Day 2 of the Greenbuild conference started for me at an education session learning about cool roofs and efforts of another major structural firm in embodied carbon accounting. The cool roof portion of the session consisted of a presentation about the reduction in energy required for buildings to manage their internal air temperatures in hot climates that can be realized by using cool roof systems. Cool roof systems are basically highly reflective roofing systems that reflect sunlight away from the roof, rather than absorbing its energy into the building like a traditional black rooftop. They can also be helpful in reducing urban heat island effect, the phenomenon observed in densely populated urban areas where the temperature typically ranges between 5-10 degrees warmer than that of the surrounding areas due to the high level of surface materials that absorb energy from sunlight. The speaker was a representative of the Cool Roof Rating Council, and also gave us an overview of current research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory looking into advanced cool roofing systems such as reflective cool roof “retrofit” coatings and temperature-sensitive cool roofing systems.The session continued on to a presentation by two representatives of a major international structural engineering firm about their efforts to incorporate sustainability initiatives into their practice. They touched on a number of strategies employed that we are also working to include in our practice at Degenkolb, such as designing for minimum materials usage, designing for future flexibility/adaptability, and designing for durability (of which our disaster resilience efforts play a critical role). They also discussed a tool that they’ve developed that allows them to get a general sense for the embodied energy and carbon inherent in generic structural designs that are typical of their firm. Their approach was very similar to the baseline LCA tool that is the foundation for Degenkolb’s EnvISA analysis procedure, which also considers the risk of seismic damage and associated additional carbon impacts due to repair of seismic damage. It was refreshing to see that more and more structural firms are wrapping LCA (environmental life-cycle assessment) and other environmentally sustainable initiatives into their regular practice.The second education session of the morning set me a bit outside of my structural and materials comfort zone and helped me learn a bit about sustainability initiatives that some of our clients consider in the operations of data centers. The presentation began with a talk about a case study of a 60,000sf data center with 1400 server racks that was recently built in northern Virginia as part of a 2.4Msf campus that was awarded LEED Gold. The presenter discussed a number of considerations that were incorporated into the design to minimize energy usage including high-efficiency HVAC/cooling systems, alternative cooling, and aisle containment strategies (server rack layout and airflow strategies) to minimize the mixing of hot & cold air flows & thereby minimize server cooling and HVAC energy requirements. The enhanced designs across the campus have been estimated to save approximately $1.5M in annual energy costs over a baseline. The second half of the session consisted of a more general presentation about energy and water usage reduction strategies in data centers, including a consideration of the effects that regional climate variations have on the efficiency of various energy reduction strategies and implications to LEED certification.