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Green Design and downtowns?


I was reading an article on “Green Design” and I know of a few schools and other buildings that use recycled materials for construction, overhead windows and skylights to provide for natural lighting, and other similar design standards. But can these been put into the ordinance for design standards? I know that building codes require a particular amount of natural light into residential structures, but it seems the a fall out shelter with fire exits could pass for a commercial structure.

What are your thoughts on this topic and do you believe that Green Design could work in an urban setting and work for remodeling existing structures?


I am in the early stages of designing and constructing a new green building in our downtown. They can fit very well. As far as old buildings go, many of the design features in an old building are conducive to green design. Those transom windows do let in a great deal of light, and could easily be enhanced with a light shelf. These buildings were designed before AC and contain features, such as high ceilings, that help to cool them naturally. Re-using old material such as floors, walls (why not expose the brick?), etc., is very sustainable. New retrofits could include high efficiencey HVAC systems and insulated glass. Parapet roofs would conceal photovoltaic arrays. The products you use in a new or old building - things like low-emission paints or flooring made from renewable material - could also be green. I will be using some of these techniques on some buildings I will be rehabbing later this year.


i'm sure if you are creative enough you can find a way to write a lot of it into the code. I know there's a ton of stuff out there in print that could help you.

On the lot side - I think porous pavement and/or turf block parking is the way to go as far as new construction is concerned. Not only is it better for your aquifer and watershed in general but it can save your town a ton of money on storm-water management and water treatment.

Howard Roark

You would probably get a better response if you offered green design incentives rather than forced green compliance through code enforcement. Are you guys fimilar with the green "points" system that the Fed’s use for compliance on Gov projects that require green investment? It basically offers points for recycled mat’s etc.. till a desire score is reached.

I think planners could do more by working with local developers and exist. Building owners for shared use of services (ie; trash removal and recycling programs) or more efficient distribution of utilities, (ie; allowing for "hoteling" of space working w/ steam loops and coordinating power w/ fiber optic, etc..)In a past life I worked w/ planners on connecting to a steam loop that worked out very well. This forms kind of a private public partnership that makes “green” pay for end users.

The Germans and the Dutch have doen some very cool things with "green" town plans.


Green design can and does work well in an urban downtown setting. My city currently has more “green buildings” than any other in the country, including our new convention center, which is also the nations largest LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certified building. We are currently working on ways to offer green incentives to all new development in the city and our new Zoning Administrator is writing green design into our code.

Here's some pics of a few gren buildings here.

PNC Bank Firstside Center

David L Lawrence Convention Center


The New House dorms at Carnegie Mellon University

The Green Building Alliance has a lot of info on green building construction as well as financing.


Infact the past two days I have been totally occupied attending the two day workshop/seminar on the GBC.
My city has the only platinum rated building in the country( maybe one of the only four such ones in the whole world) Link

This was a follow up of a one day orientation workshop held a few months ago.
The concept is picking up in India with more government institutional and private corporate sector going for green buildings. In fact two more such large projects are already in the offing in my city already.

In the last few months my head has been full of these green concepts and Michaels thread has just come on time.
All I cna say right now is that no specific change has been made in the regulations out here.
Only that the government gave the land to the Confederation of Indian Industry(CII) for free. :)
CII is one of the largest industry/corporate associations in India and holds a large annual conference in Hyderabad. The next one is slated in August 2004. David Gottfried, Kath Williams and Donna Mcintire( lot of representation from the USA and australia) That would be an oppurtunity to know more.

I've just returned after a long and heavy day of presentations and discussions.
So will post again with a clear head tomorrow. |-)