We recently spoke with Peter F. Spittler, of Forum Architects. Peter F. Spittler is a renowned designer and architect with extensive experience in green-building and energy conservation practices.
Q: Peter F. Spittler, are energy conservation practices all high-tech?
Peter F. Spittler: Not necessarily. Common-sense, old-world ideas like skylights that refract and multiply daylight, shade trees to protect buildings during the hottest part of the day, or situating buildings to take advantage of prevailing winds are all common. Somewhere along the way planners, architects and engineers forgot about these simple and practicable design approaches.
Q: What are some other ideas that come into play?
Peter F. Spittler: Sometimes little things like low-water or waterless urinals, landscaping that doesn’t require much water, or even installing reflective white roofing can make a huge difference over time.
Q: What is LEED?
Peter F. Spittler: LEED stands for Leading Energy and Environmental Design.
Q: What does Leading Energy and Environmental Design do?
Peter F. Spittler: LEED is an outside third-party, market-driven system to provide guidelines for energy efficiency. LEED gives their certification for building projects that meet their marks.
Q: Isn’t LEED compliance expensive?
Peter F. Spittler: That’s a sort of misconception. Some LEED-compliant refits can be cost-prohibitive, but buildings can still meet LEED benchmarks without too much cost on the front end. What people need to remember is that an energy-efficient building plan will more than pay for itself when energy savings are realized over time. There was a time when it was expensive to go Green, but the product manufacturers have caught up with the Green movement and today products and system are readily available and reasonably priced.
Q: Does LEED compliance come with incentives?
Peter F. Spittler: Yes, it does. Federal perks are available to encourage LEED compliance and energy efficiency; many state and local governments also offer incentives.
Q: Is LEED design only for new construction?
Peter F. Spittler: Not at all, we’ve been able to refit many older buildings for energy efficiency and LED compliance. Sometimes we find that older buildings incorporated great ideas from 75 years ago or longer, which were later discarded or covered over for appearance’s sake. Even things like a tall ceiling can make a big difference in the cooling and HVAC scheme of a building, but dropped ceilings were the prevailing style from the 1950s on. Also, air conditioning and climate control systems took the place of gravitational and cross ventilation and now the pendulum is swinging back the other way towards operable windows and other simple solutions.
Peter F. Spittler is an alumnus of Kent State University’s architecture program. In addition to his membership with the American Institute of Architects, Peter F. Spittler is a member of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.