Friday once again. Having for the last two weeks lamented the swift passage of time, I’m loathe to do so again! In a previous blog post I wrote about the many differing and sometimes conflicting standards and certifications there are out there when it comes to green building – LEED, BuiltGreen, Green-E, FSC, Cerflor, SCS, BREEAM, Energy Star, BOMA BESt, Cradle to Cradle, Living Building Challenge, GreenGuard, IICRC, Environments for Living, Green Seal, EOCP (BC), NARI CGP, NAHB CGP, GreenPlumbers, ASHRAE, Cal IAQ – and that’s far from a complete list. Some are national, some are by province or state or other jurisdiction. Some relate to entire buildings, some to components, materials or systems. I must admit I find it baffling, and I doubt anyone can accurately say they understand them all. I haven’t included certification for green real estate agents, certifications for green lodging and travel companies, organic certifications, etc. They do all have one thing in common, which is that they all seek to make our stay on this planet a little better. Their various merits, strengths and weaknesses I leave to others to debate, although one article I came across today is, “Need for re-look at Green Building Rating Systems“.
The reason I mention this here is largely because of an article I read this week on Cradle to Cradle (CtoC) certification. I don’t mean to isolate them, but I, like possibly many others, was curious when it was announced that Dow had achieved CtoC certification for five of their insulation products, two at the Silver level and the other three at the Basic level. I was under the (mistaken) impression that CtoC was only bestowed on those products that contained no hazardous or toxic materials. That’s not the case. As outlined in the article “Fixing the Perception Problem with Cradle to Cradle Certification“, the CtoC Basic and Silver certifications do not mean that the product is free of toxic materials. They do require and provide an avenue for the company involved to work with MBDC and related groups to find new, more sustainable solutions, and are an expression of commitment toward this goal. Therein lies the perception problem. From the article:
“Here’s the problem: for designers—even those at the leading edge of green building—any level of Cradle to Cradle Certification creates a perception that the certified product is green. We call on MBDC to fix this problem, and we offer the following suggestion for doing so: at the Gold and Platinum levels, continue to refer to Cradle to Cradle Certification as a product certification. At these levels, a product must pass muster with a robust set of filters ensuring that it is safe for humans and imparts minimal damage to the environment; designers can be fairly confident that such products are indeed green…”
Of course, such problems occur on other levels as well. In a two-part series by James D. Qualk, LEED AP in Environmental Design + Construction magazine, he asked the question, “Does LEED Have a Problem?” The articles may be read here: Part I, Part II. The articles focus on two main areas. One is a perception that buildings certified by programs such as LEED are performing no better than their non-certified counterparts. An article by James Qualk is: “Buildings Shall Be Capable Of…“, which suggests that a part of the problem with LEED-certified building performance is making the building’s occupants aware of best practices. There’s no point in building a super-efficient building if one leaves the door open.
The other issue is that there have been a few cases where such failures have lead to lawsuits. One article, also on ED+C magazine’s site, written by Kamy Molavi is “Avoiding Potential Green Building Liability”. Another article by Barbara Quinn is “Green Connections: Keeping Green Claims Accurate“. On the mlive.com site there’s an article entitled, “Lawyers anticipate LEED-liability suits“. On Green Building Law Update there’s an article titled “GSA’s Green Building Role in the Federal Government“. Finally, on the Build2Sustain.com podcast site there’s an interview on on “Managing Client Expectations and the Green Lease“. Not specifically related but also on the Build2Sustain.com podcast site is another interview on “LEED, the Living Building Challenge and the Future of Green Building“.
You’d think a species as intelligent as us would be capable of achieving a simpler way of reaching the same goal. Just saying, is all.
Okay, the links for this week include:
- GBCI Adds New Green Rater Credential for LEED for Homes
- ED+C magazine articles
- Sustainable Facility magazine articles
- Lewis Library and Technology Center: Growing Green
- Three Harbour Green – Vancouver, BC. Unfortunately, despite the name this isn’t being built to any green standard as far as I can tell. They do have kitchen design by Ferrari, though.
- Opportunistic Architecture: The Works of LTL Architects – at Space 301 gallery, Mobile, AL, Mar 12-May 09, 2010. “The forthcoming exhibition is a hybrid exhibition, combining the work of LTL Architects with student-driven design projects generated at the exhibition space. The show will be organized around the question of design and environmental change, with a specific focus on the impact of rising water levels, changing weather patterns, and altered natural systems of coastal communities of the Gulf of Mexico.”
- Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront: MOMA, NYC – March 24–October 11, 2010
- Facility Sustainability – Leading Practices for Green Facilities (register for .pdf download)
- Design for the Greener Good
- Urban Resilience
- Solid State Lighting for Incandescent Replacement—Best Practices for Dimming (.pdf download)
- Bill Gates on energy: Innovating to zero! – from the 2010 TED conference in Long Beach, CA
- Bill Gates Is Wrong–As Usual – a rebuttal from Alan Webber
- Is it Worth Looking to Nature for Profit?
- USGBC: Natural Talent Design Competition
- USGBC: Education
- Metro Green: An Energy and Water Independent Facility
- Why Green is Fun
- Zero Emissions Research & Initiatives (ZERI)
- ED+C e-News
- Eco-Structure News
- Getting to Net Zero Today Through a Performance-Based Design/Build Process: Webinar, March 18, 12:00–1:30 p.m. Eastern
- Building Green.com news
- Healthy Building News
- Sustainable Santa Monica News
- Simple Green Steps: Planet Green
- Inhabitat Weekly
- Sustainable Facility e-News
- Top 5 Green Myths
- U.S. and Clean Energy: Talking a Good Game, But It’s Time to Play
- Make Some Noise for the Flathead: the BC government has announced a ban on all oil, gold and coal extraction in the Flathead River Valley. Yay!!
That’s it for this week. See you next Friday, and if you have anything to add, please leave us a comment!
P.S. The 2010 Geneva Auto Show is currently under way, and there have been a number of new ‘green’ introductions, including some completely electric vehicles. Hyundai has announced a diesel-electric hybrid sports car, the i-Flow, and even Ferrari announced a new hybrid vehicle. The car that I find most intriguing is the new Porsche 218 Spyder plug-in hybrid. It’s a prototype, but Porsche suggest a fuel consumption of 3 litres/ 100 km, which works out (assuming I can still do math), to nearly 94 miles/(Imperial) gallon, and lower CO2 emissions than a Toyota Prius. There’s an interesting article here on hybrid cars as well.