Full Circle Newsletter
An e-Newsletter for the Clients and Friends of C.T. Hsu + Associates, P.A.

March 2007

Going for the "Green"

DeLand City Hall & Municipal Complex


Green Design

Going for the "GREEN"
Sustainable Design and LEED

Sustainable design – or “green” design – is an approach to architecture that seeks to improve a building’s energy efficiency while reducing its negative impact on human health and the environment, through better siting, design, construction, operation and maintenance.

Buildings and their embedded energy produce nearly half of all the dangerous greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, and U.S. buildings account for nearly as much carbon emissions as the economies of Japan, France and the United Kingdom combined, according to the American Institute of Architects.

Last month, AIA President RK Stewart, FAIA, testified before a Senate energy subcommittee on the issue of energy efficiency in buildings.  He explained the pivotal role that buildings play in contributing to climate change and recommended that Congress pass legislation committing the federal government to meeting aggressive energy efficiency requirements for federal buildings. 

Currently, the fastest-growing market for green building is the education sector, according to McGraw-Hill Construction's latest research; significant given that education is forecast to be the nation’s largest construction sector in 2007, estimated at $53 billion.  Green designs for schools are important because of the specific sensitivities children have to indoor air pollutants and environments, as well as the amount of time students at both the K-12 and university levels spend in these buildings. 

At the state level, the AIA Florida Association recently adopted a new commission to educate members and the public about green design.  It is based on the association’s national Commission on the Environment (COTE), founded in 1990 to advance environmental and energy-related issues and promote the role of the architect as a leader in preserving and protecting the planet and its living systems.

Another organization dedicated to sustainable design is the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a national coalition of industry leaders working to transform the way buildings are designed, built and operated in order to create environmentally and socially responsible, healthy and prosperous communities.  Its efforts include the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program that promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

The Council’s LEED Green Building Rating System is a nationally accepted benchmark for certifying high performance green buildings.  It also offers LEED Accreditation to building and design professionals who have demonstrated a thorough understanding of green building practices and principles and familiarity with LEED requirements, resources, and processes. 

In support of sustainable design, CTH+A has set a goal for all of its design professionals to earn their LEED accreditation by July 1, 2007.

Examples of sustainable design efforts locally, nationwide and around the world include the following:

  1. Last month’s 2007 International Builders’ Show in Orlando showcased The New American Home, a certified eco-friendly demonstration home that featured solar panels and a green roof designed to control storm water, provide green space, improve air quality and reduce solar heat gain.

  2. In December, Pinellas County, Fla. was designated the first green county and first green local government in the state of Florida by the Florida Green Building Coalition.  The county’s “green” efforts include water conservation, progressive solid waste collection, LED traffic signals, wildlife habitat preservation, the use of Energy Star appliances in affordable housing units, bio-diesel use in the county's fleet and green land management policies.

  3. In San Francisco, the New Resource Bank is offering lower interest rates and more generous loan terms to developers and owners who invest in “green” building projects, including discounts on loans to commercial or multifamily residential projects seeking LEED certification.

  4. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) recently introduced legislation that would extend the Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction until 2013 and deepen the deduction from the current $1.80 per square foot to $2.25 per square foot.

  5. The world's first “zero-carbon” five-star resort is being developed in Zanzibar by London architects who claim it will have no negative environmental impact.  Each of the resort’s 35 villas will be totally self-sufficient, using only energy from the sun and wind and producing little waste or carbon emissions.

  6. The Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power recently approved a policy requiring all new construction projects to meet at least LEED Silver standards as certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. The policy includes incentives for builders and developers.

For more information visit:


 
All images and articles copyright © 2008 C.T. Hsu + Associates, P.A.

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