A couple of years back, a colleague of mine took me on a tour of a project he was working on out at Mesa del Sol, a new development on the South side of Albuquerque beyond the airport. With only a vague knowledge that our firm was involved in some planning there, I rode shotgun South through town to the last highway exit before the Indian reservations and empty desert take over. The road up to Mesa del Sol is one of those works of civil engineering that look like a Michael Heizer landform sculpture, with long flowing embankments on both sides that cut dramatically through the terrain.
Repo Man is a great road movie in the apocalyptic genre that starts in Los Alamos, NM and includes some amazing lines. “The more you drive, the less intelligent you are” has been a constant point of reference for me over the last 6 years while commuting 60 mile each way to my job in Albuquerque. The commitment to a daily fall down La Bajada ( a 2,000 foot drop in elevation South of Santa Fe) was a decision I made weighing commuting times for different urban areas against the quality of life they offered. Compared to many commutes back East, Santa Fe to Albuquerque seemed like a breeze.
I sometimes envy landscape architects – they have some pretty clear problems to solve, and everyone likes plants. But one of the benefits of working at a large multidisciplinary design firm is that I can wander around the office and see what my colleagues are up to. Since we all speak the language of design we can usually talk pretty coherently across disciplines. I get to live the life of a landscape architect vicariously, but still escape at a moment’s notice when the going gets rough.
At any trade show, it’s usually worth it to barge in to a random event, feel awkward for a moment in exchange for a free drink and a chance to encounter new perspectives. So after a long day of seminars at Greenbuild, I found myself making small talk among a group of well dressed facilities managers involved in the LEED for Existing Buildings side of things. This is actually a very important part of the sustainability equation, since the operational energy of a commercial building will surpass the embodied energy used to make that building a few years after the building opens.
Each November the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) holds its national conference and expo, known as Greenbuild, in a different city. The USGBC is the source for LEED certifications, a method for quantifying sustainability in buildings that has arguably transformed the building industry over the last 12 years. This past year in Phoenix, 27,000 fanatics and their suitors convened to share ideas, fears, successes and failures, working towards a greener, more sustainable built environment.
I’ll start where I left off in journalism class many years ago...
Who: Brett Frauenglass, husband, father, architect, LEED accredited professional, ski instructor and EcoDaddyo reader.
What: Blogging on the built environment for my friend Tim Fowler’s EcoDaddyo blog.
When: I hope about twice a month, but I also hope this gets easier with practice!
Where: Right here, right now. And for lack of a better option, most of my posts will be found under the Home and Office category, though buildings go far beyond those two realms.