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Going Green

Building Green Series: Part 2

There is growing interest in the environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient construction of new buildings, and the retro-fitting of existing structures. Those efforts extend to sustainable landscape architecture. This is Earth Day, and Ed Mayberry has the second in our five-part series on building green.


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The construction of an environmentally-friendly building that uses less energy extends to re-thinking the grounds around the building. Landscape architect Margaret Robinson of Asakura-Robinson has seen the idea of building green grow in popularity.

“You know, our profession likes to think we invented green! Because we have dedicated our careers to that effort. And a lot of it I think can be attributed to this LEED system catching on, and a lot of people beginning to understand–public officials and designers alike.”

The LEED system rates buildings based on a certain standard of sustainable design and construction.

“LEED is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system which is sponsored by the U.S Green Building Council. It’s almost like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval for buildings and projects. Certified is the lowest level. Silver, gold and platinum is the most difficult to attain.”

Developers think the LEED rating system is a good sales point for leasing, according to Robinson’s business partner Keiji Asakura.

“They think it’s just one of the things that they can add to their leasing program that says ‘You know what? We’re green.’ And I think that comes from really a corporate pressure from big companies and what not, that are trying to position themselves as a green company. they all want to say to the public that they care about taking care of the earth.”

Margaret Robinson says LEED is a point-based system.

“And for each point you have to address a certain issue in the design of the construction, kind of like a game of Scrabble. You know, you get a lot of points if you use an ‘X!’ But those are really difficult to use, so not everybody can use them!”

And developers can gain points not only by efficiency designs in the building itself, but also on the design of the grounds.

“We’ve historically looked at landscaping, plantings, also irrigation design. But we also look at drainage and storm water quality, water conservation. And we’re getting into a lot of new materials and techniques that are much more sustainable than have been in the past.”

There aren’t that many LEED certified buildings in Houston right now…

“The scary part is we’re really just scratching the very, very surface of this issue.”

Tomorrow, we hear from building management executives who are beginning to see green in going green. Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

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