Construction, Design, UGC Event
Green Design is Only Part of the Solution
September 18, 2012 | By Cecil Scheib |
The following was blogged live from our Fall Conference on September 18, 2012 – Cooling on Climate Change: Designing the Message. Panelist Doug Hocking, Principal at Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, emphasizes the importance of using data and sound architectural design to construct truly sustainable buildings.
As a global firm, Kohn Pederson Fox goes where the density is. As a result, Doug Hocking started off with a map of global population centers and correlated them with KPF’s revenue centers. He sees the architects’ role as a mentorship one, spreading program strategies around the world.
A big challenge is maintaining credibility while dealing with regional challenges (Beijing has different sustainability issues than Buffalo, Doug notes). Some areas may experience a “deficit” in terms of knowledge, staffing, and sophistication compared with other regions that are leaders. Doug reflected his own experience volunteering his time in Westchester County as an example; while only 30 miles away from Manhattan, the conversation can feel 10 years behind. Hopefully this is a challenge to other areas to pick up the gauntlet!
Not everything needs to be explicit with a client, and Doug mentioned the architect’s adage that 60% of the benefits of a good design are from low-hanging, obvious fruit like site orientation. It’s not rocket science, but it does require a focus on a “healthy building attitude”. For example, shrinking office space per person can allow more spaces to be daylit, improving employee satisfaction. If that is a driver, it can affect choices at the design level.
The architecture industry is “very good at patting ourselves on the back about green designs”, Doug says. “But using data to make sure the building is used properly and tuned properly is necessary to give us buildings that are truly sustainable.” While some may say the data isn’t out there, Doug demurs. “The data is there, and allows us to be more capable as we go down the road with green design.” It’s a ongoing road to improvement.