US Green Building Council Reports on High-Impact LEED Projects

The Orlando Magic's Amway Center in Florida is the first NBA arena to earn LEED Gold Certification.

The Orlando Magic's Amway Center in Florida is the first NBA arena to earn LEED Gold Certification.

The U.S. Green Building Council has released its LEED in Motion: Venues report which showcases high impact LEED certification projects such as convention centers, sports venues, performing arts centers, and community centers, and their ability to transform their environmental, social and economic footprint.

By incorporating green practices, venues around the world are positively impacting what the report calls the “triple bottom line” (people, planet, profit) while inspiring and educating others to be proactive in the areas of social responsibility and sustainability.

The economic and environmental statistics in the report are also revealing. The anticipated growth in large convention, stadium, event venues and their impact on the U.S. economy are huge, to say nothing of  the billions of dollars saved on energy, water, and maintenance if they are LEED certified.


Architecture for the People – Public Forums

Centre Pompidou Metz by Shigeru Ban Architects, in Metz, France -- an art museum but also a community center and public forum.

Centre Pompidou Metz by Shigeru Ban Architects, in Metz, France -- an art museum but also a community center and public forum.

The term “forum” originally referred to public space in ancient Roman municipalities — sites designated for meetings and speeches, which invariably grew into important religious, political, economic and educational venues. These spaces not only hosted a variety of social activities, but also featured diverse architectural styles.

Today, the word “forum” is almost synonymous with dialogue or exchange, spaces that promote the discussion of ideas and opinions for educational or social pursuits, and many architects are creating their own interpretations and adaptations of the forum structure creating spaces of community and exchange. Some evoke the educational role of a forum, whereas others stress commercial or religious functions; some combine many programs under one roof.

Architizer has showcased seven outstanding architectural examples of contemporary forums from the University of Exeter Forum in the UK and Faena Forum in Miami, Florida, to the Marimekko Forum in Helsinki.


New Web-based Tool for Energy Efficiency Project Financing

New financing navigator facilitates funding for energy efficient building.

New financing navigator facilitates funding for energy efficient building.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has introduced a new web-based financing navigator to help private and public sector organizations understand and access financing solutions available for energy efficiency building projects.

Since limited financing options are often cited as a major barrier to investing in energy efficient systems, the “Better Buildings Financing Navigator”  now offers building owners, facility and energy managers, and other decision-makers guidance on how to connect with investors and lenders  so that they can pursue energy-saving projects. By bringing smart financing solutions to the market, building construction and management teams can move forward more rapidly with energy efficiency refits and upgrades.

The DOE’s financing navigator helps users identify relevant financing options which are tailored to their needs and also provides technical research and advice. The site encourages collaboration between public and private sector organizations across the country to share and replicate successful strategies with the goal of making commercial, public, industrial and residential buildings 20 percent more energy efficient over the next decade. This potentially means saving billions of dollars on energy bills, while accelerating America’s investments in energy infrastructure and creating thousands of jobs.


The Internet Ushers In a New Age of Building Automation

The Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutonizing building automation.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutonizing building automation.

Mobile technology has taken on a critical role in building automation, but connecting products and systems within a commercial building through what is being called the Internet of Things (IoT) is pushing building automation to the next level. Within the context of the commercial real-estate market, this means using cloud-based computing and networks of data-gathering sensors that allow products within a building to communicate with each other within an interconnected system. The result? Intelligent buildings that can gather data and adapt without human input.

While implementing the latest technology solutions is a given for new construction, the real opportunity lies in intelligently retrofitting existing building stock, especially since it’s estimated that 80 percent of current commercial buildings will still be in use in 2050. It’s not too soon to get smarter about how we’re using them. We need buildings and we need cities, and the more optimized and the better performing they are, the better it is for owners, occupants, our economy and the environment.

There is already a tremendous proliferation of smart, connected devices, products with integrated sensors that input data to the internet themselves, a suite of technology and applications that equip devices and locations to generate information and then connect them all, capturing data and providing instant analysis about building performance.  The Internet of Things is going to accelerate the growth in this building automation market; by 2020, it is estimated there will be as many as 200 billion connected devices across the globe, which translates to roughly 26 smart objects per person. Many of these will be in our buildings.

 

 


Netflix Bringing Architecture to a Whole New Audience

A new Netflix documentary on design features innovative Danish architect & founder of BIG.

A new Netflix documentary on design features innovative Danish architect & founder of BIG.

On February 10th, Netflix will launch a new documentary series designed to captivate architecture and design enthusiasts. “Abstract: The Art of Design” will spotlight how design influences everyday life. The show, produced by Editor-in-Chief of WIRED Scott Dadich, follows the creative genius of eight innovators in design-related fields. One of those innovators is Danish architect and founder of BIG, Bjarke Ingels, often referred to as a rock star of architecture, whose TED talks alone have received more than 2 million views.

While the program does romanticize the role of architecture to some extent (it is after all a difficult profession involving extremely delayed gratification and designs that may never see the light of day!), it also encourages viewers to think more deeply about the impact of design on their world. Ingels may not be the “everyman” of architecture, but his story is inspirational.


The New Administration & Impacts on Green Building

The new administration in Washington D.C. may impact the Green Building industry. Photo: National Resource Defense Council

The new administration in Washington D.C. may impact the Green Building industry. Photo: National Resource Defense Council

Several leading industry publications – Architectural Record and Construction Dive — have published commentary on the incoming U.S. presidential administration and the future of the green building movement.

Rick Perry and Scott Pruitt, of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency respectively, have both rejected accepted, mainstream science on climate change and vowed to roll back environmental rules like the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. This has architects worried that the new administration could reverse other regulations, including those mandating sustainable construction for federal buildings.

Current federal mandates require buildings to improve energy performance and reduce consumption by 2.5% every year through 2025, and while these initiatives have resulted in significant energy savings, they could be rolled back. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which requires certain green building practices, is not as easily scrapped. Some of this push back may also be offset by local government commitment to green policies.

Even if the incoming administration wages war against sustainability in construction practices, building owners are not likely to abandon the principles. Last year, the Bentall Kennedy report revealed that green buildings, particularly those that are LEED-certified, can garner 3.7% higher rents and 4% greater occupancy rates than non-LEED-certified buildings. The company also discovered that ENERGY STAR-certified buildings earned 2.7% higher rents and saw a 9.5% increase in occupancy.


The New World of Virtual Reality in Construction

Virtual building design is making a dramatic impact on the construction industry.

Virtual building design is making a dramatic impact on the construction industry.

Okay.  You are an architect in Hong Kong, and you’re working with a construction company in San Francisco. You can both “look around” a computerized 3D model of your building (this is not new technology) but now you can also actually feel what it’s like to be right inside the structure by wearing virtual reality (VR) headsets, getting a 360-degree view. And, by wearing the same headsets, you can do this together and make real time changes even if you’re on opposite sides of the world.

Welcome to the world of virtual building design – a big leap for the construction industry, which has traditionally been more interested in bricks than clicks.

Building information modeling (BIM) – or developing a 3D digital prototype of a project – has been trending.  Using 3D gaming technology and cloud-based software, industry leaders are now bringing together building design environments and workflows into a single, navigable view. Users navigate these virtual designs almost like a video game.

The opportunity for reducing errors, keeping tabs on and tracking large complex projects while also saving money (30% of a project’s total budget is usually spent correcting errors not visible in the design stage) are the obvious benefits of this VR computer-aided design. It’s definitely disruptive technology, and it’s spawning new, streamlined building design practices that will change the nature of construction forever.