Leading Health Organizations Recommend the Use of Hand Dryers

Written by Excel Dryer

Excel Dryer sets the record straight: Hand dryers are hygienic, but misinformation persists

East Longmeadow, Mass. – The topic of hygiene has come to the forefront in mainstream media as reopening plans are introduced around the globe. While leading health organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommend the use of hand dryers, misinformation about them remains online, and continues to be quoted and perpetuated. Leaders from Excel Dryer, manufacturer of XLERATOR® Hand Dryers, wish to deliver a message to educate the professionals, consultants and government officials who are creating reopening guidelines, and the general public, especially in times of COVID-19: Excel hand dryers are a safe, hygienic touchless solution and an effective way to achieve completely dry hands, a critical part of proper hand hygiene, the top defense against the spread of germs.

Kelly Reynolds, Ph.D., Professor and Department Chair at the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona, offered an explanation as to the root of these misconceptions, stating that, “Consumers may only read [sensationalized] headlines which can influence public opinion toward biased or erroneous conclusions, [but] the fact is, the breadth of data available does not favor one hand drying method as being more hygienic or safer.”

Excel hand dryers provide a touchless hand drying solution to help prevent potential cross-contamination between restroom surfaces and wet hands. All dryers in Excel’s line are hygienic, but dryers with HEPA have been proven to add another level of protection. Viral efficiency testing conducted by the preeminent independent air media and filter testing company, LMS Technologies in April of 2020 found that XLERATOR®, XLERATOReco® and XLERATORsync® Hand Dryers with HEPA Filtration Systems remove 99.999 percent of viruses from the airstream. 

William Gagnon, vice president of marketing and sales at Excel Dryer, wishes to correct misinformation and biases about hand dryers. “Hand dryers are hygienic and have been used to properly dry hands for decades. In addition to top health organizations recommending their use, hand dryers also provide significant benefits over paper that are undisputable. For example, our recent test results prove XLERATOR hand dryers with HEPA Filtration Systems remove 99.999 percent of viruses from the airstream, something paper will never be able to do.”

Conversely, paper towels may not be as hygienic as the public believes. One independent study showed 17 species of bacteria on unused, recycled paper towels, including Bacillus, which can cause food poisoning. After their use, damp paper towels are a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria in and around trash receptacles and can be used to clog toilets and sinks creating a very unhygienic restroom environment. If the paper towels are out of stock, visitors cannot dry their hands at all, and wet hands have been shown to be 1,000 times more likely to transfer germs than dry hands.

Gagnon concluded, “I encourage members of the public and those individuals charged with the creation of guidelines, reopening plans or facilities operations, to dive deeper into news articles and hygiene studies rather than simply believing sensationalized, click-bait headlines born from biased results. Hand dryers are safe and hygienic. They dry hands completely, and are a top defense against the spread of germs.”


About Excel Dryer, Inc.

Excel Dryer has been manufacturing the finest American-made hand dryers for more than 50 years. The family-owned and -operated company revolutionized the industry with the invention of the patented XLERATOR® Hand Dryer that created the high-speed, energy-efficient hand dryer category and set a new standard for performance, reliability and customer satisfaction. Excel Dryer prides itself on offering the best customer service and making hygienic, cost-effective and sustainable products people can depend on. Available for distribution worldwide, Excel Dryer products can be purchased through an established network of sales representatives who call on more than 5,000 distributors globally. Learn more about Excel Dryer at exceldryer.com.

Blueprint for Greening Affordable Housing, Revised Edition, by BE+ Member Kimberly Vermeer, Is Now Available

Co-author Walker Wells & Kim Vermeer

Built Environment Plus member Kimberly Vermeer’s new book has just been published by Island Press! Kim Vermeer and co-author Walker Wells explore the compounding issues of the lack of affordable housing and the climate crisis in Blueprint for Greening Affordable Housing, Revised Edition.  

Blueprint for Greening Affordable Housing is the most comprehensive resource on how green building principles can be incorporated into affordable housing design, construction, and operation. The book offers guidance on innovative practices, green building certifications, and the latest financing strategies. In addition, Vermeer and Wells feature 14 case studies to illustrate how green building principles can be incorporated into diverse housing types and in locations across the country.

