This past June, Turner Construction Company held the third in the series of green conferences promoting leadership in sustainable construction for both the K-12 and higher education sectors. More than 700 attendees have joined the distinguished list of speakers for the three conferences, resulting from a commitment made at the Clinton Global Initiative Meeting in 2005. The three conferences have been held respectively in Washington D.C., cosponsored by the National Building Museum; Haverford Pa., cosponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council and Haverford College; and Los Angeles, Ca., cosponsored by U.S. Green Building Council and Global Green USA.
The three day-long conferences focused in part on the economic rationale for green schools, in both the K-12 and higher education sectors, providing an in-depth analysis of costs and benefits, case studies, and a discussion of applied standards and tools to encourage innovative ways to create cost-effective, high performance, energy efficient schools. The attendees included educators, facility planners and health professionals.
Said Thomas C. Leppert, CEO and chairman, the Turner Corporation, “We currently recycle 55% of our waste at all our construction sites and have more than 120 LEED® Accredited Professionals on staff. Additionally, we have sponsored two national surveys on the benefits and costs of green buildings. By collaborating with designers, builders, and educators, we have led the industry in the awareness and the necessity of building green schools, thereby ensuring a healthy and productive learning environment for our children.”
The recently concluded conference included a keynote address by Sim Van der Ryn, the award-winning former state architect of California, renowned for his ecologically sensitive, sustainable design portfolio. He said: “Sustainability lives at the intersection of three interdependent circles, community, economy and ecology. To achieve that seemingly simple and logical diagram will require a top to bottom overhaul of the paradigms and practices in our economies, our politics, our design and technology, our business practices and values. Building green and using those buildings to teach green ways will allow the new generation to learn how to live with nature more wisely. The world we live in today is changing in crucial ways that are challenging and frightening, but full of positive opportunities. If we fear change, we respond through denial, escapism, and passivity. If we face change positively with passion and hope, we might just realize our dreams of healthy buildings, healthy communities and children who are becoming eco-literate and truly engaged in learning.”
Greg Kats, principal of Capital E Group, a strategic consulting and advisory firm for sustainable solutions, delivered the keynote address at the May conference in Haverford Pa. He said: “The green building industry is exploding, and green buildings now represent 6 percent of all new non residential construction. Green, high performance design is becoming synonymous with quality design and quality construction, especially in the education sector. A recent national analysis found that green schools cost on average 2 percent more than conventional schools, about $4 per square foot for a typical $25 million, 125,000 square foot school. But the financial savings of green schools are about $70 per square foot, more than ten times as large as the modest cost premium. These savings include lower energy and water costs, improved teacher retention, and reduced health costs. Smart owners and developers understand that building green has become the lower risk, higher return design strategy.”
The keynote address at the Washington D.C. conference, held in October 2005, was delivered by Randolph Croxton, principal of Croxton Collaborative Architects, P.C., an award-winning sustainable design firm located in New York City. Croxton explored the overall involvement of sustainable design in the U.S. education system. He said: “The greatest beneficiary of sustainable design – a client who directly benefits from financial performance, inherently plans from a multi-generational perspective and has stewardship of multiple building types and related natural settings – is in short, American colleges and universities. Substantive adoption of sustainability required transformational impact on the building industry at large.”