Good Sam Puyallup awarded LEED Gold

 

 Does the Responsible Developer aspire to LEED for health care facilities?

Local Washington cities and health care providers say, Yes!

The latest addition to Puyallup’s MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital, the nine-story, $300-million Dally Tower, has received the Green Building Institute’s LEED Gold award.

The hospital tower, which doubled the space at Good Samaritan, is the state’s first hospital structure to win the Gold award for energy and resources conservation, said Tacoma’s MultiCare Health System, the hospital’s parent company.

The gold award was based on the new building’s water and energy saving features and environment-friendly construction methods.  The building and parking structure replaced surface parking lots and a public street, and also replaced impervious surfaces with permeable green space. The structures added no new impacts to the stormwater system.

Other sustainable features include:

• Ecoroofs, bioswales and rain gardens that gather stormwater runoff.

• An energy-efficient building form that minimizes east-west exposure; sun shades on the windows to reduce heat gain.

• Renewable, recycled and regionally sourced materials; certified wood, low-VOC interior finishes and linoleum and rubber flooring.

• Reduction of potable water use by 20 percent compared with a normal hospital.

• HVAC system with low-velocity ducting, high-efficiency chillers and mid-building air handlers.

• Air drawn 100 percent from outside the building to help control infections, and a heat-recovery system to conserve energy.

The architect for the project was the Good Sam Design Collaborative which included Clark/Kjos Architects and GBJ Architecture. Skanska USA was the general contractor.

Another area hospital serving southeast King and northeast Pierce counties, Enumclaw’s St. Elizabeth Hospital, last summer was awarded a LEED Silver designation. St. Elizabeth is owned by Tacoma’s Franciscan Health System.

So to sum up the attributes of Green hospitals, its good for the environment, it saves energy and reduces costs, it's also gorgeous, and, it's undeniably healthy (see new USGBCCleanMed protocol).  

The Big Green Pay Off

Is investment in green sustainable buildings still paying off?

Absolutely, according to a study of properties managed by CBRE Group Inc. ("CBRE").

Sustainable buildings generate stronger investment returns than traditional managed properties, according to the ongoing study of a national office portfolio managed by CBRE.  The study found that there is a higher value and an increased demand for green, and in particular for LEED® certified buildings, which is demonstrated by increased occupancy and rental rates in comparison with the general market.

The study, which surveys approximately 150 CBRE-managed office buildings and more than 2,500 building occupants, shows how green building performance continues to trend higher than the general market, establishing a clear economic case for the value of green in existing buildings, with mid-sized markets leading the trend.  In particular, aggregated data on LEED certified buildings over three years shows an average 3.1% improvement in both rental rates and building occupancy in comparison to the general market. The 2011 phase reinforces earlier findings that demonstrate sub metering of utilities for tenant space reduces energy costs by 21% on average.

This report should not surprise anyone.  It is the building equivalent of purchasing an electric or hybrid automobile for all the same reasons, it saves energy, costs less to operate and is better for the environment.  Why not build, buy, or invest in one. 

The CBRE report also noted that economic uncertainty can cause downward pressure on an any organization's continuing commitment to sustainability.  Still, survey respondents consider green features important when selecting office space, with a healthy indoor environment as the leading factor. This finding supports other results of the study in which 19% of tenant respondents reported increased productivity and 94% of tenant managers registered higher employee satisfaction in green office space.  The study also shows a growing general awareness of green.

CBRE was ranked #30 among Newsweek's greenest companies in America in 2010, and #1 among the financial services sector.

Recall also that earlier in 2011 the Green Building Opportunity Index came out with the first office market assessment tool to provide weighted comparisons of top U.S. office markets on the basis of both real estate fundamentals and green development considerations.  The Index focuses on the primary factors that influence successful development, retrofitting, leasing and sales of investment grade green office buildings in the largest U.S. Central Business Districts.  It compares a market's relative position to its peers in six categories: Office Market Conditions, Investment Outlook, Green Adoption & Implementation, Local Mandates & Incentives, State Energy Initiatives and Green Culture.  For 2011, the Index has been enhanced by adding five new markets and refining the methodology and data inputs - yielding a more comprehensive view into market influences that determine where sustainable development brings competitive advantages.