Blueprint shares detailed insights into how the many elements of a green building are incorporated into affordable house design, construction, and operation.  The lack of affordable housing and the climate crisis are two of the most pressing challenges we are facing today. Green affordable housing addresses both by providing housing stability, safety, and financial predictability while constructing and operating the buildings to reduce environmental and climate impacts. “Walker and I are pleased to share the lessons and best practices from our years of experience,” says Kim. “We hope the Blueprint will inspire a new generation of rising leaders to integrate green building concepts into practice.” 

If you would like to buy the book from Island Press, use code

WELLS

for a 20% discount.

You can also order it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and independent booksellers. Learn more about the book, forthcoming book related events, and other resources here.

The Future of LEED – Reflections on a Year on the LEED Steering Committee

By Chris Schaffner

We’re living through difficult times. I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy, and you can continue to do your good work. Current events are on everyone’s mind, but sustainability remains an important long-term consideration. We are committed to creating a just and sustainable future, and recent events only highlight the need for this work.


In December 2019 I completed my term as chair of the USGBC LEED Steering Committee. I thought I’d spend a few moments to reflect on that experience and discuss the direction that LEED is heading.

I believe we are at an inflection point. The foundations of our work today were laid 25 years or so ago. LEED has brought green building to the forefront and has turned what was the cutting edge into the business as usual. LEED v4.1 has been well-received, but its impact on the market is still pretty small, especially compared to the crisis we face. We must rise to this challenge.

The climate crisis is ever increasing in its urgency. National governments have failed in their obligation to guide the planet to a safe landing. Local governments and NGOs, citizens, people like us, must step into this void.   At the same time economic inequality increases – the gap between rich and poor widens. Those most vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate are also least equipped to deal with the results. 

The green building market is changing rapidly. Calls for energy efficiency have become calls for net zero buildings and decarbonization.  A few years ago, the idea of climate resilience was seen by some as an admission of defeat. Now it’s a key part of green building strategies. Cities like New York are creating rules that will put a real price on carbon. And demand for the elimination of fossil fuel use is growing. For example, Architecture 2030 recently called for a complete ban on fossil fuel use in all new buildings.  We’re transitioning away from the so-called “transition fuels.” It’s 2020, the future is here now. 

We, the members of the USGBC, have an opportunity and an obligation.  LEED addresses the full GHG impact of buildings – not just operational energy, but materials, transportation, water, and waste. But we need to strengthen LEED’s connection to climate, throughout the rating system, and make it more apparent to users. We also must stop sending mixed signals, by using metrics like energy cost rather than GHG emissions. We must embrace and incorporate climate resilience. And we must strengthen the connection between design and operations through recertification, so that a LEED Certification is not just a one-time event, but rather an ongoing process. We must do all these things, and we must do it while increasing LEED’s impact and market share.

Further, while we recognize that human health and social equity are factors in true sustainability, they’ve always been silent partners in LEED – along for the ride but never the focus. This will have to change. 

With these thoughts in mind, here’s where I see LEED heading in the next few years:

