The success of LEED?

The USGBC program was designed to transform the market to encourage greater sustainability. Success sometimes has unintended consequences, as noted in this blog post by Rob Cassidy,& Construction: Rob Cassidy, editor of Building Design interpreting data gathered by Turner Construction:

Following the LEED

Suppose you want to determine how LEED, the green building rating system, effects marketing opportunities for your product. This used to be fairly simple to determine, as there was just one version of LEED and you could quickly scan the list prerequisites and credits to see which related to your product.

It is a bit more complicated now:
  • There are Multiple Versions of LEED for different types of projects, including New Construction, Existing Buildings, Core and Shell, Schools, etc. Many of these versions have the same or similar credits, but there are differences that have to be understood.
  • Then you get to look at the Pilot Credits, credits that can be incorporated on a trial basis into projects so USGBC can test new ideas. This list is updated frequently.
  • Regional Priorities give extra credit to some LEED credits for addressing especially sensitive regional concerns. This would be useful to plan regional sales efforts, but the data has to be teased out Zip Code by Zip Code.
  • And there are Credit Interpretation Reports, responses to questions by LEED users that can expand upon or change the scope of a credit.
  • (Don't forget to check the Errata.)
If you have a question about LEED, don't bother calling USGBC. Their "customer service" people are totally unfamiliar with LEED. When I finally got a phone number for the corporate office, the switchboard there immediately connected me back to customer service.
To where does all this LEED? (Pardon the pun.)

If you have difficulty understanding LEED, don't worry; in less than a year the next edition of LEED will be issued, and you can begin your LEED attempt to understand the system all over again.

Illustration from Daily Journal of Commerce.

LEED revision postponed to 2013

With environmental criteria driving selection of many building products, manufacturers have to stay aware of revisions to the US Green Building Council's LEED program. A major revision was due for publication this year, but has been postponed 2013 to allow more public comment.

According to USGBC:
LEED 2012 was envisioned as a significant step that would raise the bar on performance. During public comment, we heard repeatedly that our community need more time to absorb the changes we’re proposing and to get their businesses ready to take the step. Most importantly, they want more visibility into the infrastructural improvements — forms, documentation, education and LEED Online – to inform their internal adoption strategies.

Therefore we’ve decided to delay ballot on LEED until June 2013. We see this ballot date change as an opportunity to begin to refer to this next version as LEED v4.

We’re also committing to a fifth public comment, and it will open on October 2, 2012, and run thru December 10, 2012. At Greenbuild in November, we will hold public forums and educational sessions. (source, edited for brevity.)
BOTTOM LINE: Take advantage of this delay to:
  1. Participate in comment process to position your product.
  2. Educate your staff.
  3. Align your products with new credit opportunities. And,
  4. Prepare new marketing materials.
Contact Chusid Associates for additional information and assistance.

Green Certifications Continue to Grow

The General Services Administration (GSA) released its review of the Green Building Certification Systems. Three certification systems passed GSA screening criteria: Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes, U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and the International Living Building Challenge.

Five years ago, only LEED passed the screening process. In its most recent review, GSA determined Green Globes best advanced federal policies in new buildings and recommended LEED for existing buildings. (From Environmental Building & Design)
Marketing the sustainability of your building products keeps getting more complicated. A few years ago, it was sufficient for many manufacturers to identify how their products contributed to LEED credits. Now, there are multiple LEED programs and each of them have an increased number of possible credits.

As indicated above, one now has to as understand Green Globes and the Living Building Challenge to pursue Government work. And this is on top of the new International Green Construction CodeISO 14000 certifications, and a multitude of product certification programs.

Perhaps they green certification programs are like the natural systems they strive to protect; they keep growing. Sometimes it feels like you need a weed whacker to blaze a path through them. But if you account for them in your strategic plan and marketing strategy, green certification programs can also act as fertilizer to support the growth of your business.

LEED 2012 Review Period

Michael recently drew your attention to the LEED Pilot Credit Library. It is full of interesting new credits to which your product may contribute. Now that the comment period for LEED 2012 is nearly over, it is time to see which of these creative new credits will be elbowing out your old favorites. You may be pleasantly - or unpleasantly - surprised.

The conversion that shocked me most was the transformation of several Materials and Resources credits into a new "Material Life Cycle Disclosure and Assessment" credit. If you're accustomed to declaring your product's recycled content, you may need to make some changes to how you source that content. Recycled content will be required to come from manufacturers with closed-loop systems. That is, you, the manufacturer, need to accept your own products or similar products back into the manufacturing stream for recycling. Some carpet manufacturers have reclamation programs in place, but it may be a challenge for other manufacturers to contribute to this credit.

