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.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Donald Trump Says "You're Fired" to Green Buildings

A colleague recently sent me the link below that contains an interview with Donald Trump.  Apparently, after "embracing" green design (to meet the requirements of municipalities in which he builds and/or to take advantage of tax breaks) he has decided to come out swinging.  I won't address the claim he made in this interview that global warming is a myth.  But he also said that green buildings are uncomfortable  and unhealthy, referencing a friend of his "a big guy in environmental" who regrets moving into a green building because his office is always too hot or too cold and the poor lighting is causing him to lose his eyesight.

As you know, Trump tends to put his own spin on things, and often backs up what he says with "my friend, a big ---- guy."  But "green" can also mean different things to different people. For instance, the primary focus of the EnergyStar Building standard is saving energy, although of course the HVAC systems have to meet minimum requirements for health and safety. So an EnergyStar building might not be as comfortable as a LEED building or a Class A building in which no attention is paid to energy consumption.

Occupant health and comfort are two aspects of green design upon which I am particularly focused, and LEED standards pay careful attention to that.  What I personally like most about LEED buildings is how they smell --- or don't --- even during construction.  Thermal comfort, monitoring and control as well as thoughtful lighting design are all aspects of LEED buildings.
But for purpose of discussion, let's assume that Trump has a friend who actually moved into a LEED building and is unhappy about it.

Thermal comfort is one of the hardest things to maintain in any building.  Periodic retro-commissioning is invaluable for maintaining occupant comfort as well as ensuring continued energy savings. It's also possible that whoever handled the friend's tenant build-out did not pay enough attention to the position of HVAC registers and blocked the path of air during drywall construction, that a contractor working on his space disconnected or blocked something, or that another tenant has somehow affected the air supply to his space.

We could dismiss the allegation about the loss of eyesight as just plain silly, since most people need reading glasses as they get older. But since I have a fair amount of expertise in ergonomic design for computer users, and since people do sometimes feel that greener offices are not bright enough, I'd  like to put in my two cents on that issue.  For anyone working on computer screens, "less is more." Proper lighting design for the modern office, energy considerations aside, would include relative low levels of ambient light to avoid glare on computer screens supplemented by task lighting for reading hard-copy. Computer screens should be positioned perpendicular to, rather than parallel to, windows and/or windows shades should be used to reduce glare.  Sometimes "big guys" of a certain age prefer reading hard copy to using computers, and often "big guys" sit with their backs to a window that shows off a very expensive view and don't have a return on their desks for computer use.  So it's possible that lighting that is healthier and more comfortable for most people in an office can be displeasing to a CEO.  But that can be easily remedied by plugging a torchiere into a wall outlet.
The recommended light levels traditionally used in the construction of U.S. buildings were developed to facilitate reading hard copy, because personal computers had not yet been invented. And I believe that the manufacturers of light bulbs were heavily involved in determining recommended light levels.

Anyone interested in seeing the interview with Donald Trump upon which this post is based can do so at: Business Insider Article