Innovation in Green building for a sustainable future
Centuries ago early humans took advantage of things like facing their homes to the south, using locally available materials, building where the natural resources they needed were close by, and living where they worked.
When the industrial revolution demanded that people go to a central location to perform their work a lot of this wisdom was lost. The growing adoption of oil as a fuel used in transportation caused masses of people from rural to shift to the cities to be near to their work places.
Since people had to now use transportation for moving around each day to get to their work places, now homes also had to be made near the city and city planning was in need. Thus came the start of row housing and sprawling suburbs. Therefore a lot of construction started going on in the cities where the main focus was on constructing on time and not on the environmental or human hazards it can cause.
Although US is recognizing the energy it is wasting on commuting, that could have been spent in increasing productivity. Not only a person’s energy but also electricity and other power sources to run offices and buildings.
As now as the paradigm changes, fewer and fewer people need to go to a place to work. Work-at-home is more encouraged and most of the tasks can be done from home. Seventy percent of the electricity generated in the country goes to power our homes, offices and factories. And the energy consumption grows every day and every year it damages our earth and our environment a little more.
So there is a major effort underway to quantify and qualify just what green building means.
But at some point out, establishing standards may lead to restricting invention in the construction industry, especially if those standards end up earning points toward some kind of certification, as happens with LEED(Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).
In this article Architect Les Wallach FAIA founder of Line and Space in Tucson, AZ, points out that green standards can end up forcing the adoption of only those practices in building that are sanctioned by the standards. He questions then how new and more innovative practices could gain any base.
“A code is supposed to be a minimum standard — that’s what I have to do and not one thing more,” he says in the article. “If you get a point for using a carpet that has a high content of recycled bottles in it — great. But what if you use no carpet? Isn’t that even better? You get no points for it.”
These certifications should also include a post-construction analysis a year or more to compare it with the building plans to oversee what outcomes has it given to provide a greener environment. Thus after testing buildings we can project the new innovations made in that building, to establish which new innovation helped it becoming a better greener building.
Plus, one would assume that a LEED certified building built in 2007 would in some ways be greener than one built in 2004 simply because you have to assume that technologies and practices would improve over time. Therefore, the baseline building becomes the most recent state-of-the-art building and the challenge is to best it and not just check items off on the standards checklist.
The trick is to help people understand going into a project that if something doesn’t really end up helping the building become greener then, that’s just the way it is. Post construction verification will help us highlight areas where established standards aren’t really providing what is being anticipated.