SMART and Mount Kilimanjaro

Anne Lorimor has the record of being the oldest person to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.  Anne was 89 when she reached the peak on July 18th, 2019.  She loves hiking and she didn’t start with Kilamanjaro.  It started walking on streets and on hiking trails.  She upward climb included Pikes Peak, the Great Pyramid, and Ayers Rock.

She started small and worked her way up to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro… twice!

What’s the relationship with SMART?

The competition gives the student teams a virtual model of a high school campus with the design challenge of improving its energy efficiency.  Teams focus on the use of sustainable materials and renewable technology (S.M.A.R.T.).  Some students see this challenge as their “technical Mount Kilimanjaro”.

How do you reach the peak?

Anne didn’t get to the top of the mountain because one day in 2015 she boarded a flight to Tanzania and climb the mountain.  She took time…she practiced…she took small steps to build her strength and endurance.

First, register for the SMART Competition.

Second, register for access to the Bentley software.  When you’ve created the account, you’ll have access to Bentley’s OpenBuilding Designer ( software.

Third, design a doghouse.  You know, walls, an opening for the dog, a roof.  That’s all.  Just a simple doghouse.

Fourth, improve the doghouse.  Add a window, then add insulation to the walls.  How about a skylight?

Fifth, conduct a tour of the doghouse.  The simulation package within the software can take you around and inside the doghouse.


It’s all about the hikes in the woods, on mountain trails, Pikes Peak and the Pyramids…all before you climb Mount Kilimanjaro.  Try building the doghouse before redesigning the gymnasium!

The SMART Competition is open to all high school students who attend public, private, parochial, charter and home-based schools or participate in informal education programs.  The competition is designed to attract all students without regard or bias of gender, race, socio-economic or academic performance level.



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ASHRAE Issues Statements on Relationship Between COVID-19 and HVAC in Buildings

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has published two statements to define guidance on managing the spread of SARSCoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease (Coronavirus) with respect to the operation and maintenance of heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems in buildings.

“In light of the current global pandemic, it’s critically important that ASHRAE responds with guidance on mitigating the transmission of the virus, as well as ventilation and filtration recommendations,” said 2019-20 ASHRAE President Darryl K. Boyce, P.Eng. “ASHRAE has a significant role to play in ensuring safe and healthy building environments and these statements offer the expert strategies needed at this time.”

ASHRAE developed the following statements in response to widening false statements surrounding HVAC systems.  ASHRAE officially opposes the advice not to run residential or commercial HVAC systems and asserts that keeping air conditioners on during this time can help control the spread of the virus.


ASHRAE’s statement on airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19

Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled. Changes to building operations, including the operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems, can reduce airborne exposures.


ASHRAE’s statement on operation of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems to reduce SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 transmission

Ventilation and filtration provided by heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems can reduce the airborne concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and thus the risk of transmission through the air.  Unconditioned spaces can cause thermal stress to people that may be directly life threatening and that may also lower resistance to infection. In general, disabling of heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems is not a recommended measure to reduce the transmission of the virus.

HVAC filters, along with other strategies, help to reduce virus transmission while removing other air contaminants that may have health effects.

ASHRAE’s Environmental Health Committee also developed an Emerging Issues Brief to support the two above statements:

There is great concern about the real possibility of transmission through the air of various pathogens, especially SARS-CoV-2, among staff and administration in healthcare facilities, office workers, retail workers and patrons, manufacturing workers, and residents in private and public facilities and the general public in outdoor settings and in public transportation.

ASHRAE has created the Epidemic Task Force, comprised of leading experts to address the relationship between the spread of disease and HVAC in buildings during of the current pandemic and future epidemics.  The ASHRAE Environmental Health Committee’s Position Document Committee also updated a Position Document on Infectious Aerosols.

“ASHRAE, working with its industry partners, is uniquely qualified to provide guidance on the design, operation, and maintenance of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as to prepare for future epidemics,” said ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force chair, ASHRAE Environmental Health Committee voting member and 2013-14 ASHRAE Presidential Member Bill Bahnfleth.

Please visit the newly updated ASHRAE’s COVID-19 Resources webpage at for additional details. The page includes frequently asked questions and the latest information on the ETF’s guidance for healthcare facilities, residential buildings and other issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Written by Sherri Simmons, ASHRAE media relations

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New Post-Tensioned Structural Concrete Code

I know….you’re asking “What is post-tensioning and why is it important to SMART?

