What drives green building? Several architects at an ARCHI-TECH roundtable in Carefree, AZ, in November expressed frustration that first-cost considerations often preclude the possibility of designing truly sustainable facilities. Green products that save money in the long term, after all, often cost more upfront.
A week before the event, Greenbuild in Atlanta was teaming with design professionals eager to learn more about sustainable technologies. The tradeshow floor was filled with a variety of innovative products, from access flooring with moveable climate control to automatic louvers in shading systems. The show has grown tremendously, from 220 booths and 4,189 attendees in 2002 to 582 booths and 9,724 attendees this year.
Both manufacturers and buildings professionals are “getting” green. Noted U.S. Green Building Council President Rick Fedrizzi, “It’s the point of no return. People are not going to go back the other way.”
But many can’t move ahead, either, not with the first-cost roadblock.
Sometimes those in search of answers need to find a back road. Federal, state, and local governments are increasingly requiring sustainable facilities through LEED certification.
Others are catching on, too. In the past 6 months, LEED-certified buildings in the United States have grown from 200 to 400, and 3,000 are in the pipeline. The LEED process has now gone electronic, with 100 percent of a project’s documentation available in an easy-to-use online format.
Education is key. Just as architects must educate clients on a range of issues, they can promote long-term cost efficiencies of sustainable technologies, as well as the marketing value of green building.
LEED aside, manufacturers are helping the green cause with products that not only save energy, but are also both more efficient and aesthetically pleasing. Just ask the nearly 10,000 attendees at Greenbuild.
Sometimes a good side road can lead you to your destination. And it can be a better trip.