The good news is that all kinds of disclosure and life cycle assessment (LCA) credit opportunities are part of the"Material Life Cycle Disclosure and Assessment" credit. If you know where your materials originate and what they contain, and you are willing to disclose that information, you may be able to open this credit back up for your company.

Some credits substantially change: two are the "Rapidly Renewable Materials" and "Certified Wood" credits. Both are now part of "Responsible Extraction of Raw Materials." See BuildingGreen's analysis of how FSC certified wood is rewarded in LEED 2012. "Regional Materials" is replaced by "Support Local Economy".

I urge you to see for yourself what advantages and disadvantages the new LEED rating systems hold for your company. By all means, comment on the changes, as they are not yet set in stone. Contact us for help with your sourcing, production and marketing strategies for LEED 2012.

LEED Pilot Credits create Marketing Opportunities

In addition to the many credits already adopted into LEED, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) also has "pilot credits" that have temporary approval while being investigated and refined. Many of these pilot credits create marketing opportunities for building product manufacturers.

For example, pilot credits may increase demand for your product or make it more competitive on projects going for LEED certification.

The pilot credits are less well known than regular LEED credits, and are subject to more frequent revisions. By staying on top of new credits, you can be of service to your customers by bringing new credits or modifications to their attention.

USGBC also seeks input into the review of pilot credits, providing you a chance to influence the formalization of standards that affect your competitive situation.

Here is a list of some of the current pilot credits; scan it to see which might apply to your products:

Pilot Credit 3: Medical and Process Equipment Efficiency
Pilot Credit 55: SS - Bird Collision Deterrence
Pilot Credit 56: EA - Renewable Energy-Distributed Generation
Pilot Credit 57: EQ - Exterior Noise Control

Pilot Credit 14: LT - Walkable Project Site

Pilot Credit 7: SS - Light Pollution Reduction
Pilot Credit 16: SS - Rainwater Management
Pilot Credit 45: SS - Site Assessment
Pilot Credit 64: SS - Site Improvement Plan

Pilot Credit 10: WE - Sustainable Wastewater Management
Pilot Credit 17: WE - Cooling Tower Makeup Water
Pilot Credit 18: WE - Appliance and Process Water Use Reduction

Pilot Credit 8: EA - Demand Response
Pilot Credit 27: EA - Reconcile Designed and Actual Energy Performance
Pilot Credit 65: EA - Monitoring Based Commissioning - new!
Pilot Credit 66: EA - Community  Contaminant Prevention - Airborne Releases - new!

Pilot Credit 52: MR - Material Multi-Attribute Assessment
Pilot Credit 53: MR - Responsible Sourcing of Raw Materials
Pilot Credit 54: MR - Avoidance of Chemicals of Concern
Pilot Credit 61: MR - Material Disclosure and Assessment
Pilot Credit 62: MR - Disclosure of Chemicals of Concern
Pilot Credit 63: MR - Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment

Pilot Credit 21: EQ - Low Emitting Interiors
Pilot Credit 22: EQ - Quality Interior Lighting - Lighting Quality Only
Pilot Credit 24: EQ - Acoustics
Pilot Credit 44: EQ - Ergonomics Strategy
Pilot Credit 59: EQ - Occupant Engagement  
ilot Credit 60: ID - Integrative Process
Contact Chusid Associates to discuss how these credits can work in your favor.

Is Sustainability Hazardous?

Recent studies have turned up a correlation between construction aimed at LEED certification and worker's injuries.  In an article in Engineering News Record Mountain States, Katie Frasier describes a pair of studies that found an increased number of injuries associated with certain construction activities often performed on LEED projects.

Some of the reported hazards included "perceived increased risks" of falls from roofs while installing photo-voltaic (PV) solar panels; falls due to installing or working on high reflectance white roofing materials; falls from installing skylights and atriums to meet daylighting requirements; and increased cuts, abrasions and lacerations from handling construction waste - specifically, from dumpster-diving to retrieve mistakenly-trashed recyclable materials.

When the initial study revealed the basic correlation between LEED certification in increased injuries, they did a follow-up study to identify specific risks and uncover the nature of the risk.  The study offers a list of risks, and recommends possible mitigations (quoted extensively in the article).  Many of the suggestions seem very sensible, but not necessarily obvious: they really needed to be pointed out.

This list of risks and mitigations - to my eye - also suggests that some of the increase is due to construction crews not yet being experienced at handling materials and working in the situations they encounter installing skylights and heavy PV panels.

