Contract - March 2013 - (Page 10)
photo: MeG Walton
The Power of Words to Communicate in an Information Age
Words matter. What one says and how they say it matter. Which
skewed to try to convince readers that the effort to design schools
information is used and how it is implemented matters. We’re conscious sustainably is too costly and has little actual impact on education.
of that as writers and editors, just as you are conscious of choices you
Among many other findings and conclusions, the story notes that,
make as designers.
“A USA TODAY review of school-test records, LEED-certification
We’re keeping that in mind in multiple ways this month.
documents, and research reports shows little correlation between
For one, Contract is focused on delivering content that is both
‘green schools’ and student performance or energy use.”
inspirational as well as just plain helpful to you in your day-to-day
In searching for a smoking gun, the story is an unfair takedown,
practice, your business, and your design work. With that message in
and does a complete disservice to the attempts to build better learning
hand, I’m pleased to introduce readers to a new element of Contract in
environments for our nation’s children. Words matter, and in this case
print: A column by noted architect, designer, and expert on the
the reporting seemed to have an axe to grind against a 501c3 nonprofit.
business of design, Richard Pollack, FAIA, FIIDA. Many of you know him.
The truth is that more than 3,000 schools in the United States are
He is a past president of IIDA, has been practicing architecture and
LEED certified and most of those schools have achieved LEED for
interior design for 40 years, and had led his own firm Pollack
Schools certification at no additional cost to the project’s budget.
Architecture in San Francisco for 28 years. I’ve called upon him to distill
USGBC considers this the fourth USA TODAY article attacking
his wisdom for Contract readers based on his experience. In this
green buildings. In a USGBC statement posted to its website, Rick
month’s issue, Pollack (page 24) offers advice to architects and
Fedrizzi, the president, CEO, and founding chair of USGBC, wrote, “USA
designers on obtaining work in a project type that is new to them—to
TODAY has once again written an article attacking green building,
evaluate a market and potentially develop new business in it. And given deliberately ignoring information we provided and cherry picking data
that this issue is focused on design for education, Pollack offers readers that misleads readers. The story is unbalanced and purposely attempts
tips on how to gain school design projects specifically, but the lessons
to impugn LEED despite the fact that it has helped lead quantified best
can be applicable to multiple building types. Look for his column to
practices in designing, constructing, and operating all our buildings,
continue in upcoming issues of Contract.
including our nation’s schools.
“Although LEED is not the only way to improve or green a school,
LEED is helping put money back into classrooms around the country
USA TODAY versus USGBC
How one writes about a subject is important, and can have a significant and can make a tremendous impact on student health, school
operational costs, and the environment.”
impact, positively or negatively. Case in point: A lengthy December 11,
Third-party certification systems such as USGBC may not be
2012 USA TODAY article, “Green Schools: Long on Promise, Short on
perfect, and may have flaws. But they are absolutely vital in establishing
Delivery,” by Thomas Frank attempts to essentially diminish the role of
the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and its LEED® rating systems standards and benchmarks.
Words matter as we all strive to elevate our knowledge and
as they relate to school design. The story begins with the provocative
performance in all that we do.
subhead, “USA TODAY special report finds little link between
environmentally friendly buildings and learning or energy use.”
To be sure, the USA TODAY author and two contributors appear
to have completed extensive research for the article, which totals more
than 2,200 words. But the attempt at an exposé falls flat, and facts are
John Czarnecki, editor in Chief
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract - March 2013
Contract - March 2013
Columnist: Gaining Projects in the Education Market
Product Focus: On the Move
Product Briefs: Education
University of Toronto Rotman School of Management
Bangkok University Imagine Lounge
Lorain County Community College iLoft
Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall, Sonoma State University
Forum Overview: Contract Design Forum Looks Toward the Future
Designers Select: Education Solutions
Contract - March 2013