Post-tensioning is adding plastic sleeved steel cables to a concrete slab before the slab is poured to give the slab extra strength.  When the slab is poured, the cables are pulled tight and anchored to the border of the slab.  Post-tensioning accomplishes two things.  First, it adds strength to the concrete slab.  Second, it stops the slab from cracking.  That’s really important if you’re building a house and never want the tiles in the kitchen or bathroom to crack….or you don’t want to see cracks in the garage floor.  The OpenBuildings software provided to the competition by Bentley Systems makes it possible for architects and building designers to include post-tensioning in the design process.


The American Concrete Institute (ACI) and Post-Tensioning Institute (PTI) have announced an expanded partnership, formalized through the new joint ACI-PTI Committee 320, Post-Tensioned Structural Concrete Code, in response to expressed industry need for building code requirements addressing the unique aspects of post-tensioned concrete design.

ACI-PTI 320 will develop and maintain a companion to ACI 318, “Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete.” Chairing the committee will be Dr. Carol Hayek, a member of ACI Committee 318, Structural Concrete Building Code; PTI Committee DC-20: Building Design; and, Joint ACI-ASCE Committee 423: Prestressed Concrete.

“Post-tensioning allows for design flexibility, materials reduction, and efficient constructability,” says PTI Executive Director Tony Johnson. “Establishment of ACI-PTI Committee 320 will not only help expedite the adoption of post-tensioning provisions into the concrete building code, but it will also enhance usability for the design engineer by consolidating post-tensioning design provisions into one convenient document. Dr. Hayek has been one of PTI’s most influential and active members, and her leadership of this committee is sure to result in the creation of excellent technical information for design professionals.”

“ACI and PTI, by combining volunteer and staff efforts, are well-positioned to meet the needs of the industry by producing new and user-friendly structural post-tensioning concrete building code requirements that complement existing code requirements,” adds ACI Executive Vice President Ronald Burg, P.E.


 Written by Concrete News

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Universities, Colleges and School buildings are going green

The U.K. is home to some of the world’s oldest — and most prestigious — universities.  And while these may be centers of excellence for learning, many institutions’ buildings were built centuries ago and are in need of refurbishment or, in some instances, total replacement.

It’s a problem that’s not restricted to higher education.  Across the world, many of the universities and colleges have a large number of aging buildings.  Those buildings are not as energy efficient as newly designed facilities and are difficult to remodel or retrofit.

In the U.K, some of the Victorian-era housing can be drafty and costly to maintain.  Office buildings, even though constructed about 20 years ago, are deemed high consumers of energy.

In the south of England, one place of learning is attempting to boost its green credentials with a brand new development.

Earlier this week, the construction firm Osborne “formally handed over” the West Downs Centre to the University of Winchester.  A handover refers to a contractor formally passing a development or facility over to their client.

The new building boasts a number of sustainable features designed to boost its green credentials.  These include a combined heat and power system; solar photovoltaic panels; rainwater recycling; and what the university described as “smart building management.”

Its development was supported by green financing through a £30 million ($37.26 million) loan from Triodos Bank, which offers what it describes as “sustainable financial products.”

The university has previously described the West Downs Centre as being “on target” for an “excellent” BREEAM rating.  BREEAM is a “sustainability assessment method” from the Building Research Establishment that covers infrastructure, master planning projects and buildings.  For additional information about BREEM, visit  BREEM and LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) are systems that rate the overall design and construction of a building for efficient use of energy and other natural resources.

It’s hoped that teaching at the building could begin in this year, assuming that the current pandemic issues are resolved.  An official opening and inauguration are slated for next year.

Around the world, buildings designed for the education sector are being developed with sustainability in mind.

In March of this year, it was announced that the firm Veidekke had been tasked by the city of Oslo to build an energy-efficient, solar-paneled school.

At the time Veidekke said the Voldsløkka secondary school would have solar panels on its facades and roof.  In addition, machinery used on the building site would run on “fossil-free fuel.”

In the U.K., a number of universities are also turning to renewable sources of energy.  These include the University of Sussex, which has installed over 3,000 solar panels at its campus in a £1.5 million initiative.

Elsewhere, the University of Nottingham has said its “recent new builds” include things such as biomass boilers, green roofs and passive design.

Building Management System (BMS) or Building Information Management systems (BIM), are being implemented to monitor and control building energy consumption and the types of devises that utilize energy throughout the day.  Facility management professionals are able to balance the electrical loads caused by lighting, air conditioning/heating, computer use and even people to optimize consumption.   According to the university officials, its BMS “controls 95% of our campus buildings, ensuring intelligent control of the building systems to make sure there’s no energy waste.”

Other examples include University College Cork, in Ireland, which said it reduced total energy use by over 20% between 2008 and 2018. The 2018/19 academic year saw the university undertake 22 different energy efficiency projects, including the installation of 42 kilowatts of solar power.

