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Assessing the Performance of Sustainable Buildings

Posted on | March 29, 2011 | No Comments

Today marked a new chapter in my quest for greener buildings, in the life of this blog, and in the college careers of 15 or so students at the University of Oregon’s School of Architecture and Allied Arts.  Today I started teaching a class called Assessing the Performance of Sustainable Buildings at OU’s Portland White Stag building.  And I’m very excited!  I’ll be using this space to talk about the class, what we’re covering, and logistics of our various assignments and field trips.

Since it was our first day of class, we did introductions, played the “what school did you attend for undergrad?” game, and I asked what the students favorite building was.  A couple of them were so stunned by this question that they were rendered speechless.  LOL.  But it was fine.  I heard that a lot of the students are interested in Renzo Piano, Carlo Scarpa, Herzog & De Meuron, and Antoni Gaudi.  Gaudi is, in fact, one of my favorite architects of all time, and I volunteered that Sagrada Familia is one of my favorite buildings:

Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudi

However, in this class, we are going to be looking at buildings a little closer to home.  Buildings that we can really explore, pick apart, understand, and most importantly, buildings that we can energy model.  Can you imagine trying to conduct an energy assessment of Sagrada Familia?  No, neither can I!  I don’t even know that this structure will be enclosed in our lifetime.  But, some of the greatest buildings in history took many centuries to build, and are still standing today.  Haven’t these buildings withstood the tests of time?  Can’t these also be considered sustainable?

The schedule for the class includes several field trips with associated assignments, and a term project, which will constitute the bulk of the student’s “outside of class” work.  For the term project, the students can select any building in Portland (or elsewhere, if a sufficient case is made) to evaluate and conduct an assessment of.  Students have the option of selecting something off of the list of LEED Certified buildings in Portland (of which there are many) or picking their own building.  The only off-limits buildings are those which are field trip destinations (greyed out on the spreadsheet).

Thursday morning’s class, we’ll be covering energy modeling!  Soon we’ll have a class full of expert energy modelers  🙂

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