Fall 2009: From the Editor

Words: Bronzella Cleveland

Green building is here to stay


Masonry Design Magazine

Cory Sekine-Pettite,
editor

To make comments
or suggestions, send
e-mail to
cory@lionhrtpub.com.

Masonry Design Magazine

Cory Sekine-Pettite,
editor

To make comments
or suggestions, send
e-mail to
cory@lionhrtpub.com.

Masonry Design Magazine

Cory Sekine-Pettite,
editor

To make comments
or suggestions, send
e-mail to
cory@lionhrtpub.com.

I believe that anything the construction industry can do to limit its impact on the environment is a good thing. Most designers, engineers, contractors and materials suppliers seem to agree. Sustainable design is becoming the de-facto way to design and build. What more proof does one need than the increasing participation – from all parts of the industry – in the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo? Greenbuild has become the largest conference of its kind. The event – being held this November in Phoenix, Ariz. – will host more than 30,000 attendees. Those attendees will have their choice of 100 or more seminars to attend during the two-day conference. Moreover, there are now more than 1,000 exhibitors showcasing the ever-increasing number of green technologies available to designers and builders.

If Greenbuild isn’t enough evidence of the viability of sustainable design, skeptics should consider the fact that our institutions of higher learning now are aiming to prepare America’s future workforce for careers in sustainable design or green technology. Colleges and universities across the country have begun to answer the demand for so-called “green-collar” careers by developing and offering degree programs in sustainability. According to an Aug. 3 article in USA Today, schools such as the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and Arizona State University – which actually has an entire School of Sustainability – are answering the call for those students interested in pursuing a job in sustainability. Undergraduate and graduate degree programs are now in place at these schools and others.

The article also pointed to a study from The Princeton Review (a nonprofit corporation that helps underserved students with their college admission test preparation needs), which concluded that student interest is driving colleges to create programs that offer training in sustainability. “Students are really savvy shoppers these days, so they’re realizing, with a changing economy and green jobs looking to take a leap within the next couple of years, that they want to be armed with those types of skills,” David Soto, a representative from The Princeton Review, told USA Today.

I think it is important to note that colleges and universities also are demonstrating their commitment to sustainability in many other ways. According to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, U.S. schools are right at the forefront of change. In its annual review of sustainability in higher education (AASHE Digest 2008, which was released in June 2009 and is available for free online) the association reports: At least 13 sustainability-themed research centers opened last year and plans for 33 more were announced; more than 130 campus green buildings were planned, started, opened, or awarded LEED certification; and more than 50 sustainability-focused community engagement initiatives were announced by U.S. and Canadian institutions.

Clearly, green building is here to stay. I know that most of the readers of this magazine are firm believers. In fact, many of you are pioneering efforts to spread the message about sustainability and masonry’s place in this movement. The authors of this issue’s green building features are two such people. Both articles delve into the benefits of green building and explain the many ways in which masonry plays a role. As author James D. Qualk, LEED AP, concludes in his article (“Building Green Today For a More Cost-Effective Tomorrow,” page 28), green building “will soon become the minimum deliverable related to building a new facility or addressing the operation costs of an existing building.” It may still be quite some time before we see “net zero” or “carbon-neutral” buildings, he writes, but “it is clear that we are moving in the right direction.” I couldn’t agree more. MD

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