installed AWB with the cladding attachments can be scarce, and installation practices are not consistent from project to project. They argue for a need to develop installation methods that will provide durable and resilient solutions, as well as consensus on test standards to validate the air and water tightness.

The third section — “There’s More Than One Way to Skin a Building” — offers practical considerations for combining face-and concealed-barrier walls. It presents design concepts for incorporating face-barrier elements into primarily concealed air and water barrier systems, as well as noting some of the construction challenges characteristic of these combination façade systems.

Liberty High School in Renton, Washington installed a high-build vapor barrier to minimize the risk of water damage.

The title of the final white paper — “The Perils of Moisture” – echoes a truism that comes as no surprise to professionals in the built environment: moisture intrusion can be nasty and costly. The piece provides a thorough overview of how air barriers can prevent moisture intrusion. Authored by Karine Galla, a product manager at Sto Corp. who has over 16 years of experience in the EIFS, stucco and AMB business, the article advocates for an impermeable air barrier system, applied continuously throughout the exterior of a building structure.


Architectural Photography Award Finalists Announced

Sto has been a major sponsor of the prestigious Architectural Photography Awards since their inception in 2012.

The shortlist for the prestigious Architectural Photography Awards has been published and, as always, it includes an eclectic collection of breathtaking images.

Turkish photographer Omer Kanipak photographed children peering through Wolfgang Buttress’ installation, The Hive, at the Royal Botanic Gardens in England.

Hundreds of photographers from 47 countries entered in the competition which included four main categories — exterior, interior, buildings in use, and “sense of place” – all intended to showcase the artistry of architectural photography. The 20 photographs chosen as finalists will be exhibited at the World Architecture Festival in Amsterdam from November 28-30, where the winners will also be announced.

Italian photographer Marco Tagliarino entered an image of the historic Piazza Duomo designed by Italo Rota into the Sense of Place category.

The 20 stunning photographs chosen as finalists include a seashore chapel in Qinhuangdao, northeast China, as well as an abandoned power station in Budapest, the timber-clad lobby of Bloomberg’s European headquarters, and a provocative shot of swimmers wading into waters where the Yangtze and Jialing rivers meet in Chongqing, China with the site of a modern new building complex by Safdie Architects looming in the background. Two of the final photos were inspired by the same architectural wonder — The Hive in London — and both images could not be more disparate.

British photographer James Newton captured ‘The Vortex’ — a timber lobby in Bloomberg’s European headquarters in London.

An expert panel of judges will select winners in the four categories as well as in two additional areas: Portfolio and Mobile. The new Portfolio category asked for 46 photographs of one architectural project and the Mobile category (as you no doubt surmised) called for photographs taken on mobile devices.

Since its inception in 2012, the Architectural Photography Award program has grown in global stature. Thanks for this go to the World Architecture Festival and to Sto – a façade and interior system manufacturer; Sto has been an ardent supporter and sponsor of the competition from the very beginning.


Sto Products Showcased at CONSTRUCT Expo

Sto products and wall systems will be featured at the CONSTRUCT conference in Long Beach, California this week.

As the three-day CONSTRUCT Conference & Expo gets underway this week in Long Beach, California, Sto will be in the thick of it all at the convention center there, showcasing the company’s state-of-the-art building materials and systems to professionals from the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industries.

The University of Florida Health Facility is one of Sto’s many projects where exterior insulation and finish systems were put to good use.

Sto’s new generation of Exterior Insulation Finish Systems (EIFS) will be featured, including wall systems with StoGuard air and moisture barriers, and StoTherm ci continuous insulation options. You can also experience Sto’s wide range of exterior finishes that can ensure a project looks as good as it performs.

The CONSTRUCT expo is a national show bringing professionals in the AEC industry together to gain real-world, practical knowledge for improved building success. It’s a great venue for staying up-to-date on the latest trends, for continuing education and for experiencing first- hand a wide range of building solutions and systems.

Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School in Oswego, Oregon is a study in Sto air and moisture barrier technology.

Come by and visit the Sto technical experts at CONSTRUCT this week – Booth #850 — at the Long Beach Convention Center. Learn how smarter building envelopes can boost a building’s performance or learn all about Sto’s robust Hurricane Impact Systems. Constructing a tighter, better building envelope can make a big difference. After more than 100 years of doing business worldwide, Sto knows.

Inspira Medical Center in Vineland, New Jersey, added two-floors to their acute care facility in “record” time thanks to Sto panel technology.

A global leader in integrated exterior wall systems, Sto offers a broad range of next-generation building envelope solutions and coating systems for building construction, maintenance and restoration. You can get to know them better at CONSTRUCT.