Seeing the forest of opportunity in the trees

We're flooded with all things green. How to decide what to read? Two articles bring the point home to MEP engineers.


I became involved with green buildings in 1995 as a research scientist for the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). At that time, The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) was a nascent organization, its LEED rating system didn't exist, and the only green associated with buildings were mold and money.

In 1995, the PNNL team, which consisted of three experts in the field of human factors (James Wise, PhD; Judith Heerwagen, PhD; and David Lantrip, PhD) and yours truly (as project manager and building scientist), were chartered to examine the ancillary (non-energy) benefits of green buildings. We presented a preliminary report of our findings from analyzing a case study (one of William McDonough's early buildings) at the Second International Green Building Conference and Exposition, Big Sky, Mont. I think 300 people were there—and this was considered a crowd.

Confused? Probably. USGBC's conference, GreenBuild, drew more than 22,000 people to Chicago in November, and had President Bill Clinton speaking to a room of more than 6,000 people about his multi-billion dollar energy and carbon saving initiatives.

Hence my point. In only 12 years, a single event has grown from 300 to 22,000 people. The number of journalists alone was more than 600, twice the 1995 event's total attendance. And that's my second point. The number of magazines, journals, books, electronic newsletters, blogs, Web sites, and conferences covering green buildings—and the amount of press the topic garners in newspapers—has grown to saturation. And we're seeing more every day.

So what information should people turn to for learning about green buildings? That's a tough question to answer. The editors of this magazine will be stepping up our coverage of green buildings with carefully selected topics and articles.

This month, we're publishing two that tell very different stories. The first is that the fast and powerful emergence of the green building market has shifted the engineering profession off a foundation that had become staid and, frankly, recalcitrant to the desires of owners and architects to join the parade. The result is tremendous opportunity. The second presents a story about how a major company retrofitted and refined its energy-consuming systems in its three headquarters buildings, and certified them at the platinum level by the USGBC's LEED EB. Talk about greening the bottom line!

Look to CSE in 2008 as we provide more on green buildings, and as we look over that hill becoming a mountain to what may lie beyond.

Read more stories:
Adobe Systems' big payback
MEP engineers step up

No comments
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
BIM coordination; MEP projects; NFPA 13; Data center Q&A; Networked lighting controls; 2017 Product of the Year finalists
Emergency lighting; NFPA 3 and 4; Integrated building systems; Smart lighting, HVAC design
Designing for energy efficiency; Understanding and applying NFPA 101 for mission critical facilities; Integrating commissioning and testing for fire alarm systems; Optimizing unitary pumping solutions
Tying a microgrid to the smart grid; Paralleling generator systems; Previewing NEC 2017 changes
Driving motor efficiency; Preventing Arc Flash in mission critical facilities; Integrating alternative power and existing electrical systems
Putting COPS into context; Designing medium-voltage electrical systems; Planning and designing resilient, efficient data centers; The nine steps of designing generator fuel systems
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
click me