Part III: Lean, Mean and Green – The Series

So What’s Happening Now?

There was a push in the late 60’s and early 70’s to more energy efficient buildings, passive solar and more fuel efficient vehicles – all in response to the higher energy prices.

In architecture, some of the first things we learn about are things like solar orientation, prevailing winds, site orientation and window replacement. However, if seems that with the push for ‘cheaper and faster,’ these notions get set aside for efficiency and maximum utilization of the real estate.

Along comes LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and we all start remembering what it was we were taught in school. And some building owners are latching on to the marketing aspect of the trend. And we are all euphoric that we are actually doing some good. In reality, LEED has become the tool that we have used to remember what we should be doing all along. I was reminded of that this week at the ICSC Retail Green Conference in Hollywood, CA.

I was talking with a retailer who has built some mega stores in the U.S., but is primarily focused in Europe and Russia. As we talked, I realized that European standards are such that if they tried to market their buildings as ‘green’ it would be a step backward because that is what they do as a matter of course. It’s crazy for them to think that each tenant in a shopping center has their own stand alone rooftop unit and that anything with a payback of less than eight years is a no-brainer – you just do it.

Another aspect of European standards (which can also be found in Montreal) is the idea that ‘built to last’ is the sustainable thing to do. Minimum 50-year life span on buildings is what is expected. There are very few ‘disposable’ buildings. However, I suppose if you design a building that is designed to be ‘sustainable’ as well. Even more interesting was that the concept of ‘green’ was foreign to the language in Europe. Sustainability is what they understand.

We are moving that way, incrementally. Which in many ways is okay. But what we need are some revolutionary ideas that help propel us forward.

Stay tuned for Part 4: ‘The Lost Art of Drafting.’