Sunday, October 28, 2007

Week 10/28: Green Building

My interest in green building is what initially drew me to take this course. In my upcoming career path of architecture and interior design, the topic of green building is one that can not be avoided and for good reason. I am a member of the USGBC so many of the facts that i will be discussing in this blog come from them. It has been reported that worldwide buildings account for 17% of fresh water withdrawl, 25% of wood harvest, 33% of the CO2 emissions and 45% of the material and energy use. With these kind of numbers it is no wonder that people are getting more excited and more interested at the prospect of green building. As with all areas of sustainability green building involves many peoples interest not just that of the architect or designer. A successful green building involves the building owners, financial representatives, building tenants, utility manager, architect, planners, property manager, all levels of government, product manufacturers, contractors, engineers, interior designers, landscape architects, code officials, and more.

The LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) was a great way of getting people involved and excited about green building. By having a building accreditation system people have a strong incentive for getting a project certified the main reason is for publicity and recognition. The LEED system assesses design in site planning, water management, energy management, material use, indoor and environmental air quality, and innovation in the design process. Obviously this is not all that goes into sustainable design, but it seems to be a very comprehensive and yet approachable system for green buildings. The USGBC reports that if implemented correctly their LEED system will provide a 9% decrease in operating costs, a 8% increase in building value, a 7% improvement in ROI, a 4% increase in occupancy, and a 3% available rent increase. From an building owner and operator's perspective sustainable building has been proven to raise performance tests in schools by 20%, decrease the average length of stay in hospitals by three days, increase the sales per square foot in retail spaces, increase overall productivity in factories, and lead to an average 2-16% productivity increase in offices.

I wanted to find one of my favorite LEED projects to talk about but instead i decided to find if any buildings in Ithaca were LEED and to my surprise the tompkins county SPCA is a LEED certified building.
This project consists of a new 9,900 ft2 (920 m2) animal adoption center for the Tompkins County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), a minimally renovated 4,000 ft2 (370 m2) building as an animal intake and evaluation area, and a bridge connecting the two spaces. Dogs and cats (the primary center occupants) have separate wings in the building, while the central area houses staff and community rooms, a treatment and surgery suite, and other support spaces, including the laundry and grooming rooms. The project was landscaped exclusively with native trees and grasses, and no permanent irrigation system was installed. Runoff from the parking and roof surfaces is channeled through a series of swales into a filtration trench and detention pond designed to allow stormwater infiltration. Efficient fixtures reduce water use indoors. Energy-saving features include a geothermal heat pump, a narrow building footprint conducive to natural lighting and ventilation, efficient light fixtures, and heat-recovery ventilation. The indoor environment is enhanced through operable windows and 100% fresh air in animal spaces. All paints and finishes used in the project contain low or no emissions of VOCs, engineered wood products contain no added urea-formaldehyde, and carpets meet Green Seal standards. FSC-certified poplar was used for exterior siding and interior ceilings, and recycled-content materials were used when feasible.

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