 In that regard, manufacturers can help.  Makers of materials associated with these increased risks may well consider adding to their packaging precautions and safety suggestions based on this study (and others like it that are sure to follow).    Manufacturers might even consider doing some studies of their own, aimed at increasing workers' ability to install their products safely.

LEED 2012 Comment Period Opens Thursday March 1

LEED 2012 is in the final stages of development.  The third draft is being opened for public comment starting Thursday, March 1 through March 20.  If you want to comment, you must be a USGBC member in good standing as of March 1.

According to the LEED 2012 Development page, "This third draft of the rating system is focused on providing a simple-to-use, technically advanced and more robust system. Once the comment period process concludes, LEED 2012 will be balloted this June and launch in November. "

If you want to have your say in the shaping of this highly influential sustainability certification system,  now is the time.  If you're not a member in good standing, you'll need to join or re-up by March 1 if you intend to comment.

Green Advantage: Coming to a Job Site Near You

Green Advantage (GA) is filling one of the missing links in sustainable construction. No matter how carefully a project is designed, environmental goals may be compromised if construction crews do not understand principles of sustainability nor how to best manage a jobsite to protect the environment.

To meet this challenge, Green Advantage offers a personnel certification program by which a builder can demonstrate competency in these areas. Chusid Associates is providing marketing and technical support to the organization.

While the Green Advantage program has been gaining adherents since its launch in 1998, I believe it will soon gain critical mass and become part of the construction mainstream. One reason for this optimism is that USGBC has determined that a LEED Innovation Credit can be earned if 30 percent of a project's field supervisory personnel are Green Advantage Certified Practitioners. The Green Advantage Field Personnel Standard can also be embraced by building owners, designers, and contractors that are not pursuing LEED certification.

There are several ways by which building product manufacturers can take advantage of the Green Advantage program:
  • Employees that go onto jobsites can become GA Certified Practitioners. This credential will enhance their professional stature and help establish their credibility.
  • Having GA certified employees reinforces your brand's commitment to sustainable construction.
  • GA certification can also be a criterion in the award of subcontracts since the 30 percent standard also applies to subcontractor personnel that provide services on the jobsite.
Consider getting GA certification for all members of your field crew. Liz Boastfield, Director of Communications at Green Advantage, can help you arrange for training and testing for your organization. Call her at +1 540 822 9449 x105 or email liz@GreenAdvantage.org.

Finally, Green Advantage is a non-profit organization and needs corporate financial support to supplement its income from certifications. Support of the organization can provide PR and other benefits to your company. I encourage you to contact Liz to discuss this opportunity.

BEES Sustainability Database Moves Online, Offers Limited Time Discount on Listing

The BEES (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability) database developed by the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) is a tool for life cycle analysis for building products.  It is now available as a nifty new online tool at http://www.nist.gov/el/economics/BEESSoftware.cfm. It allows the user to research a vast array of sustainability data on a wide variety of building products. Economic performance and environmental performance are both evaluated, and graphed as simple snapshot. The underlying numbers are all available too, including data on the presence of a huge array of chemical compounds, toxins, metals, and greenhouse gasses; energy usage in various categories; and more.  Even better, multiple products can be compared.

BEES is not simply a bunch of information.  It is software that draws info from its product database and does useful calculations that can be tailored to a specific project. On entering the system, the user can select products by the part of the building in which they are used.  Evaluation can be straight, or weighted according to a set of 12 impact criteria: Global Warming, Acidification, Eutrophication, Fossil Fuel Depletion, Indoor Air Quality, Habitat Alteration, Water Intake, Criteria Air Pollutants, Smog, Ecological Toxicity, Ozone Depletion, and Human Health.  There are several preset weightings to choose from, or the user can define the weighting.

Moving BEES online makes it operating system independent. (Previously, it was downloadable software that only ran on Windows OS.)  This means that you can access it with common web browsers on your computer.  Yes, you can even access it on your iPhone, although I wouldn’t recommend that for your first adventure into the system; some of the display on iOS Safari is a little buggy, and it helps to know where to expect information to appear.
Products in the database include a mix of generic and proprietary products, but the proprietary list tends to be limited. One of the advantages of having BEES live online is that NIST can now add new products easily.

Manufacturers can submit their products to the database, which has two kinds of value.  It will the improve usefulness of BEES, and it may give participating manufacturers an edge in getting specified on projects where sustainability calculations (LEED or otherwise) are factor in choosing products.

