This Issue

2014 May-June

Building Industry Goes Phototropic

Like plants growing toward sunlight, designers are reaching for a way to illuminate the unseen health hazards and environmental footprint of building materials.

An 2013, 30 major architecture firms sent letters to all their material suppliers demanding transparency. “We need to know what’s in the products we’re specifying,” claims Russell Perry, FAIA, director of SmithGroupJJR’s Washington, D.C. office. “Our clients have a right to know these things and I’d like to help them find out,” he adds.

As a board member of the newly formed Health Product Declaration Collaborative, Perry was impressed by a letter sent out by the Dallas-based firm HKS, so he called on sustainable design leaders from other architecture firms to write similar letters, threatening to eventually ban products without content disclosures from their material libraries and educational programs.

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Preventive Medicine

A discussion with HOK’s Henry Chao on what makes a healthy building.

Healthcare in the United States is undergoing major changes, with the underpinnings of the system shifting away from simply treating incidents of illness toward promoting overall health and well-being. And for architects like Henry Chao, design principal for the global healthcare practice at the international firm HOK, this shift provides an opportunity to create hospitals and facilities that contribute to this broader purpose. Chao’s most notable projects have included the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Expansion in Columbus, Ohio; the Cleveland Clinic Miller Pavilion in Cleveland, Ohio; Kuwait University College of Science in Kuwait; and Ng Teng Feng (Jurong) General Hospital in Singapore. Here, he speaks about subtle design decisions that change perceptions of illness for the better, the parallels between planning hospitals and planning cities, and LEED’s role in fostering a 21st-century sense of what it means to be healthy.

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Go for the Green

Bank of America offers the first corporate green bond in the U.S.

The first corporate “green” bond in the country is doing more than helping to create a more sustainable future—it is pleasing its investors. Bank of America Corporation introduced the bond based on a public financial commitment to the environment, and to answer the calls of investors who wanted more socially conscious investment choices. The resulting projects—think ecological construction, geothermal energy, lighting retrofits in public buildings, and more—are pleasing investors with a vision of a more sustainable world and good financial returns.

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Site Specific

A certified sustainable site, American University’s School of International Service manifests the school’s values.

Admissions offices cruised at a comfortable altitude as college enrollment boomed through the early 2000s. But in the face of decelerating college-age population growth, constricting budgets, and competition from online programs, today’s traditional, four-year institutions are scrambling to find novel ways of attracting high-caliber students. Those that are offering sustainable learning environments are catching the eyes of prospective freshmen; in fact, 62 percent of college applicants in a 2013 Princeton Review survey indicated that a school’s commitment to the environment would impact application and enrollment decisions.

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