A Green Look Ahead: 2010 And Beyond

As we look at what’s to come in 2010 and beyond, it’s a good time to reflect. Those contemplating design and construction projects are certain to consider what they can do to bring in more business, gain a stronger connection with the community, improve staff’s effectiveness, and positively impact their bottom line. What’s often surprising for many building owners is how green planning, design, and construction elements can positively impact every one of those areas.

Because of the potential impact of green design and construction, it’s important to be up to date on the subject of sustainability, a concept that has enjoyed great advances in recent years. While the benefits are many, it is understandably difficult to keep up with all that is taking place in such a fast-changing industry. So, take a moment here to discover what’s new in sustainability.

Green Costs Less
If you still think it costs more to design and build green, 2010 is the year to realize that you can have the benefits of sustainability at less than the cost of conventional construction. You truly can create a healthier building, while reducing your carbon footprint and saving money initially and for the long term.

The myth that “sustainable design and construction costs more” has been nurtured because of early practices and ill-informed, inexperienced firms that lacked comprehensive knowledge of sustainability. The inaccurate message that green construction costs are higher is, unfortunately, still prevalent. But, if approached wisely, green construction should cost less, not more. And, an added benefit is lower operations cost savings throughout the life of the building.

In my firm’s recent cost comparisons, the data proves that our sustainable projects were delivered at a significantly lower price than those utilizing conventional design and construction methods and practices. Several of these projects even received LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification. This environmental designation -“ awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council (www.usgbc.org) -“ certifies that the projects meet high standards for energy and water use, recycling of building materials, indoor air quality, and other important factors.

It’s essential to remember that construction cost savings are a byproduct of countless thoughtful decisions made jointly by the owner and knowledgeable design and building professionals. Initial research should determine exactly what is needed to right-size the structure, select energy saving products and materials, reduce construction waste, and foster good collaborative energy goals with all key stakeholders. As well, it’s crucial to optimize Value Trading, the process of paying for added features with more value by eliminating features of less value to improve the overall performance of the project within your budget. Most importantly, your organization should be stronger and healthier through a sound, environmentally responsible business solution.

Be a myth destroyer. If someone says it costs more to design and build using green principles, tell them it’s just not so and encourage them to dig deeper.

Integrated Processes Add Value
This could be the year when people truly grasp the added value of integrated project delivery for all construction projects. I recently participated in a building professionals conference where the benefits of Total Project Management (TPM) were consistently praised as innovative and critical. TPM is a process which integrates the disciplines of planning, design and construction, providing a single-source of responsibility from initial concept to project completion-¦and beyond. While this is nothing new for some firms, there is an increasing recognition in the design and construction industry of the tremendous value that is delivered with such a collaborative business model.

Green Thumbs up for Enhanced TPM
TPMg (Total Project Management: Vision Taken to the Power of Green is an elevated version of TPM which not only integrates planning, design and construction, but also incorporates a holistic approach to sustainability. This process helps building owners attain a highly green and cost-effective solution. TPMg looks for the “sweet spot”, referred to as the POWER of g, where every decision is considered in relation to four critical components:
-¢ budget-driven capital costs;
-¢ healthy productive environments;
-¢ sustainable design and delivery; and
-¢ value-added, life-cycle cost savings.

For businesses to be assured that they receive a facility that operates effectively and efficiently, TPMg is critical. This type of collaboration on a recent project resulted in 99.75 percent of the previously-used, five-story building being reused and recycled during deconstruction, thus making a positive impact on the environment while reducing construction expenses. With TPMg, all key stakeholders deliberately look, with the greatest peripheral vision, for environmentally friendly solutions from the onset of a project.

Green Theme for the Future
The big vision for the future is zero net-energy buildings. In December 2005, The American Institute of Architects (AIA) adopted a policy that all new and renovated buildings reduce fossil energy use by 50 percent (compared to a 2003 baseline). Additionally, the AIA embraced the 2030 Challenge (www.architecture2030.org) for carbon neutrality. A recently constructed facility in Wisconsin will achieve this 2030 target in approximately 2011–as soon as it completes the phased installation of its PV (photovoltaic) renewable energy system.

Discovery Delivers Treasure
A sense of discovery is critical to finding the right green solutions for your next design and construction project. You’ll have to dig deep to find the right partners, price, process and priorities. But, when you’re done with the mining, you’ll be pleased with the treasure; a more effective staff, a stronger presence within the community, reduced expenses and ultimately a better business.

Paul J. Hoffman ([email protected]) is owner and president of Hoffman LLC. His firm integrates a single-source of responsibility for planning, architecture, and construction management; and a commitment to holistic sustainable design and delivery. This holistic “and thinking” approach to sustainability is known as the POWER of g, or true sustainability.

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Richard Blanchard
Rick is the Managing Editor of Corp! magazine. He has worked in reporting and editing roles at the Port Huron Times Herald, Lansing State Journal and The Detroit News, where he was most recently assistant business editor. A native of Michigan, Richard also worked in Washington state as a reporter, photographer and editor at the Anacortes American. He received a bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan and a master’s in accountancy from the University of Phoenix.