To participate, contact Anne Landfield Greig, Four Elements, LLC, the BEES Certified LCA Practitioner who works directly with the BEES project.  She will walk you through the process:

   Anne Landfield Greig
   Principal, Four Elements Consulting, LLC
   Seattle, WA
   w +1 206.935.4600
   m +1 240.426.1098

According to the BEES team, "A typical building product manufacturer should anticipate a cost of about $8,000 for the first product and $4,000 for each additional product with similar processing steps. These prices are well below the cost of validating, completing, and incorporating your data set into BEES Online, and represent a limited-time offer that is guaranteed only while funds are available. Manufacturers can expect a questionnaire seeking data from the following departments:

      Accounting - quantity of materials purchased
      Production Control - quantity of output
      Facilities - energy use
      Environmental - waste and releases."

GreenWizard - Free Directory Listing

"GreenWizard is the only data-driven marketing solution that brings green building products and green building materials face to face with decision makers in the design and construction community actively engaged in projects."
The basic functionality of GreenWizard is to allow a designer or builder to search for a product by potential LEED credits associated with the product. As an online marketing channel, it provides FREE listings for building product manufacturers. The price is right, and I recommend you take advantage of the offer.
They also have a Pro version that offers more features that may appeal to some manufacturers. For example, once a contractor finds a product that meets the LEED requirements, the contractor can place an order for the material from within GreenWizard. The fee for this service is two percent of the sales price. This makes the website a cost effective "sales rep" for products that can be purchased off-the-shelf.

Like most new products, GreenWizard is still trying to work out kinks in its system. My associate, Vivian Volz, RA CCS LEED-AP reports that the firm was responsive when she called to report a concern.

Contact Michael Chusid if you would like help discussing how to use GreenWizard in your business. Call 818-774-0003 or email michael@chusid.com.

Fed Ups Building Requirements to LEED Gold

From ENR:
The nation’s biggest landlord, the U.S. General Services Administration, is requiring LEED Gold certification as a minimum in all new federal building construction and substantial renovation projects. GSA is updating its facilities standards by the end of the year to enable the projects to meet the LEED Gold requirement...
This is clearly good news for manufacturers targeting government construction, but I'm more excited about the larger message: our expectations for sustainable design are increasing. Green building has been a big enough topic for long enough that it could be suffering from idea fatigue, but instead people seem to have internalized the message; "sustainable" is now the baseline.

Comments Wanted for New Building Standards

ACI and USGBC both have drafts of their new standards available, and are looking for public comment now through mid-January.

  • The US Green Building Council is taking comments through Jan. 14 for the draft update to the LEED green-building rating system.
  • The American Concrete Institute is taking comments through Jan. 17 on the 2011 update of ACI 318, Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete and Commentary.


USGBC: Do Not Use "GA" for LEED Green Associate

According to an email from the USGBC Education Provider Network today:
On October 1st, 2010 All USGBC Education Providers must permanently cease to use the term “GA” when referencing USGBC’s LEED Green Associate exam and/or credential in any printed manner or official reference to the exam or credential. The correct terminology is “LEED Green Associate exam” and “LEED Green Associate credential.” These names may not be shortened to “GA,” as this moniker is trademarked by Green Advantage, Inc. [Emphasis added]
I suspect we might see a name change for this credential, as "LEED Green Associate Credential" is quite a mouthful and doesn't fit well on a business card. For now, though, if anyone on your team has or is pursuing this credential, check all your literature, websites, LinkedIn profiles, etc. to be sure you are using the correct terminology.

This is also a good reminder to always be very diligent in your research when naming new products or companies, or developing new corporate language. It is not fun to invest all the time and effort in launching a new name only to have it benefit another company, plus convincing the customers that just adopted the new term to change again. This happened to us last year when we discovered the name we had been using for 25 years for our popular and highly-recognized sales training program had been trademarked by another company 27 years ago.

Do the research up front; save yourself the headache later.

QR News: Surveys, Real Estate, & Certification Programs

QR codes have arrived. While they are still gaining mass recognition and acceptance, they are now used in enough places and creative applications that they will be a "must-use" technology within the next few years. Having opened my eyes to them, I see them everywhere; in the grocery store, on my mail, on billboards, and in industry magazines. Here's two sightings of innovative QR programs:


TwitterMoms QR Code Seal of Approval

The TwitterMoms Seal of Approval is a social media-based guerrilla version of Consumer Reports; 25+ moms evaluate the product, and post their reviews. It uses the high perceived trustworthiness of peer review and word-of-mouth to create a program untainted by "pay-to-play" certifications or "sterile lab conditions" instead of real-world testing.

Sound like something that could exist in the construction world?