Look for terms or phrases that include IoT, IoE, smart village, wearable technology and other intelligent systems as we move into the next generation of building design.


Written by Anmar Frangoul


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Chicago office building constructed with Coronavirus-fighting features

A $26 million Chicago office building will be one of the first in the country to boast features designed to address COVID-19 safety concerns.

The 90,000-square-foot Fulton East, which was under construction when the outbreak hit, has been engineered for maximum social distancing, touch-free operation and air and surface sensitization.

Bob Wislow, CEO of Fulton East developer Parkside Realty Inc.   foresees a move away from large floor-plate buildings filled with multiple companies on each floor sharing bathrooms, corridors and public areas.  High-rise buildings with crowded lobbies and long waits for elevators will become less desirable as well, he said.

The 12-story Fulton East, which will house up to 500 people at full occupancy, is constructed with 10,605-square-foot floor plates that facilitate flexible, custom planning options for tenants, he said.  Smaller floor plates also provide a greater percentage of natural daylight and views per square foot of occupied space, something that studies have shown improves performance, provides numerous health benefits and even reduces employee sick days, said architect Lamar Johnson in the statement.

In addition, each floor has only three columns, enabling flexibility in office design to easily accommodate social distancing guidelines, including two distinct wet column areas providing the opportunity for two separated cafes and kitchens.  Corridors and restrooms are not shared among tenants and each restroom has one fixture more than Chicago city code mandates.

To help reduce the spread of germs and viruses, the building utilizes MAD Elevator Inc.’s Toe-To-Go hands-free elevator system and the airPHX air and surface sensitization system that the company claims reduces up to 99% of viruses, bacteria and mold on surfaces and in the air.

Other health, safety and wellness enhancements include:

  • Touch-free thermal scanning at the lobby security desk to check temperatures of people entering the building.
  • Touch-free key fob access and security system, pre-wired for future BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) accessed via a mobile phone.
  • Touch-free, after-hours security/building access/intercom/elevator access system.
  • Nonshared 9-by-27-foot private outdoor balconies on each floor.
  • An 8,000-square-foot rooftop garden for individual use and small group meetings.
  • Restroom walls painted with Sherwin-Williams Paint Shield that is said to kill greater than 99.9% of Staph, MRSA, E. coli and other pathogens within two hours of exposure.

Heightened awareness

Experts predict the coronavirus outbreak has accelerated the move toward more health-related features in buildings such as offices, retail outlets, restaurants and apartments.  This heightened awareness means that employers are considering health-related issues over energy savings or aesthetic considerations when evaluating office buildings

“This pandemic and the prospect of future contagions are a permanent tipping point in the rise in prominence of healthy buildings,” the ULI authors wrote.


The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) recently launched the WELL Health-Safety Rating for all building and facility types, an evidence-based, third-party verified rating focusing on operational policies, maintenance protocols and design strategies to address a post COVID-19 environment.  The WELL Health-Safety Rating is one of the earliest outcomes of IWBI’s Task Force on COVID-19, a group of nearly 600 public health experts, virologists, government officials, academics, business leaders, architects, designers, building scientists and real estate professionals.


Author:  Jenn Goodman

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ACEEE adopting building performance standards

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released a white paper in June calling on jurisdictions globally to explore mandatory building energy performance standards to meet long-term climate goals, energy savings and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions.  The white paper can be found at:

The adoption of building performance standards is a fairly new trend.  Of the 10 jurisdictions with existing standards, seven of the programs were enacted in the last two years as governments scramble to adopt measures that will curb the effects of climate change.  But as buildings account for 39% of U.S. energy use (EIA 2020) and 31% of GHG emissions, the need for more aggressive building performance standards is critical, ACEEE said.

The benefits are not just seen across long-term climate goals.  A separate analysis from ACEEE found legislation to boost the energy efficiency of homes and commercial or industrial buildings could save consumers $51 billion on energy bills through 2050.

In the U.S., only a handful of mandatory building standards have been implemented, including those detailed in New York’s Climate Mobilization Act, and most recently, St. Louis’ Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS).  St. Louis became the first city in the Midwest to pass such standards and is “setting an example for other cities of all sizes,” according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The lack of such mandatory building standards across the U.S. isn’t for lack of trying.  ACEEE found a number of U.S. cities — including Atlanta, Boston and Denver — have “adopted prescriptive building standards” such as retrofit requirements or tune-up and audit requirements, yet these efforts fall short of whole-building standards, ACEEE said.

For jurisdictions hoping to advance their own building performance standards, ACEEE said slow but effective implementation and enforcement are key. And to be successful, such standards will also need to be complemented with ongoing policies and programs including benchmarking, education and technical assistance.

