President's Message: February, 2017

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New commitments for a New Year? Please consider participating in one of our Chapter’s committees or task teams. Help is always needed as March and Pro-Fair approach. There are many other opportunities to get involved – membership; electronic communications; graphics; marketing; programs; and certification are just a few of the ongoing efforts that take place thanks to the Board of Directors and a core team of volunteers. There are many ways to match your skills and interests to a range of activities that can be very rewarding. Please contact me, or any Board member, and let’s find a great match.

Thank you to everyone who attended our first Member Meeting of 2017. Robert Bolin, Senior Principal with Syska Hennessey Group, and LEED Fellow, brought us a presentation about the Lower Sproul project in Berkeley with a focus on the daylighting and ventilation design of the new Eschleman Hall.  Syska Hennessey Group collaborated with Moore Ruble Yudell Architects from the earliest stages of the design to orient and shape the building, and to organize its functional layout to maximize natural light and ventilation. The presentation included diagrams and tables that illustrate how this design was tuned to keep the building within a comfortable temperature range with minimal reliance on mechanical cooling.

We have come a very long way since the early days of building energy conservation in the 1970’s when our tools were limited to adjustable triangles and prescriptive tables of requirements. California’s first energy codes look very primitive today. Even 10 years ago, we were likely to explore solar shading using physical models and the heliodyne at the PG&E Energy Center; and naturally ventilating a large public building was challenging - even experimental. The power of BIM and energy modelling have made accurate predictive design a reality. These tools also help building owners and end users understand their choices.

To these powerful design tools, we can add a range of systems and materials that provide predictable performance. The building industry is often criticized for a lack of innovation when compared to other sectors of the economy. But if we look back into the very recent past, we see a different picture. Innovations in digital controls and the “internet of everything” have made it possible to coordinate multiple systems to act reliably in concert - operating mechanical systems, windows, louvers, and window coverings in response to changing conditions. Materials such as glass offer a radically expanded range of options that can be finetuned to local climate. Compared to the dreary brown or alarmingly reflective glazing of the late 20th Century, the aesthetic possibilities seem unlimited.

California can take some credit for innovation in building technologies now and in the future. Our codes continue to set a high bar, and our size creates a market for new products and technologies that have much broader benefits. Let’s face this new year with optimism and confidence in the progress that we’ve help achieve as building industry professionals and providers. 

Our February presentation by Felix R. Weber and Galen Burrell of ARUP, brought even more detail to the opportunities for sophisticated technologies for dynamic glazing and shading products. Their case studies including the Al Bahr Towers were excellent examples of innovative solutions to the increasing complexity that façade and daylighting designers face.

Chapter President Merideth Marschak

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