Feeling very inspired by last week's Sustainable Design and Development Conference, hosted by Sustainable Connections, here in Bellingham. My background is in deep-green design, and I believe wholeheartedly in pursuing every design and construction project with an eye towards high-performance and environmental responsibility. That said, I often run into the market/$ based reality that many clients don't want to pay any extra for 'green' features or smarter construction techniques... they'd rather put the money into extra square footage, or nicer finishes. Pretty typical story.
I'm going to focus on three key ways in which I can augment my approach and client-communication in order to make better buildings. Here's my plan:
1) Create a new client orientation package that leads the conversation on green design strategy from the first meeting. I'll highlight the no-brainer stuff (the cost-parity or money-saving approaches), as well as provide a road-map to the other big decisions along the way... windows, insulation, materials, etc.
2) Rework my Construction Document package to highlight all beyond-code design elements, with a focus on energy performance and wise material use. This will help anchor the ongoing conversations with the general contractor, in order to ensure that the structure is built to a high standard, and doesn't default to outdated conventions (a frustratingly common occurrence.)
3) Initiate a Building Research Internship, in which I'll aim to work with WWU students to develop a cost/performance menu for a wide array of building components. My vision is to be able to provide clients with a 'basic/better/best' roadmap to many of the biggest decisions throughout the design and construction process. How much more do U-0.25 windows cost than U-0.30? How does the price compare between a framing package of FSC certified wood, vs. unsustainably harvested lumber? The more cost-clarity we can establish at the beginning, the more clarity we'll have as we make decisions that affect the lifetime performance of the building.