March 27, 2006
Green (and Not so Green) Building Conference
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Welcome to AECWeekly! This week the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Green Building Conference was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and featured a Green Home and Technology Tour, as well as keynotes, exhibits and concurrent sessions.
Green building undertakes several missions at a time, but chief among them is its mission to use less fossil fuel in the construction and maintenance of a structure. What most people don't realize is that architecture is responsible for 46 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions-far more than SUVs that are widely touted as the culprits (SUVs come in at 6%). Read about the conference and other green building issues in this week's Industry News.
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Green (and Not so Green) Building Conference
by Susan Smith
This week the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Green Building Conference was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and featured a Green Home and Technology Tour, as well as keynotes, exhibits and concurrent sessions.
Green building undertakes several missions at a time, but chief among them is its mission to use less fossil fuel in the construction and maintenance of a structure. What most people don't realize is that architecture is responsible for 46 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions-far more than SUVs that are widely touted as the culprits (SUVs come in at 6%).
This conference focused on home design. As I perused the exhibit floor, I noted that not one vendor sold software, although there were two vendors who offered consulting and courses using their own proprietary software solutions to offer ways of measuring energy loads in buildings. A software called ResCheck Analysis is used to plan analysis for conformance to energy codes. NIST has developed a tool called Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES) which does lifecycle analysis of environmental impacts in 10 categories: global warming, acid rain, ecological toxicity, eutrophication, indoor air quality, ozone depletion, smog, solid waste, resource depletion.
It was interesting to me that one of the chief proponents of green architecture who lives just down the road in Santa Fe,
Ed Mazria, of Mazria, Riskin, Odems, Inc., was conspicuously absent from this gathering. Also missing among NAHB's exhibitors was the
U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), known for their LEED certification, which is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. LEED is less publicized than NIST and the ISO standards in AEC, yet my guess is that as more architects, builders and construction professionals recognize the huge impact of buildings on our environment, we will hear more about this and other “greening” standards.
Sponsors included opening ceremony sponsor, the Vinyl Institute; corporate sponsors, McGraw-Hill (who provides NAHB with Sweets' Catalog), Whirlpool and the Green Building Initiative; participating sponsors, LP Tech and Honeywell and numerous others. The Vinyl Institute has been in the
news as recently as less than a year ago with allegations that fabricators have contracted ASL as a result of exposure to vinyl chloride, an ingredient used in the manufacture of PVC. In an
article in The New York Times Magazine March 5, 2006, it was stated that PVC just happens to be one of the materials that some members of the green movement (clearly NAHB is not included here) are up in arms about. Even the USGBC is undecided as to whether PVC is better or worse than any other material. Hearing from Whirlpool that we could benefit the environment by going out today and buying one of their new ENERGY STAR dishwashers if ours were ten years old or older was also less than gratifying.
During the opening ceremony, Martin Chavez, Mayor of Albuquerque, stated that the green building movement is largely industry driven and homebuilders are the vanguard of that movement. The mayor is responsible for rebuilding the public safety infrastructure and has broken ground on an historic surface water project. So far, under his leadership, Albuquerque has enjoyed a 30% reduction in water use.
Keynote speaker Henry Green currently serves as President of the Board of Directors for the International Code Council (ICC), of which he is a founding member. He has been recognized nationally and internationally for implementing fire safety initiatives and codes.
He talked about how the NAHB and ICC can work together to provide a basis for improved efficiencies in our building environment. The functions of sustainability and
the viability of codes have everything to do with sustainability, “we want to preserve our environment, and want to do this in a way that provides flexibility,” Green said. “I believe we will see standards of this nature taking a more prominent stance in the building process of the future. We saw this with energy codes, which were developed into mandatory standards as we found the need.”
“We must look at how alternative fuels are being used,” Green stated. “Concepts of green building are not new, and we are finding improved methods such as recycling, improved building methods, materials, and how to relieve our environment of waste materials.” Green told the audience that the International Code Council cited Seattle as the first city to adopt a sustainable policy. In the City of Chicago, Mayor Daley required all buildings to comply with Energy Code.
There are many compelling reasons for changing the way we build and operate homes, continued Green. The U.S. consumes 25% of the world's energy, and although we must seek alternative energy such as solar, we must also look at how to reduce energy consumption as well. One way to do that is through conservation and efficiency of our building processes.
The rate of delivery of residential energy consumption is growing as a result of demographic trends in housing preferences.
To its credit, NAHB assembled an interesting group of case studies and examples of the implementation of green building standards.
Among them, Cherokee Investment Partners announced their “GreenHome” which was designed to meet “green building standards,” and is the first of its kind to be built in a traditional development. The firm specializes in brownfield redevelopment and it is hoped that the demonstration home will encourage conventional builders to embrace green building. The goals of the GreenHome include:
“Green by Design”
One of the more interesting sessions was “Green by Design” by Peter Pfeiffer of Barley & Pfeiffer Architects, who used his own home and others as an example in his power point. He talked about “how to have an integrated approach to the five pillars of green building.”
According to Pfeiffer, the five pillars are:
His vision follows the framework set forth by the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines.
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