  1. Social Equity, Health, and Resilience: The USGBC community will come together this summer through events like the recent Social Equity Summit and the upcoming Healthy Economy Forum to gather ideas and lessons learned from recent events. Some will be whisked straight into LEED v4.1. Others may require more refinement and might wait until the next update.  (Timeline – Summer 2020)
  2. Balloting of LEED v4.1:  LEED v4.1 is still in Beta form, but it has already had a positive impact. Over the next few months the USGBC will use lessons learned from early adopters and will incorporate new lessons from recent events to create a final version to be balloted. Look for balloting to occur around the New Year, with a final version of v4.1 by Spring 2021. (Timeline – early 2021)
  3. Further Incorporation of Carbon, Wellness, Social Equity, and Resilience:  These have become the key issues driving the sustainability discussion today. Over the last 25 years we’ve gone from thinking about buildings’ effects on the environment, to the larger realm of “triple bottom line” sustainability. In the short term expect to see credit intents change to more explicitly highlight a strategy’s impact in these areas as part of the ballot version of v4.1. There is also discussion around creating some kind of recognition for LEED projects that specifically meet goals in social equity, human health, or resilience. For example, “Ten for Equity” would identify ten credits dealing with social equity, and a project that earned all ten might get special recognition.  (Timeline – early 2021, as part of the balloted version.)     
  4. Integration with the Arc Platform and the need for recertification: For years, LEED has struggled with the gap between predictions and performance. It’s time to close this gap. In the future a building will only be considered a LEED building if it can demonstrate performance worthy of the label. The plan is to use Arc to do this. Buildings will first earn LEED Certification in any of the traditional ways – through the New Construction or Existing Buildings Rating systems – but will use Arc to recertify periodically.  Currently recertification for New Construction projects is optional. Watch for it to become mandatory in the near future. (Timeline – no later than end of 2021)    
  5. LEED Positive: At Greenbuild in 2019 USGBC announced the coming of “LEED Positive,” but details of this concept have been sketchy.  It’s a work in progress. Think of it as LEED v5 if you want. The core concept is that we look ahead to 2050 and see where we need to be, and then we design the incremental steps that get us there, imagining an updated LEED every five years. It’s “LEED Positive” because we need to move from a mode reducing negative impacts to creating positive impacts.  As a part of this, we’d set specific minimum requirements for carbon reductions in each iteration, with New Construction projects getting to zero operational carbon very quickly.   (Timeline – More details of LEED Positive and a road map by Fall 2021, LEED v5 by 2025)

These are some of the ideas around the future of LEED. I welcome your feedback, input, and participation in the development of LEED Positive. The consensus process is the real strength of LEED, our secret weapon, and it doesn’t happen without all of you.

One thing we know for sure is that business as usual is not going to cut it. 25 years ago, LEED was a bold vision. It’s time to be bold again. I know we can and will do it, starting here, right now.

About Chris Schaffner

Chris Schaffner, PE, LEED Fellow, is Founder and CEO of The Green Engineer, Inc. a sustainable design consulting firm located in Concord, MA ( and a BE+ Silver Sponsor) . Chris and his firm have completed over 200 LEED Certified projects. He has a long history of volunteering and advocacy for green buildings. He served as a founding board member of USGBC MA, and was chair of the US GBC LEED Steering Committee in 2019. 

Looking Towards 2020: Celebrating Our Community and Welcoming the 2020 Board!

2020 Greetings from Barbra Batshalom, Board Chair

This past year we had unprecedented advances in the evolution of our organization. After doing a lot of listening through roundtables and member outreach, we developed a whole new strategic plan, a new brand that reflects our focus on healthy, net positive communities, and expanded partnerships with aligned organizations such as the Living Future Collaborative New England and Passive House Institute.

We also saw the success and growth of multiple programs: Workforce Grants and training programs for small businesses, the Women in Green event series, the Green Building Leadership Program (GBLI) for emerging professionals, and the launch of our first conference, Design for People. While our LEED courses and other trainings continue, we are planning a whole host of new events this coming year that center on community conversations around product health, bringing zero carbon to scale, new zero carbon stretch codes, and other important issues.

Addressing carbon is one of our most urgent challenges for 2020. While this challenge and others can feel overwhelming and impossible to overcome, we make up a powerful community of individuals involved in the design, construction, and operation of our buildings. Each of us came to USGBC MA because we are all driven by the same mission: to advocate for a more sustainable Massachusetts. That’s why community is important. Together, our community has all the know-how and experience to chart a path forward that can help us accelerate our progress. Together, we can achieve what none of us can do individually.

This is why we really want to hear from you: we can’t do all of this without the support and input of our community! What do you want us to focus on this year? Does your company need training or support to achieve its sustainability goals? What do you want to learn this year? How can your voice be joined with other like-minded people to drive the changes we want to see? Come to our roundtables, other events, or just send us a message—we look forward to working with you to make 2020 the best year yet!

