State of the Climate
This year’s USGBC State of the Climate appeared on its surface to be a review of the alphabet. Between LEED, LBC, GBCI, WELL, PHIUS, BABC, BREEAM, and ENERGY STAR, it is clear that the green building industry loves acronyms. After discussing each of these green building rating systems, it was easy to conclude that while they are all attempting to solve the same problem of reducing negative impacts of climate change, they each go about it in a unique way.
Dan Overbey, my accomplished co-worker, shared his recent experience of becoming a WELL Accredited Professional. This relatively new rating system focuses on the post-occupancy phase of a building, specifically the end user’s experience in a building. WELL certification is gaining in popularity in many commercial spaces as companies are working hard to attract and retain their employees, clients, and consumers.
We were also introduced to the latest PHIUS+, which is primarily utilized on residential projects, and focuses on passive design for buildings. We learned about the Centerville, Indiana COPE Environmental Center’s journey through the Living Building Certification and its holistic approach to green living. The day wrapped up after covering some of the differences in the transition from LEED v9 to LEED v4, a popular green building rating system in the US that covers a lot of areas of design but has its own tradeoffs.
I don’t see a total consensus or monopoly of the green building rating system happening anytime soon in the US. Perhaps that’s not necessary. Based on the discussions with our speakers, it appears that different projects and clients require rating systems with different priorities.
The day was also sprinkled with data on why these rating systems are important. It’s clear that we are headed in a dangerous direction and we need these rating systems to hold us accountable. The average global temperature has ballooned after our industrialized work and it continues to increase. Many people have debated about exactly how this is happening and what various effects it could have, but putting all this aside, the temperatures are rising and we need to do something about it.
There are two main ways global ecologists have attempted to appeal to the general public’s empathy and those are scare tactics and love. I’m still not sure that these appeals have reached the general public’s heart of heart. So what can we do?
Do Something; Anything!
Browning Day realizes the effect we have, as architects, on the environment, which is why we have committed to The 2030 Challenge, agreeing to build all carbon neutral buildings by 2030. While we and our industry are constantly surrounded by the latest tools, not everyone is as fortunate. So what can you do?
Find something YOU are passionate about.
Pick an action that is easy and you’ll be more likely to stick with it. So challenge yourself to do something because in the end, we are only in control of ourselves and our actions will speak louder than words.
Jennifer Miller is a graduate architect at Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf. Jennifer’s design experience focuses on historic and housing projects. Her passion is in finding the unique potential in every design challenge. She often achieves this through sustainable solutions that are contextual and tectonic. Jennifer is actively involved in the design community as a member of the Young Architects Forum and the Urban Land Institute.
Jennifer joined Browning Day in 2015. She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Art History from Lake Forest College and a Master of Architecture Degree from Arizona State University.