Cost-Justifying Green Buildings to Skeptics

Many are concerned about what might happen to the green building market when climate change denial is seeing a political resurgence in the US and UK. Yet there is a way to defend green buildings using a business and economics lens palatable even to the biggest green building skeptic. Long used in the world of large-cap infrastructure projects, "cost-benefit analysis" is the gold standard when it comes to weighing different design options for their Net Present Value, Life Cycle Cost, Return on Investment, etc.

Over the past year, two real estate industry leaders, Prologis and San Francisco International Airport, have recently taken that approach and improved upon it, using rigorous economic methodologies from academia and industry alike to also translate into dollar terms the non-financial value of their green building designs, including enhanced occupant health and productivity from improved IEQ and lighting, increased property value and reduced flood risk from green infrastructure, and improved community support from preserving local air and water quality.

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Collaborating for Sustainability in Leased Space

Energy efficiency and sustainability have multiple benefits for commercial building occupants. Now, many forward-thinking corporations are employing sustainability tactics and focusing real estate strategy to attract and retain top talent, minimize operating expenses, and drive occupant comfort, health, and productivity. New technologies, a rapidly developing business case, and increasing research are making it easier for more organizations, across sectors, to leverage sustainability to capitalize on the same trends that are rapidly becoming the norm in top-of-the-market, class-A real estate. However, as tenants progress from site selection to occupancy, it becomes increasingly difficult to invest in sustainability. Tenants and landlords should collaborate early to maximize sustainability throughout the life of the tenant-landlord relationship.

In 2015, Congress passed the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act, which directed several federal agencies, including EPA and DOE to identify and employ appropriate strategies to incentivize and engage commercial landlords and tenants to collaborate towards energy efficiency. This panel will discuss the opportunities that legislation will create for tenants and corporate occupiers to leverage energy efficiency and sustainability to meet corporate social responsibility goals and earn public recognition for their success. Panelists will also introduce a variety of tools and resources that are currently available to the market.

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Design and Construction of Taller Wood Buildings (Print Course)

The properties of wood buildings, such as sustainability and a low carbon footprint; structural, thermal, acoustic, and seismic performance; and fire and life safety, are contributing to an evolution of building taller with mass timber. New materials and design strategies are enabling a centuries-old practice to address modern building concerns and technologies. Code, too, is evolving to recognize the attributes of building with wood, and the 2021 International Building Code contains new provisions for building taller wood structures. This course delves deeper into this evolution, exploring why and how to design taller wood buildings.

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Green, Complete and Smart: Build Green vs. Grey

Communities are turning to innovative stormwater management solutions to solve local and regional stormwater challenges. For example, in the nation’s capital, DC agencies recently modified a plan that predominately relied on grey infrastructure to instead partially replace the grey infrastructure with green infrastructure in targeted existing impervious areas. These green installations will serve to mitigate flooding and stormwater issues to the same capacity but with many more environmental and community benefits.

The panel will discuss stormwater challenges through several examples located throughout the country, and the impact of vegetated systems to manage stormwater in local and regional jurisdictions. One example that will be discussed is The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) proposed Green Street Demonstration Project in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington D.C. where the ASLA headquarters are based. The project seeks to serve as an example for such green, complete, and smart street design. The plan transforms an underperforming street corridor into a showpiece of both green infrastructure technologies and complete street approaches.

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Your Zero Net Energy Building May Destroy the Grid

With emerging standards requiring different forms of Zero Net Energy and aggressive owners developing ZNE buildings already it's an important time to look at the potential impacts net metered buildings can have on the historic grid structure and operations. High penetration of renewable energy can destabilize the grid operations and cause havoc for grid operators.

We'll provide a detailed discussion of the different definitions of ZNE and how they impact design and interaction with the grid. We'll outline current issues with high penetration of renewables on Hawaii's grid structure and how they may apply to ZNE building design for larger grid systems. We will provide building strategies that can enhance ZNE building design participation with the grid such as battery storage with renewables, demand response, thermal energy storage, and controls. Finally the team will outline ongoing changes to the grid structures and enhancements needed to prepare the grid for true ZNE buildings on a mass scale.

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The Future of Sustainability and Green Design: Health, Daylighting, and Material Selection (Print Course)

This course will examine biophilia and sustainable and green design, focusing on the ways in which these concepts have evolved to incorporate human health and well-being. It will also specifically focus on concepts such as daylighting, demonstrating how the incorporation of natural light in design can contribute to productivity and well-being.

Finally, the course will examine several case studies where different products helped to contribute to sustainable, green design as well as occupant health and well-being.

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Green Building Data: The Map to Avoiding Legal Issues

As an expert on green buildings, you are probably handling large volumes of sensitive data on green buildings & sustainable infrastructure. Some of this data may include sensitive information such as company financials, employee health statistics and building design details to aggregated and non-sensitive information such as, internal energy usage patterns and performance metrics.

What is the route that this data takes? Are there any laws which prevent its sharing? Does this data need to be destroyed at some point? Can this data be published in academic writings or industry reports of the recipient? Is the “processed data” liable to be treated differently?

This course discusses data security needs & challenges across sectors and international boundaries.

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Incorporating Human Centric Lighting into Workplace Lighting Design (Print Course)

Human centric lighting is often part of design discussions by architects, interior designers, and lighting designers assigned the task of creating a modern workplace, but there is no consensus around what it means, as different people have different definitions. In addition, owners and clients want to create workplace environments that attract and retain top talent, but they are not quite aware of the value that human centric lighting brings to their businesses. Therefore, it is critical for architects and designers to understand how to design and sell the value of human centric lighting to their clients.


This course will position the architect or designer as a credible resource in creating modern workplace environments with human centric lighting. Moreover, it will keep the designer current in an evolving industry conversation.

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Understanding Wood – How Next-Generation Designers and Artists Impact the Global Forest Ecosystem (Print Course)

Social responsibility should be at the forefront of every designer’s practice, as their designs impact raw material use, land development, and the health, safety, and welfare of building occupants.

This course will discuss one natural resource that is facing a significant threat from exploitation and development: the global forest ecosystem.

We will discuss how building product manufacturers can offer material alternatives that do not further dwindle the world’s endangered wood species. We will also dive deep into a collaborative project between an engineered surfaces company, Interlochen Arts Academy, and visiting artists to return a pine plantation forest to its native state while studying ecology, creating art, and educating a future generation of artists.

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The Business Case for Building with Wood (Print Course)

Increasingly, building owners and design professionals are turning to wood construction to satisfy all of these industry, market, and regulatory demands and challenges. Long valued as a building material for its performance and cost advantages, today’s building owners are choosing wood to satisfy these and other value propositions, from environmental sustainability and resilience to creating distinctive buildings that appeal to the next generation of employees and apartment dwellers, all while meeting tight budgets and construction timelines.

This course looks at how wood construction can contribute to process efficiency, sustainability, and marketability.

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