Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Program to address role of architects in designing buildings to meet climate change challenges

“Climate Adaptive Design: Building Science Meets Climate Science” takes place Nov. 3 at The Collider, a nonprofit innovation center for climate in Asheville

Wildfires in California. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria. Floods in some parts of the country; drought in others.

Such events, many brought on or made worse by climate change, have resulted in loss of life and massive damage to property.

Architects and designers have a professional obligation to understand and account for what appears to be this “new normal.” That’s where an upcoming symposium at The Collider comes in, located on the newly renovated top floor of the Wells Fargo building in downtown Asheville, at 1 Haywood St., across from Pritchard Park.

“The time is here for all of us in the industry to take responsibility and make buildings more sustainable,” said Asheville architect Emily Coleman Wolf, AIA, one of the organizers of “Building Science Meets Climate Science.”

Taking place on Nov. 3, from 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., the symposium will incorporate problem-based learning and draw from case studies to show practical measures architects can take to lessen the negative impact buildings have on climate change, said Wolf.

Among the speakers will be Victor Olgyay, AIA, a bioclimatic architect living in Boulder, Colorado and principal with Rocky Mountain Institute, leading the Institute’s buildings practice to encourage widespread adoption of deeply efficient building design and comprehensive building energy retrofits. In 1978, Olgyay designed his first passive solar house in Asheville, and has since worked as an architect, writer, professor, researcher, daylighting designer, and environmental consultant. 

“Architects have a big responsibility for the role the built environment plays in climate change,” said Olgyay. “Globally, buildings consume 35 percent of all energy and 60 percent of all generated electricity—much of which is produced by fossil fuels. 

“As the largest end-use energy sector, buildings account for more than one-third of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, all buildings from our homes, offices, schools, or shopping centers—and the architects who design them—can either exacerbate our climate problem, or be a foundational part of the solution.”

Olgyay believes that buildings must support human and ecological needs. His research on ecosystem services as criteria for green building assessment resulted in the “Green Footstep” building tool, demonstrating a lifecycle approach to the reduction of carbon, water, and ecological footprints. His recent work demonstrates how restorative buildings and communities (meaning, those that generate more resources than they consume) can be profitable investments and act as positive assets, enhancing electrical and utility system infrastructures.

Other speakers at symposium include Tim Owen, climate scientist and chief of staff at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, located in downtown Asheville, addressing impacts of a changing climate to the architecture and planning community; Jason Smith, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, a partner with iconic Philadelphia architectural firm Kieran Timberlake; researcher and building physics and data visualization specialist Ryan Welch, also of Kieran Timberlake; and Jeff Hicks, CEO of climate solution provider and Collider member FernLeaf Interactive. 

A collaboration among The Collider, the Asheville section of American Institute of Architects, the Asheville Living Building Challenge Collaborative, and CASE Consultants International, this will be the third year this program has been offered. 

“Coming together to collaborate with The Collider was a natural for us,” said Bill Langdon, AIA, principal at William Langdon Architecture and a past president of AIA Asheville. “We must educate our members and others about how to design with the changing climate in mind. This symposium is one of the best places to hear directly from climate scientists and building scientists.”

“This is the time and place for architects to lead on climate change,” said Olgyay. “Architects designing high-performance buildings can provide the foundation for a transition to a resilient, clean energy future. It’s the opportunity of our lifetime.”

Cost for the course is $195 for AIA members; $225 for non-members. Student and government discounts are available. Continuing education credits are available from multiple professional societies. Space is limited and pre-registration is strongly encouraged. Find more details and a link to register at http://bit.ly/2z988nX. Architects with questions may also contact AIA Asheville at info@aiaasheville.org.

Pre- and Post-Conference Events

Thursday, Nov. 2, 5 – 7:30 p.m.: “Design with Climate: A Personal History”
On the evening before the seminar, keynote speaker Victor Olgyay will speak at The Collider about his personal history of designing with climate in mind. The event is free and open to the public with a suggested donation of $10 at the door, and includes a reception with local craft beer and light refreshments. Registration is not necessary for this event.

Olgyay’s talk will tell the story leading to the 1963 text, “Design with Climate: A Bioclimatic Approach to Architectural Regionalism,” and show contemporary and local architectural examples. In addition to environmental benefits, the application of bioclimatic principals can engage the modernist aspiration of providing the physiological basis of health and comfort in architecture.

“Our buildings are not isolated, but connected to place and use,” said Olgyay. “The idea that there is a relationship between climate and the resulting architecture implies a regionalist approach and is the foundation of what is often called passive solar design.”

Friday, Nov. 3, 5 – 7 p.m.: New Belgium Brewing Sustainability Tour
Following Friday’s seminar is an option add-on tour of New Belgium Brewing, located at 21 Craven St., Asheville, where the brewery’s sustainability specialist, Sarah Fraser, will discuss its development in Asheville from conception to implementation, and how it reflects the company’s corporate mission. Cost is $15 per person and space is limited. A valid ID is required for participants to enjoy tasting room beverages. Register at http://bit.ly/2idnUux.

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