Durability + Design
Follow us on Twitter Follow us on LinkedIn Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram Visit the TPC Store
Search the site

 

DURABILITY + DESIGN BLOG

Comment |

Assessing ‘arc’: Is it a Win?

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2016

By Robert J. Kobet, AIA


More items for Good Technical Practice

Before I get into the discussion of the U.S. Green Building Council’s new technology spinoff organization called “arc,” I must provide you with some background.

I have been with the USGBC from its early years. I was one of the first 12 LEED faculty members; chair of the LEED for Schools initiative; author and co-author of several LEED related workshops; a course reviewer; and presenter at countless workshops and lectures. I also represented the USGBC in assisting ASHRAE in writing its "50% Energy Reduction in Schools Guidelines."

building metrics
© iStock.com / Maxiphoto

A successful data driven approach to high performance green building development would be ideal, but buildings are complex.

I’ve been a LEED consultant or participant in more than 100 projects on several continents, and have had a front row seat to the evolution of the organization. This includes the emergence of the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), several other green building rating systems, numerous political machinations and restructuring. I’ve observed firsthand how the USGBC has dealt with its competition, critics and those with differing visions of what it is and where it should be going.

As a green building practitioner, I have experienced the satisfaction of several LEED certifications, the growth of the green school movement—which I still participate in—and the life enriching experiences of working internationally with stakeholders whose green building values resonate with my own.

Responding to Critics

Along the way, especially in the early days of the USGBC, I expended a lot of time and energy defending the USGBC, responding to critics who voiced a chorus of doubt, cynicism and criticism of the green building movement in general, and the USGBC in particular. Much of the nay saying was based on a combination of the following sentiments: “LEED is too expensive, it’s not worth it, and many LEED certified buildings aren’t working as intended.”

The USGBC’s propensity for launching what seems like a continuous stream of new rating systems (LEED for Cities?), different versions of LEED, associated addenda and fee increases, inconsistent reviews and long wait times for credit interpretations reinforced a lot of what I was hearing; my projects were subject to much of it. LEED training became the purvey of mega-providers, fueling criticism of the USGBC as a not-for-profit organization. Through all of this, the questions of whether or not LEED buildings were actually working, and whether there might be other, more suitable rating system approaches remained.

Ardent supporters of the green building movement have gone so far as to say, “If the building does not perform as anticipated, including energy modeling predictions, perhaps LEED certification should be withheld or reduced.”

In response, the requirement to share energy and water consumption as a prerequisite for LEED for Existing Buildings, Operation and Maintenance (EBOM) was developed, in part, to address the desire of many stakeholders to make LEED more performance based and, over time, more reliable projects once the lessons learned were disseminated.

Plaque Before the Arc

More recently, the development of the LEED Dynamic Plaque as a tool for collecting data opened the door for a more transparent disclosure of building systems and human performance. Like LEED itself, the Dynamic Plaque has played to mixed reviews. It is available only to buildings that are already certified.

The LEED Dynamic Plaque is built on a platform that combines LEED Online, where project teams document credit achievement; the LEEDon platform, where both LEED and non-LEED buildings can provide building data and receive performance scores; and the Green Building Information Gateway (GBIG), an online database containing data and information for over 270,000 buildings worldwide.

Arc
USGBC

Arc's online platform is intended to allow all building projects to participate and immediately start measuring performance across any rating system or standard, make improvements and benchmark against the industry.

Scot Horst, who was central to the development of the Dynamic Plaque, has suggested consumers see it as Version 1.0, implying it will evolve as needed. But market uptake of the Dynamic Plaque has been slow.

Enter arc, which, according to Horst, the incoming CEO of the new organization, “is a continuation and a natural outgrowth of the LEED Dynamic Plaque [which] is not going away. The only change is the name and how it will integrate with other systems in the future.

It is described as a “state of the art platform that will allow any building to participate and immediately start measuring performance, make improvements and benchmark against itself,” the USGBC notes in a press release on the program.

“The goal is to make data gathering easier and as a result, to make greening the building industry more accessible—not just for the top 25 percent of buildings originally targeted with LEED,” according to Greenbiz.com.

My Questions

A successful data driven approach to high performance green building development would be ideal. But buildings are complex, and it remains to be seen if a data acquisition tool significantly impacts the ongoing management and operation of green buildings. As global sustainable development leader William McDonough stated, “Design is the first indication of human intent,” and I would like to believe we all have good intentions. 

But I’ve got reservations about arc. Arc is a for-profit construct designed to assist not for profit organizations. In my experience, for profit ventures are subject to a vulnerable confluence of what the intentions are, who benefits and to what extent.

Jerry Yudelson, an author and outspoken critic of the USGBC and LEED, says of arc, “What I would like to see from this new organization Arc is an indication of industry partners who are prepared to use the system and to pay for its development, upkeep and marketing. Otherwise, it sounds like another costly failure in the making like the LEED Dynamic Plaque.”

In my working retirement I will be more of a spectator than user of arc. I wonder what its relationship with other green building rating systems, such as BREEAM and the Living Building Challenge, will be. Most important, I wonder if it will be able to present arguments capable of influencing our design intent.

As a global citizen, I simply want what’s best for the planet. If data driven green building initiatives can accomplish that, I say “arc on!”

ABOUT THE BLOGGER

Robert J. Kobet, AIA

Robert J. Kobet has worked with clients on five continents for more than 35 years to create innovative places to live, work and learn. As an architect, educator, speaker, former chair of LEED for Schools, primary author of LEED for General Contractors and Construction Managers, and president and CEO of The Kobet Collaborative, Bob is working to make his vision for a green building era a reality. Leaning Green explores that reality. Contact Bob.

SEE ALL CONTENT FROM THIS CONTRIUBTOR

   

Tagged categories: Carbon footprint; Computer generated modeling; Energy codes; Green building; Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI); Green coatings; Green design; High-performance coatings; Information technology; LEED; Online tools; Performance testing

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

Advertisements
 
Garland Company
 
Architectural Wall Coating Damproofs and Beautifies
 
Tuff-Coat™ multi-functional coating bridges hairline cracks, hides stains and discoloration, and reduces wall temperature, increasing the wall's life cycle.
 

 
Shield Industries, Inc
 
FireGuard® E-84 Intumescent Coating - Shield Industries, Inc
 
Trust the certified protection of the industry’s most innovative intumescent coating FireGuard® E-84 to provide you with the 1 and 2 hour fire ratings you need.
 

 
Atlas Material Testing Technology
 
Helping You Put Your Products To The Test
 
  • Outdoor Accelerated Weathering
  • Laboratory Testing Services
  • Accelerated Weathering Instruments

  • www.atlas-mts.com
    atlas.info@ametek.com
 

 
EMME Controls
 
EMME (Energy Management Made Easy)
 
• Achieve a zone in every room for 1/2 the cost
• Save up to 40% in energy consumption
• Works in any size building
• Can be installed in as little as a few days without remodeling
• Comfort results guaranteed in writing
 

 
Keim Mineral Coatings
 
Mineral Silicate Paints + Stains Fuse to Concrete
 
• Forms permanent chemical bonds
• Becomes part of the concrete
• Will never peel
• Looks completely natural
 

 
Novatek Corporation
 
Novatek Portable Air Filtration Systems
 
Air Scrubbers/Negative Air machines for restoration, abatement, dust & odor control, hazardous contaminant removal from job sites to clean rooms and hospitals. Portable, affordable!
 

 
 
 

Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL webmaster@durabilityanddesign.com


The Technology Publishing Network

Durability + Design PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

 

© Copyright 2012-2018, Technology Publishing Co., All rights reserved