Galloway Goes Green
Developing a Sustainable Living Learning Community
Do You Know Somone Interested in Sustainability?
Want to Join NASPA?
NASPA 2011 Annual Conference
Publications and Links
Want to Write a Newsletter Article
Take Back the Tap
UpComing Regional Conferences
How Buildings Shape Our Lives
Sustainability KC Membership Survey Results
Upcoming Regional Conferences
Please join us at an upcoming regional conference or two. More information is available via the following links.
Region I November 7-8, 2010
S.A.L.T. (Student Affairs Leaders of Tomorrow)
Region II June 2010 Hope to see you next year.
Region III June 2010 (past) Hope to see you next year.
Region IV-E November 7-9, 2010
Innovative Practice and Creative Discovery: Together
Region IV-W November 3-5, 2010
New Frontiers: Thinking Beyond our Borders
Region V & VI November 3-6, 2010
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How Buildings Shape Our Lives
By Jodi Smits Anderson, AIA, LEED-AP,
Dormitory Authority State of New York
I have come to realize in my work as an architect, developing legislation for energy efficiency, and in helping State entities to build greener buildings that we lack comprehension about the magnitude of the role buildings play in our lives. We live in them, work in them, and play in them, but only a few people truly understand how they work, and even rarer is the person who appreciates a building's influence on our well-being.
Each and every building has an affect on those of us that use it.
Each and every building has an affect on the natural world.
Each building is built for use and affects our well-being. You are likely reading this in an office or in your home, or even in a train station while you wait to travel to another building. Children attend school and we go to work or attend church or run at the gym or meet in a coffee shop or pick up our groceries, laundry, mail…all in buildings designed and built by someone with a timeframe and a budget and a general idea of what is needed for that building.
A well-planned grouping of a variety of buildings can be the start of a viable community limiting use of cars and distance of travel while raising opportunities for community interactions and healthy lifestyles. We find the tools we need to work, play, or rest in the buildings we use each day or we search out someplace else to be. We spend on average 90% of our time indoors. A well-designed building makes our lives more pleasant and makes our lives easier.
Each building affects our performance and our health. Children test 26% better in well-daylit spaces than in spaces with poor daylight. Productivity increases when there is personal control of temperature, lighting and ventilation.
Poor ventilation and presence of toxins in building products are related to the dramatic increase of asthmas, cancers, and other environmental illnesses documented over the last 20 years. Hyperactivity, attention disorders and learning disabilities have also skyrocketed. There has been an increase of 191% in numbers of children in special education programs from 1977 to 1994 (source - Homes that Heal by Athena Thompson). Well-designed buildings can help us to maintain our good health. Each building contains products that are made of natural materials such as stone and wood and metals, or synthetic materials such as plastics and resins, or combinations of natural and man-made materials. Each product in every building exists in conjunction and hopefully in cooperation with the materials near it.
These products directly affect the air we breathe and the longevity of the building we are using. Our process of cleaning these buildings and the level of use we put them through affect their longevity. The products making up our buildings are also affected by light, heat, moisture and the nature of the climate at the time the building was constructed. They each last a varying amount of time, dependent on wear, quality of construction and fad. Understanding building science and creating buildings with a simple, usable, classic style means buildings will last longer and be loved for longer.
Each building uses resources in construction and throughout its life: energy to heat, cool and condition the air, to control light and sound, to allow other systems to plug in, and water for heating and cooling, cleaning, irrigation and processing. Buildings that are demolished become discarded energy or, more hopefully, re-used energy. Currently, the average US family uses about 220 gallons of water per day in their home, about twice the average consumption for a family in Europe. Our current "rule-of-thumb" leads us to overly and poorly light many of our buildings, wasting electricity. An efficient building will use fewer resources, saving money.
Each building has a relationship to the natural and man-made environment most near it. Some buildings are designed to embrace that relationship and others to ignore it. Making use of passive solar gain, controlled daylighting, and breezes gives the building a huge economic leg-up on operational costs. In addition, buildings can choose to work with the landscape in which they are situated. Common green areas with indigenous plantings can reduce chemical use and energy spent on lawn care. U.S. homeowners have spent 27 billion dollars per year on lawn care...10 times the amount spent on school textbooks. The 90 million or so lawnmowers, weed trimmers and leaf blowers in the US spew out approximately 5% of our nation's air pollution (source - USA EPA). There is a great environmental and economic advantage to a properly sited building that maximizes use of the immediate landscape and weather.
Clearly, each building we build has a significant and immediate impact on our environment and on our economy. It is pivotal to the health of each individual and to our economic future to recognize that there are significant economic opportunities created by stewardship of the environment. Said Mayor Bloomberg of NYC while signing the Green Building Act on October 3rd, 2005:
"In recent years, more attention has been paid to the use of sustainable design, or 'green building', in order to minimize the negative impact that development is having on the environment, while simultaneously improving the economic performance of buildings. These standards seek to improve site planning, safeguard water supplies, improve energy efficiency, increase the use of renewable energy sources, conserve materials, and improve indoor air quality.
"Our hope is that our investment in green buildings will be returned many times over through energy savings and environmental, community, and health benefits."
He was foreseeing the future in which we are now. New York City (NYC) has several local laws informing and guiding energy efficiency and green buildings designs. New York State is developing rules for a Green Building Construction Act that was passed into law in late 2009.
More than 250, from state government, NGOs and the private sector, are collaborating on plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in New York State 80% by 2050, per an Executive Order by Governor Paterson. This reduction of GHGs will further drive the green building market because the more efficient we become with our energy use the fewer GHGs we will send into our air. It is one of the strongest plans in development in the USA.
Promoting green building will further build our green building market and ensure that every New Yorker, from public housing tenants to school kids, enjoys a healthy living or work environment. Energy efficiency goals will create jobs and provide new opportunities for smaller, local businesses. This endeavor will cost us five times less money than building new power plans to feed our currently inefficient buildings (source - McKinsey Report 2009).
Local production will get a boost. High performance construction must use a wide variety of energy efficient, recycled, and low-emission building materials that in many cases are slightly modified versions of existing products. Many small manufacturers, accustomed to modifying their production for clients, can "tweak" their operations to supply the low-emission carpeting, recycled lumber and fly ash cement that a green building boom would call for. In addition, as high performance construction also preferences building materials that come from within a 500-mile radius of the building site, we will return to a market that supplies demand preferably from local sources, increasing resiliency in our local towns and counties. New York's manufacturers could supply a regional green building trend.
Improvements in our buildings will help us to shelter from the weather, as we expect them to do, and will go so far as to sustain our health, our environment, and our economy in years to come. The economic growth opportunities created by green building are many. Private sector designers and contractors have survived over the last year's fiscal troubles due in large part to building greener buildings that are in high demand in the market.
Realtors are renting green apartments faster and at higher rates, and seeing slower turnover because people want to stay in these green buildings.
We have an unparalleled opportunity to be healthier and more productive, to show respect for our environment through use of local materials and responsible resource use, and to save money through effective energy management and materials use in the buildings we create new, and in the facilities we renovate for continued use. In short, our sustainable future begins now. "We shape our buildings and afterwards they shape us." – Winston Churchill
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SKC Member Survey Results
Are you interested in knowing the results of the survey? The full report of the member survey results is below. If you did not respond to the member questionnaire and would like to contribute your thoughts about the SKC, please send them to SKC Membership Coordinator Jason Fitzer at email@example.com.
Prepared by: Jason R. Fitzer
Click Here to View the Results
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