Barbra Batshalom, USGBC MA/Build Environment Plus Board Chair 

Annual General Meeting Recap

 

2019 Membership Award Recipients

Net Zero Hero – Jacob Knowles

Member of the Year – Audrey Ng

 Ascending Professional of the Year – Jasmine Abdollahi

MVP Company – Elkus Manfredi

Living Building Champion – DiAnn Mroszczak

I’ve Got Your Back – Jana Silsby

Thank You to Our Departing USGBC MA Board Members

Samira Ahmadi

Samira Ahmadi

Jenna Dancewicz

Jenna Dancewicz

Henrietta Davis

Henrietta Davis

Johanna Jobin

Johanna Jobin

Returning USGBC MA Board Members

Jana Silsby

Jana Silsby

Architect Representative

Brad Mahoney

Brad Mahoney

Developer Representative

Galen Nelson

Galen Nelson

Clean Tech Representative

Jenn Taranto

Jenn Taranto

Contractor Representative

New USGBC MA Board Members

Lindsey Machamer

Lindsey Machamer

Emerging Professional Representative

Julie Janiski

Julie Janiski

Engineer Representative

Randa Ghattas

Randa Ghattas

Unspecified Open Seat Representative

Heather Henriksen

Heather Henriksen

Unspecified Open Seat Representative

Built Environment Plus: Voting Results

The results are in: changing the organizational name to Built Environment Plus was met with an overwhelming 90% approval rate by USGBC MA voters! We will be going before the Secretary of State to petition for the name change. If the petition succeeds, Built Environment Plus will become our official name! Thank you to everyone who voted–as a community-based organization, your input is vital for the future of the organization!

Annual General Meeting Photos

EPMA Presentation Recap: Prefab Architecture

Written by Oliver Bautista and Lindsey Machamer

Oliver presents on Prefab Architecture in front of USGBC MA's Emerging Professionals of Massachusetts group.
Oliver presents on Prefab Architecture during November’s Emerging Professionals of Massachusetts meeting.

With the October presentation we had Oliver Bautista, Designer III at Turkel Design, explain the exciting features of Prefab Architecture. The presentation began with an explanation of the definition of ‘prefab’ in architecture and the different types that exist.

Oliver’s presentation centered on modular homes built in components, in this case wall panels, and how the process works from the Schematic Design phase through the built core shell assembly. The process begins with the selection of either a standard home design, a modified standard home design, or a custom home design; the choice depends on client needs and site conditions.

Simulated design of prefab architecture
Simulated design of Prefab Architecture

During the presentation, Oliver explained the advantages of doing prefab, from the components built in a controlled environment to reductions made to the construction schedule. The sample project shown during the presentation displayed a timeline of one hundred days to complete the core shell assembly, which was elevated with piers due to a high flood elevation line. The two story single family residence was delivered in flatbed trucks and assembled on site; the visuals shown explained how a small crew was able to put together a fantastic home in a short period of time, along with the flexibility and quality prefab can bring to Architecture.

EPMA Presentation Recap: Shifting Company Policy and Culture Towards Sustainability

Written by Michael Orbank

Michael presents at the November 2019 Emerging Professionals of Massachusetts meeting
Michael presents at the November 2019 Emerging Professionals of Massachusetts meeting.

At this past USGBC EPMA meeting, I had the pleasure of discussing the work Commodore Builders is doing to move towards a more sustainable future. Commodore is a growing CM firm, and their rapid growth is continuing to innovate and deliver the best possible product for its clients, while balancing and improving the working life of its employees. Building a sustainable culture is pivotal in expanding successfully and ethically.

Through small sustainable steps, significant progress can be made. A big mistake many companies make is a “shock and awe” campaign which leaves employees and clients dazed and confused with the new changes. Taking small, incremental steps is pivotal in creating lasting change. Small steps Commodore has taken include forming a carbon committee, reviewing areas of improvement, and speaking honestly with both clients and employees about sustainable changes. In the competitive Boston construction market, Commodore has realized that sustainability must be a collaborative effort.

Earlier this year, Commodore introduced changes to their subcontractor contracts, mandating LED’s for temporary lights, and banning idling onsite. It is the hope that we can move to bigger, bolder moves while keeping education a priority to make sure that all involved parties understand why changes are being made and what the impact is. Just this past week, office wide composting was introduced with a focus on personal, hands on training to teach employees what can and cannot be composted. Going forward, Commodore hopes to improve their material sourcing, transition towards zero construction waste, and continue to provide employees with one of the best workplaces in Boston.