Thursday, May 3, 2007

Still not green enough

—By Katy Devlin, e-newsletter editor, e-glass weekly

The theme of this year’s AIA convention: growing beyond green. The seminars are dedicated to energy-efficient trends, the exhibitors are displaying the latest and greatest green products, and aside from the magazine-sized show catalogs, the convention has gone virtually paperless.

So, with the green theme top of mind, it’s hard not to notice all those energy-wasting, greenhouse gas-producing elements that are vital parts of the show.

This morning, I hopped onto a large charter bus carrying only three passengers. After a short trip, my trio of riders joined 25 others on a second bus that sat—engine running—for more than 20 minutes before carrying us 15 miles to our green-focused convention.

Once there, I sat in windowless seminar rooms to learn the importance of daylighting on productivity. I shivered in air conditioning as speakers discussed the importance of natural ventilation.

I certainly don’t mean to criticize the conference organizers. In fact, AIA went above and beyond to green the convention.

Rather, this has made me acutely aware of how easy it is to sacrifice the world around us for convenience. The bus driver could have waited for more passengers to fill the bus, but then I wouldn’t have arrived at the conference at my desired time.

The green theme also makes me so appreciate the projects going on out there that are leading the trend to curb our energy usage and limit our reliance on carbon-based fuels.

Below, I’ve listed a few projects by green leaders that presenters have brought up as case studies in the past two days.

The Solaire:
A 27-story building in New York City by Pelli Clark Pelli Architects, with all low-E glass, some photovoltaics and a roof-top garde. This project earned LEED Gold.

Octagon Park:
A residential development on Roosevelt Island across the East River from Manhattan with a whole rooftop array of photovoltaics and argon-filled IG with a low-E coating.

Philadelphia Forensic Science Center:
This laboratory, originally built in 1929, was renovated for green, bringing daylight in to reduce use of indoor lighting. And, there’s a PV array on the roof of this one too.

Since I won’t be building any PV-clad, carbon-neutral spaces for myself anytime soon, I’ll do what I can when I can. Like today when I took a quick visit to the Alamo … and walked.

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