Fall Webinar Features Green Marketing TipsDecember 21, 2011
Reaching Architects Who Need to Know About Sustainability
George Middleton, AIA, CSI, LEED AP, gave an overview of how to meet the challenge of educating architects and specifiers on meeting today’s green challenges.
Middleton defined “sustainability” as “doing the things today that take care of our economic and social needs…but don’t cause damage tomorrow.”
This includes making choices of materials, components and design with the least overall environmental impact without prejudice as to what is supposedly a “good” or “bad” choice. By knowing the environmental impacts of all inputs and outputs to the manufacturing, installation and end-use processes, good choices can be made. A primary tool to accomplish this is Life Cycle Analysis (LCA).
With regard to windows, sustainability relates to many aspects:
- Wind pressure
- Thermal resistance
- Pressure on fees, firm profitability
- Economic and industry recovery
- Demand from clients for projects that work
- Project green/sustainability issues
- Concern for quality control
- Need for education and training
- Project delivery –design build
- Productivity and technology (e.g., Building Information Modeling, or BIM)
- Understand what they do - compare, select and specify products.
- Know their process and their reliance on service drawings and specifications.
- Be compatible with BIM, a rapidly growing resource for the best architectural solutions.
- Be aware of their sensitivity to liability and keep them out of trouble by protecting their design intent and their client.
Middleton pointed to eight factors for product success:
- Company reputation–time in market
- Product reputation–history, reliability and past experience
- Personal relationships–trust and dependability of the representative
- Timing sales support –right for project phase and appropriate follow up
- Project fit–design appeal, problem solution, risk tolerance and owner preference
- Level of visibility–general awareness, (find it, choose it, use it) using three media
- Competitive situation–recency, primacy and installed cost
- Technical/design support–testing, codes and education
Specifically with regard to the leverage of LEED, Middleton explained that over time since 2002 when USGBC introduced the concept of negative LEED credits for the use of certain materials, they have become more objective. In a 2007 report, USGBC said that material credits are a “blunt instrument” that can steer designers the wrong way. Negative credit activity was dropped. Today, the apparent shift in USGBC philosophy seems to be continuing toward specific desirable paradigms, namely that no single material is best nor worst and that LCA is better than focusing on a single attribute. According to Middleton, the 2012 edition of LEED will indeed offer credit for LCA.
However, work on developing the 2012 edition is also looking at instituting a new credit to compliment the LCA of building products by addressing human health and “chemicals of concern.” Dealing with these so called “chemicals of concern” is based on California Proposition 65, a 1986 measure that requires the state to publish a list of chemicals “known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm.” This list, which must be updated at least once a year, has grown to include approximately 800 chemicals since it was first published in 1987. This approach is rather subjective in that there is no consideration of exposure levels. Even though many chemicals listed have nothing to do with building construction, the trend bears watching.
Other “pilot” credits being considered are:
- Pilot credit 2 –PBT reduction
- Pilot credit 11 –Chemical avoidance
- Pilot credit 52 –Prescriptive attributes that will potentially balance out single-attribute prescriptive requirements with LCA-based alternatives
- Pilot credit 53 –Responsible sourcing
- Pilot credit 54 –Chemical avoidance
- Addressing the fact that manufacturers are already highly regulated
- Basing regulations on scientific risk data
- Designing for LEED credit can be burdensome and add to cost
- Determining who decides third-party certification credentials
- Considering whether multiple certifications can exist