green building performance

The Smarter Building

Posted by:

One of the problems we encounter today when defining sustainability initiatives is that most everything associated with the environment, from energy efficiency to social responsibility, is in a fundamental state of flux –­­ constantly changing, ever evolving. While expanding our knowledge and, consequently, our concerns associated with environmental stewardship, we witness organizations and corporations vying for a sense of place arrive by the busloads, and they also leave by the busloads. The boundaries and parameters become blurred, often with conflicting messaging. With the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), as well as other organizations, promoting smart growth and social responsibility, a heightened awareness will be focused toward building technology and automation. As we assimilate the data and establish our goals, this emerging technology will become a more relevant and active participant in the way we will provide sustainable buildings that integrate into sustainable communities.

However, in order to provide truly sustainable buildings, we should ask the question: is being green enough? Is a green building the same as a sustainable building? Although the terms are generally accepted as being interchangeable, one could legitimately argue they are not the same. On one side, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

“Green, or sustainable, building is the practice of creating and using healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance and demolition.”

On the other side, consider the fact that we’ve been successfully creating green buildings for some time now and though we’ve made great strides, for a multitude of reasons, we’ve also fallen short of our expectations. To meet the above stated goals, as sustainable professionals we need to embrace a well-coordinated and expanded process. The state of the art of buildings is that they aren’t just green, but “smart” ­­ structures that go beyond simple resource efficiency and indoor air quality, built with the latest technology for building controls and automation.

Enter smart buildings.          Continue Reading →

Building Green on a Budget: Advice from Leading Architects

Posted by:

What are the best ways to build sustainably within budget constraints? Writing for, Lisa Taylor asked several leading architects for insight on this timely issue. Their collective advice on building green on a budget is to return to the fundamentals of good design and choose climate-appropriate materials that offer a quick payback.

Back to Basics

…building green on a budget is as simple as returning to the roots of good architectural design. When you build things with a sense of craft and purpose, they are more frequently cared for and looked after, which makes them last longers. “Good, beautiful design is a large part of sustainability.

Site Matters Continue Reading →

Green Building Codes, LEED and the Consumer – Part One

Posted by:

Okay, it’s a new year and with this comes the California 2010 Green Building Standards Code (aka CALGreen), LEED 2012 being released for public comment, and who knows what else. Oh, yeah. USGBC being sued for, well, whatever. 

Aside from the ICC International Green Construction Code, if CALGreen is an example of what we can expect as a trend, in the extreme, with mandatory green building codes, what will be the impact of these new and more stringent green building codes as they find their way across the country? The California 2008 Green Building Standards Code went into effect on August 1, 2009 and was voluntary, unless otherwise adopted by local jurisdictions as mandatory. With the new California 2010 Green Building Standards Code, state compliance is mandatory, having taken effect in January, 2011. 

We saw substantial changes with the migration of LEED v2.2 over to LEED 2009, and the proposed revisions for LEED 2012 appears as if more robust revisions are in the works. Tristan Roberts from BuildingGreen and LEEDuser has published Your Guide to the New Draft of LEED that provides a good analysis of the proposed revisions. Likewise, Joel McKellar at Real Life LEED goes in depth with information he gathered on the LEED 2012 Update from USGBC’s presentation at this year’s Greenbuild convention. From a cursory review of LEED 2012, USGBC seems to be taking a necessary step in addressing many of the inadequacies and inconsistencies in the current rating systems.

It didn’t go unnoticed when USGBC rolled out LEED 2009 and informed us that this upgrade represented a major shift in direction for USGBC. USGBC would prefer to see state and local codes adopt LEED Green Building Rating Systems as a baseline to be modeled into hybrid systems, as determined by the appropriate jurisdiction, while they concentrate on ways to improve the rating systems, and thereby raising the bar. Three documents, found on the California Green Building Blog, illustrate the comparison between CALGreen and LEED. Cover Letter, CALGreen non- residential LEED comparison and CALGreen residential LEED comparison. With more accurate historical data being gathered, new technology being introduced to market, and broader consumer interest, it’s good that USGBC has recognized the fact they need to be more focused on keeping abreast of technological advances. They appear to be embracing a three year Continue Reading →