Ten Years of Sustainable Building Since Factor 10

It’s been 10 years since Factor 10 House won an AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten award. Factor 10 is a modest building with a tiny budget that set quite a high bar for energy and materials use, and happened to be the first sustainable building I’d worked on as an architect. It won numerous awards and was even used as an example of green building in a textbook.

It has been a remarkable ten years in green building, particularly in that sustainable architecture is no longer rare. The number of green buildings has increased 39% since 2005. The USGBC reports that by 2015, 40-48% of new non residential construction will be green buildings.

From a personal point of view this increase in green building over the last ten years has involved work on a to be LEED certified hospital in Toronto, a LEED for neighborhood development mixed use master plan that was approved for North Miami, and an office building targeting LEED platinum, also in Toronto, a progressive and impressive increase in sustainability targeting for some very large developments.

As this year’s AIA Cote Top Ten illustrates, the bar has raised in every way since 2004 and net zero and LEED platinum are now achieved with a good helping of high aesthetic standards. Leaves one to ponder what new territory can be claimed for sustainable building in the next decade.

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Modular Construction on the Rise

A new development called Broadway Stack showcases the environmental and construction process benefits of modular construction.

This in-progress project by Gluck+ Architects in New York highlights the growing popularity of this construction method. Not only does it shave weeks off construction schedules, but it makes control of construction waste stream easier, an environmental benefit.

Processes are more easily controlled and streamlined due to most of the project being constructed indoors. Gypsum, steel, and packaging materials are all more easily recycled because of the controlled process.

The fascinating history of Prefab buildings was detailed more than ten years ago in the 2002 book Prefab by Allison Arieff and Bryan Burkhart where both the shortcomings and enormous potential were laid out, accompanied by elegant examples.

Adding to the obviousness of this trend, Forest City Ratner, according to the New York Times, has announced they’ll employ this construction method for their Atlantic Yards project which is being designed by SHoP architects. Ratner has made it public that together with Skanska USA they’ll build a modular company in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Broadway Stack

Prefab book

Treehugger: Atlantic Yards Prefab

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