Ben Parker Had It Right

Some people use the word “green.” Some professionals use the word sustainable. We find a more appropriate approach to architecture and interiors is about responsibility. Last time I checked, green is just a color. Sustainability pertains to the future. But responsibility … represents the here and now and most importantly, requires the architect to take ownership of decisions made for our environment, our lifestyles, our buildings and the spaces we occupy.

Responsibility is thinking about site orientation for maximizing sunlight and passive cooling.

Responsibility is selecting materials that can be easily maintained and possibly recycled.

Responsibility is working within a budget and communicating on a regular basis to keep the project moving forward efficiently. (See … it’s not just about design.)

It is an architect’s responsibility to design projects in the best interest of their client’s wallet, their client’s schedule and the environment that we live in. As Spider-Man’s uncle said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” The power to shape the built environment warrants an architect’s great responsibility to do it properly.

~Barron Schimberg, AIA, LEED AP

 

Build Well for Environmental Wellness

By Barron Schimberg, AIA, LEED AP

Barron SchimbergA well-designed, well-built building is not just structurally sound. It should also be environmentally healthy.  Professional architects, designers, engineers and building contractors have expanded the concept of “building well” by learning how to do what is right for the environment.

In my opinion, architects have a moral and ethical obligation to learn how to keep the built environment healthy and well.  According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings in the U.S. are responsible for 40% of the energy consumption, 39% of CO2 emissions, and 13% of our nation’s water consumption.

Because I care about the quality of life for my family and community, I am a proud member of the U.S. Green Building Council and became a LEED Accredited Professional (AP) in Building Design and Construction.  (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.)

Although many clients aren’t yet ready to adopt LEED’s whole-building approach to sustainability,
our design team can always recommend ways to make your building projects more environmentally sound. We can find ways to improve energy efficiency, control stormwater runoff, and/or reduce water usage, soil erosion, light pollution, and construction waste.  Plus, we can suggest ways to help maintain the air quality inside your building.

Here are just three practices we routinely follow to design environmentally well buildings:

  • During master planning, we consider the environmental impact of the building’s orientation, its relationship to the site context, and adjacent structures.
  • When designing a shell building, we provide as much natural daylight as possible through glazing, translucent panels, or skylights.
  • In designing interiors, we recommend using less environmentally harmful materials and finishes, such as recycled glass tiles, low VOC paint, or FSC-certified woods.

At The Schimberg Group, we like keeping up with the newest options for designing environmentally healthy buildings. And, we are always happy to share what we’ve learned.

You might be surprised to discover that many environmentally friendly options have become more affordable, more accessible, and more aesthetically appealing.

Personally, I am impressed that more clients are interested in using materials made from recycled products, or materials that were manufactured locally instead of being shipped from overseas. I look forward to the day when solar panels are sufficiently affordable for use on the roofs of the average construction project in Florida and society is truly ready to construct buildings with zero carbon footprints.

If you have any questions about sustainable building sites and environmentally healthy building designs, please do not hesitate to call us at 941-894-6888 or email us at info@tsg-fl.com.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

About the U.S Green Building Council

What LEED Is

Could Net-Zero Building Design Work in Florida?

Barron Schimberg, AIA

Barron SchimbergOne of the hottest topics in architecture is the concept of Net-Zero building design. In a Net-Zero building, 100 percent of the building’s energy needs are supplied by on-site renewable energy.  The International Living Future Institute defines renewable energy as passive solar, photovoltaics, solar thermal, wind turbines, water-powered microturbines, direct geothermal or fuel cells powered by hydrogen generated from renewably powered electrolysis.

Is the NetZero Building concept a fantasy? A recent article in the Architecture Dispatch caught my eye with this headline: “Architects say NetZero is not a fantasy if only people would stop with the A/C.”

The reporter quoted speakers at a Center for Architecture event who contend that net-zero building is absolutely possible and has been done using insulation, roofing, and lighting techniques and materials that aren’t particularly exotic.  The architects talked about orienting the main spaces of building to the south to maximize the use of the natural light and solar energy.  This all makes sense for building projects in northern Massachusetts, Sacramento, California, and New York’s Hudson River Valley region.

But the article made me think: Could a NetZero building design work in Florida?

Unfortunately, thermal comfort in Florida matters.  Though there are ways to design buildings to minimize the need for air conditioning, it must be incorporated into the design.

Photovoltaics have not hit the tipping point to make them worthwhile financially, geothermal is not prevalent enough and Florida does not produce enough wind to generate enough energy.  It is our responsibility to get as close as possible, but in Florida, that’s extremely difficult, but a wonderful challenge.

RELATED POSTS

Architecture Dispatch: Architects Say NetZero Is Not a Fantasy

Scientific American: Net-Zero Buildings Take Hold in The U.S.

Net-Zero Energy Buildings Certification

LEEDing the way

Whole Foods Market Sarasota

From the USGBC website, “LEED, a voluntary, consensus-based standard to support and certify successful green building design, gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance.”  The key words are ‘support and certify’.  Often, green initiative rating systems such as LEED, Green Globes or Breeam are used as marketing tools.  We have found that utilizing a green rating system provides a guideline for the architect and the project’s team members to enhance and pursue environmental, economic, health and community benefits.  As a result, the design is well thought out, better coordinated and more successful.

Barron Schimberg, AIA LEED AP