A Gathering of Experts Blog sat down for a conversation with Peter F. Spittler of Forum Architects today. Peter F. Spittler is an architect and designer with a considerable track record in energy conservation, green-building and sustainable designs.
Gathering of Experts: Welcome, Peter F. Spittler, thanks for taking some time with us today.
Peter F. Spittler: Certainly, glad to be of help.
Gathering of Experts: To begin, how would you respond to someone who said building construction or refits to energy-conservation specs can be expensive?
Peter F. Spittler: That’s a pretty common misconception. Yes, there are things that can cost more money on the front end, but that money is more than made up for over the years, in terms of energy savings and ROI. Also, many building product and system manufacturers have caught up to the Green movement and today product and systems are more available and less costly.
Gathering of Experts: I’ve heard a lot about LEED. What exactly is LEED?
Peter F. Spittler: LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Gathering of Experts: What does LEED do?
Peter F. Spittler: LEED sets best-practice guidelines and benchmarks in place for energy-efficient building designs. LEED is a third-party, market-driven system, and awards certifications to building designs that meet their marks.
Gathering of Experts: Aren’t there incentives available for LEED compliance?
Peter F. Spittler: Yes, the federal government extends incentives for builders who meet LEED benchmarks. The deal can be sweetened further with incentives from state and local governments.
Gathering of Experts: What other sorts of misconceptions have you come across in green building?
Peter F. Spittler: One of the most prevalent ones is the idea that all solutions are high-tech! Things like skylights to let in more natural lighting, reflective white roofing material that doesn’t absorb heat, or shade trees to protect buildings during the hottest part of the day…those are all great green building ideas that make a real difference.
Gathering of Experts: Those actually sound like fairly old-fashioned ideas…
Peter F. Spittler: They are. Some of those designs were incorporated into buildings hundreds of years ago, and we lost sight of them.
Gathering of Experts: Is LEED certification mainly for new construction?
Peter F. Spittler: No, we’ve done plenty of refits of old buildings to bring them into compliance.
Gathering of Experts: Such as?
Peter F. Spittler: The building for the Chronicle-Telegram in Elyria, Ohio is a great example. That building is upwards of 70 years old, and we managed to do a complete overhaul that made it much more energy-efficient without sacrificing the building’s heritage and character.
Gathering of Experts: That’s a great idea!
Peter F. Spittler: Yes, the owners of the paper felt a commitment to their community and didn’t want to leave an abandoned building in the middle of town, so it worked well for all involved.
Gathering of Experts: Thanks for taking some time with us today.
Peter F. Spittler: Absolutely. Glad to do it.