In the last article, we mentioned that a LEED "Certified" or even a "Silver" rated building can be designed and built at minimal extra cost over a standard non-rated building. Let’s look at how that can be accomplished.
The primary key to a successful "Green" project is to have the understanding and unwavering commitment of the Owner. Without this commitment, the probability of the project getting the desired rating is slim. The Owner must be willing to look at more than simply the first cost of a project – the long-term owning and operating costs have to be analyzed and understood.
The establishment of the green design goals before the design process even begins, a commitment from the entire project team to meet these goals after the project begins, and continuous re-commitment during the life of the project is imperative to the success of a green project.
How is this accomplished? By establishing what are called "Design Charrettes", one of the terms you will get to know when you get involved in green design. While most architects are familiar with this term, as you will read in the next paragraph, it is a new one to most other construction people.
The term "charrette" was coined over a hundred years ago at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Students in the School of Architecture were expected to meet strict deadlines for the completion of design projects. When the deadline arrived, a small cart (in French, a "charrette") was wheeled down the aisles of the studio.
The students had to place their drawings, whatever their stage of completion, into this cart; the failure to do so was to get a zero on the project.
Today, one definition of charrette might be "a time-limited event in which a diverse group of experts (and lay people) strive to produce a mutually agreeable answer to a complex design problem."
These design charrettes have proven to be an exceptionally effective tool for creating more suitable and integrated projects, provided they are led by people who are intimately familiar with the principles and the process, and can transmit that knowledge and commitment to the others in the group.