In Theory and Practice: The Pursuit of Truly Sustainable Buildings

Notkin Wood Harbinger Alliance’s Shaun May and Brian Robinett presented at AIA Seattle’s 2017 CAP Collaboration Series Sustainability event, held Thursday, December 14th at the AIA Seattle office in Seattle, WA.

Their presentation, “In Theory and Practice: The Pursuit of Truly Sustainable Buildings,” discussed ways that project teams can collaborate to find the balance that goes into making a sustainable building actually sustainable.

Read the presentation abstract below. View a PDF of the PowerPoint presentation here.

Sustainability in the built environment isn’t an event, it’s a journey. Seattle and Washington State have made sustainable building a priority, with strict new energy code requirements and LEED certification requirements for public projects. But certifications and “sustainable design practices” don’t automatically guarantee that a building will be a beacon of sustainable operation, especially through the long-term. Achieving designs that meet code requirements, certification criteria, client expectations, and function properly while supporting a positive end-user experience is a balancing act involving the building owner, project team, operations and maintenance staff, and building occupants. In this presentation, participants will learn about the different factors that go into making a sustainable building actually sustainable, such as aligning expectations and requirements, providing innovative but practical design, and supporting end-user engagement and empowerment. We’ll explore how project teams can help make this vision a reality though most of us are not heavily involved in a building future after construction. Presenters will share project examples and lessons learned, and engage participants in discussion about successes and challenges in achieving effective sustainable design.

Learning Objectives:

  • Explore different options for effective team collaboration early in the project to support project requirements, goals, and expectations.
  • Identify methods of successfully navigating the critical project turnover phase, including operations and maintenance staff training, final commissioning, and plans for building measurement, verification, and ongoing management.
  • Examine different methods of engaging building occupants/end users in understanding high performance building design and how they can support high performance building operation.
  • Discuss the successes and challenges that architects, engineers, contractors, and commissioning providers have in helping clients achieve sustainable buildings.
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