As a tool to examine the overall climate for green building, the Index assists a broad spectrum of professionals to determine where the favorable conditions exist.  Investment/pension fund managers and developers can use this data to consider where to put their money and why.  City policy makers, utility staff and planners can examine the data to understand what new policies and incentives might be useful to accelerate green building activity.  Building owners, architects and green building consultants can determine where green development brings competitive advantages, or where it is simply an emerging standard.

According to Cushman & Wakefield the 2011 Green Building Opportunity Index's top 10 markets overall shows that five cities on the West Coast are on that prestigious list:  (1. San Francisco; 5. Los Angeles; 8. Portland; 9. Seattle; and 10. Oakland).  One very recent entry into the green sustainable office market in Portland is making news.   

Portland’s city council approved plans for the Oregon Sustainability Center last week (see image above). The city and its project partners hope the Center will be the world’s first and tallest mixed-use office building to achieve Living Building status.  The decision to support the Center represents the city’s commitment to build (and pay for) a sustainable building.  With a construction budget of $62 million, the 150,000 square foot tower will cost 15 to 20 percent more than comparable buildings in Portland’s downtown area.  The city’s fiscal pledge to green building recognizes a return on investment bigger than rental income.

The project is jointly supported by the Oregon University system, the Portland Development Commission, the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, and an assortment of for-profit and non-profit groups with interests in sustainability and social equity.  In June of 2011, the Oregon state legislature held their approval for funds on the conditions that private sector tenants were found and signed to leases, and that the city of Portland foot the costs of architecture and engineering services.  Ultimately the Center will be owned by the city and the Oregon University system.

Sustainable buildings at the commercial and institutional scale are relatively expensive to build. Innovations, especially in the early stages, often come at a premium.  Some of the Center’s premium technologies include triple-glazed glass, solar panels, a high capacity underground water tank, and a geothermal well system that will provide heating and cooling.  The energy saving and energy generating materials make up a heavy, but worthwhile expense. 

Targeted for a 2012 groundbreaking, the Oregon Sustainability Center is an example of the importance of total buy-in for sustainable building.  Mayor Sam Adams understands the value of the experience: “We’re never going to be the biggest city, but I want us to be the scrappiest, most successful international city.  To do that you’ve got to invest in innovation.”

So not only is the market for green sustainable buildings currently viable, the City of Portland is betting $62 million that the trend will continue into 2013.  

 

Seattle Bites the Green Bullitt

 

At the end of last month, the City of Seattle broke ground on The Bullitt Center, located at 1501 East Madison Street, which is touted to be the greenest commercial building...in the world. 

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn claimed the $30 million Bullitt Center project will create green jobs on every level, the 94 jobs for the construction workers who will receive green building training on-site, the future 141 permanent jobs for employees in the building and the people in the green building industry who will teach classes and receive green building certificates at the project’s Center for Energy and Urban Ecology.

So Seattle voters, in recession, new jobs are good but is this project just another green monument that may prove to be a drain on taxpayers?  

No, says the Mayor and the Bullitt Foundation.  The new Bullitt Center will be taking net zero building trends to new heights.  This six story tall, 52,000 square-foot office building is designed to be both a net-zero energy building and a net-zero water building while managing all of its own waste needs.  It will produce as much energy as it consumes, provide all of its own water, and process all of its own sewage.  It will also use only 1/3 as much energy as an average, similar-sized building – or half as much as a certified LEED platinum building!
 
