I recently asked ARCHI-TECH's insightful board of architect advisors what they thought the effect would be of the heavily publicized capital tightening in the U.S. How would it affect future projects? What impact would it have on the technologies that are incorporated into their commercial building projects?
In short, they said that capital availability ebbs and flows over the course of one's career. This is nothing new to an experienced architect.
But, they went on, what's really more important than current capital trends is the irrevocable long-term drive to bring American buildings up to a world standard of energy efficiency and sustainability. Capital will be cyclical. But, inspired by global warming and shrinking sources of cheap energy, the longer-term trend is toward revolutionary building designs and innovative technologies that support an efficient, responsible building system.
To drive their point home, the advisory board members pointed out Europe's advanced state of energy-efficient sustainable buildings born of the necessity to cope with generations of high energy costs and the need to "do more with less" in the area of natural resources. Another sustainability driver cited by the board is public perception of the value of "going green," which can be a competitive advantage in business. An example brought up during the discussion: Despite being one of the most energy-rich countries on earth, Kuwait increasingly is requiring that its built environment be developed to LEED certification standards.
But whatever the underlying causes of the green movement may be, the board members were clear that our long-term focus must be on catching up to the rest of the world, regardless of current capital availability.
At ARCHI-TECH we focus on the technologies in building systems. I've got to say the board's comments seem right on as I speak to suppliers of building technology product and systems. Sure, some technology suppliers are experiencing a slowdown in the U.S., but what proves the advisory board members right is the considerable number of green technology suppliers whose business is not just stable but growing. A manufacturer of innovative energy-saving heating systems recently said that inquiries from architects have been swelling, adding, "I know some suppliers are struggling but this has been our best year ever."
What I take from our architect advisors' advice is this: Don't get distracted by all the media crowd noise. Keep your eye on the green ball.