Friday, March 18, 2011


Thought for the day, from a Green Building journal:

"Convincing reluctant clients to go green is unnecessary--many green strategies should be incorporated as a matter of course."

This sums up quite succinctly what my job is about.  There is a lot of explaining, a lot of listening, and lot of trade-off research and presentation involved, and a lot of nerdtalk tried to be made simple, and yes, sometimes what the "green department" wants customers to put into their house because it's better by our philosophy are not things the customer or the rest of the company care much about because getting the job finalized (on company end), cost and conventional thinking (on customer end) get in the way.  Our job is to expand green practices, while not forcing those practices upon people.  Sometimes it feels like I do a lot of research and model-building and question answering all for naught, cause they then go and stick their furnace in the crawlspace anyway because that's what their HVAC contractor knows how to do and the architect forgot to make room on the floor-plans for a mechanical room.

You've just got to make good design practice be what you do, when you're in a position to do it, and not worry overmuch about labeling it "the green alternative."  Rather, it's the smart alternative and heck it's not even alternative-- it's part of our process because there are many reasons it makes sense for it to be.  It would be my dream that "green" as a term is made utterly irrelevant, because the process no longer needs "greening," and the "green" stuff is just as mainstream as everything else.

This isn't to say that everyone should put solar panels on their house (okay, there are good arguments as to why they should, but they can't, it is often impractical), but that the decision as to whether or not to install them should be just as obviously part of the design process as choosing between granite or fer-mica counter-tops.  In each case, cost-benefit trade-offs as part of the path from conception to final product.

In my job, I work to forward this in small ways.  I bring up energy efficient strategies to all customers who come my ways because they are good strategies, not just because they're the "green" ones that our "green" customers might want.  I create fact sheets to simplify technical information relevant to may aspects of building, and throw the green choices in with the conventional as if each is equally mainstream--because they are, in my world, they are becoming more and more so as this industry matures, and treating them that way on paper is a subtle force in that direction.  I work in the "green" department and the word "green" is constantly thrown around (though I prefer the word "sustainable" to describe the same philosophy) for the marketing value it gives us with people who self-identify with those ideas and look for their evidence in businesses they work with.  But the things we do, the solar panels on our roof that power our manufacturing plant, the way we build our wall panels to exceed even the strictest new energy codes (that was my big project--figuring out what those codes were and how we can top them), are things we do because we think they are things that need doing.

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