Page E2.2 . 23 October 2002                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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    Green Guide for Developers


    Video clips enliven the text with comments and insights from architects Peter Calthorpe and William McDonough, developers Jonathan F.P. Rose and Michael and Judy Corbett, and "Greening of Harlem" activist Bernadette Cozart.

    Particularly compelling in this chapter is a speech given by William D. Browning to the MIT "Dimensions of Sustainability" conference. Viewing this, the green activist can stock up on statistics and studies to impress the steely-eyed and persuade the hard of heart.

    As examples: Verifone's daylit employees post 47 percent less absenteeism than their electrically lit counterparts. Public perception of ING Bank's new premises helped move ING from fourth-ranking bank in the Netherlands to second. Village Homes sell for more than standard houses in their area in less than one third the time. Walmart does daylight. And so on.

    Case Studies of Sustainability

    Meaty though the introductory chapter is, designers may be unable to resist jumping straight to the case studies. An impressive array, international in scope, offers green precedents for many types of development: commercial/office, education, health care, hotel/resort, industrial/warehouse, institutional, laboratory, mixed-use, residential, and retail.

    Each project is profiled with images and summary text providing information on process, finances, features, and results, using a basic presentation reminiscent of other architecture CD-ROMs like ArchitectureWeek's own Great Buildings Collection. The quality and level of detail of the profiles provided in Green Development varies, perhaps according to what was available from the contacts for each project.

    For instance, the profile of 2211 West 4th, a successful mixed-use development in Vancouver, British Columbia, provides an itemization of acquisition and development costs, financing, unit sale prices, and returns on investment. By contrast, the profile of Pilsen East/Podmajersky, an inner-city revitalization project in Chicago, provides no process or financial information at all. Whether profiled with a broad or fine brush, however, these case studies provide inspiring starting points for further investigation.

    More methodical indexing would improve accessibility of the case studies. For example, three projects by Michael Hopkins are included, but only two are linked from the index. Developer Harold Kalke's entry provides contact information, but no link to the case study of his project. Norman Foster, whose Commerzbank and Reichstag projects are included, does not appear in the index at all.

    The "Green Design" chapter consists primarily of excerpts from A Primer on Sustainable Building, another RMI publication. The excerpts cover topics such as site, building envelope, materials and indoor air quality, water and waste, energy, and operations and maintenance. To those new to ecological design, this chapter provides a solid introduction. For the cognoscenti, it offers an encouraging review and perhaps a few nuggets of new information.

    The chapter on "Financing, Approval, and Marketing" addresses profitability concerns head on. Tips on how to frame an innovative proposal to bankers, how to maneuver through the approvals process, how to market the project effectively, and where, why, and when to expect a profit: this will be welcome information to developers who may be interested but unsure about the practicality of building green.

    The chapter on additional resources leads off in as many directions as the user could want to explore and by itself is worth the price of admission.

    In general, the CD-ROM interface needs to improve if it is to match the clarity of the content. A more transparent navigation system, in which options didn't disappear when one was chosen, but remained visible in some form to provide a better indication of the user's current whereabouts within the extensive information space, would make for smoother, more efficient navigation.

    Similarly, the graphic design could be refined in support of the publication's content. The faux-granite desktop might have been chosen to reassure a conservative audience, but it is meaningless and so detracts from the substance of the publication. That substance, however, is solid, and more than a match for a few imperfections in the interface.

    Effectively targeting such influential people as real estate owners and developers suggests great potential for this CD-ROM as a tool for change. If ecologically sound buildings and communities are to become the norm, these are people who need to be convinced. For those already convinced, Green Developments offers a big chunk of informational wherewithal to help turn conviction into action.

    Katharine Logan is an assistant editor of ArchitectureWeek.

    Green Developments, by the Rocky Mountain Institute, © 2002. Multimedia CD-ROM, $20. For Windows and Macintosh.



    ArchWeek Image

    Green Developments, published by the Rocky Mountain Institute, profiles 200 exemplary projects in a range of development categories.
    Image: Rocky Mountain Institute

    ArchWeek Image

    Five main headings of Green Developments, published by the Rocky Mountain Institute, lead to a wealth of information.
    Image: Rocky Mountain Institute

    ArchWeek Image

    A substantive introduction includes studies and statistics on the benefits of building "green."
    Image: Rocky Mountain Institute

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    Video clips of prominent designers, developers, and community workers enliven the text.
    Image: Rocky Mountain Institute

    ArchWeek Image

    The faux granite and "brass" desktop fails to reinforce the fresh attitude Green Developments seeks to foster.
    Image: Rocky Mountain Institute

    ArchWeek Image

    Unexpected productivity gains can pay for thermal and lighting improvements well ahead of schedule.
    Image: Rocky Mountain Institute

    ArchWeek Image

    Village Homes sell for a premium in less than average time on the market. Their bioswale system outperformed conventional drainage systems during a hundred-year flood.
    Image: Rocky Mountain Institute

    ArchWeek Image

    Public perception of ING Bank's new premises moved it from the number four bank in the Netherlands to number two.
    Image: Rocky Mountain Institute


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