Seriously Big, Seriously Green

Seriously Big, Seriously Green

I started my ‘green’ career in 2009 by passing a LEED exam, since then I have been a ‘LEED guy’ in the office. For the last four years, I was involved fully or partially in the LEED projects, which I had to spend many hours to be familiar with the LEED requirements and the certification process to make our projects green. You know what? I thought I was doing enough.

The Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) conference in Vancouver 2013 gave me the right opportunity to extend my boundary of being ‘green’. It was not only about understanding what LEED is, but also understanding myself as an important asset for the green action plans for my neighbour and the community. It was about the nature, environment and more importantly, the people.

The full two-day event was pretty intense, but fun with great meals and food in between the well organized lectures and guest speakers. The first lecture I attended was the ‘understanding the costs and benefits of net zero design’. Cost does matter for being green, and honestly, greening is, in some cases, not cheap, however, the lecture clearly described what possible strategies have been proven to cut costs, also explored how to include non-measurable benefits in consideration of being green.

Another presentation I really liked was the ‘net positive design’ by the professor of school of architecture at the University of British Columbia. He started his presentation with a picture of showing one really small kid is trying to push away a really big sumo (Japanese wrestling) player, then he said, “We all know it’s hard.” Well, agreed. He also argued with the idea of saying ‘all’ buildings should be green, and showed some examples of the green city action plans from various cities including Europe, California, and Vancouver. Instead of making ‘all’ green, which is quite not realistic, we can achieve or exceed our green goal by introducing the term ‘unselfish green architecture’. He explained the ‘emerging’ notion of net positive within the broader context of regenerative design. Basically it means buildings help each other. Some buildings produce more energy than what is needed, help its neighbor buildings to live together. It was well addressed theoretically with practical issues. It helped me understanding what the next step in the green building industry would be.

500? 600? 800? more? I do not know how many people got together, enjoyed the beautifully prepared the event, the awards and gala reception held at the Vancouver convention centre was fun in a serious way. Many people got awarded for what they have achieved in their job as green professionals. Simply following LEED requirements is not enough to make myself as a serious green professional. It was a good lesson. The opportunity is open, we just need to realize all the individuals are the most important assets to make things rolling.

The convention centre, which is a newly awarded as a LEED platinum building, was a great educational building to show how to achieve a green goal without compromising its design intent. The exterior glazing around the building was the physical boundary of the building, not the boundary of the green ideas.

Thanks to the generosity of ACI Architects for this great opportunity. – Byung-Hee Kang.