October 25, 2013 | John Berendzen | Education, Sustainability

SLU-Stainability Expo

Yesterday, Brett, Jacob and I had the privilege of presenting our work at the SLUstainability Expo, held in the Center for Global Citizenship. It featured information and booths from many organizations, including Chartwells, Laclede Gas, Big Shark Bicycles, Shoeman Water Projects, Electronics Recyclers, McCarthy and others.

We had many conversations with students and staff concerning the sustainable aspects of the CGC, specifically the daylighting concepts and the preservation of the existing building (preserving the embodied energy).

We presented examples of sustainable products we often incorporate into our work, and printed material describing our  philosophy for sustainable design.

1.    Start simple: exhaust all passive strategies before moving to active ones.  Maintenance costs for intensive energy saving systems can often lead to  those systems being disabled before their intended lifespan is up.

2.    Explore Alternatives: Sustainable design requires a full exploration of the alternatives, with ROI included.  Working through alternatives early in a project is a critical part of the sustainable design process.

3.    Support cities:  Density makes sense.  Cities are by their nature sustainable, in that they minimize energy use per person compared to suburban or rural areas.  Cities have shorter travel distances, more mass transit and require less infrastructure per person.  But for cities to remain vibrant, they need care and constant renewal.

4.    Aesthetics matter:  The most sustainable buildings are the ones that people love, and no one loves an ugly building.  Sustainable design is composed, well crafted and intriguing.

5.    Old is New:  Renovation and Adaptive Reuse are key sustainable strategies.  Often the most sustainable solution is to re-purpose the building that is already built.

6.    Be Productive:  Human productivity is as important as energy efficiency.  Flexibility is key.  To be successful a building must become a resource for it’s occupants.  As Churchill said “We shape our buildings: thereafter, they shape us.”

7.    Invest in your Envelope:  it makes sense to invest in the best, most robust building envelope you can.  It’s important to invest in MEP systems too, but often it’s more feasible to upgrade your system than your building’s skin.  Remember, a building’s envelope is part of the mechanical system.

8.    LEED Works: LEED is a great way to engage everyone in a proven sustainable design process.  LEED is prescriptive, and it has it’s limitations, but when applied with a collaborative spirit, LEED ultimately results in a better project.

It was a great event and we look forward to SLUstainability 2014!

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