The seal now
uses a QR code to link to online information and reviews. As Roger at 2D Codes puts it:
The TwitterMoms Seal of Approval...is using a QR Code to enable users to scan and read detailed ratings and feedback from the TwitterMoms review process. Enabling the reading of comprehensive product reviews at the point of sale combined with the wisdom of the TwitterMoms crowd just has to be good news for consumers.
Again, the value of a program like this in the construction industry would be incredible. Most architects don't think point-of-purchase, but contractors do. And having one-click access on phone or laptop to safety instructions, installation videos, warranty info, and much more would be a huge benefit to them. And architects would still benefit from the reviews, especially those from other architects that have used the product and can give insights the product literature does not. Combined with an online spec writing program, this could become a one-click "Scan here to specify!" Linking the QR code to LEED calculators, GreenFormat listings, or other online databases also fulfills the "Rule Three" criteria of making the content valuable to the user at the moment they scan it. 

QR Code Survey System

Recommendi links QR codes to customer surveys, creating an opportunity for on-the-spot feedback. Their gallery showcases uses in restaurants, posters in store windows, and on invoices and receipts. I am constantly getting receipts at restaurants and stores asking me to call or visit their webpage to take a brief survey; the ones that don't go straight in the trash get used as bookmarks. But using the QR code makes it easier for me to respond in the moment, and more likely that I'll actually take the time.
Where would you want instant feedback from your customer? On the sales literature your rep leaves behind? In your trade show booth? On the customized technical drawings you just sent them? How about user surveys from building occupants, "Scan here to tell us what you think of our lighting!"

Transforming Static "For Sale" Signs

Clikbrix uses QR codes on "For Sale" signs outside properties to link to online information. From their website:
Imagine a house hunter spotting a Clikbrix QR Code on your ‘For Sale’ sign, agency window or any of your printed, promotional materials... from bus shelters to business cards. She simply opens the QR Code reader on her...mobile device...then points and scans to instantly connect to your Mobile-friendly Professional Profile webpage, paired with robust details of the relative property including stunning photos—she also gets the inside story on the neighborhood, from the best schools to hot restaurants, shops and more. The prospective buyer loves what she sees and is delighted she can e-mail the detailed Property Listing page to her friends; she even shares it on Facebook and Twitter.
Point-and-scan access to information about your company on a jobsite sign? That sure sounds valuable, especially when it can be paired with information about how your product is being used on that job, why it was chosen, and an automatically-generated email to your local representative.

Now obviously none of these directly impact construction, or are aimed at building product manufacturers, but they are proof-of-concept about what can be done within our industry. There is a wealth of information about your product online - both pieces you posted and user-generated content. The easier you can make it for architects to access that information, the more confident they will be in using your products.

What innovative uses of QR codes have you seen? Tell us in the comments!

Mega-Sized A/E/C Firms

AECOM has redefined what it means to be a large A/E/C consulting firm. It is now a Fortune 500 company with clients in more than 100 countries and annual revenue of $6.3 billion.  URS Corporation, a global provider of engineering, construction and technical services, has revenue of almost $9 billion.

Can building product sales and marketing techniques that work in other parts of the construction industry scale-up to deal with such behemoths?

A new white paper from SMPS Foundation, offers insight:

Supersized Competition: What You Need to Know About the Creation of A/E/C Megafirms by Alexandra S. Brown, and Scott E. Mickle, CPSM, BD & Marketing Director, LandDesign

SMPS Foundation is affiliated with the Society for Marketing Professional Services, a group focusing on marketing of design and construction. So while the report focuses on on marketing professional services, you will be able to glean tips applicable to marketing bricks and sticks.

Other recent white papers from SMPS Foudation include:
A summary of these reports, and links to previous SMPS reports, is available.

QR Product Certification Marks

The Japan Coolant Material Association has started using QR codes as product certification marks. From an article by QR Code Magazine:
The script across the middle has the association name and the code resolves to a mobile site with the product manufacturer’s details and more information about the product.
No additional information on this yet, as the site is in Japanese and I have not found a translated source.

I like this idea. A common complaint I hear from manufacturers is they spend all this money getting a certification, but no one knows what it means! Granted, if the certifying agency is unknown that might be a warning sign. But considering how many highly specialized certifications are out there, it's entirely reasonable a specifier might not yet know the one your company uses. Making the logo scannable means instant information about the certifying organization, and what exactly certification means.

More than that, the codes are easily customized so instead of scanning to go to the GreenFormat homepage, for example, I could scan to go directly to your product's GreenFormat profile. This would be very useful for specifiers, giving them instant access to very detailed information.

It would also benefit the certifying organization. Many manufacturers misuse, intentionally or not, certifying agencies' logos, implying an endorsement that does not exist. To cite a common example, the USGBC does not certify or endorse products. Many manufacturers, however, claim USGBC or LEED certification for their products. If USGBC integrated a QR code into their logo, it could point to a page explaining this.

