Jodi Smits Anderson

When is green not so green?

Mark Evans alum.mit.edu

Answer – when it is done just for green’s sake. Nothing is sustainable if it cannot be managed financially and if it doesn’t support the end users while it respects resources and the planet. An ugly, poorly laid out green building will only be torn down in a few years, and frustrate all who use it. Yes, use local materials, but only if they work and if you can afford them! Seek to be greener by being creative in regard to balancing the budget, the benefit to the building occupants and staff, and the planet we call home.

A Collaborative Effort

shutterstock_116418430

We all live, work, play, learn and heal in buildings…and pray and dance and, well, you get the idea. We also govern in buildings, and NY State government has been working very hard since 2001 to green state operations. There are several executive orders from the Governor’s office requiring green purchasing, reduction of energy use, and sustainability planning. Laws are now hitting the books requiring state buildings to report on water use, air quality and energy efficiency measures and improvements. What is the key element of support for all of this work?  Training through GPRO!! The NY Upstate Chapter, as… read more

Making Buildings Greener

Making a building greener

We’ve heard it time and time again in the news – “LEED is fine, but these touted green buildings use more energy than other buildings”. Or “LEED is great, but the buildings use more energy than predicted!”  Hold on – let’s take a look. First, many LEED buildings do use more energy than other buildings.  What is being compared? A science lab from 1940 will have entirely different usage parameters for energy, even if upgraded, than a science lab from 2012. A classroom of today employs better lighting and more controls and hopefully includes exceptional insulation and integration of daylight, but… read more

Flushing It Away

Effective water use

In 2011, I bought my husband a dual flush toilet for Father’s Day, and he bought me one for Mother’s Day. I installed them one weekend when he wasn’t looking, for his birthday – best gift EVER.  We live in a 1,200 square foot home in Albany, NY. It is approximately 90 years old with one and a half bathrooms (hence the two toilets).  We reduced our overall potable water usage by 25%. Now, there’s not really any money savings for us in this.  The cost of water in Albany is not much at all.  Only one of the toilets… read more

Cast Iron Pans

Cast iron pans

What’s not to love? Cast iron is simple – sort of like unbleached flours and whole grains in our food and all natural fibers in what we wear.  We have to advertise, now, that these items are less processed because we’ve gotten so used to deeply processed things that simplicity is rare. Cast iron pans are the lowest denominator in a world full of cooking complexity.  They transfer heat really well while you’re cooking, especially on a gas stove or over a campfire.  They have no disgusting highly-chemically based surface treatments that wear out, flake off over time, or emit… read more

The Cost of Design

The cost of design

Integrative design processes are the most important aspect of successful green building, whether they are guided by the LEED rating system or another system, codes, incentives or a visionary owner. In any case, the “integrative” part is pivotal. The systems need to be optimized in tandem, not in their separate silos of control and importance.  When the glazing and window locations are being planned, the heating and cooling systems should be discussed.  When the ceiling heights move up or down, this may affect the furniture planning (bunk beds or not?) and the use of ceiling mounted radiant panels.  All of… read more

How Buildings Affect Us

The importance of buildings

I have come to realize in my work as an architect, developing legislation for energy efficiency and in helping State entities to build greener buildings that we lack comprehension about the magnitude of the role buildings play in our lives. Each and every building has an affect on those of us that use it Each and every building has an affect on the natural world Each building is built for use and affects our well-being.  Children attend school, we go to work or attend church, we run at the gym or we meet in a coffee shop and we pick… read more

Simple Solutions…

Green initiatives at school

My son’s school has a Java Connection to raise money for middle school events.  It used to consist of foam cups, cheap donuts, throw away paper plates and napkins, bulk food service coffee…all a personal affront to me each time I accompanied my son to have breakfast and visit the school.  So I simply asked if I could donate paper cups to the middle schoolers for the Java Connection. The teacher suggested it would be better if I came in to talk about sustainability (smart teacher) so I did. I posed a couple of questions: Instead of throwing away the… read more

Green Building For Profit

Building better and more efficiently

Triple Bottom Line (TBL) is a cyclic thought and action process: engage stakeholders, understand the problem, find solutions, repeat and repeat again. One result of TBL in the design and construction industry is that we are finally moving past the egocentric view that we can design whatever we like and then engineer the systems to make the building comfortable for others to live and work in. We can save money and energy as well as improve our health if we incorporate location-based diversity into how we design and build and renovate buildings. We also see that construction work is the… read more