Education

"We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us," attributed to Sir Winston Churchill, aptly describes one of the more important aspects of green buildings — what they teach the occupants and the public about how buildings should be designed, built, renovated and operated. Properly done, green buildings reflect designers' and builders' expectations about high-performance design and can teach the public what to ask for in their own homes and workplaces. The people who live and work in them can easily take on the values of the buildings they inhabit.

Public education is seen as a crucial component of the green building revolution, so much so that LEED gives an innovation point for projects that include significant public education. Your next green building project can foster an understanding of sustainable design through such measures as:

• Educational signage throughout the building, even in the restrooms, describing the various measures taken for energy conservation, water conservation and recycling.

• User handbooks and training sessions that inform building occupants, especially for buildings with atypical systems.

• Websites, intranets and other electronic means that educate users throughout the design and construction process and also serve as a repository for information about building systems.

• Public tours not only educate and inspire general audiences about green buildings but can serve to reinforce for occupants the special measures taken to ensure their well-being.

• Using see-through panels can take some of the mystery out of building systems, by exposing them to public view.

• Visible monitors that track energy use, photovoltaic power production and water use can give occupants satisfaction they are doing something positive for the environment.

Mithun architects designed the Islandwood Environmental Education Center on Bain-bridge Island, Washington, a LEED Gold-certified project, to teach sustainability with its building systems.

Mithun architects designed the Islandwood Environmental Education Center on Bain-bridge Island, Washington, a LEED Gold-certified project, to teach sustainability with its building systems.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment