10B — December 26, 2014 - January 15, 2015 — Owners, Developers & Managers — M id A tlantic

Real Estate Journal


ODM E xperts

By William Amann, PE, DCEP, LEED AP, M&E Engineers Changing the conversation: High performance buildings


be passionate about combating climate change, developers and building owners have a bottom line responsibility today that typically trumps ideals. Many of the terms that we take for granted have negative connota- tions among large segments of society. We also have to battle political machines who have co- opted green concepts and goals and rendered them so extreme, onboththe leftandtheright, that they bear little resemblance to the practical implementation of greenbuildingandsustainability that we propose. But changing the conversation and reengaging that passion for aresilientandsustainable future doesn’t require a new disaster or the next Sandy and it certainly doesn’t require a particular po- litical alignment. It requires a concept that is appealing to the masses. As a country founded on ambition and innovation, the UnitedStateshasalways strived for biggest, fastest, best in qual- ity, quantity, and performance. We have come to demand high performance in every other as- pect of our lives. Whether it’s having the newest smart phone or the fastest vehicle inthedrive- way,Americansnotonlydemand high performance, when we are engaged and inspired to achieve it, we create amazing things. Yet despite the American de- sire for thebest,wehaveaccepted mediocrity from our buildings. As a result, we spend 90% of our lives in buildings that are inef- ficient, expensive to maintain, andoftenarecontributing factors to illness and poor productivity. Andworse, insteadof addressing this rather shocking dichotomy, Americans in general tend to be apathetic to the concept of the green building. America is ready for the High Performance Building and as members of the design/develop/ build community, it is incum- bent upon us to educate clients, appeal to their desire to achieve the highest level of performance, and ignite that competitive spirit which will result in building owners and entire communities competing for bragging rights. That means that we need to thinkof thepromotionof sustain- abilityandresiliency inthe same way that other industries have promoted high performance in their products. WilliamAmann,PE,DCEP, LEEDAPispresidentofM&E Engineers, past Chairman of the USGBC-NJ, and current chairman of the Somerset County Energy Council. n

fter hurricane Sandy, a shocked nation de- manded answers and

nesses, and other buildings that protect our families and assets? In response, government offi- cials, politicians, educators, and architects, engineers, and real estate developers vowed to work together and use the tragedy to rebuild stronger, safer, and smarter.

of industry news. Instead, the mainstreammediafocusesonthe mostextremedesignsandradical personalities and positions. This hasresultedinsustainabilityand “green” buildingbecomingpolar- izing issues.

ings after a disaster like Sandy, dissipate as the shock wears off and the news focus turns to some other crisis. We then find ourselves little better off when the next disaster hits.

s o l u t i o n s . How can we imp l emen t changes that will protect our residents andcommuni- ties from the next disaster? How can we

insure that critical services and our infrastructure are protected and maintained in times of ex- traordinary need? How can we design and build homes, busi- But, we live in a time of collec- tive “attention deficit disorder.” In a rapid-fire news cycle, we are hit with a constant streamof new information, opinions, and crises. Impassioned pledges by politicians, community leaders, and building owners to demand resilient and sustainable build- Wishing our clients, colleagues, and friends a joyous and prosperous New Year. Today, the “green” conversa- tion has changed. The forward momentumand zealousness has faded, replaced in large part by “extremepositioning syndrome.” The media rewards those with the most extreme positions with column inches and televised sound bites. So the tens of thou- sands of “regular” buildings in the US achieving LEED certifi- cation are rarely profiled outside But we simply can’t afford to allow the goal of a resilient, sustainable future to become marginalized by politicos and talking heads. I believe that the way forward requires that we reengage with the commu- nity, the business owner and the homeowner, without the jargon, jive, or judgment. We have to recognize that while we may William Amann

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