12/12/2017 by Michael Shilale, AIA, LEED, CPHC AP
In Boston, battling a cold, this writer attended Greenbuild last month. Each year I attend what is the largest conference on sustainability in the world. Architects, engineers, contractors, building owners, educators and many others converge at this conference to share ideas and best practices in the world of sustainability.
Saving energy, conserving water, reducing waste and improving transportation are common themes each year. There were numerous products and programs that will help all of us reduce the impact buildings have on the environment. What was unique about this year’s conference was the impact buildings have on human health and performance. One program, in particular, presented a paper by the school of human health at Harvard University. This researched-based analysis concludes that green buildings improve the cognitive performance of students. It proclaims children are not just little adults; They breath twice as much air as adults and are more susceptible to environmental toxins.
The Living Building Challenge and the Well Building Standard both had more prominent roles in this year’s conference. These two building rating systems focus more on humans and human health than most other standards.
While human health was a focus, a new resilient design standard for designing buildings and communities that withstand and recover from natural disasters including floods, tornadoes, droughts, and wildfires was released. This is the first of it’s kind standard and shows the importance of resiliency in the building environment.
I always look forward to the top ten green building products announced at the conference each year. My favorite is the Air Flow Panels that turn a building wall into an energy recovery ventilator. See all ten here.
Solar farms are now not just creating clean energy but their latest designs are encouraging ‘pollinators’. The ‘greenest’ solar farms now encourage beehives and there is a new market for ‘solar honey’.
Next year the conference is in Chicago. Make your reservations early.