The passionate author of six books discusses green certification, the importance of implementing sustainable design, and the thrill of a double platinum.
With noteworthy projects around the country and numerous industry awards, this young LEED expert is leading the way for world class sustainability documentation. But helping clients find the balance between environmental, social and economic factors remains a daunting challenge. StoryTrack sat down with Michelle Cottrell to unravel this integrated process.
StoryTrack: Often LEED certification can feel like checking boxes, why does it make sense for an owner and developer?
Michelle Cottrell: Without trying to oversell LEED, the reason it’s so successful is because it’s a holistic rating system. Sure, it’s a tool in which to measure performance. But we don’t just measure the performance in isolation. We look at many different aspects in tandem—we look at the development site, how water is used, how the mechanical system coordinates with the lighting system. We examine the construction materials, the indoor environment in terms of air quality and the exterior environment. And that’s just a start!
ST: Tell us about the potential savings.
MC: One project is saving over $500,000 a year in comparison to a conventionally built structure in a similar corporate setting. Those are substantial dollars. That project was designed with a narrow footprint and we were able to incorporate a lot of natural light into the space, all the way to the core. Because of that we incorporated a daylight harvesting strategy. We’re using what’s naturally available and therefore save on energy.
ST: One of your recent success involved a LEED double platinum ratings, is that unusual?