The LEEDers and the Followers

This morning I put myself through something no normal person willingly endures - two strenuous hours of Saturday morning standardized-testing. Grueling, to be sure, but the results were worth the stress. I'm now officially a LEED-accredited Green Associate!

So what does this mean, anyway? Besides the official privilege of using "LEED GA" after my name, I am now in a better position to work on sustainability-oriented projects and market myself as an architecture student and pre-professional who is knowledgeable about the standardized procedures of the government's USGBC programs.

But what does this REALLY mean. This whole sustainability "green-washing" and sudden rush for environmental concern? Sustainability is a very popular topic today, and it seems like every person and every corporation is trying to get their own edge or corner of the sustainability craze that's sweeping the United States. Businesses from Walmart to Herman-Miller are re-branding and re-marketing their practices as "Environmentally Friendly" and politicians are even beginning to talk about "Green Collar" jobs to jump start the white- and blue-collar slumps of the construction and financial economies.

So am I just playing right into the system? Does earning my LEED Green Associate accreditation make me anything more than a pawn in the larger schemes of the architecture industry, the latest economic trends, and the current political systems of the United States?

Thirty years from now, all architects who want to get any sort of government or corporate-sector job will HAVE to be LEED accredited. Period. It's the only way to survive. But is it any way to thrive, and is it even the best option to begin with?

Is it in the best interest of an architecture student to go with the flow and pursue LEED AP accreditation? Or is it better to go against the grain and be a rebel, traditional designer who doesn't need any sort of accreditation in order to practice?

These and many more questions are especially pertinent to architecture students and recent graduates/interns who are in desperate need of a job and will do almost anything to differentiate themselves from the pack. Does LEED accreditation act as a sort of measuring point giving employers preference in hiring procedures? Do students who have accreditation gain the upper hand in head-to-head employment competition?

I could talk about this for hours but I don't want to bore you. I hope to blog more about sustainability and the whole LEED system for later, but for now I'll just leave you with two these two questions -

What more is LEED than just a business-enhancing shiny object applied to a building? What does LEED do other than reward architects, designers, and clients for doing what they should already be doing in the first place?

Sustainably yours,
Nate Hammitt, LEED GA


Looking Back Pt. I

Here's part continued from Monday's list. I can't stress enough how important it is for architecture students to become knowledgeable about a wide range of things; from people to buildings to software programs, it matters WHO you know just as much as WHAT you know. And the list goes like this:

1. Architects: we should know who is out there changing the world of design

Norman Foster
Frank Gehry
Glen Mercutt
Daniel Liebskind
Peter Zumthor
Zaha Hadid
I. M. Pei
Renzo Piano
Santiago Calatrava
Thom Mayne

2. Terms: to expand vocabulary and be able to "talk the talk" (just make sure to learn how to "walk the walk" too!)

Design (know how it's different from "art" and "decoration")

3. Buildings: a short list of buildings that are at the forefront of contemporary design

Burj Kalifa (SOM)
Fallingwater (FLW)
Shanghai Expo 2010 buildings (various)
Aquatic Center for London 2012 Olympics (ZHA)
The Orbit (AK)
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao (FG)
Freedom Tower (SOM)
McCormick Tribune Campus Center (OMA)
Baths of Vals (PZ)
London Shard (RP)

4. Architecture Firms: Same as Architects, but this time for firms.

MAD Architects
DLR Group

There's so much more worth knowing but most of it is specific to each person's interest. Hopefully this short list of general topics will give some perspective and preparation for students wanting to know more about the profession.


Looking Back pt. II

So, what actually helped me in the my first two years of architecture school? Here's a quick retrospective list of things that I was influenced by and that helped me survive a crazy life at DAAP...

5. Movies: for perspective, entertainment, and inspiration

Run Lola Run
8 1/2
Sketches of Frank Gehry
12 Angry Men
Babette's Feast
Cremaster (seriously, it's the craziest movie I've ever seen)

6. Architecture websites: places for inspiration and news!
Daily Dose of Architecture
Death by Architecture
Green Design
Not Cot
Bldg Blog

7. Student groups and organizations: for community, networking, professionalism, and friendship
Cincy Navs and CRU
Alpha Rho Chi
Students for Ecological Design
American Institute of Architecture Students
Engineers Without Borders
Student Sustainability Coalition
USGBC's Emerging Green Builders/Professionals
Architecture for Humanity
Serve Beyond Cincinnati
JAC, Turner hall government

8. Software: good tools for getting digital work accomplished

Revit (seriously, learn it!)
3DS Max

I certainly don't know enough about every single one of these topics, but that's probably what the next two years of school are for, eh? I'll post a second list of Memorable things on Wednesday