NFPA and sustainability

From NFPA Journal®

Sustainability was an essential part of the business ethos of Organic Valley, a Wisconsin-based dairy cooperative, down to the materials it used to construct its offices. And that's where it ran into problems.

It's green. It's sustainable. It helps reduce your carbon footprint. But do you know how it behaves when subjected to fire? NFPA Journal provides an update on green buildings and fire safety.


The grass-covered roof of YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno, California. (Photo: Corbis)

NFPA Conference & Expo
NFPA will offer an entire track of educational sessions focused on sustainability at its 2014 Conference & Expo in Las Vegas in June. Select "Sustainability" from the "Track" pull-down menu.

The introduction of new building materials, methods, and techniques changes the ways in which fire behaves. These changes have the potential to negatively impact buildings, their occupants, fire fighters and other first responders, and the environment.

Throughout its many projects and programs, NFPA strives to maintain a focus on the economic, societal, and environmental issues of fire while also seeking to address sustainability initiatives that will ensure the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Following is a list of NFPA projects and resources that reflect our Association's safety and sustainability concerns:

  • Fire Safety in a Sustainable World
    By Tracy Vecchiarelli, NFPA Fire Protection Engineer
    For decades, sustainability has been a topic of discussion for innovators and designers looking to conserve resources in the built environment. As green technologies and materials are becoming more affordable and available, the market demand for sustainable infrastructure and alternative energy has increased. How will these new technologies and systems affect the fire protection industry? 
  • Symposium: Fire Safety Design and Sustainable Buildings: Challenges and Opportunities
    Chicago, November 2012
    NFPA and the Fire Protection Research Foundation hosted a symposium in November 2012 that featured perspectives from architects, engineers, and members of the sustainability community and research institutions on the challenges and opportunities of integrating fire safety and sustainable design. Download proceedings, presentations, and watch videos from this event.
  • Report: Fire Safety Challenges of Green Buildings
    Fire Protection Research Foundation
    by Brian Meacham, Brandon Poole, Juan Echeverria and Raymond Cheng, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, November 2012
    Many new commercial facilities are being designed and constructed with an objective of achieving a “green building” certification. There are many sustainable building features and products that singly or together may have an impact on fire safety unless there is a design approach which mitigates those effects. The Foundation commissioned this study to develop a baseline of information on the intersection of “green building” design and fire safety and to identify gaps and specific research needs associated with understanding and addressing fire risk and hazards with green building design.
  • Report: The Environmental Impact of Automatic Fire Sprinklers
    FM Global and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, April 2010
    The findings of a groundbreaking study show that greenhouse gases released by burning buildings can be reduced by 98% when automatic fire sprinklers are installed. The study, a collaborative effort of FM Global and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, also found that automatic fire sprinklers: reduce fire damage by up to 97%; reduce water usage to fight a home fire by upwards of 90%; and reduce the amount of water pollution released into the environment.
  • Project: Quantification of Green Building Features on Firefighter Safety (PDF)
    Fire Protection Research Foundation
    The Foundation is collaborating with Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the Department of Homeland Security on a new project whose goal is to reduce firefighter injuries and deaths associated with fire environments and structural responses in green buildings. The project will include the development of a screening tool to better prepare the fire service for fires in green buildings.
  • NFPA's Electric Vehicle Safety Training project is a nationwide program to help firefighters and other emergency responders prepare for the growing number of electric and hybrid vehicles on the road in the United States. The project provides emergency responders with information they need to most effectively deal with potential emergency situations involving these types of vehicles.
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