Monday, October 29, 2007

Conversation with Ann Edminster on Green Building

Ann Edminster
U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Homes Committee
Ann Edminster, M.Arch., is an environmental design consultant and educator whose work focuses on investigation and evaluation of building materials and systems. She is co-chair of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Homes Committee and past co-chair of the LEED Materials & Resources Technical Advisory Group. She is co-author of Efficient Wood Use In Residential Construction: A Practical Guide to Saving Wood, Money, and Forests and has been an invited speaker at dozens of regional and national green building conferences over the past decade. Her background includes more than 25 years of work as a residential designer.

Executive Green: How did you start thinking about Green Building?

Ann Edminster: The combination of my degree in Architecture and the fact that I cannot stand waste of any kind started me thinking early in my career about how to build more efficiently and sustainably.

EG: What are some the recent changes you have seen in Green Building?

AE: It seems like at the start of this year (2007), consumer awareness moved past Why should I build green? to Let’s find solutions on how to build sustainably. Finally we have momentum in the industry. LEED is a starting point for builders, architects, businesses, and consumers to agree on a measurement of quantifying resource efficiency.

EG: What is LEED?

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

EG: How are different government bodies using LEED to help create change in the building process?

AE: Governments are adopting LEED and using it as a standard. Some Local, State, and Federal bodies now mandate that construction of public structures complies with LEED guidelines. They incentivize sustainable building projects in the private sector with perks such as expedited permit processing and relief on fees.

EG: Do you have any concerns about all the recent attention to Green Building?

AE: The industry is in a very exciting time, and the increased attention to sustainable building practices will result in a net positive for the industry.

A building is a place where art meets science. For example the placement of a window can be viewed by the structural engineer for how it will affect the strength of the building, by the architect for the light aesthetics [MSOffice1] it will provide, by the facility manager for its affect on heating and cooling, and so on. With so many people involved and everything so interconnected, there are many areas where people can create ideal or sub-optimal results.

Green Building by the Numbers
Courtesy of U.S. Green Building Council

The value of green building construction starts is expected to exceed
$12 billion in 2007. (Source: McGraw-Hill Construction Analytics)

Size and Impact of the U.S.-Built Environment (all commercial, residential, and industrial):

* Represents 20% of 2001 U.S. economy (Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National science and Technology Council: Construction Industry Statistics, 1995)

* Comprises 14.2% of the $10 trillion U.S. GDP (Source: 2006 U.S. DOE Buildings Energy Databook)
Energy consumption:

* Buildings represent 39% of U.S. primary energy use (includes fuel input for production). (Source: 2003 U.S. DOE Buildings Energy Databook)

Electricity consumption:

* Buildings represent 70% of U.S consumption. (Source: 2003 U.S. DOE Buildings Energy Databook)

Water use:

* Buildings use 12.2% of all potable water, or 15 trillion gallons per year. (Source: U.S. Geological Service, 1995 data)

Materials use:

* Buildings use 40% of raw materials globally (3 billion tons annually). (Source: Lenssen and Roodman, 1995, “Worldwatch Paper 124: A Building Revolution: How Ecology and Health Concerns are Transforming Construction,” Worldwatch Institute

* The EPA estimates that 136 million tons of building-related construction and demolition (C&D) debris was generated in the U.S. in a single year. (Source: and U.S. EPA Characterization of Construction and Demolition Debris in the United States, 1997 Update)

* Compare that to 209.7 million tons of municipal solid waste generated in the same year. (Source: U.S. EPA Characterization of Municipal Solid Waste in the United States, 1997 Update. Report No. EPA530-R-98-007)

EG What business opportunities do you see in Green Building?

AE: Many different products go into a building, and we will see innovation across the board in the efficiency of how materials are sourced and developed.

Businesses and Governments have begun to measure resource efficiency (CO2 emissions, Water consumption, etc.). We eventually will see an application that will take the LEED checklist and move it to translatable metrics.

No comments: