Some of the most vital points he made during the exchange were about the cost of making our buildings in this country more efficient, as well as the lack of logic behind our current building processes. "If we took the money spent on one day of the war in Iraq and used it to make our current buildings more efficient, we would no longer be dependent on foreign oil for heating or cooling." Though the crowd had been silent and respectful throughout the discussion thus far, you could feel a collective mental gasp when he uttered that sentence. Working from the principal that that the tools, models and ideas for building a better future lie all around us, Eric's knowledge and basic fact shines yet another new light on the war we are needlessly waging.
In terms of green building, one of the most basic elements is working with the planet itself to make a house more efficient and enjoyable to live in for the long term. Offices can benefit from eco-techniques as well, with studies showing an increase in worker confidence and a decrease in sick days thanks to the reduction in off-gasing chemicals in everything from the paint on the walls to the fabrics on the furniture. The simplest concept is to work with the sun's path - rising in the East and setting in the West. Considering these factors, that means that the South and West sides of any building get the most sun and, therefore, have the highest indoor temperatures. By planting something Eric likes to call "trees" on these sides of the building, you can reduce its contact with the sun in the summer. When the leaves fall off during the cooler months, the South and West faces of the building will have access to the heat from the sun it so needs. Pretty elementary, no?
Are you in the green building market, or looking to join? Eric says: "Try to convert a regular architecture firm to using more green elements than simply trying to join a green firm - change the masses instead of preaching to the choir." He referred us to the Green Home Guide for a small but growing list of architecture firms. Also mentioned was the site for Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, also known as ADPSR; here you can find more info on the current markets, as well as email addresses of local branches to contact about more info on jobs in the area.
As the host for our upcoming WorldChanging Panel on December 7th in SF, you will be hearing and seeing more of Eric Freed around here very soon I bet. Visit GreenerBuildings.com (founded by our own Joel Makower) to read Eric's regular column and keep an eye out for his first book, titled The Inevitable Architect: A Phase by Phase Guide to Green Building, due to be released in February 2007.