Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Existing green: Decarbonization

How do we reconcile the issue of tremendous amounts of existing buildings and housing stock that must be modified to lessen their demands upon the environment and our resources?

The "Green Towers" movement in NYC has been going on since the mid-90's. The videos are here. In 2001 in NYC, the American Planning Association put on a "Green Towers" tour featuring the Audubon House by Croxton Associates (the first renovation case study) and their NRDC Headquarters, as well as the Four Times Square skyscraper by Fox and Fowle. These predated the City's innovative High Performance Building Guidelines (1999) which forged a new direction for sustainable building strategies in a highly dense, urban environment.

Now we see this movement becoming the new norm in the building community - Green Revolution Hits Existing Iconic Architecture, from Architecture World News:

According to the U.S Department of State, buildings account for an estimated 36 percent of overall energy use, 65 percent of electricity consumption, 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions and 12 percent of water use in America, exemplifying a major area of interest for ecologists.

“Architects are going to be an integral component of our efforts to decarbonise the built environment,” said John Alker, Public Affairs Manager, UK Green Building Council. “They should be absolutely central to major refurb projects in commercial buildings and will increasingly be of use on smaller developments including homes, especially social housing, given the scale of the carbon reductions needed and what that means for the fabric of the home, heating and cooling.