Achieving these goals may not be an easy feat but if successful, will make the building much more affordable to operate.  Some of the green technologies used in the building include: 
  • A triple-glazed curtain wall system
  • Windows that open and close automatically depending on outside conditions
  • A closed-loop geothermal system
  • Radiant floor heating and cooling
  • Extensive daylighting thanks, in part, to taller than average ceilings and windows
  • Rooftop solar system designed to generate 100 percent of the building’s energy needs
The green tax dollar savings allegedly won't stop after construction is complete.  Tenants in the building will be required to use electronics that are extremely energy efficient and are designed to automatically shut down at night.  Although this sounds like a Machiavellian requirement for tenants to meet, four of the six floors have already been rented out.
 
If the project delivers the expected performance ratings, then kudos will be in the offing to the design and construction team behind this premier green building project, the Miller Hull Partnership, Point32, Schuchart Construction and PAE Consulting Engineers.
 
The project's success would probably be good for the Mayor's performance rating too! 

How Green Is My City?

Does the Responsible Municipal Developer and its citizens aspire to be the "Greenest?" 

Absolutely and the competition is fierce, as it should be, after all it's a matter of civic pride!

 

Our blog has showcased the many laudable efforts of local and state governments, citizens and private developers to implement green and sustainable development practices (the preservation of open spaces; control and capture of storm and rain water; energy savings; green electric highways; reclamation of brown fields and the construction of passive homes).

    

So how does our Emerald City compare to other great cities?  Well that depends on the source. 

We looked for objectivity and think we found it in Siemens Global's US and Canada Green City Index  (which was also cited by Time.com).  Siemens' rating was based on some fairly broad comprehensive objectives and methodology.

 

The objective criteria was to measure and compare the performance of 27 major US and Canadian cities, based on their commitment to reduce their future environmental impacts.  The goal of the index was to allow a comparison of cities against their peers and to study innovative projects which other cities may want to follow.

 

The methodology was based on the work of other Green City index sites (global) and included 31 quantitative and qualitative indicators in nine categories: CO2; energy; land use; buildings; transport; water; waste; air and environmental governance.

 

Based on the criteria and the fact the study included Canada, we should be proud that Seattle was #4 with a score of 79.10.  Our score was heavily based on the fact Seattle had set, and met, many environmental goals over the last 10 years and Seattle ranked #1 in the buildings category because it was among the first cities to mandate LEED-certification for municipal building projects.

 

The City of Seattle has done a fantastic job of setting goals and obtaining the necessary commitments from its citizens to create green and sustainable projects and communities.  Seattle's ranking was no accident but was a result of a great vision and a lot of hard work and expense.

 

Seattle is a great place to live and work and we can all be proud of this ranking.  

 

More US Homes Should Be Passive

 

 

Should Responsible (American) Developers build more "Passive" homes?

German developers answer, Jawohl, bauen der Passiv Haus!   

On June 9th the Passivhaus Institut issued a press release recapping the 15th International Passive House Conference that was held in Innsbruck, Austria.  Highlights included 1200 attendees from 50 countries and 100 exhibitors presenting Passive House components.

A "Passive House" (see above) is essentially a super insulated virtually air-tight building that is primarily heated by passive solar gain and by internal gains from people, electrical equipment, etc.  Energy losses are minimized and any remaining heat demand is provided by an extremely small source.  The intended result is an impressive system that saves up to 90% of space heating costs.  Think of it as a 1,650-square-foot version of that super-insulated bottle that keeps your coffee hot or your iced tea cold, except in reverse.  Its ultra-tight shell keeps extreme temperatures out, most of the time with little to no mechanical intervention.  And its main power sources are things nature provides for free: sunlight, shade, earth, and breezes.

As with other technology, Germany and other European nations are far ahead of the US.  According to Builder more than 20,000 single and multifamily homes have been built in Europe but only a dozen have been built in the US.  Builder [online] (and other sources) stated that the additional cost for a Passive House was only 10-20 percent more that a standard home.  Hmm, spend 10-20 percent more and save up to 90 percent of future space heating costs?  Do the math in your area and given how long the home should perform, decide if it is worth it for you.

