Solar projects have taken off around the United States and the rest of the world in the past few years, partly because of higher energy costs and increases in financing options. The U.S. federal government has created many such options, including tax credits and grants. Lately, solar renewable energy certificate (SREC) programs at the state level have caught the industry’s attention. SRECs have begun to take shape as creative financing tools for all types of solar projects. In both residential and commercial projects, SRECs have proven to be the difference in financial feasibility.
Brownfields are properties that are contaminated with hazardous substances and pollutants that may complicate the properties’ expansion, redevelopment, or reuse. Despite this drawback, brownfield development appears to be increasing. According to the Green Building Market and Impact Report 2010 of the GreenBiz Group, LEED resulted in an estimated 8,800 acres of brownfield reclamation in 2010 vs. 4,800 acres in the previous year. Reclaimed brownfield acres are forecast to grow to over 17,000 acres and 27,000 acres by 2020 and 2030, respectively.
As LEED celebrates its 10th anniversary, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) reports that one billion square feet of buildings around the world have now been LEED certified. Although that is just a drop in the global bucket, certification has helped to spur green construction; according to the Green Outlook 2011: Green Trends Driving Growth report by McGraw--Hill Construction (MHC), LEED specification is mentioned in 71% of all U.S. projects valued at over $50 million.
As one of the famous Rs that rings so loudly in the vocabularies of environmentalists and sustainability advocates, reuse is finding its way into green design -- manifest in everything from reupholstering furniture to giving an end table a fresh coat of paint. On a larger scale, however, sustainable design has broken new ground by converting religious spaces (yes, pun intended) for new, fresh, and sometimes highly creative purposes. The adaptive reuse of churches, like any other repurposing project, can be met with costs and challenges. It would seem, however, that resurrecting these spaces can provide great benefits not only for the environment but for businesses and communities as well.
The economic case for installing solar electric panels on your house or place of business is a heavily discussed topic these days. With the green building movement in full force, photovoltaic (PV) systems are becoming more and more popular. In many cases, though, homeowners and small business owners lack the necessary information to make an educated decision on whether to go ahead with a photovoltaic (PV) system installation. In order to make an educated decision on a PV system, the owner must approach the purchase with the return on investment (ROI) in mind.
Green roofs mitigate urban heat island effect, control stormwater run-off, reduce sound reflection and transmission, and lower heating and cooling costs, as well as sustain local wildlife. They also look really, really cool.
Instead of discussing the benefits of green roofs, we are celebrating the visual appeal of these sustainable works of architecture from around the world. Included are BIG’s 8 House and TED Cube Building; Renzo Piano’s California Academy of Sciences; the Nanyang Technological University School of Art, Design, and Media; Vector Architects’ Green Technology Showroom; the OUTrial House by Robert Konieczny of KWK Promes; and Zaha Hadid’s Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza.
The earthquake in Haiti that hit on January 12, now seven months ago, left more than 230,000 people dead with 1.3 million homeless and 600,000 internally displaced. Undaunted not only by the immediate devastation of the quake but also by the political and governmental fragility that makes reconstruction difficult, Clemson School of Architecture Associate Professor Doug Hecker and Assistant Professor Martha Skinner continue to work to provide housing for Haitians long after they began an immediate post-quake creative search for emergency shelter for the displaced and homeless in Haiti. Their efforts resulted in the successful use of shipping containers as emergency housing -- the SEED_Haiti project.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published “Cranes and Derricks in Construction: Final Rule” on August 9, 2010, and it is set to take effect on November 7, 2010. OSHA hopes that this new standard will prevent 22 fatalities and 175 nonfatal injuries annually. Although it is difficult to evaluate how effective the new rules will be, all contractors must comply with them. Here is an overview of the new standard, which is intended to not only combat fatality and injury associated with working with cranes and derricks but also to account for technological advances in this equipment.
The word “disability” isn’t mentioned much by designers and other professionals who employ the principles of universal design; at the heart of this design concept is a more positive message. Universal design refers to the idea that environments and products should be usable by everyone. Ronald L. Mace coined the term and founded The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University in 1989, using a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Since that time the center has continued to research and develop design approaches that will make the built environment more accessible to everyone.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), commonly known as the economic stimulus bill, was signed by Congress on February 13, 2009, and then signed into law by President Obama four days later. The government made a total of $787 billion available -- $275 billion for federal contracts, grants, and loans, in addition to $288 billion in tax cuts and $224 billion for entitlement for education and health care. Specifically relevant to the AEC industry is ARRA’s targeting of infrastructure development and enhancement using the $275 billion.
There are two common sayings about Madrid -- “Madrid me mata” ("Madrid kills me") and “De Madrid al cielo” ("From Madrid to Heaven"). Both adages are appropriate ways to describe Madrid’s polarization between the calm and the chaotic. From the city’s breakneck traffic to its streets filled with animated Madrileños, rosemary-laden gypsies, and gawking tourists, the city of Madrid moves at a nauseating rhythm. Somewhere, deep within this traditional chaos, it’s possible to find hidden corners of both modernization and tranquility. Strolling along the Paseo de Prado’s tree-lined avenue, you will come across Patrick Blanc’s vertical garden lurking in one of these corners.
New York City's lively Union Square is known for its green market, but it is briefly playing host to another set of organic structures -- an ephemeral village of sukkahs. Sukkot, the seven-day-long Jewish holiday, is celebrated by building these temporary forms, reminiscent of those that the Israelites inhabited in the wilderness after their exodus from Egypt.