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GreenBuild Day 1 Part 2
The second half of day 1 of the Greenbuild conference was spent attending the final education session for the day and keeping myself occupied in the expo hall. The education session I attended was an overview of green building codes and a discussion on green building code implementation & enforcement as well as incentivizing better performance. The first half hour of this session consisted of an overview of the levels of green building incentives and code mandates broken out into federal, state, and local jurisdictions. The most dramatic implementations of green building mandates tend to occur at the local level where there are fewer stakeholders than at the federal level and the political climate may vary from that present in Washington. Arguably some of the most dramatic changes implemented at the federal level are not in the form of building code mandates but are instead implemented in the spirit of “leading by example,” referring to the Executive Order that mandates efficiency improvements in federally owned properties. The speaker predicted that the trend of the federal government leading by example and the local jurisdictions implementing incentives and mandates will continue for at least the next several years.The next 30 minutes of the session consisted of a presentation summarizing the new CalGreen code, which is mandatory for all new buildings in the state of California as of January 1 of this year. For those unfamiliar with CalGreen, the Degenkolb Sustainability Committee conducted a review of the new green building code last year and assembled a summary of the changes that have the potential to affect our practice and our clients. Feel free to contact me at if you’d like to see the summary of our findings (or, for those of you at Degenkolb, grab it off of the committee’s site on DegNet).The closing presentation of the afternoon session was a discussion of the differences between green building codes (such as CalGreen) and green building rating systems (such as LEED). There has been a push in many jurisdictions to adopt systems such as LEED as a building code. Objectives such as these should use caution due to the fact that there are critical differences inherent in the purpose, available enforcement capabilities and appropriate verification procedures between building codes and rating systems. The main lesson presented was that the two each serve their own purpose and, while green building codes can certainly be inspired by rating systems, codes would be best implemented if kept separate from rating systems.I spoke with representatives from many organizations at the expo today including representatives of the AISC (who is working on developing a sustainable steel fabricator certification program, very similar to recent research and advocacy efforts in the SEAONC Sustainable Design Committee to develop sustainable materials certification standards for steel and concrete) & ACI and a number of building products representatives that offer products and services that may be helpful on some of our projects (curtain wall attachment systems that minimize thermal bridging, concrete restoration products, engineered wood products, software, the list goes on). One product that was particularly interesting to me was an autoclaved CMU block product that uses post-consumer recycled crushed glass in lieu of aggregate- I’m anxious to see their follow-up with seismic test data and LCA reports to assess whether this is a product that we may be able to use in some of our projects. The expo fills up two separate halls, each massive and was much more than I could cover in an afternoon. More to come tomorrow.The opening keynote presentation began with Rick Fedrizzi (President, CEO & Founding Chair of USGBC) announcing that this year’s conference has drawn 23,000 people from 108 countries- both impressive numbers. After an interesting keynote presentation by Tom Friedman (Foreign Affairs Columnist for The New York Times) that drew some fascinating parallels between both the US domestic and the international economic accounting practices and “environmental accounting” practices, a panel discussion ensued between Tom, Paul Farmer (Chairman, Harvard Medical School’s Department of Global Health & Social Medicine), and Kim Campbell (former Canadian Prime Minister), with Cokie Roberts (Political Analyst for ABC News, Senior News Analyst for NPR) acting as moderator. The panel members each discussed their own views and definitions of what it means to be “resilient.” The definitions presented covered a wide array of perspectives including those relating to community resilience, environmental resilience, human resilience, and disaster resilience. The panelists discussed the notion that Haiti’s rebuilding efforts have demonstrated resiliency according to several of these definitions, namely the social ones, since the earthquakes that destroyed Port-au-Prince last year. There was special mention by the former Canadian Prime Minister of the critical importance of designing buildings with high seismic performance capabilities in earthquake-prone countries in order to enable a region to achieve resilience by many standards when rocked by a major earthquake event. This is, of course, an issue that Degenkolb has been promoting for quite some time from both a community resilience perspective and an environmental responsibility perspective. Our recently developed EnvISA methodology (which may be rebranded as “EnFISA” in the near future) has enabled us to examine and understand the environmental implications of seismic performance by quantifying the environmental impact of seismic damage in the buildings we design, which allows us to design our projects to minimize their probabilistic environmental impacts due to earthquakes throughout their lifetime and help our clients and the communities we serve enhance their resiliency after a major earthquake. Rick Fedrizzi then closed the evening with a presentation on the work that the USGBC is doing to enhance environmental performance and promote resilience in Haiti by constructing a new LEED platinum-targeted orphanage and children’s center (, efforts that have direct parallels to the work we’ve been doing at Degenkolb in partnership with Build Change to educate the Haitian building community and provide seismically safe housing to their community during their rebuilding efforts (see our other blog posts). It was nothing short of inspiring to see an organization with such prominence and influence in the building community not only acknowledging, but actively promoting, resiliency concepts that we have long advocated at Degenkolb. For those of you interested in viewing the opening keynote session, I’m told it will be posted on the USGBC’s website soon at
Filed Under: Green
Posted by noblestudios on October 6, 2011 9:42 AM
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