Friday, December 28, 2007

More On Green Design: Principles, Future & Practical Advice

"Writers are at their best as terrorists- Sometimes social terrorists, sometimes political, sometimes terrorists of the heart. If a writer is good, he will be all three at once. His weapons are words well used to disturb and to clarify thought, emotion and action." - John Ralston Saul

"An invasion of armies can be resisted...But not an idea whose time has come... - Victor Hugo

" One reason we are in so much trouble is that our modern culture is paradoxically behind the times, still assessing the world the way it did in the nineteenth or even eighteenth centuries: as a place of inexhaustible resources, where man is at the pinnacle of creation, separate from and more important than anything around him." - David Suzuki

My November 3 blog mentioned a Green Built Conference held at the Ferry Terminal.

Since then, I've read & reviewed an excellent book, 'The Philosophy of Sustainable Design' by Jason F. McLennan.

Here are a few insights before I share this book with the Library Board, the Council, and the Waterfront District Redevelopment Project.

• On Green Economics:

"By the time the design for most human artifacts is completed but before they have actually been built, about 80-90% per cent of their life cycle economic and ecological costs have already been made inevitable." - Joseph Romm

• The City of Austin, Texas was first to adopt a rating system for sustainability of buildings, using 1 to 5 stars, assigned according to 5 criteria; energy efficiency, materials efficiency, water efficiency, indoor air health & safety and community health & safety.

• LEED means 'Leadership in Environmental & Energy Design'.

• The LEED rating system currently has a maximum of 69 possible points.

A LEED Certified building must have 26 to 32 points

A Leed Silver building must have 33 to 38 points

A Leed Gold building must have 39 to 51 points

A Leed Platinum building must have 52 or more points.

Buildings which exceed this highest level are called 'Living Buildings', like the EPICenter at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT.

• The LEED rating system currently has these 6 categories:

1 - Energy & the Atmosphere - 17 points maximum

2- Water Efficiency - 5 points maximum

3- Materials & Resources - 13 points maximum

4- Indoor Air Quality [most complex] - 15 points maximum

5- Sustainable Sites [adjacencies] - 14 points maximum

6. Innovation [ideas outside the box] - 5 points maximum

• The LEED system is a rigorous design tool and its application is simple and cheap.
However, its documentation is time-consuming and expensive.
Most firms charge a $40 to $60 thousand flat fee per project, with no proportionality to building size.
Many projects simply use LEED as a checklist, then turn it in after completion to determine after the fact what certification level is met.

• The Packard Foundation Building in Palo Alto, CA was built after six different levels of buildings were designed for comparison, including the 5 levels described above plus a conventionally constructed building.
The results are dramatic, and available online as the 'Packard Sustainability Matrix & Report'.

• Sustainable Design differs from Traditional Design in three ways:

I. Results [environmental & human impacts]

II. Rationale [6 Principles as below]

Principle 1: Respect for the Wisdom of Natural Systems - The Biomimicry Principle

Principle 2: Respect for People - The Human Vitality Principle

Principle 3: Respect for Place - The Ecosystem/Bio-Region Principle

Principle 4: Respect for The Cycle of Life - The "Seven Generations" Principle

Principle 5: Respect for Energy and Natural Resources - The Conservation and Renewable Resources Principle

Principle 6: Respect for Process - The Holistic Thinking Principle

III. Process [holistic]

• Chapter 16, The Future of Architecture, relates the author's expectations of what may be occurring in the next 10, 20 and 50 years, and represents a realistic 'wake-up' call that demands everyone's attention.
Rather than relay the details here, I'll leave it to readers to discover what may await us in the years ahead.
Suffice to say, at some point in the current century, Sustainable Design will not likely be an option!

• Finally, the several Appendices contain very useful information about the topics below.
In particular, 'Who's Who in Green Design and the discussion of Phases of Green contain very valuable insights.

Appendix A - The Green Warrior Reading List

Appendix B - Who's Who in Green Design

Appendix C - The Phases of Green Design

Appendix D - The Elements of Green Design Methodology

Appendix E - The Principles of Sustainable Design - Summary

" While an upgrade that cuts energy use in half can save one dollar per square foot in annual energy costs, it can generate more than ten dollars per square foot in new profits every year if it boosts productivity even five per cent!" - Joseph Romm

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality-tied to a single garmet of destiny-whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly." - Martin Luther King

"If we keep going the way we are going, we are going to end up where we are headed." - Groucho Marx