If you want to see one of the few Passive home projects in the US you do not need to go far.  There is a completed project called Courtland Place in Seattle's Rainier Valley and a nine unit  project in development called Urban Olympic multifamily Passive House

 

Green Building Means Green Infrastructure

Do Responsible Public and Private Owners incorporate Green, Sustainable components into infrastructure to better manage stormwater?  Absolutely, and locally we have some excellent examples.

First here's the concern, as eloquently expressed by a member of the American Association of American Geographers ("AAG") as part of an annual meeting being held in Seattle this week:  

"America's water infrastructure is in crisis.  Nationwide, conventional urban and exurban storm water management systems increasingly require extensive replacement and repair, leaving residents susceptible to flooding, infrastructure breakdowns, and contamination risk.  However, estimated stormwater systems rehabilitation costs run in the billions, an expense that many municipalities are unable to meet. To address this problem, officials in several U.S. and international cites are increasingly turning to an urban design based alternative, termed green infrastructure to to supplement conventional surface and subsurface drainage systems."

 King County has made just such a proposal for the Barton Basin area.  KC plans to design and build "green stormwater infrastructure" ("GSI") to control combined sewer overflows.  The GSI project will consist of planted areas call "rain gardens" between sidewalks, curbs and others areas in several locations in West Seattle.  This is the first "green" project KC Wastewater will implement.  The goal is to have these rain gardens trap millions of gallons of water a day that would otherwise enter the combined sewer system.  

Seattle Public Utilities is also heavily promoting the use of what it call Natural Drainage Systems projects ("NDS").  These systems also rely on open spaces of trees, smaller plantings, swales, soils and small wetlands to absorb water and filter out contaminants like oil, paint, fertilizers and heavy metals-before those contaminants reach our lakes, streams and Puget Sound. 

For you bloggers who may be homeowners and green do-it-yourselfers, SPU also has another link for called "Residential Rainwise Program" that encourages the use of landscape designs that incorporate the use of cisterns, rock filled trenches, grass strips, rain gardens and use of porous pavers (instead concrete or asphalt).  The Department of Ecology has a great guide for protecting waterways entitled "Protecting Aquatic Ecosystems."

In case promotion of green infrastructure in recession may not sell with some voters, perhaps some negative reinforcement may help.  For a really disastrous local example of what can happen when too much contaminated stormwater and wastewater enter our waterways, take them on a drive to lower Hood Canal on a gorgeous late summer day.  Go for a walk on the beach.  If the timing is right, they may see the red algae bloom in the otherwise blue water and the dead sea life littering the shoreline.

A sad but poignant reminder why all public and private owners need to work together to fund the protection of our priceless waterways. It is the responsible thing to do.     

 

Court Dismisses Challenges to Washington's Revised Energy Code

On February 7, 2011, Judge Bryan dismissed the Building Industry Association of Washington’s (“BIAW”) claims that certain newly enacted provisions of the Washington State Energy Code are preempted by federal law. The Washington State Building Code Council (the “Council”) promulgated the revisions, contained in WAC 51-11-0900 (“Chapter 9”), in order to comply with its statutory requirement to achieve a 15 percent reduction in annual net energy consumption in new construction, and originally set the effective date as July 1, 2010.   As we previously reported, BIAW filed suit in federal court in the western district of Washington on May 25, 2010, seeking an injunction and a declaratory judgment that Chapter 9 violated the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (“EPCA”).

The main basis of BIAW’s claims was that Chapter 9 was preempted by EPCA, and therefore invalid. EPCA, as amended, set federal energy efficiency standards for certain "covered products, including heating, ventilating, and air conditioning equipment (“HVAC”) and water heaters, as part of its energy conservation program.  (EPCA is responsible for the familiar bright yellow energy conservation guides you see on new major appliances for sale in retail stores.)

As reported in one of our prior blogs, in a June 8, 2010 letter to the Council, Governor Chris Gregoire asked the Council to delay implementation of the revisions until April 1, 2011, for fear of further delaying the construction industry’s recovery from the recession. The Council did in fact delay the effective date to January 1, 2011.

