Building the Green Triangle
Green is red hot! Green is the factor of choice to apply in so many settings. You can choose a green college, a green vehicle, and a green refrigerator. I recently learned that right here in the Triangle you can even hire a green caterer. The friendly wager between Ed Begley, Jr. and Bill Nye, as to who has the greenest domicile, made national news. And of course there is a strong local thread of green options online these days, including the strong journalist investigations at Raleigh Eco News and the celebrations of sustainability at Green Grounded.
New construction in the Triangle is no exception. Green architecture is really picking up speed, with growing support from a market-driven, PR-supported, and professionally nurtured series of spectacular successes across the Triangle. Architecture has been the pioneer discipline for the business model of green conservation. A recent conference included some of the area’s largest employers exploring the bottom line benefits of “sustainability, broadly defined as meeting present needs without compromising those of future generations.” Green builders are giving architects exciting arenas for enacting this process. And we all benefit when we put some lean grace into our footprint.
The national icon of green institutional architecture is right here in the Triangle. The EPA campus, dedicated in 2002, represents a standard of both practical details and aesthetic and human values that will be hard to match for a long time. In terms of , it is considered the top rated project in the country. Not to be outdone, IBM is building a new data-base center that will be mighty green as well. Durham boasts the North Regional Library and a brand new Duke student residence as highly rated green structures.
Chapel Hill simply requires ALL new construction by or for the town to be LEED certified, which is the national standard of sustainable design. Frank Harmon’s design for the visitor center at the NC Botanical Garden is “slated to be the first Platinum LEED building in the Southeast.”
Frank Harmon seems to be riding a surfer’s wave of green projects. He is working on a multi-phase project at the Museum of Natural Sciences’ Prairie Ridge site in Raleigh, and was recently awarded the design for the new AIA headquarters at the edge of the Blount Streets Commons project.
All of these institutional projects are to be applauded. High end housing, if Ed and Bill have anything to say about it, will continue to grow the value of sustainable design. Local lower income residences may soon be included in the trend. We’ve had a local model for all this a very long time. A good final touch in any discussion of local green architecture is the NCSU Solar House, which, since 1981, has stood as a testament to and lab for these inevitable but so-long delayed trends. Now the Solar House has expanded its mission to support investigations into landfill gas energy, coastal wind programs and Healthybuilt Homes. NCSU and the College of Design give Raleigh and the Triangle a big boost in green leadership – let’s all join in and keep it up!