SMART | focus

Taking Responsibility

Elizabeth Young

Energy is the biggest challenge we face today in building design and construction. From the energy required to remove the building material’s ingredients from the earth to the energy it takes for an owner to operate a building long after it’s been built, energy is on the mind of designers. And, more and more, the designer has to consider – and account for – energy used in the creation of a building material all the way through a building’s expected life.

This is no small feat. We must consider many questions. How do we procure energy? How do we determine our energy needs? How do we reduce that need? How do we monitor actual usage? How will choices we make today effect future consumption?

Fortunately, designers have more and more support from people and companies working all along that continuum. The development and evolution of green rating systems have played a significant role in the way we think about building sites, material selection, operating equipment, occupant usage, health and comfort. Each advancement is followed by the question, “How can we improve on this?”

The quest for energy savings, energy efficiency, has become the social responsibility of the design and construction industries. It is our obligation to act in a way that benefits society at large.

In this issue of SMART |dynamicsofmasonry, we see so clearly how that is happening with masonry. Within the industry, people are working to improve the performance of individual masonry products and masonry wall systems, while reducing the materials, energy and complexity involved.

We feature two net zero energy projects that use masonry in the building envelope system in different ways and in different climate zones as part of their energy reduction strategy.

We share stories of how strides are being made in maximizing energy efficiency of single wythe masonry in numerous ways. A simple, structural clay brick envelope provides the best option for a thermal “igloo”, changing the shape and aggregate mix of a CMU for improved thermal performance, understanding paths to energy code compliance and using material and human resources for all they’re worth help ensure that owners are getting the best we can offer today for successful service well into the future.

And with all of this, creating beautiful buildings, evoking a sense of place and providing a pleasing experience to occupants is always at the fore of a designers’ social responsibility. I hope you are inspired by the visually-stunning buildings we feature within.

Warm Regards,

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