BIAW had joined with various industry groups to bring their claims, and the NW Energy Coalition, Sierra Club, and others were allowed to intervene for the Council. Both sides brought summary judgment motions. EPCA expressly states that it preempts any state regulations concerning the energy efficiency of “covered products”, but did provide for exceptions, if a state code complied with seven specific requirements. The Council argued Chapter 9 fell within the exceptions, BIAW argued it did not.

In his 23 page opinion, Judge Bryan carefully analyzed each of the contested exceptions and, referring to a combination of legislative history, expert testimony, and computer simulations, found that Chapter 9 passed muster. Judge Bryan granted the Council’s summary judgment motion, denied BIAW’s motion, and dismissed the complaint.

As Washington and other state and local governments amend their energy codes to improve energy efficiency, there will likely be more challenges similar to BIAW’s.  Judge Bryan distinguished one challenge already decided in New Mexico, where a federal court granted an injunction against the City of Albuquerque’s high performance building ordinance because it was preempted by EPCA.

Green Building Gains and Risk Management Improvements

Environmental Leader reports that in five years the total US green building market value is projected to increase from $71.1 billion to $173.5 billion. This represents a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 19.5%. The commercial green building segment of this market is expected to increase from $35.6 billion to $81.8 billion. According to the report, this surge in green building has the potential to create 2.5 million American jobs, about a 30% increase in jobs within the construction industry.

This remarkable surge of green building activity will be accompanied by a surge in the risks associated with green building. As discussed in some of our prior blogs, the key to managing these risks is to contract carefully and make sure that expectations are defined and responsibilities for those expectations are specifically assigned to the parties in the contract documents. To address some of these risks, the insurance industry offers some niche coverage for green building projects. For example, Chartis Insurance offers "green reputation coverage", designed to address the threat or reality of adverse publicity when a building fails to meet green industry standards. Coverage includes access to crisis consultants and a range of other services to mitigate adverse publicity. Chartis also offers "green indoor environment coverage", providing coverage for bodily injury claims resulting from specialized equipment and products used to improve air and water quality in green buildings.

Similarly, Fireman's Fund recently began offering a five percent discount to policyholders with Energy Star buildings, and offers "green financial incentive coverage" for policyholders that paid for green improvements to their property with help from a tax incentive or financial grant and then suffered a loss when the building did not achieve the targeted rating and the policyholder is obligated to return the benefit received. These coverages are described in more detail in an article from Rueters.

Careful contracting and thoughtful insurance coverage will help reduce the risks and enhance the benefits of green building for all contracting parties and end users as green building in public and private construction continues its exponential growth.

 

Bastyr Goes For LEED Platinum

Bastyr University claims to be the first school in the country to be in line to earn a LEED Platinum certification for its just completed student housing project. Consisting of 11 three story buildings housing 132 students, the project marks Bastyr’s first addition to the school’s campus since the natural health arts and sciences school took over its current home at the 51 acre site of a former Catholic monastery in Kenmore, Washington. Bastyr formally celebrated the project opening on June 22, 2010.

Bastyr and its general contractor, Shuchart Corporation, went through many steps to reach Platinum status. Energy efficient construction was used throughout the project, including high r-value insulation, energy efficient and long lasting fiberglass windows with ultra high performance glass, and radiant floor heating with super high efficiency gas boilers. Energy efficient light fixtures, appliances, and plumbing fixtures were used throughout the project and harvested rain water will be used throughout the complex for non-drinking purposes.

During construction, the contractor was able to recycle a remarkable 96 percent of the construction waste, primarily through training of subcontractors, critical layout of recycling containers, and proactive arrangements with local facilities for recycling of materials. Benches and other items were made form scraps and leftovers, and some chairs and benches were made from the webbing of old car seat belts.

