Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Building trends, on what resale depends

Published in Cities Unite, Gig Harbor, April Edition
Building trends on what resale depends

By Brett Marlo DeSantis

I love to keep you in the know so this month let’s talkabout trends. I aim to enlighten in 650 words or less!

The design build industry is taking hold of sustainabilitytrends and employing them in a various ways. Let’s begin with the low-hangingfruit and work our way up.

The trend of Eco-Appeal—aesthetically pleasing +environmentally friendly—this is the place to be. As this trend enters themainstream population the availability of environmentally-friendly buildingsupplies and materials is on the rise as the costs continue to decrease.

Not long ago, if you wanted green building materials you hadonly a handful of choices. In the recent years, manufacturers have been steadilyworking to satisfy this new consumer base and growing trend. You can now find aplethora of products in many colors and finishes to satisfy just about anybuilding style, design and d├ęcor.

The latest trend is greening existing buildings and it pays backin terms of higher rents and property values, greater comfort levels andhealthier spaces. Believe it or not, there are even certified residential greenappraisers now!

Next on the trend list are energy use trends. You may beperfectly happy in your current space, ready to sell, ready to remodel or readyto buy or build—either way, I bet you have thought about lowering your utilitybills.

You may already know that when the time comes to look at newappliances to check out the Energy Star program. The primary goal of EnergyStar is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This lofty goal means that their qualifiedproducts will not only be environmentally friendly, but will save you a ton onyour electric bill. What you may not have realized is that Energy Star’sprogram includes: air conditioners, furnaces, heat pumps, windows, andlighting.

While you are considering all of these state-of-the-artoptions, you may want to consider the next trend on our list—switching fuels. Currentlynatural gas is much less expensive than other forms of electricity. Here isanother example of where you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and savemoney.

As trendsetters go, there are the early adopters and thereare the ones blazing the trail. You may be the type to dip your toes in the wateror just jump right in. If you fall into the latter category, you may want tocheck out alternative energy, such as geothermal and new solar technologies.

Even in the great northwest, solar is a great renewableresource. Did you know that we get more than enough sun to make solar panels aviable option? In fact, solar panels are said to work more efficiently incooler climates.

What not “off the grid” yet?  With these technologies in place, you can gocutting edge—net zero baby—with zero net energy consumption and zero carbonemissions annually.

Who would have thought being a complete zero would be soappealing? These newly designed and built structures are called “energy-plus”buildings and they produce more energy than they use at different times of theyear.

So what if you do decide to build rather than to green anexisting structure? Well then you may want to check this out. Building codes, currentlystating only minimum acceptable levels for safety, may soon change assustainability trends become the norm.

The International Green Construction Code is expected to bepublished at any moment and while it relies upon our jurisdictions to reviewand elect to accept it, it is clear that codes in the near future will be rampingup to conserve energy and water and just plain make our structures healthierplaces as well as safer ones.

Last trend—the art of being green—you can build the greenestbuilding on the planet and it will fail if the inhabitants do not participate.

So, how trendy will you be?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Becoming an agent of change

It was not long ago (in fact just December) when I decided to make great change. It's not that the thought had not occurred to me before. As a matter of fact upon graduation from my undergraduate degree, I had joined AmeriCorps to make change as well. I wanted to teach environmental education to young children and create neighborhood beautification projects and that is just what I did.

Now many years have passed. In those years I have devoted myself to gaining more specific knowledge in the field of architecture and design, gotten many pairs of shoes dirty on-site(s), my masters...oh yeah...got married and had kids as well!

And although life keeps getting busier, I still have this overwhelming pull towards bettering people's lives, and sustaining our culture. This may be by designing spaces that compliment the lives of the occupants and make life easier and just plain more enjoyable. Or by educating the public through the written word. Or by volunteering to become a public servant.

I want to thank my Tacoma/Olympia Cascadia Green Building Council Steering Committee for believing in me so much. The committee elected to use funds to support my leadership goals. And it was the Emerge Workshop the sent me to in December that helped me emerge as an agent of change.

No longer will I (just) think about change when I can make it happen.

If you are thinking of ways you would like to make a difference no matter what your cause, I urge you to sketch your goals down (even on a napkin) as once they are written, spoken or become real to you--they will become real to everyone else as well.

Thank you to my family, friends, clients and a huge thanks to my mentors (I think you know who you are) for supporting and guiding me. I have been so fortunate to make some really great strides this year already. Now the real work must begin.

I will work on the next step in my journey and of course I am here to support you in yours.