How do we preserve sustainably?

Submitted by digital on Fri, 10/30/2015 - 20:32
{"version":"0.3.0","atoms":[],"cards":[["images-card",{"images":[{"url":"http:\/\/\/dpcbzfiye\/image\/upload\/v1459456436\/boixy6tp0i3a7klwfgq9.jpg","id":"4451"}],"caption":"Carl Elefante, FAIA, spoke of the U.S. need to commit to renovation in Taliesin West\u0027s curtain-adorned atrium."}],["images-card",{"images":[{"url":"http:\/\/\/dpcbzfiye\/image\/upload\/v1459456470\/fkfnxcugurt8db3cvsez.jpg","id":"4456"}],"caption":"A lively panel discussion at the Taliesin Colloquium featured (left to right): Jean Carroon, FAIA; James Lindberg; Michael Gamble; Carl Elefante, FAIA; Fred Prozzillo; T. Gunny Harboe, FAIA; Jennifer O\u2019Connor; and Stephanie Carlisle."}],["images-card",{"images":[{"url":"http:\/\/\/dpcbzfiye\/image\/upload\/v1459456506\/lg22tbzfruevnibkz2ad.jpg","id":"4461"}],"caption":"Answering the age-old question, \u201cWhat would Taliesin West look like if it were made out of Legos?\u201d"}]],"markups":[["em"]],"sections":[[1,"h2",[[0,[],0,"At Taliesin West, historic and environmentally focused architects came together to debate the life cycle of materials"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Frank Lloyd Wright\u0027s winter-home-turned-architecture-school proved to be the perfect gathering place for the AIA\u0027s inaugural meeting on the intersection between historic preservation and sustainability."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"The 2015 AIA Taliesin Colloquium\u2014the third overall but first presented in tandem with the AIA\u2019s Historic Resources Committee and Committee on the Environment\u2014used Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Ariz., as a backdrop for examining whole-building life cycle assessment (LCA), an oft-discussed method for digging deeper into the impact of materials on the built environment."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"While operational energy is top of mind for many in the sustainability movement, speakers at the colloquium consistently emphasized the importance of factoring embodied carbon into the decision-making process. It\u0027s vital to model and minimize a building\u0027s daily energy usage, but considering the amount of energy used to create that building, and the carbon embedded in its walls, can provide more short-term benefits. What should be focused on more intently, they stated, are the consequences of the materials chosen and the potentially detrimental results of demolishing and rebuilding instead of reusing and renovating."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Peyton Hall, FAIA, host of the colloquium and past chair of the Historic Resources Committee, illustrated the complexity of this new priority by opening with a question: \u201cAre our arms long enough to embrace two moral imperatives at the same time?\u201d"]]],[1,"h3",[[0,[],0,"Save Our Cities"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"The opening keynote was delivered by Carl Elefante, FAIA, director of sustainability at Quinn Evans Architects and originator of the now-famous line, \u201cThe greenest building is the one already built.\u201d But even he noted that the profession is \u201cnot even crawling yet\u201d in regard to whole-building life cycle assessment."]]],[10,0],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Nevertheless, now that the profession has embraced new building performance, it\u0027s imperative to address existing buildings."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u201cSince 2006, the United States building sector has added 20 billion square feet without increasing carbon output, Elefante said. \u201cWe have to stop thinking about the new places we\u0027re creating, and start thinking about keeping the places that actually have value to us."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u201cAnd it\u0027s not just a bleeding-edge thing,\u201d he added. \u201cWe need the architects down the street doing residential work on the same level.\u201d"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Elefante implored his audience not to let our cities devolve, as they are what keep society moving down a progressive path. They also feature a large mix of old and new buildings, one that needs to be exploited to keep efficiency high, rents low, and the city\u2019s historic infrastructure intact."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u201cIf we can get all the second, third, and fourth floors in buildings downtown filled with people,\u201d he said, \u201cI don\u0027t care if we ever do another LEED Platinum.\u201d"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Because, as others would state throughout the colloquium, the worst thing would be to join the rest of our modern culture in thinking disposably. \u201dOur timeframe, whether we want to admit it or not,\u201d he said, \u201cis forever.\u201d"]]],[1,"h3",[[0,[],0,"Show Me the Value"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Elefante was followed by a daylong series of sessions geared toward preservation experts and sustainability analysts alike."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u201dThe key metric is \u2018prove it,\u2019\u201d said Michael Gamble, director of graduate studies at the Georgia Tech School of Architecture, who noted a distinct need for proper sustainability targets, beneficiaries, and a firm definition of LCA before the idea expands further."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Jennifer O\u2019Connor, president of the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute, agreed, stressing the need to \u201cunderstand how to use [LCA tools], and how to interpret results\u201d before involving clients in a process that\u0027s not fully comprehended on either side."]]],[10,1],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"One thing was for certain: Architects are enthused by this concept. While limiting operational carbon is a multifaceted endeavor that involves so many other elements of the building process, performing a proper life cycle assessment and making the right choices in materials is strictly architectural. As Stephanie Carlisle, an environmental researcher at KieranTimberlake, noted, \u201cEvery impact associated with a building is the result of a design decision.\u0022"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Like all questions of sustainability, however, much comes down to the marketplace. If a client isn\u0027t interested in an environmentally friendly approach\u2014let alone a detailed review of all potential materials being used\u2014even the best intentions can fall by the wayside."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u201cWe need to communicate the value premise in terms that investors, appraisers, and leaders understand,\u0022 Gamble said."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Those could be additional carbon offset opportunities that reward rehab over new construction, or a next generation of benchmarks that values reducing embodied carbon more than LEED v4. Either way, Carlisle noted that more tinkering needs to be done before LCA is built into any laws."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u201cYou don\u0027t want LCA to be part of code right now,\u201d she said. \u0022It\u0027s too data-poor, and the diversity of existing methods is allowing everyone to draw their own meaningful conclusions. I\u0027d love to have a quick mechanism that spits out answers, but not if it stymies growth.\u201d"]]],[1,"h3",[[0,[],0,"Preservation is Paramount"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"On the colloquium\u0027s final day, T. Gunny Harboe, FAIA, of Harboe Architects tied the themes together by offering up the strategies involved in preserving and improving Wright\u0027s Scottsdale compound."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"With Taliesin West being a national historic landmark that was established in 1937\u2014originally as a seasonal home, to boot\u2014the complications in improving ventilation, energy efficiency, and numerous structural elements are ample."]]],[10,2],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u201cA directive from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation was, \u2018Preservation is paramount,\u2019\u201d he said, \u201cbut what does that mean for the buildings? That\u0027s one of the questions we\u0027re trying to answer.\u201d"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Therein lies the rub: how to combine the conservation of a historic structure with an admittedly ambitious goal of going net zero, one that the team at Harboe Architects is pursuing. Their master plan was presented to the public in late October, but there are still no estimates for scope, time, or total cost. \u0022This isn\u0027t an answer,\u0022 Harboe said in regards to the plan, \u0022this is a road map.\u0022"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"There\u0027s a natural connection between the concept of sustainability and sustaining what already stands; but to find common ground architects will need to determine how to preserve with an environmental bent, to keep what\u0027s smartly made and replace what does not conform to a \u201cforever\u201d timeline."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Or, as Elefante put it, \u201cLet\u0027s redefine the ways we save buildings for reasons other than preciousness.\u201d"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[0],1,"Steve Cimino is the Digital Content Manager at the AIA."]]]]}
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The 2015 AIA Taliesin Colloquium used Taliesin West as a backdrop for examining whole-building life cycle assessment.
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