K+BB - November 2008 - (Page 36)

Although his involvement in sustainability extends as far back as his student days in the 1970s, architect David Bergman did not truly begin practicing ecodesign until the 1990s, when “a fortuitous meeting of people while weekend bicycling” led to work with an alternative transportation organization, as well as some group projects. The ’90s were also when Bergman opened his own architecture and interiors practice, which was then followed by Fire & Water, an eco-friendly furniture and lighting company that focuses on energy efficiency, as well as green materials and finishes, and Q&A David Bergman, DAVID BERGMAN ARCHITECT whose designs have appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Metropolis and Architectural Record. In addition to his design work, Bergman currently teaches at Parsons The New School for Design, for which he developed core sustainable design courses, and cocreated “Educating Educators: A Crash Course in Ecodesign,” a program that aims to bring green design principles to design schools throughout the country. A frequent lecturer, Bergman recently spoke at the D&D Building in New York City on a concept he terms, “Transparent Green.” What is Transparent Green? Transparent Green is the concept that green design doesn’t have to have a look or even be apparently green. In the early phases of green design, there was definitely an aesthetic associated with green design that served to marginalize it. But that won’t do anymore, nor does it need to. The primary downside of Transparent Green, however, is that if the eco qualities of a product or building become totally invisible, we lose the awareness factor. What are three of the biggest misconceptions about sustainable design? That it costs more, requires sacrifice—either in aesthetics or function— and that it’s a fad. Are all of your projects “green” in some aspect or another? The phrase “some aspect or another” is appropriate—how much depends on the clients and on the specifics of the project. Many of my clients come to me because they like my designs, which is great, because I don’t want to be pigeonholed as an ecodesigner for whom aesthetics is secondary. So I usually end up asking my clients a loaded question: “If we can incorporate ecodesign without compromising the design concepts or the budget, will you do that?” It’s pretty hard to say no to that, of course. For clients who are less interested still, I’ll practice a bit of stealth green, for example, spec’ing non-VOC paints without telling them. If a client is interested in green design but is concerned about cost, what do you say to them? Two things. There are materials and products that, in some cases, are no more expensive than what they would have chosen otherwise. And then, there are areas where there is a higher first cost, but a good payback period. There can be a third as well, which is that it may be a good investment in the future value of the property. Do you have any tips for greening the kitchen and the bath? Oh, where to start? Energy efficiency? Water efficiency? Nontoxic materials? Sustainable materials? We spend a lot of time in our kitchens and bathrooms, so it’s important that we “get it right” and not compromise design in the name of sustainability. Otherwise, we risk making people resent green design, which becomes self-defeating. What are you seeing in the next generation of architects and designers in terms of attitudes about green design? First off, they’re coming in more knowledgeable about the environmental situation, which in turn means they understand why green design is important. I think the problem may be more in the departments than with the students. Sustainable design needs to be integrated into design teaching—not seen as a single course, taken once and then put aside. What would you say is the best green development/innovation in the past five years? It’s by no means an innovation, but the best green development recently has probably been—as harsh as it sounds—rising energy prices. Oil and gas prices have been artificially low, which has discouraged conservation and innovation, because when gas is cheap, why worry about fuel efficiency? Where do you hope sustainable design will go in the next five years? I think we’re not far from a point where we stop thinking about sustainable design as a specialty area and where all design incorporates sustainability. Just as you wouldn’t design a building without ascertaining its structural soundness and its safety, it will simply become unprofessional and unethical not to verify at least rudimentary sustainability. s —Alice Liao For more of this interview, go to www.kbbonline.com/Bergman. 36 + K BB November July 2004 2008 / www.kbbonline.com / The Official Sponsor of K/BIS www.kbis.com http://www.kbbonline.com/Bergman http://www.kbbonline.com http://www.kbis.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of K+BB - November 2008

K+BB - November 2008
Contents
Online Contents
Online News
Feedback
Products
Trends
Special Green Section
Editorial/Green Intro
California Greenin'
Buying Green
Serious About Green
Natural Selection
Q&A
Control Issues
Green on a Budget
Airing Out
Earthly Wonder
Under the Influence
Cover Story: Under the Influence: An Asian-Inspired Kitchen with Green Appeal
Green Products
Ad Index
Editorial Index
Favorites

K+BB - November 2008

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