Outside, buildings are connected by a series of garden paths, courtyards, and outdoor living spaces carefully designed to be energy efficient and mitigate the impact on the local environment. Ample bike storage promotes students' use of their bikes for transportation and an extensive bioswale and sediment pond system treats recovered surface water before releasing it back slowly into neighboring wetlands.

Bastyr utilized a LEED consultant for the project, Seattle’s O’Brien and Company, and early on in the project applied for and received a grant from the King County LEED Grants Program. This program is part of the county’s “Green Tools” program to encourage sustainable building outside the city of Seattle.

Bastyr University is proud of its sparkling new sustainable building. Its president, Daniel K. Church, said: “Providing students with eco-friendly, on-campus housing is a significant milestone in furthering our mission to enhance the health and well-being of the human community.”

Greening the Big Apple... Or Not

Two outer limits of the sustainability tides are playing out in New York City. One of the Big Apple’s prized icons, the Empire State Building, is in the middle of an innovative, cutting edge building retrofit that is designed to reduce energy consumption by 38% and to generate $4.4 million annual energy cost savings. Over by the Hudson River, unit owners of a $4.2 million condo unit are suing the developers, architects, engineers, and city building authority because their unit is not green enough. The two limits offer guidance for all developers involved in sustainable building.

Photo via Flickr.com (bobcatnorth)Anthony Malkin, owner of the Empire State Building (ESB), has made a commitment not only to retrofit one of America’s best known buildings into one of the most energy efficient buildings in the Big Apple, but also to do it in a transparent manner that will provide a beacon to other property owners to follow with their own green retrofit projects. Beginning in early 2008, Malkin partnered with 5 entities to develop a proposal for the retrofit: The Clinton Climate Initiative, Jones Lang LaSalle, Rocky Mountain Institute, and Johnson Controls. The team’s charter describes their mission: 

The retrofit of the ESB into a Class A pre-war trophy building will transform the global real estate industry by transparently demonstrating how to create a competitive advantage for building owners and tenants through profitably greening existing buildings.

After assembling the data and design to do this, the retrofit project is scheduled to be completed by 2013, with 55% of the energy savings available by December 31, 2010.  See more of the details in a project white paper and hear Malkin talk about the unique aspects of the project.

Key to the project is a unique contract between ESB and Johnson Controls, called an energy services performance contract, whereby Johnson Controls guarantees certain annual energy savings, or pays the difference, for a period of 15 years. Contracts that specify the responsibilities—and consequences of non compliance---are essential to a well planned sustainable project.

Meanwhile, owners of a luxury condominium at The Riverhouse One Rockefeller Plaza are suing the developers (and its architects and engineers) for $1.5 million in damages because they say the building is not green enough. Among other claims, the owners allege their unit’s air-infiltration system and heating are not up to the green standards they were promised, having conducted an energy audit that showed cold air infiltration through doors, windows, and exterior walls that was more than 49% higher than LEED standards. See more details in a recent Wall Street Journal article.

The Riverhouse lawsuit is just the beginning as owners and tenants, promised sustainable buildings and commensurate energy savings, file suit when the actual building does not perform as promised. Courts will eventually have to determine what are green building best practices and assign liability among the potential defendants. Once again, development contracts that specify green building responsibilties and consequences of non-performance are essential to successful sustainable construction or conversion work.

Gregoire Asks SBCC To Delay Energy Code

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire just wrote a letter to John Cochran, the Chair of the Washington State Building Code Council asking him to defer the new energy code until April 2011.  Gregoire's concern is of the probable negative impact the code would have on the recovery of the economy and the construction industry.

The Governor's request is timely given the lawsuit filed recently by the BIAW (that we posted earlier).

We also posted two questions in April and May about green codes: "Can homebuying consumers bear the cost of new green and energy codes during recession?" and "Should green building codes be mandatory?"  Both questions appear to have been answered by the Governor.  In the long term, Green can be affordable, but in the short term, during hard economic times it may have to be deferred or remain voluntary.  

