Friday, July 29, 2005

A Vision of Future Green Building: RSC06

Like many others committed to environmentally responsible building, I believe the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has done a remarkable job of promoting green building in the U.S. Over 200 million square feet of buildings have been certified, are registered, or are in the certification process using the USGBC's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Enviromental Design) building assessment tools. With a relatively small staff augmented by hundreds of volunteer professionals who serve on committees that are overseeing the evolution of existing standards and the development of new standards, the USGBC has had enormous impact in just a short period of time. At present there are LEED variants for new construction (LEED-NC), existing buildings (LEED-EB), core and commercial interiors (LEED-CI). LEED for core and shell (LEED-CS) is undergoing pilot testing by 75 project teams. LEED for homes (LEED-H) is under development as is LEED for neighborhood development (LEED-ND). See for more information.

In spite of the success of the USGBC and the LEED suite of standards, the green building movement is at risk for several reasons. First and foremost is the lack of a vision of future green buildings. The LEED standards are building assessment tools, not design guides, that is, they score how well the project team approached the green building requirements in LEED, but they only indirectly assist in green building design. The LEED standards certainly hint at the attributes of a green building per USGBC doctrine, but they provide little in the way of defining what exactly comprises a green building, either today or in the future. Essential green building attributes such as integration with natural systems, deconstructability, closed materials loops, hyper-efficient buildings, and many other key qualities are not covered to any significant depth. Additionally, due to the proliferation of LEED standards, the USGBC has had its hands full dealing with developing and maintaining the current suite, with the result that attention to a vision of future green buildings has been minimal. This vision is a critical need, however, because without it, like any other endeavor, the odds of failure increase dramatically.

As a consequence of these shortcomings, the Powell Center for Construction & Environment at the University of Florida is organizing Rethinking Sustainable Construction 2006 (RSC06), an international conference to address the future of green building. RSC06 will be held in September 2006 in Sarasota, Florida and will focus on the cutting edge and beyond for high performance green buildings and assist in the development of a roadmap for designing and producing future high performance facilities. When I say 'future', I am referring to the time frame 10 to 50 years from the present. As noted above, with all the excellent work being done by the USGBC to promote green building in the U.S., there is a significant vacuum when it comes to a future vision for high performance buildings. The same holds true in many other countries with green building strategies. RSC06 is being designed specifically to remedy this situation. We anticipate a collaboration of designers, developers, builders, manufacturers, primary materials suppliers, policymakers, and researchers to create a sorely needed vision of the future. The RSC06 website can be found at It will be a relatively small conference with the emphasis being on interaction and the development of this roadmap. We look forward to your participation in this groundbreaking event!

As an aside, the Powell Center organized the First International Conference on Sustainable Construction, held in Tampa, Florida in November 1994. We have been engaged in green building activities since 1990, with materials cycles, building deconstruction, materials recycling, and component reuse being our main areas of interest. Currently we are working on optimizing hydrologic cycles for green buildings, developing economic and financial models for high performance buildings, and developing decision systems for indoor environmental quality (IEQ) strategies. You can find our website at

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Top Green Building Conferences 2005-2006

Many of us are rapidly coming up to speed by attending conferences on green building or sustainable construction and I thought it would be useful to mention a few upcoming ones that can increase your knowledge about the world of green building. If you teach courses about green buildings or are an academic engaged in scholarly work and research, attendance at these conferences can be especially helpful.

May 25-27, 2005 Green Trends 2005 Sarasota, Florida

The Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) organizes this annual conference that address the state of green building specifically in Florida where a high rate of penetration is occurring in both residential and larger building arenas. One of the major points of the conference will be discussions about the FGBC’s Florida Green Building Program, consisting of Green Building Standards for Florida Homes, Developments, Commercial Buildings , and Counties and Cities.

June 20-23 2005 Ecobuild America Orlando, Florida

Organized by the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council, this combination conference/exhibition is an outgrowth of successful Ecobuild conferences in Asia. Ecobuild America will address the estimated $15 billion worth of green buildings currently in design or under construction in the US, representing 12-15% of total public construction and 2% of private sector construction. It covers the breadth of commercial, industrial, institutional and residential green building techniques, construction products, renewable energy resources, and sustainable growth design and planning processes. Ecobuild America will be accompanied by product educational sessions for design and construction professionals will feature the latest innovations in green building materials and energy and technology, with particular emphasis on sustainable growth, green building, and environmental design. This gathering promises to feature the most comprehensive congregation of green building programs and technologies ever assembled — a showcase for this rapidly expanding and dynamic industry.

September 2005 Sustainable Building 2005 Tokyo, Japan

SB05 is a truly international conference whose central theme is the Green Building Challenge, a competition among countries with green buildings to produce facilities with the lowest possible impacts. Although distant from the U.S., this conference is a remarkable gathering of professionals and researchers from around the world, covering all aspects of green building. It also provides the opportunity for the attendee to learn about green building assessment tools such as LEED that are employed in other countries as well as energy and materials strategies that go well beyond U.S. practices.

November 9-11, 2005 Greenbuild Atlanta, Georgia

The Greenbuild International Conference & Expo is the annual convention of the U.S. Green Building Council USGBC) and is a truly enormous undertaking, with over 8,100 people and 380 exhibitors having attended the 2004 version of Greenbuild in Portland, Oregon. Greenbuild’s focus is on the green building doctrine articulated by the USGBC, especially in the form of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) suite of standards that is their central product. A wide variety of educational sessions, primarily about LEED, are available to attendees.

September 19-22, 2006 Rethinking Sustainable Construction Sarasota, Florida

This unique conference will attempt to address a long-standing problem in the green building arena, the long range vision of green buildings. RSC06 will be a collaboration of people and organizations who are committed to the advancement of high-performance or next-generation green buildings and the development of design approaches, tools, products, techniques, and policies needed to produce the next-generations of high-performance green buildings. Because it is intended to produce a strategic work product, attendance will be limited to under 400 people. Instead of relying solely on academic papers or powerpoint presentations as the focus of information exchange, RSC06 is encouraging submittals of a wide variety of information to include models, drawings, mock-ups of products, and other innovative approaches to stimulating the discussion of the long range future of green building.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Sustainable Construction book is available!

John Wiley & Sons, Inc. is now publishing Sustainable Construction: Green Building Design and Delivery and it is available through Wiley,, and a wide variety of other outlets.

A companion website for the book containing a sample syllabus, teaching strategies, and other information is at Instructors can contact their John Wiley representative to obtain a desk copy and access to the site. To find your Wiley representative, go to, click on the button at left that says FIND THE RIGHT TITLE FOR YOUR COLLEGE COURSE and then click on the WHO'S MY REP link at the top of the Wiley Higher Education site, in order to get contact information about your rep.

If you are teaching or intending to teach a course about green building design and delivery, please feel free to send me materials to post to the website. I have a fairly deep library of papers related to green building written by my students over the past ten years and am considering posting these to illustrate the types of issues they have tackled, sometimes with remarkable results! If you would like to post student work and projects on this site, please let me know. I hope to develop a resource base for teaching green building courses that will permit instructors to focus on the creative aspects of teaching.

There is also a student website at same location as the instructor site. The student site contains useful information such as the various websites mentioned in the Notes and References of Sustainable Construction. These are all hyperlinked for easy use and access for both instructor and student versions of the companion site.

Your comments and suggestions are very much appreciated!