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List of Green Building “Firsts” Emphasizes Need for LEED V3

The June 2007 issue of Urban Land included a list of ten “green building firsts”, ranging from a LEED Certified police station in San Diego to a Gold convent (designed by Perkins Eastman) in Corapolis, Pennsylvania. As Charles Lockwood noted in the introduction to his piece, the diversity of projects- both by use and geographic locale- demonstrates the adaptability of sustainable architecture no matter the design challenge. (Interestingly, one of the projects is a gas station in Los Angeles- the BP Helios House, which received a Certified rating earlier this year. While it does feature rooftop photovoltaics and recycled pulverized glass pavers, should a structure that’s built at the altar of the automobile really be considered sustainable?)

Regardless, I wanted to point out two of the projects in particular. The first, Tompkins County, New York’s SPCA Animal Shelter in Ithaca, earned a Silver rating back in 2005. Designed by Paul Bonacci, the 9,900 square foot building uses thirty-five percent less water than a traditional animal shelter- significant because water efficiency is typically a design challenge for shelters. Animal waste is normally hosed into trench drains, but the Ithaca shelter collects waste in a service sink which is flushed into the sanitary system.

The second, Robert A.M. Stern’s LEED Certified Mark Twain House and Museum Center in Hartford, Connecticut, which opened up in 2003, stands adjacent to Twain’s home that dates from 1874. The 33,000 square foot building requires thirty percent less energy than code- despite the increased loads it demands in order to maintain adequate conditions for its collections- thanks to a geothermal heating and cooling system and site-sensitive building orientation.

Looking at the list (which also includes a Pittsburgh radio station, San Diego zoo, and Oregon Starbucks, each a respective LEED pioneer) is a good reminder as to why USGBC continues to invest time and energy into harmonizing the various LEED rating systems into the Version 3.0 Bookshelf System, about which I’ve written before. It’s neither practical nor efficient for there to be individual rating systems for different sectors of the construction industry, and USGBC’s recent press release about the new system’s development indicates that it will address many of LEED’s persistent criticism- including the current lack of credits that address building lifecycle assessment and geographic location. I’ll of course comment on further details of the Bookshelf System as they become available.

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