I'm not sure this recent news was on your radar. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) met recently to discuss common goals, such as carbon neutral buildings by the year 2030 and other sustainability issues. As a result of the meeting, the organizations created a strategic alliance and associated work plan in three main areas: advocacy, education, and research. These two customer group associations also identified at least 10 possible collaborative projects.
The green movement is here to stay. Spurred by higher energy prices, our customer's customer is demanding that sustainable construction practices become part of common day activities.
The masonry industry isn't aware of how far behind the crest we are. I was recently told by a high-ranking marketing spokesperson for an international brick manufacturer that she recently learned of a survey in which a large percentage of architects didn't view bricks as a sustainable building material.
In his recently published book "Sustainable Urbanism, Urban Design with Nature," author Douglas Farr offers several examples of green construction projects. There was no mention of a masonry structure.
It's a shame that architects view masonry construction as old hat. Perhaps that's because much of our contribution to a high-performance building structure is hidden. When the architect comes to a jobsite, it's hard to discern the innovation in design, the process improvement, and any "green" materials.
Masonry may have a difficult time riding the green wave unless we can change these observations. The green wave is rolling over the design community. If one tries to ride its crest, one will be swallowed up and discarded in its undertow.
What can a mason contractor do? I think the process starts with a simple self-examination. How does my jobsite look? Is it neat? Do my employees recycle? Is there someone on staff who has attended a USGBC local chapter meeting?
Perhaps you've done something to become engaged with the green movement. Please e-mail me your accomplishment so we can share it with everyone.