“We are entering an exciting period of experimentation that will likely teach us many lessons on how best to structure and implement such policies to best meet the objective of quality housing and workplaces,” while moving the needle on energy and emissions savings, ACEEE wrote in its report.

Author:  Kristin Musulin

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Multidiscipline Building Design Software

The software the student teams use in the competition is provided by Bentley Systems (  It represents the best design tool suite available to architects and engineering professionals worldwide.

OpenBuildings Designer enables the teams to be as creative and imaginative as professionals are every day.  Importantly, in addition to becoming creative in the design requirements, the competition and the software demands the student teams analyze what they want to accomplish, document the work that is being done, and design and implement a project plan that will assure success.  The software, and the research each team must do, enables the students to develop an understanding of Building Information Modeling (BIM).  An optional element of the competition is to use their own school (Phase 2 of the competition), and the knowledge gained from the competition, to improve the energy performance of their own school.

Michael Andrews, co-creator of the competition, says “I strongly suggest that each student visit the Bentley site: and watch some of the videos.  The work showcased on the site is amazing and inspirational!

The SMART Competition ( is a global STEM and Career and Technology Education (CTE) education program.  The competition is open to all high school and university students.  The competition is designed to attract all students without regard or bias of gender, race, socio-economic or academic performance level.

For additional information, contact Mike Andrews,



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Designing Buildings and Public Spaces for Social Distancing

COVID-19 has created building and facility use challenges.  Design requirements that solve the physical or social distancing requirements are going to dominate design thinking for years to come.

The Bentley software used in the SMART Competition will enable student design teams to make the necessary changes while assuring the facility meets all of the usage goals.  For some design considerations and helpful hints, watch the 2 minute video from Bentley Systems:


To see other award winning projects, visit:

The Bentley development team is working hard to provide useful information and resources to help professionals successfully meet the current challenges.  Bentley Systems is a sponsor of the SMART Competition and provides design software tools to over 800,000 architects and engineering professionals globally.

The SMART Competition ( is a global STEM and Career and Technology Education (CTE) education program.  The competition is open to all high school and university students.  The competition is designed to attract all students without regard or bias of gender, race, socio-economic or academic performance level.

For additional information, contact Mike Andrews,

What is the Competition Schedule?

One of the first questions we’re typically asked by teams planning to register for the SMART Competition is “What is the competition schedule?”.  The normal answer is that the competition begins in August/September and the final judging is in April/May.  We include the competition schedule as an attachment and provide the link to the SMART Competition URL that takes you back to the Key Dates tab.

That’s changing this year!  We’re creating an intelligent scheduling system.  The system will allow a team to select its own starting date.  Based on our experience, the various delivery dates will be automatically calculated based on historical team performance.  Team start, delivery dates and the date for the final presentation are based on individual team performance versus an arbitrary “competition year”.


Watch for more information and announcements.

For additional information, contact Mike Andrews,


The SMART Competition ( is a STEM and Career and Technology Education (CTE) education program that provides high school and university students with a practical real-world design challenge that addresses sustainability, green design, localized power generation, architecture, the environment and the community.  The competition is open to all students who attend public, private, parochial, charter and home-based schools or participate in informal education programs.  The competition is designed to attract all students without regard or bias of gender, race, socio-economic or academic performance level. 

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AIA List of Best Sustainable Buildings

Buildings generate nearly 40% of the world’s CO2 emissions—and since two-thirds of the buildings that exist today will still be around by the middle of the century, architects need to rethink their design now to have a chance of meeting goals for a net-zero economy.  The industry is shifting, and sustainability has become a standard part of architecture.  But some projects go further than others.

Each year, the American Institute of Architecture Committee on the Environment selects the 10 best designs.

Three award winning examples are:

  • The Austin, Texas Central Library, a LEED Platinum facility, designed by Lake|Flato Architects in San Antonio. One of the key features of the library is a 373,000-gallon rainwater harvesting system and a garden designed to attract pollinators on the rooftop.  (
  • The Environmental Nature Center and Preschool in Newport Beach, California. The facility was designed by LPA, Inc., an Irvine, California headquartered architecture firm.  The Center was the first LEED Platinum certified building in Orange County and was designed to be a net zero facility.  (
  • The Etsy headquarters in New York City. The facility was designed by Gensler, a global architecture firm.  The building was designed to reflect the surrounding community needs and attitudes.  The company chose to use creativity and imagination to redesign a turn-of-the-century building and convert it into a showcase for business and governmental leaders to use as an example for future redevelopment purposes. (

For more information, visit the American Institute of Architects site,


edited contribution by Adele Peters for Fast Company magazine