Archive for September, 2010

This “Green Building” is Making Me Sick!

If you live or work in a LEED-certified building, how should you feel? Good? Would you expect to feel no different than if you worked in a ‘normal’ building? Believe it or not, you may feel worse.  Mixed reviews are starting to surface regarding the effect that living or working in a LEED-certified building will have on human health.

A Michigan State University study published on July 15 of this year boldly declared that people who work in LEED-certified buildings are less likely to be sick, are more productive, and feel less stress than those who work in buildings which are not LEED-certified.  (Singh, Grady, et. al, “Effects of Green Buildings on Health and Productivity,” http://news.msu.edu/media/documents/2010/08/840514e8-0b32-4aa4-9fc8-276b688dfed4.pdf).  Surprisingly to us, this study relied on self-reporting of those people who had moved from a non-LEED-certified building for information as to their health, or perceived health, rather than strict scientific study.

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A Sustainable Motivation to Go Green

The owners of the Empire State Building are investing $20 million in an effort to reduce the building’s energy use by 38 percent.  All of the landmark’s 6,514 windows are being remanufactured, on site, to be reused as energy efficient replacements on the 79 year-old structure.  All in all, this retrofit of an American icon is easily the most visible effort to “go green” in present memory.  Darius Dixon, How to Get Prompt Payback From an Aging Icon That Guzzles Energy.

Amazingly, the Empire State Building consumes as much electricity as 40,000 single family homes each day.  Given the number of high rise office buildings in New York City, and the estimation that 85% of its current buildings will be standing in 25 years, there is plenty of reason to focus on retrofits.  And New York City is not alone in that respect – I would venture to guess that a substantial number of existing buildings in most major cities and a lot of smaller cities will be standing for many years to come.

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