It seems that between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our state government that until the recession is over, there should be no further mandates requiring taxpaying citizens and businesses to pay more for greener and more energy efficient homes.  However, once recovery happens and the construction industry exhausts existing supplies of non-green materials and components, that the cost benefit of green energy efficient materials and components may be mandated and embraced by all Washington residents for the obvious future long term benefits.  

Can homebuying consumers bear the cost of new green and energy codes during recession?

Some of our prior posts included information about new energy efficient “Net Zero” Homes and California’s landmark decision to mandate a Green Building Code (CALGREEN). However, there may be unintended financial consequences when code officials mandate green and more energy efficient homes. 

Concern about these consequences caused the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) to file a lawsuit on behalf of its members.  The complaint alleges that the end result of new provisions in the Washington State Energy Code that go into effect in July 2010 will be that fewer homes will be built and sold because consumers cannot afford to buy the homes that would be built under the new code requirements.  BIAW alleges that the cost to comply with these code requirements would increase the cost of an average home by $4,000-$15,000.  Probably a tough sell to first time buyers in recession. 

According to the Washington State Building Code Counsel (SBCC) in the long run these code requirements will result in lower energy costs over the life of the homes.  However that may be small consolation to buyers who cannot afford these energy efficient and code compliant homes in the first place.

This possible energy and code conflict would not be the first of its kind in Washington.  In the 1990s building and energy codes mandated tighter insulated buildings that featured exterior fire resistive gypsum sheathing.  The problem was that in wet climates like western Washington, when rain penetrated behind cladding, the result was mold, a loss of structural capacity and hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage.  This conflict also dramatically increased the cost of insurance on residential construction projects and hence increased the cost of homes.

So apparently major changes in building and energy code requirements may need to be tested by the courts and mother nature before code officials, builders and consumers all realize the intended benefits.

How Green Is My Project?

Go on line to compare and find out!

The American Institute of Architects is keeping score, globally now, and updates a Letterman-like TOP 10 Greenest Buildings list.  So far for 2010 the top entries include projects from several US states and other countries.  Alas there are no entries this year (yet!) from Washington state but our neighbors in Oregon are in contention with the Twelve/West tower project that is expected to be LEED Platinum and should provide its owners energy savings of 45% over a comparable building.

Ironic to some, the AIA's Top 10 list also includes a gorgeous entry from Saudi Arabia, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology .  It is the Saudis first LEED project and the planet's biggest LEED Platinum building. 

To students of history this should come as no surprise because if you have ever read about or seen the Alhambra or the Mezquita in Spain, you know that for centuries middle eastern developers have greatly prized architectural designs that incorporated greenery and water features for the reasons many do now...because the shade and water cool the air making buildings more livable, not to mention more desirable and valuable.    

Many  lawyers cannot help but dwell on the liability of developer, designer and builder clients that fail to achieve LEED certification or comply with energy standards or codes.  To place this modern liability in a less onerous context, ponder the fate incurred by Moorish designers and builders who failed to meet the Caliph's or Sultan's personal green standards. 

More on modern green liability next time (without the curved swords). 

 

Should green building codes be mandatory?

Leading the way was California who at the beginning of the year said yes we can! 

 

California was the first state to adopt a Green Building Code “CALGREEN”.  Ironic given CA also has the worst budgetary woes.  Still, Governor Schwarzenegger proclaimed that this action "lays the foundation (pun intended?) for the move to greener buildings constructed with environmentally advanced building practices that decrease waste, reduce energy use and conserve resources.”  The California Air Resources Board estimates that the mandatory provisions will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by millions of metric tons by 2020.  So far some cities and counties may have followed suit but not other states.

If the golden state can officially go green when swimming in red, should Washington do it too?

Some have advocated that efforts to make green building required by code would be too much and should remain voluntary. Even though in 2008 Governor Gregoire signed then unprecedented legislation making Washington the fourth state in the nation to adopt comprehensive limits on global warming pollution and recently reported that green jobs in WA actually increased in the recession, she has not taken the next step to propose a code that would mandate what CALGREEN has.