After weathering one of the snowiest winters on record in the Washington, D.C., area, I happily welcomed the official arrival of spring several weeks ago with arms wide open. So long and good riddance to winter: with warmer temperatures, longer and sunnier days, and fresh new blooms in the parks and gardens around town, I’m feeling more awake and invigorated than ever. And it seems I’m not the only one awakening from hibernation.
The sustainable realm seems to have grasped onto the forward momentum of daylight saving time to propel a wide swath of green design discussion, as the past few weeks have been chock-full of developments. As mentioned in last month’s Editor’s Note, the big news in mid-March was the much-anticipated publication of the International Green Construction Code. Created by the International Code Council with cooperating sponsors the American Institute of Architects and ASTM International, the code addresses a plethora of sustainable issues in traditional and high-performance commercial building, such as energy use, water use, material and resource use, and indoor environment quality. As you’ll see in our news story on the code’s publication, there is much to discuss and, happily, that discussion is encouraged as the ICC is accepting public comment via its Web site through May 14.
Other news that had people talking were two separate building performance-related rankings published at the end of the month. The first, published by the Environmental Protection Agency, ranks U.S. metropolitan areas in terms of energy efficient buildings. I must admit I was surprised to hear that Los Angeles came out on top, and for the second year in a row, no less. It may be better known for its sprawling freeways and their associated traffic jams, but the California metropolis also is home to 293 Energy Star-label buildings, which account for 76 million square feet of total floor space. Click through on the news story to see which cities round out the top 10.
While San Francisco may have been slightly disappointed with the EPA’s Energy Star rankings, having dropped from second place last year to third place this year, the sustainable hub on the Bay received good news shortly thereafter with the publication of the Green Building Opportunity Index. Published by Cushman & Wakefield and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance’s BetterBricks initiative, the index weighs U.S. markets based on real estate fundamentals and green development considerations. This year, San Francisco was the top region for green building opportunity.
The early days of April look to continue the sustainability discussions. Back here in D.C., which, by the way, ranked second in the EPA survey and eighth out of 25 in the Green Building Opportunity Index, all eyes may spend the first week of the month focused on the gorgeous cherry blossoms around the city, but later this month, area building professionals will get a chance to focus on a different sort of petal with the arrival of the Living Building Challenge road show on April 23. It’s just one of more than 20 stops on a tour of U.S. and Canadian cities organized by the International Living Building Institute. The tour hosts a six-hour workshop for local design professionals, contractors, building owners, and public agency employees and examines the core performance areas—or “petals—of the Living Building Challenge: site, water, energy, health, materials, equity, and beauty. For more information on the tour, including dates and locations, visit the institute's Web site. In other tour news, the U.S. Green Building Council is teaming up with volunteers of the Sierra Club to conduct public tours of green buildings around the country under the “Green Buildings for Cool Cities” program. Tours in Memphis; Charlotte, N.C.; Fort Collins, Colo.; San Jose, Calif.; Reno, Nev.,; Denver; Milwaukee; and August, Maine, will highlight LEED-certified projects as well as sites pursuing LEED certification. For more information, visit coolcities.us or usgbc.org/government.
Finally, this week also brings a wealth of sustainable news and thought-provoking discussion to your mailboxes with the arrival of Eco-Structure’s March/April issue. The ice had not yet melted in Vacouver and already the design community has begun to look forward to the Longdon 2010 Olympic Games. Here’s hoping the facility planners and designers for the Games take the lessons of Vancouver to heart. As profiled in our March/April feature story on the design of the Richmond Olympic Oval, sporting venues and community spaces can be beautiful, inspiring, technologically sophisticated, and sustainable, both in terms of materials and mechanical systems and also in terms of legacy. What is perhaps most green about many of the Vancouver facilities is that they were designed with post-Olympic plans in mind from day one. The Richmond Oval, for instance, will not only continue life as a training center for world-class athletes, but also will be adapted to function as a multipurpose public health facility. Want more info? Check out our story on the Oval here, as well as a host of Web-exclusive videos from architect Cannon Design detailing the facility’s design and construction. The rest of the issue, with a focus on sustainable entertainment and hospitality facilities, is now online.