I have kept a journal regularly since I was 14. On occasion, I revisit my past and smile at my teenage ideals or remember sights, sounds and emotions linked to a particular event in my life. It’s almost like time traveling! Eco-structure, to some extent, does the same thing for the greenbuilding industry. It’s fascinating how much the industry has evolved since the magazine's inception in 2003. In that first issue, we reported 42 commercial buildings had achieved LEED certification from the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council. As of September 2008, there were 1,753 LEED-certified buildings and 14,390 LEED-registered projects.
Today, LEED also has expanded beyond its original New Construction product to include rating systems for Existing Buildings, Commercial Interiors, Core & Shell, Schools and Homes. Despite its success, the rating system has not gone without criticism, including weighting of points. LEED 2009 promises to place more value on strategies that directly impact the environmental performance of a structure, especially energy efficiency and carbon-dioxide reduction.
Read how in an interview with Scot Horst, chair of the LEED Steering Committee, in “perspectives,” page 90. I recently viewed another piece of green-building history: a documentary titled “The Greening of Southie.” The film follows the progress of the Macallen Building in South Boston, which was constructed from 2005-07. (You can read about the project in “greenhouse,” page 42.) It’s obvious from the first minutes that the construction team was wary of building differently from the status quo. Not only does the team struggle with LEED requirements, it also faces issues with some materials. For example, after laying bamboo floors in 72 units, the project superintendent discovered the low-VOC adhesive was not adhering properly.
The crew was forced to pull up the floors, requiring another 60,000 board feet of bamboo to be shipped from China—not very eco-friendly. Today, new low-VOC adhesives must meet performance standards established by ASTM International, West Conshohocken, Pa. Read about innovations in adhesive technology in “eco-tech,” page 98. By the end of the film, the naysayers were proud of what they had built and looked forward to telling their grandchildren they were part of Southie’s first green building. The film will help them illustrate the victories they achieved along the way. As you place this last issue of 2008 on your shelf, I hope you look back at the lessons learned this year from other green buildings and project teams. I find that reading excerpts from the past often is perfect motivation to create an even better and, in this case, greener future.