LPA Joins UC Berkeley Center for the Built Environment

LPA Inc. has recently become an industry partner with the Center for the Built Environment(CBE), an industry/university research cooperative at the University of California, Berkeley. CBE's mission is "to improve the design, operation, and environmental quality of buildings by providing timely, unbiased information on building technologies and design techniques." 

Center for Built Environment UC BerkeleyCBE is managed by faculty and researchers from the Building Science Group within the Department of Architecture at UC Berkeley (where several LPA staff earned their degrees). They operate under the National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center program. 

CBE's on-going research projects strive to "take the pulse" of occupied buildings, particularly indoor environmental quality issues. They also study emerging technologies that hold promise for making buildings more environmentally friendly, more productive to work in, and more economical to operate. CBE's research is highly valuable to those who manage, operate, and design buildings and is a great fit for the design work we do at LPA.

In April, LPA President Dan Heinfeld, along with Associates Keith Hempel, Steve Newsom, and I attended CBE's Integrated Façade Symposium and bi-annual Industry Partners Conference. The CBE research findings presented over these two days were enlightening and thought provoking. Additionally we gained valuable insight and touched base with colleagues (and some competitors) in our industry who are also members of CBE. LPA's experience with CBE has already begun to influence our design  work.

Some of the (many) CBE research findings and discussion items that resonated with us include:

  • U.S. fire and life safety codes are among many reasons why double skin facades are much more common in Europe than the US.
  • Overall U.S. buildings are over-cooled in the summer, when the majority of occupants would prefer somewhat warmer interior temperatures (say 74 or 75 F) than what is typically provided (72 to 73 F).
  • Well designed overhead "advanced VAV" HVAC systems are as energy efficient (or more) than underfloor air distribution systems and radiant heating and cooling systems.
  • Poor access to or understanding of thermostats and operable windows is a significant source of frustration among K12 school faculty and staff surveyed at schools across the country.
  • Low ventilation rates in buildings is associated with increased respiratory health issues and reduced productivity across of range of research studies.

LPA is inspired and excited to be part of this research collaborative and is working to disseminate CBE's research findings to our staff, as well as to participate actively in future CBE research projects. We believe that our participation in CBE will support our mission of "creating sustainable places and spaces that enrich the lives of those who use them."

Erik Ring is an Associate and Mechanical Engineer at California-based LPA Inc. He is the first engineer to join LPA since its inception in 1965. Ring helps ensure that all LPA projects exceed California's Title 24 requirements by at least 15 percent. He's a LEED accredited professional, a LEED exam instructor for the U.S. Green Building Council, and he's consulted on or designed more than two dozen LEED certified projects.