Commercial brokers must be knowledgeable about many different disciplines: law, construction, engineering, finance, negotiation, and more. Today’s blog post is the first in our “Going Green” series. Our focus today will be green architecture. Stay tuned for information from experts in the following areas: HVAC, recycling, and commercial cleaning.
The following is a guest column by Kazim Dharsi, Registered Architect and Professor of Architecture, HACC.
The Big Issue = Resources
Human population just surpassed the 7 billion mark, and with it comes challenges and pressure to conserve and wisely use the earth’s limited resources.
Indeed, the US Green Building Council estimates that buildings use nearly 40 percent of the world’s energy (see chart below). Construction and operation of buildings in the US account for a third of all energy used, two thirds of electricity and a third of raw materials.
How can Architects/Engineers Help?
Architects have responded by incorporating design strategies and specifying construction materials that are “green.”
Green architecture is not revolutionary. Green architectural design strategies include integrating elements that can dramatically affect building energy performance. They also include building shape and orientation, passive solar design, light wells, clerestories and other daylighting techniques and the use of natural lighting.
Moreover, architects have the ability to design in such a way that construction minimizes site impacts, debris and impact all while leaving beautiful, durable structures that blend well with their surroundings.
Working with other engineers/consultants, architects can integrate elements and gardens of native shrubs and perennials to cover 75 percent of the roof, helping to lower heating and cooling loads and increase tenant satisfaction. To help reduce potable water demand by 50 percent overall, buildings can be designed to use recycled wastewater for its cooling tower, low-flow toilets and for irrigating landscaping
In choosing construction materials, architects specify those that have the stamp of approval from an organization such as GreenSpec, which lists over 2,200 (and growing) environmentally preferable products.
GreenSpec conducts its own independent research in assessing manufacturer claims, ensuring that the guide contains unbiased, quality information.
A Call To Action
The American Institute of Architects along with many others is working toward the Architecture 2030 Challenge. This initiative has its goal to reduce consumption of fossil fuels in buildings. The end result is that all new buildings and major renovations shall be carbon-neutral in 2030 (using no fossil fuel greenhouse gases emitting energy to operate).
Green building skeptics will argue that it’s difficult or even impossible to build green without paying a big cost premium. It has been shown that a LEED-Certified project can be completed for an average of 2 percent more in upfront costs, and sometimes even below standard market construction costs. Plus, any extra first costs paid can be recovered through faster lease-up rates, rental premiums and increased market valuation. And by utilizing experienced green building architects, you can escape paying any green premium at all as early as your second green building project.
Kazim Dharsi is a newly elected member of the board of directors for the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of The US Green Building Council. Kazim teaches architecture and sustainability courses at HACC at their Midtown II Building which is a LEED Registered Facility. For more information regarding upcoming educational seminars on green building, please go to www.usgbc-centralpa.org.