Making it Easier to be Green
Green design includes energy conservation, but that's not what it's all about. It's about having good air quality both indoors and outdoors, making the environments in which we work, live, study and play healthier and more comfortable and conserving all of our natural resources.
This site will provide a balanced, holistic view that includes advice about saving energy, water and other natural resources, improving indoor air quality, using environmentally responsible design and construction techniques and minimizing waste.

I will be focusing on interiors for three reasons:

  • We spend about 90% of our time indoors.
  • Buildings in the United States annually consume about 30% of our total energy and 75% of our electricity.
  • As a New York State Certified Interior Designer and a LEED Accredited Professional, I want to share my knowledge and expertise with you.
Sustainable design and construction can be done in many different styles and using a wide variety of materials. There are examples of healthy, sustainable, comfortable and inviting interiors for commercial, not-for-profit and residential clients on the web site for Interior Design Solutions.
You can use the labels on the sidebar to locate entries that you want to read. For instance, most people might want to look at the entries for "Green Homes," but "Green Finance" would be of more interest to professionals involved in the design, construction, management, financing and marketing of buildings.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Update - Green Buildings not Living Up to Green Labels

Henry Miller's Theatre is the first theater in the United States to be on track for LEED Gold certification. My enjoyment of a performance there last night (and that of fellow theater-goers with whom I spoke) was marred by extreme discomfort caused by air conditioning that made those of us with orchestra seats feel as though we were sitting in a meat locker. This seems ironic, since two of the main tenets of LEED are energy efficiency and occupant comfort.

Everything seemed right when I first toured the theater. While the facade of Henry Miller's Theatre has been retained, it is actually part of a building that is a poster child for LEED, the Platinum-rated Bank of America Tower. Both the architects, FXFowle and the building owners, The Durst Organization, are recognized leaders in sustainable design, and the project represents an honest attempt to address core concerns, rather than focusing on easier and less expensive ways to achieve LEED points.

Often costly equipment that can improve occupant comfort and energy performance, such as an under-floor air distribution system, is value-engineered out of projects. So it seems unreasonable to grouse about a project that includes this amenity. It's like a teenager who asks for a car and is given a Ferrari complaining. But just as the Ferrari would not be useful to a teenager unless someone took the time and trouble to teach him or her how to drive it, sophisticated systems that are not properly explained to the people who have to operate them don't do anyone any good.

This highly visible LEED project is consuming much more energy than necessary, and my guess is that the cause is lack of proper training of and communication with operations personnel. I certainly hope that's the case, because that would be much easier to fix than a problem with the design or installation of the system.

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