EducationContinuing Education System
Interview with William J. Worthen, AIA, LEED AP, AIA Resource Architect for Sustainability by Maria Sigillito, Manager, CES
Be Prepared for High-Performance Buildings
Bill Worthen, AIA, LEED AP, Resource Architect for Sustainability and Maria Sigillito met to discuss the potential and assumed changes in practice for architects as a result of the implementation of high-performance building codes. In the not too-distant future many design professionals may find themselves asking, Why me and why now?! What they will be responding to is the adoption of CALGreen earlier this year, and the adoption of the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) in 2012. The implementation of these high-performance, green building codes changes the best-practices approach of green design from an aspirational approach to sustainable design towards making high-performance building standard practice and code minimum design.
Why me and why now?! This question may summarize the diary entry of many senior design professionals who realize their firms may have to rethink many ‘standard practices’ that define the way they work: To meet the requirements of a more complex set of high-performance and best value code requirements. However, with this rethinking comes opportunity. Green building codes are the ‘next step’ in the over 10 years of advocacy work by USGBC, Architecture 2030, AIA, ASHRAE the ICC and many other like-minded associations to include high-performance building as integral to the ongoing health safety and welfare discussion. It is time for design professionals to take advantage of the evolution of their roles, and decide how best to control their firms’ destiny. For instance, many design professionals currently out of work could consider work as a building code official as a very viable option. With the implementation of the IgCC and CAlGreen, the demand for architecture-savvy code officials will increase dramatically. As energy modeling will also become an integral part of the design process because of the energy requirements that are part of the IgCC and CALGreen, the demand for architects with energy modeling skills will increase dramatically as well. Architect as Energy Modeler is yet another new career path option for those young and old architects alike with an affinity for energy and the next generation of early design energy modeling software tools.
The words, ’game changer’ as it relates to the forthcoming evolution the architecture profession is about to be faced can not be overstated. The adoption of high-performance building codes causes a paradigm shift in not only the options for architects, but how architects are viewed by collateral associates, and the public as well. For instance, one of the greatest changes that may result of the code implementation is the change in the architect’s mindset from solitary designer to group facilitator. In order to be at the forefront of the design and construction process, architects must collaborate with clients, code officials, and engineers to create a common language. The first step may be for architects to have the skills or have access to someone with the skills to work with architects on energy modeling. However, it is imperative that the architect manages the discussion beyond the numbers; the architect – with each of his/her design teams - must collaboratively assume the skills and become teams of modern master builders. Master builder is a term based on the role of the ‘builder’ before architects and engineers as professions existed in our lexicon and later went their own ways. As a result there is an opportunity, if we chose to embrace our potential for expanded scopes. To take the time to build some expanded skills sets will increase the value of the architect in the public’s view and architects will be able to manage more of design than they ever have before. Bill advocates integrated project delivery (IPD) as the best-practice model for leading, and collaborating on design projects.
Another hole that needs to be filled is education in the high-performance building codes. Most of the current built environment would not be considered meeting these new, more complex codes requirements. Many Architects will need additional training to feel comfortable working under the new codes. To succeed, as a professional, architects will also need to learn to better share the knowledge gained with their colleagues. Only then will architects be able to assume a greater leadership role in the design process; by becoming better managers, not directors of the design process. This is the time to create those message boards where architects could share the lessons learned as we all begin the potentially rocky climb toward greater high-performance building code knowledge.
There are many ways continuing education providers can support architects through these monumental changes in the profession. As previously discussed, architects need access to instruction on energy modeling, the text of the codes, IPD, and soft-skills necessary for successful team collaboration. Architects are visual learners, and for providers to assist them through the transition, it is time for providers to be creative, and think of visually engaging ways to present these topics.
Be aware that the adoption of these codes is more significant than a requirement from the AIA, New Hampshire or Texas or any other local jurisdiction or owner request for an architect’s work to earn sustainable design credits. Also, the implementation of these codes may result in the questioning of the LEED rating system. The ratings may not hold during this time of transition and green building rating systems will find their new place when high-performance building becomes code minimum design. While many questions remain about the enforcement of forthcoming codes, they will direct design professionals towards making the best-practice of high-performance building the basis of how architects work and design.
AIA, USGBC, ICC and ASHRAE have created free webinars about the International Green Construction Code. For more information about the Green Codes webinars, please visit http://www.iccsafe.org/cs/IGCC/Pages/default.aspx and for more information on Sustainable design and an architect’s scope of work, please review the AIA’s newly released Contract document supplement on sustainability. It is a valuable resource for any/all AIA members with questions about sustainability and how high-performance design and construction will affect our contracts and scopes. To learn more, download the free AIA Contract Document’s Guide for Sustainable Projects.