Green Building: The International Perspective

Posted on: November 19th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

Downtown Boston from the South Boston waterfront. (Photo: Barbara Campagna)

Downtown Boston from the South Boston waterfront. (Photo: Barbara Campagna)

Ready, set, go... it wasn't hard to miss that Greenbuild is being held in Boston this week. Almost as soon as I got off the plane there were welcome signs - stats from the city of Boston and the Transit authority on what they are doing to be green - as well as invitations to visit booths in the exhibit hall. So it's pretty clear that the city is excited about hosting Greenbuild.

I opted to attend International Day, wondering what everyone else is doing. I have had this belief that everyone is light years ahead of us, since we, the US, are the largest consumers of natural resources, we live by using more - so how can everyone else lead happy and successful lives with using less? I think that instead of taking you through the day, session by session, it is best to sum it up at this point. Building professionals from around the world are here to learn from us! Yes, that's right, the US the largest consumer in the world. Why? Because the USGBC has created the most widely adopted ratings framework world-wide and it works.

Developers and building professionals from British Columbia, Brazil, Abu Dhabi, Germany, and China participated in a series of fireside chats, panels and discussions to share their lessons learned and discuss the futures of their cities and countries given the LEED metrics.

Deutsche Bank has been so impressed with the results of the renovation of their headquarters building in Frankfort that they are going to be applying LEED to all of the buildings in their portfolio, from second tier cities in India to other Euorpean cities. One wonders when they will require LEED metrics to be applied to their clients portfolios as a condition of lending?

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Preservation Success Honored in Lawrence, Mass.

Posted on: November 19th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Third in our series of videos highlighting the winners of the 2008 National Preservation Awards.

Today, National Trust for Historic Preservation president, Richard Moe, visited the City of Lawrence and presented them with an Honorary National Preservation Honor Award. Lawrence's Washington Mills Building No. 1 received a National Preservation Honor Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation during its 2008 National Preservation Conference in Tulsa, OK.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

All Green Roads Lead To Boston This Week

Posted on: November 19th, 2008 by Barbara Campagna 1 Comment

 

The Convention Center and World Trade Center, South Boston Waterfront.

The Convention Center and World Trade Center, South Boston Waterfront.

The eighth annual conference of the U.S. Green Building Council -– Greenbuild –- has taken over Boston’s new Convention Center, bringing over 30,000 attendees to the South Boston waterfront. One of the most complicated things to do at this conference is to decide what to actually go to – during each time slot there are up 20 different sessions from which to choose. Tuesday was Member Forum and International Forum Day. The Conference proper began this morning with a keynote speech by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The USGBC Member Forum

The Member Forum Day is a tradition at Greenbuild. Employees of all member organizations are welcome to attend a plenary session and the USGBC business meeting free of charge. Last year, my first Greenbuild, I arrived too late to attend the Member Forum. This year’s plenary was first rate and got at the heart of the two key issues of our time –- the climate crisis and the economic crisis. The panel was moderated by Steve Curwood, executive producer and host of NPR’s “Living Earth” who asked a lot of challenging and insightful questions. The panel was composed of Ashok Gupta, air & energy program director and senior energy economist at the Natural Resources Defense Council; Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres (a coalition of investors and environmental leaders working to improve corporate environmental, social and governance practices) and Stockton Williams, senior vice president at Enterprise Community Partners.

Steve Curwood set the stage by asking the panelists to discuss how we impact climate change given the current debacle of the world economy. He rhetorically questioned whether we can pinpoint Hurricane Katrina as the bellwether event and harbinger of both climate change and the economic Armageddon. There is no doubt that the challenge is big, but to quote Ashok Gupta, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” The session began with a four-minute video of President-elect Barack Obama (taped for the Governors’ conference last week) discussing his policies for climate change. Obama proclaimed that we need to build a green economy and we must be aggressive and relentless. We must reduce our carbon footprint by 20% prior to 2020 and 80% by 2050.

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Barbara Campagna

Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C was formerly the Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust in the Stewardship of Historic Sites office. She is currently a sustainability consultant to the National Trust and can be reached at bcampagna@bcampagna.com.

