Eric Corey Freed on Green Building Careers

Sucked into the excitement of the marketplace at the Green Festival, I only had time to see one speaker, but it was well spent. Eric Corey Freed, founder and principal architect of SF's Organic Architect spoke in the Green Careers forum at 2 pm on Saturday, though it was a bit more of a Q&A session then a speech. After a short introduction which included many of his impressive "green" credentials, Eric launched right into asking the audience what they wanted to know. In retrospect, I wouldn't have organized his presence in any other way; what better way to learn about Green Building then just simply asking questions?

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 (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.


I was there for Eric's talk, although somewhat distracted, as I was manning the Cohousing/Ecovillages table across the aisle from the Green Careers stage, in the nonprofit ghetto Community Pavilion tent, and traffic levels were high. I just wanted to add a link to Build It Green, the Bay Area/Northern California nonprofit that does Certified Green Building Professional training, a 16-hour (typically two Saturdays) course with exam for the credential of the same name. I took the course last month and found it enjoyable and inspirational, going in more depth on some of the themes Eric sounded here: market Green effectively by linking it to concepts of quality and durability and smart and cool, don't go spouting about payback cycles and killowatt-hours, but promote a whole-building perspective that gets back to the roots of the underlying goals and priorities and values that you and the client share.

Posted by: Raines Cohen on November 14, 2006 3:40 PM

Thank you so much for the info Raines - that is a great opportunity! I have heard of Build It Green, but I was unaware that they had such a program. My boyfriend in particular would be very interested to hear about that :)

Posted by: Victoria E on November 14, 2006 4:55 PM

Their next CGBP class, Victoria, will be Dec. 2 and 9 in Oakland (the last for the year); they haven't set the 2007 class schedule yet. I just learned that my friend Barbara will be participating. It's exciting to see folks I've known for decades from different areas (Macintosh, computers) get involved in this field.

Posted by: Raines Cohen on November 24, 2006 7:59 AM

Very exciting, but I know that my boyfriend will not be able to afford it by then. Also, he has not gone to college or studied Green Building yet, so I doubt he would be able to take the course.

Posted by: Victoria E on November 24, 2006 9:21 AM