How would QR product certification marks help you?

[UPDATE] Corrected the name of the source site from 2d-code to QR Code Magazine.

The Market for Renovating Existing Buildings

The construction industry is too big to capture all at once, so successful building product marketeers look for segments that they can penetrate and dominate. The market for renovating existing buildings is often overlooked by many building product manufacturers. Maybe they are under the illusion that market for historic buildings is only for firms that make reproductions of antique materials. There is a place for period piece manufacturers, but the biggest challenge in rehabbing old buildings is to integrate NEW materials and technologies into the existing structure. Early in my architectural career, for example, I got to remodel the Manitowoc, Wisconsin court house (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/79/ManitowocCountyCourtHouse2006.jpg). While some locations in the building required specialists to recreate or repair historic materials, most of our challenges were to find new materials that could tie into existing materials -- physically and aesthetically.  

I am reminded about this while reading a summary of the market posted by Restore Media, publishers Traditional Buildings and other media focusing on the existing building sector. It is reprinted below with permission.

Traditional building is an estimated $170 billion market, including both residential and non-residential historic restoration, renovation and new construction in historical styles. The market’s professionals—contractors, building owners, facility managers, developers, planners, preservationists, architects, custom builders, interior designers and tradesmen—buy and specify an estimated $50 billion of building materials per year.

As of this year, 2010, just under 30% of the U.S. housing stock is more than 55 years old. Likewise, about 25% of the commercial, institutional and public buildings are now 55 years old or older. From 1995 to 2010, old buildings, as a percentage of total building inventory, have grown by 8.2%. Add to this the old buildings built between 1953 and 1972, and the old building inventory swells to nearly 53% of the U.S. total building inventory.

Traditional building is defined as the restoration, renovation, maintenance and preservation of historic buildings, architecturally important buildings or both. It includes the new construction of period-style or contextual additions and buildings, such as “new old" houses, traditional neighborhood developments, commercial/ institutional infill and adaptive reuse. For a glossary of traditional building terms, see below.
Old houses, schools, churches, hotels, house museums, retail and office buildings, as well as public buildings like historic post offices, courthouses and state capitals, are part of the $170 billion traditional building market if they are historically and architecturally significant and in need of expansion or repair. 
  • The integrity of the location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association.
  • A building that is an excellent example of a style, period, or method of construction.
  • A site where a historical event occurred or an important person lived or worked.
  • A structure that represents a turning point in architectural design, planning or technology.
  • A site that has yielded or is likely to yield important historical information.
(Source: "AIA Guide to Historic Preservation 2001")


An aging building stock: by the end of 2010, 28% of America’s housing inventory will be 56 years old or older; 52% will be 35 years old and getting older. There are over 41 million houses in this age bracket.

The federal government manages 430,000 buildings, most of which are historic. (Source: "Carying for the Past, Managing for the Future: Federal Stewardship and America's Historic Legacy")
There are 14,000 historic districts.

There are 24,000 schools built before 1951, most or all within walking distance of older neighborhoods. (Source: U.S. Department of Education)
Changes in federal funding programs have strengthened historic preservation’s connection to urban planning and community development. For example, since 1992, $10.4 billion has been apportioned for transportation enhancement programs with a major traditional building component. (Source: "Transportation Enhancement Activities: Appointments for FY 1992-2008," U.S. Department of Transportation)
Public transportation is available to 60% of older, established and historic neighborhoods compared with 75% of new housing that has no access to public transportation.

The cost of fuel and resulting government emphasis on public transportation, infrastructure, urban revitalization and context-sensitive design have reversed the tide of suburban flight. For example, there are now more residential housing units on Wall Street than there are offices.

According to the Urban Land Institute, by the year 2050 the U.S. urban population will grow by 300 million people.

According to the Metropolitan Institute, there will be 55,000 multi-housing units built in the next 40 years, much of this from the adaptive reuse of historic buildings on commercial and transportation corridors.
According to the Department of Energy, there will be twice as much commercial and institutional renovation than new construction in the next 20 years.

The Department of Interior approves federal historic tax credits for approximately $3.5 billion in historic restoration and renovation per year. In 2006 alone, federal tax credit projects jumped 15% to 1,253.

As of 2008, 29 states were offering additional state historic tax credits to encourage the rehabilitation of historic buildings. Of these, 23 states offer a tax credit to homeowners. (Source: The National Trust for Historic Preservation)
The National Main Street Center has rehabbed over 180,000 historic buildings on main streets across America. (Source: National Main Street Center)

Despite declining real estate values in 2007-2008, price appreciation for older buildings in close-in neighborhoods has held steady or increased.