Historic Neighborhood in Buffalo Threatened by Peace Bridge Expansion Plan

Posted on: November 19th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

The sign reads: "Welcome to Historic Buffalo: Where your home can be destroyed by the City & Public Bridge Authority for the 'Good of All.' Say no to the plaza expansion."  (Photo: Lauren Tent)

Neighbors gather at a sign protesting the bridge expansion. (Photo: Lauren Tent)

This week, Buffalo’s preservationists got a big boost from a lavish New York Times spread celebrating the city’s architecture. Critic Nicolai Ouroussoff concluded that the city had a rare opportunity to use its historic neighborhoods and restored landmarks as potent tools for Buffalo’s economic recovery.

The Times’ validation is rewarding and useful, but it is also timely. Named both to our 2008 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places, and to the Preservation League of New York State’s Seven to Save list, the residential area adjacent to the Peace Bridge remains under threat of needless, large-scale demolition for a massive transportation and security project.

The Peace Bridge crosses the US-Canada border at the Niagara River, entering Buffalo in the historic Prospect Hill neighborhood situated around Frederick Law Olmsted’s Front and Columbus Parks.

Local leaders’ vision of adding a new signature bridge as a gateway to the city -- and the goals of improving transportation and border security -– could be accomplished in a range of ways, locations, and configurations. Instead, these goals hardened into the Public Bridge Authority’s plan to add a new bridge alongside the old one, and expand the border entry plaza currently at the bridge deep into this neighborhood.

A family enjoys a walk in the neighborhood. (Photo: Lauren Tent)

A family enjoys a walk in the neighborhood. (Photo: Lauren Tent)

In the tree-lined blocks of homes dating largely from 1850 through the mid-20th century, some houses are modest and some are grand. Most are tidy, some are vacant. Overall, the neighborhood is stable and remarkably strong in the face of uncertainty. The Public Bridge Authority itself acquired several significant houses in the area over the years. Unmaintained, they are a demoralizing, inescapable reminder of the residents’ predicament. In a Rust Belt city struggling with real vacancy problems, it would be particularly wasteful to damage this viable neighborhood.

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Greening Boston City Hall

Posted on: November 19th, 2008 by Barbara Campagna 1 Comment

 

Beloved & Reviled

Since 2006, the city of Boston has been one of the central venues for the sometimes heated discussion regarding preserving modern heritage, in particular Brutalist-style architecture. And the discussion has gotten even more heated since sustainability has been added to the conversation. Boston City Hall is at the same time one of the most beloved buildings in Boston and one of the most reviled. Kallmann McKinnell & Knowles designed the building and its plaza in 1962 and construction was complete in 1968. Boston City Council’s Special Committee on City Hall held a public hearing Tuesday evening in City Hall to consider the financial and environmental benefits of greening the current City Hall.

Demolish, Move, Keep?

There are several different factions in the city and in city government regarding the disposition of City Hall. One faction believes the building is so ugly and so inefficient that it must be demolished and a new one built in its place. Another faction believes the building is so unfriendly and inefficient that City Hall should move (perhaps to South Boston where the new Convention Center is) and let market forces determine what becomes of the current City Hall building. And yet another faction believes that the building is an icon and like any other building, it can be retrofitted sensitively to achieve everyone’s goals and needs.

The public hearing was well attended by the latter faction including sustainability and modern heritage experts who presented a variety of design ideas and philosophies on how to “green” the site. The hearing was called by Councillor Michael Flaherty who eloquently opened the session by declaring his desire to keep City Hall right where it was. Councillor Flaherty also had a very solid grasp on the environmental benefits of saving existing buildings. Unfortunately he was the only Council member present, so I am not sure if that was an overt signal of the rest of the Council’s opinion on the topic. I certainly hope not.

I think we will continue to hear more and more on this topic and not just in Boston. In Washington, DC next week there is a public hearing to determine the fate of I.M. Pei’s Third Church of Christ, Scientist. This may very well become the defining architectural topic of our time.

Public Testimony

Below is the testimony that I presented at the Boston City Hall public hearing. The testimony was prepared by me and Rebecca Williams, Field Representative at the Northeast Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation:... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Barbara Campagna

Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C was formerly the Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust in the Stewardship of Historic Sites office. She is currently a sustainability consultant to the National Trust and can be reached at bcampagna@bcampagna.com.