• Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

Title

SCUP-43 Tuesday 11:30 am

The second session this morning was more specialized, and so the information gained is less broadly applicable, than the others I've attended. It focused on the project to create the first LEED-certified baseball park in the United States, a mixed-use facility shared by Penn State and the local single-A team.

July 22, 2008
 
 

The second session this morning was more specialized, and so the information gained is less broadly applicable, than the others I've attended. It focused on the project to create the first LEED-certified baseball park in the United States, a mixed-use facility shared by Penn State and the local single-A team.

The primary emphasis of the presentation was really on basic project management where time is a critical consideration. Accelerated tasking, overlapping phases, scope and budgetary approvals and reapprovals at appropriate junctures, maximized communication and transparency. All good stuff, but not particularly sustainability related.

Where sustainability came in was the specific mix of LEED criteria that the project was able to fulfill. As a primarily outdoor facility, things like HVAC -- often a key set of technologies for traditional LEED-certified buildings -- were pretty much irrelevant. Instead, considerations like water reuse and conservation, recycling and local sourcing of construction materials, minimal disturbance of the construction site, shared parking and alternative transportation came to the fore.

Two things that jumped out at me -- the fact that this was a shared-use facility, and a comment that the presenter (an engagement manager from an architectural firm) made in response to a question.

As a shared use facility, this ballpark has significant sustainability advantages. You can look at it in terms of increased facility usage, and the advantages can seem pretty minor. But if you look at it in terms of the fact that the alternative was construction of a completely separate ballpark for the minor league team, eliminating that set of emissions and other impacts is a major advantage, environmentally.

What came out during questioning was equally significant. The presenter made the comment that "LEED is becoming as pervasive as ADA" in the thinking of the architectural community. Given that ADA compliance is a federal mandate for most educational buildings, that's pretty pervasive. From a sustainability perspective, it's also pretty encouraging.

On the broader front, I've been looking at Montreal in comparison to Greenback's environs, on the basis of sustainability. Some observations:

  • Montreal isn't an order of magnitude larger, but has an order of magnitude better public transit. Not truly exceptional -- for that, you have to go to Europe or Asia, in my experience -- but very good. Automotive traffic is fairly light for a city of this size.
  • Related to the issue of public transit is the question of walkability and, by extension, bike-ability. Montreal is very both. (All right, it could be flatter, but the number of bicyclists on the streets is still impressive. So's the relative lack of conflict between bicyclists and automotive traffic.)
  • Retail seems to consist largely of smaller, locally owned stores and shops. Lots of narrow storefronts. Lots of second-level restaurants and lower-rent retail. Lots of sidewalk cafes and bistros, which increase the sense of local identity.
  • Cars tend to be smaller. So do the people. Not necessarily shorter, but less -- shall we say -- voluminous. Maybe it's the walkability thing.
  • Housing tends to be smaller, too. More apartments and condos than many US cities. Narrower lots and smaller blocks. Comfortable facilities, but not the level of over-housing that's typical at home. (This may just be a matter of time, though. On the outskirts of the city, I drove past a lot of Gallic-flavored McMansions under construction.)
  • The only real sustainability negative seems to be the percentage of the population who smoke. Not so many as in China, but lots more than I'm used to. Oh well, no place is perfect.

And so to lunch.

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