Adopting the Architecture 2030 Challenge

The built environment is the major source of global demand for energy and materials that produce by-product greenhouse gases (GHG). Planning decisions not only affect building energy consumptions and GHG emissions, but transportation energy consumption and water use as well, both of which have large environmental implications.

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Building an Awareness

When Andrew Borgese began Integrata Architecture & Planning in 2002, he rooted his business philosophy in the spirit of collaboration. The best projects, Borgese believes, come to fruition through seamless teamwork among architects, builders, interior designers, and craftsmen. His best and truest collaborator, however, may be Mother Nature.

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Cottage Living, Cape Style

After 30 years of summering on the Cape, the homeowners of this intimate cottage decided it was time to make Falmouth their permanent home. They owned the land—now it was time to build a home in which they could “age in place.” Not only would the home have to be beautiful, it had to accommodate them physically as the years went on, and provide ample private space for visiting family. Having experience with assisted living facility designs, Falmouth-based architect Andrew Borgese, founder and principal of Integrata Architecture and Planning, had plenty of ideas to turn their dream into realty.

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Rehab or Re-Build: That is the Question

As far back as 100 years ago urbanites from Boston, New York and other cities throughout the northeast had the dream of creating summer communities cradled in the natural beauty of this spectacular Cape Cod landscape. That dream has been realized all across Cape Cod and is as alluring today as it was back then. The challenge we face now is that many of those charming cottages no longer meet the needs of their current owners who intend to spend more time here each year, or who want to be able to accommodate a growing extended family. This challenge is further complicated due to the fact that the process of designing, permitting and building homes here on Cape Cod bears almost no resemblance to that which existed when these cottage communities were originally constructed.  In fact, the requirements today are quite different than they were even one year ago.

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Why Preserve History?

The world around us is advancing at mind-boggling speeds.  No sooner have we developed cutting edge technology or equipment, they are rendered obsolete by the next generation of improvements.  Even my kids will tell you that if you have an iPhone4, you’re old news because the iPhone5 has been out for seven months already, with the iPhone6 rumored to be out in June of next year.  The same rapid pace of change can be seen in engineering, science, medicine, architecture, construction and many other disciplines that impact our daily lives.  The message that is being delivered is that we either change with the times, or be left behind.  So then, why should we concern ourselves with the past and the concept of historic preservation? 

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Affordable Housing & Open Space

We have, throughout history, faced challenges of meeting new or increased demands of ourselves, our communities, our country, even our planet.  Often these challenges are accompanied by a sense of urgency, or crisis, or hope for improved prosperity. The successful solutions seem to be those that preserve the delicate balance of the natural order of things.

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Energy Efficient Practices in Building Design, Construction and Operation

The topic of energy efficiency has been studied, discussed and written about in newspapers and magazines for decades and much of the technology that exists today was developed years ago as well. But, aside from the energy crisis of the 1970’s, we have never really been pressed to consider energy efficiency as necessary criteria for improving our physical and financial well being as much as we are today.

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Green Roofs Offer A Healthier Option

The environmental and health problems commonly associated with air pollution, noise pollution, storm water runoff, and groundwater pollution are often experienced with greater frequency and greater intensity in urban and more densely populated areas. The vast areas of paved streets, concrete sidewalks and acres of (usually black) rooftops in most cities act as a giant heat sink and create what is referred to as a “heat island effect” which can account for temperatures in urban areas being as much as 10ºF higher than in surrounding suburban and undeveloped areas. The resulting microclimates lead to increased cooling loads in the summer, requiring larger HVAC equipment and electrical demand which creates more greenhouse gas, pollution and energy consumption. In any community that is trying to address the dangers posed by one or more of these issues, the solution, in part, may be as close as the roof over our heads. That is, if it’s a green roof.

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Can We Afford Not To?

All too often I hear people claim that building green costs too much. They would like to build green, but it’s just not within their budget. While there are many green building products and technologies that, indeed, are more costly than other conventional or traditional options, a few environmentally conscious architects and builders will be able to show you that green design and building need not cost more than conventional practices and some green features may actually cost less.

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Materials Re-use & Materials Conservation

o quote from William McDonough’s book Remaking the Way We Make Things – Cradle to Cradle, “the best way to reduce any environmental impact is not to recycle more, but to produce and dispose of less”. The design and construction industry provides, perhaps the greatest opportunity to affect the environment by following this sound advice. Architects, engineers, builders, developers, facility managers and property owners have a choice when it comes to how a building project is to be designed, constructed, and operated and whether each of these processes will utilize materials and resources wisely, or not.

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Water Conservation & Efficiency

Water. It is the essence of all life. It comprises two thirds of our bodies. Without it, we can survive for only a few days. Yet, when we think about green design and green buildings, we commonly envision images of solar panels, wind turbines and other energy related technologies. While there is no disputing the fact that excessive energy consumption is at the core of global environmental issues, a large and growing number of experts contend that the greatest environmental challenge of the 21st century will not be energy use and production. It will be focused on the far more critical problem of inadequate water supplies.

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What It Means To Be Green

We have been hearing more and more about the need or the desire to “be green”. Individuals as well as public, private and municipal organizations are seeking out ways to make their homes, their businesses, and their facilities “greener”. What does that really mean? At a minimum, being green involves designing, constructing and operating buildings in ways that meet specified standards to reduce the negative impact of those buildings on occupants and on the environment. 

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Improving Indoor Environmental Quality

In the past, the quality of the air within our homes and workplaces has never really been questioned as a major factor that could adversely affect our well-being. In fact, most new buildings were presumed to be essentially free from the dirt and contaminants that we typically think of as polluting our air. But, sometimes it’s the things that we do not know, cannot see, or cannot smell, that can harm us.

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Greenhouse Gases, Architecture & Climate Change

Greenhouse gasses (GHGs) are chemical compounds that are found in the Earth’s atmosphere. They allow sunlight to freely enter the atmosphere and contact the Earth’s surface. Some of this sunlight is reflected back toward space in the form of infrared radiation, or heat. The ability of GHGs to absorb some of this infrared radiation and trap heat in the atmosphere has enabled the temperature of the Earth’s surface to remain relatively constant. While many of these gases are naturally occurring, others, such as those used for aerosols, are man-made. Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are regulated by natural processes such as photosynthesis. However, historical data has shown that there has been a 25% increase in the levels of several of these GHGs from pre-industrial levels roughly 150 years ago. The current (and growing) imbalance between the levels of emission and absorption of carbon dioxide is resulting in continued growth of GHGs in the atmosphere. A 2001 study from the National Research Council stated that as a result of an accumulation of GHG in the atmosphere, surface air temperatures and sub-surface ocean temperatures are, in fact, rising.

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Sustainable Sites

While there is much that could be written about how to design and construct green buildings, this article will take a step back in the timeline of a typical project and look at how the value of green architecture can be dramatically enhanced, and actually begins, with an understanding of how to identify, create and maintain sustainable sites upon which we choose to build.

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