The construction of buildings accounts for nearly 50% of new greenhouse gas emissions. Building demolition accounts for 75% of landfills. There is a shift away from new to 'renew", from new construction to restoration, renovation and adaptive reuse.(Source: “Trends in Building Related Energy and Carbon Emissions: Actual and Alternate Scenarios,” Energy Information Administration)
By 2007 22 states, 55 cities, 11 counties, 8 towns and 11 federal agencies had adopted green building initiatives. Governors in 25 states have adopted climate action plans with 14 more now developing plans. In Arlington Virginia, for example, municipal buildings must be LEED rated, by law. (Source: USGBC) 
The U.S. Green Building Council recently approved LEED points for the “embodied energy” in existing buildings. This will make tear-down and re-build projects less likely in the future. It will drive the growth of “greening” existing and historic buildings, already well underway in Portland, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

The professionals who work on traditional buildings have unique information needs and interests based on the special challenges and, in some cases, government regulations that historic buildings require. Extensive research is always required before breaking ground. At the very least, designing and building to fit an existing neighborhood or vernacular tradition require an aesthetic sensitivity to classical architecture: the right scale, proportions and materials. In a complex historic restoration and renovation, professionals are challenged by a whole range of issues, from restoring or replicating historic products, to meeting Department of Interior (National Park Service) federal tax credit standards.

Architects play a very important role in traditional building, both on high end residential period homes and historic commercial/institutional/public work.

The traditional building architecture firm:
  • does a yearly construction volume of $10,960,000 (average size firm);
  • has an average 18 employees;
  • operates in a local/regional market but because of its specialized historic work, also serves clients nationally and internationally;
  • relies on commercial/public and institutional historic restoration, renovation and traditional-style new construction as significant parts of its work; and
  • breaks out into large firms (20 architects or more on staff) that typically do commercial/public/institutional work only and small to medium-size firms that do high-end residential and light commercial work.
According to the AIA, 30% of all architect billings are from government work.
(Source: "AIA Firm Survey; Traditional Building Audience Research 2008")

TRADITIONAL BUILDING CONTRACTOR PROFILE The general contractor, restoration/renovation contractor and custom (period-style) builder play an important role in traditional building

The traditional building contractor:
  • is a firm with a yearly construction volume of $7,780,000 (average size firm);
  • builds for an average $300 or higher per construction foot;
  • has an average of 10 employees;
  • operates in a local/regional market but will follow local clients to national and international destinations; and
  • relies on traditional building as a significant part of its work.
Very large firms ($50 million or more) typically do commercial/public/institutional work only, while small to medium-size firms do high-end residential and light commercial projects.

(Source: Traditional Building and Period Homes Audience Research 2008)

  • Quality products and service
  • Availability; short, and/or predictable lead times
  • A great website that addresses the professional’s needs and interests
  • Product brochures to share with clients
  • Technical support, accessed via an 800 number
  • Personal service offering solutions to problems
  • Market segment expertise
  • Continuing education credits
  • Shared risk and call-back resolution
  • Design flexibility
  • Period-accurate and authentic products
  • Options and choices presented in a good/ better/ best scenario
  • Comparative analysis vs. other product brands/competitors
  • Proven but unique products
  • Green products that last a long time and can be repaired
(Source: Restore Media, LLC, Audience Research, 2008)

(order of importance but varies by product type and project demands)

  • Quality
  • Durability
  • Historical accuracy
  • Ability to match custom specs
  • Availability/lead time
  • Manufacturer reputation/dependability
  • Green attributes
  • Low maintenance
  • Customer service and support
  • Ease of installation
  • Price
  • Terms
(Source: Restore Media, LLC, Audience Research 2008)

The greatest benefit of historic preservation is the protection and interpretation of our cultural heritage. Buildings are a true record of the period or society that created them. They are a primary source of historical information. The historic and social value of preserving older neighborhoods, restoring a landmark county courthouse or adaptive use of railroad stations or other underutilized buildings across the country far exceeds the direct economic benefits. Preservation makes a significant contribution to the beauty and enjoyment of our cities, towns and rural landscapes and to the quality of life in these special places.

At the same time, the economic benefits of preservation are not inconsequential. Solid documentation exists regarding benefits to the tax base of communities and stimulation of the economy.

Both public and private owners have come to realize the economic benefits of preservation. Savings in costs, materials and energy in the adaptive use or preservation of existing buildings are significant. In adaptive-reuse projects, the cost per square foot can be substantially less than that for new construction. In addition, both energy and natural resources can be saved by re-using existing structures rather than constructing buildings using new manufactured materials delivered to the jobsite.

