How Do You Sustain Sustainability? Try Building Data

By Geoff Weisenberger, Staff Editor December 1, 2005

Alan Traugott, principal, CJL Engineering, Moon Township, Pa., took a few minutes at last month’s Greenbuild show to give CSE the scoop on what he feels is the future of the green movement: building operations data.

On Traugott’s green agenda is pushing for a protocol to gather building information and submit it to a central sustainable building database. “The job isn’t done with the LEED plaque,” he urged. “You need to get your building data out there.” While long-term data on building sustainability won’t be available for a while, building owners do have the power to submit performance data that can help identify trends.

Companies already monitor absenteeism and health-care costs; they should also be able to monitor this data and how it’s affected by sustainable building systems, said Traugott.

This type of information is helpful in another project Traugott is involved in—convincing the city of Pittsburgh and the state of Pennsylvania to adopt LEED as a mandate for city- and state-funded projects.

Beyond money or recognition, he said, it should be a mandate, as the whole green process is ultimately to benefit the occupants of buildings.

Regarding LEED itself, Traugott pointed out that direct involvement is one of the major benefits of the program. “Sending money to a wildlife organization feels good, but you don’t see the results,” he said. “With LEED, you are directly involved in making a difference, and you can see that.”

Traugott also noted that the program pushes the building industry toward getting a jump on using new materials, fuels and technologies without major cost or completely retooling infrastructure. “It wasn’t the end of the world when refrigerants were outlawed,” he said.

And speaking of getting a jump on things, he pointed out that China doesn’t have much of a choice. While Europe taxed its fuel supply and now embraces a more energy-efficient philosophy and the U.S. is currently in its energy-hog stage, China, due to much of its large population requiring more and more energy every day, might not get its chance to be a glutton, he noted. “China will leapfrog us in terms of energy efficiency because they have to.”