The Village Green

A blog about how Canadians can achieve energy independence by powering down and then powering up the right way.

I had a meeting with an architect this morning, bless her.   Her client is about to pour the slab of his apartment building and wants to know how we can help him make it “green”.  I have this conversation quite regularly with people.  “Hey Gabriel, we’re pouring our slab next week, how can we make the building green?”

I’m finding that one of the big barriers to the development of green buildings is that a whole generation of builders and clients (and their engineers) needs to be re-educated.  So, my goal today is to write the shortest article I can on how to build a green building:  

Step 1:   Get the right people on your team right away.  Who are the right people?  They are people who are open to doing things in a new way.  Get this first step right.   I’m seeing a lot of clients who are getting down-right lousy advice from engineers and architects who are designing the same buildings they were designing in the 1970’s.  

Step 2:  Get the green people in right away.  Building a green building means thinking green right from the start.  This is the least expensive and most effective way of building green.  Basic design decisions – like how you decide to orient your building to the sun – will impact your energy costs for decades to come.  

Step 3:  Design your building using an integrated approach.  Every decision impacts another.  Think this through.  This is the cheapest way of doing things.  Trust me.  Spend a little more on insulation and natural day-lighting and functional windows that enable natural ventilation and you can spend a lot less on heating and cooling equipment, ventilation systems and lights.  Moreover, your operating costs will be lower for the life of the building.  According to the California Sustainable Building Task Force, spending a little bit up front on “green” pays for itself 10 times over in operating cost reductions over the life of a building. 

Step 4:  Take a broad view of costs and profits.  If you intend on owning the building, you’re going to be stuck with higher operating costs in perpetuity if you don’t build an efficient building.  If you intend on selling the building and don’t care about operating costs, you should care because one of your competitors will run you out of business.  Trust me.  

That’s about it.  

Total word count of this article:  394 words 

Time to write this article:  about 12 minutes. 

Gabriel Draven 

November 2009