Owners of buildings that are recognized historic landmarks or are located in designated historic districts may qualify for other financial benefits. Federal tax laws and Internal Revenue Service regulations provide tax credits for the restoration of commercial buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places. State and local grants and special tax deductions may also be available.

(Source: "The American Institute of Architects Guide to Historic Preservation")

The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) views disinvestment in central cities, the spread of placeless sprawl, increasing separation by race and income, environmental deterioration, loss of agricultural lands and wilderness and the erosion of society’s built heritage as one set of interrelated community-building challenges.

CNU advocates the restoration of existing urban centers and towns within coherent metropolitan regions, the reconfiguration of sprawling suburbs into communities of real neighborhoods and diverse districts, the conservation of natural environments and the preservation of our built legacy.

Physical solutions by themselves will not solve social and economic problems, but neither can economic vitality, community stability, and environmental health be sustained without a coherent and supportive physical framework.

(Source: Congress for New Urbanism Charter 2001)

Preservation: applying the measures necessary to sustain the existing form, integrity and materials of a historic property. Preservation work generally focuses on the ongoing maintenance and repair of historic fabric rather than extensive replacement or new construction.

Rehabilitation: adapting a property for continuing or new compatible use through repair, alteration and additions, while preserving those portions or features that convey its historical, cultural or architectural values.

Restoration: accurately depicting the form, materials, features and character of a property as it appeared at a particular period of time. Restoration retains as much of the historic period fabric as possible. Inconsistent features may need to be removed and missing features faithfully reconstructed in accordance with the restoration period.

Reconstruction: depicting by means of new construction the form, materials, features and character of a historic property that no longer exists, as it appeared at a particular period of time, in its historic location.

(Source: "The American Institute of Architects Guide to Historic Preservation")

AIA Historic Resources Committee (HRC)
American Institute of Building Design (AIBD)
Association for Preservation Technology Intl. (APTI)
Congress for the New Urbanism
Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America (ICA CA)
International Network Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism (INTBAU)
National Town Builders Association
The National Trust for Historic Preservation
New Urban Guild (NUG)
Preservation Action
Preservation Education Institute (PEI)
Preservation Trades Network (PTN)
The Urban Land Institute

Awards, Scholarships, and LEED GA Courses

The summer is off to a great start at Chusid Associates (minus the June Gloom extending into July (yes, contrary to popular belief, California actually has a few months in which clouds block our beloved sun)).

We were recognized in the competition for the Godfrey Award from the Construction Writers Association, Honorable Mention (2nd place). (We also won the award in 2008.)

At the recent LA-CSI award ceremony, Michael Chusid received a certificate of recognition for his special service as Instructor for their Certification Program. Michael is a Fellow of the Construction Specifications Institute and continues to enlighten them through countless educational seminars and publications.

We are excited to announce that our associate, Norah Lally, has passed the LEED GA exam (sister to the LEED AP exam). She is the third member of our staff to receive LEED credentials.

Our intern, Jakov Peric graduated from high school with honors this month and received a top scholarship to Woodbury Architectural school where he will be attending in the fall.

Goodbye Green Wash - Not Quite

UL Environmental is a new division of Underwriters Laboratories and offers "independent green claims validation, product certification, training, advisory services and standards development."
In their exhibit at Neocon, they were giving away bars of soap emblazoned with the slogan, "Goodbye Green Wash." The slogan and the soap create a strong and memorable image that explains the benefit of the company's services.

Still, they missed valuable opportunities to "walk the talk":
  • The packaging does not list products ingredients, place of manufacturer, or whether sustainable paper and printing were used -- important information that can help a consumer assess the environmental impact of the product.
  • More, the fragrance in the soap, while pleasant enough, could irritate show attendees with chemical sensitivities, and does not support environmental goals for indoor air quality.
The point I am trying to make is that claiming an environmental benefit for a product can act, ironically, as an invitation for greater scrutiny of all aspects of the product.

A Neocon publication from Interior Design, written by Penny Bonda, put it this way:
Remember, as you engage with showroom personnel, to ask the right questions: Where did this product come from? What is it made of? How is it made? How is it maintained? How does it affect the well-being of the building occupants? How much energy does it use? How do I know you're telling me the truth? Knowing whom to trust in this era of greenwash is a huge challenge, sorting out the science is difficult for those not schooled in technical matters.
On the positive side, the soap is one piece of trade show swag that I will probably use, unlike the plastic gizmos that will sit on my desk for a week and then wind up in a recycling bin or trash can.