Today, a renewed understanding and greater awareness of the significance of our interaction with the natural environment is increasing our focus on building responsibly and sustainably. As an architect, Bruce Richey has spent over 30 years designing both commercial buildings and residences with sustainable and energy-conserving strategies. Whether it is intelligent site planning, the use of Earth-friendly materials and techniques, or a focus on reclaimed or renewable resources, integrated environmental design is a cornerstone of his work philosophy.
The U.S. Department of Energy and the Energy Information Administration maintain statistics on the energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions of residential and commercial buildings, industry, and transportation. These organizations have gathered information on activities specific to building construction. Their data illustrate that construction materials and building operations consume 48% of American-produced energy each year. Likewise, these materials and operations account for another 48% of the United States' greenhouse gas emissions. This revealing caveat shows how significant an impact architecture and construction can have on energy usage, greenhouse gas production, and ultimately, climate change.
The American Institute of Architects and other organizations predict that by 2035, three-fourths of the built environment in the United States will be either new or renovated. Along with the necessary building materials, these projects will require illumination. Lighting, particularly in commercial spaces, accounts for the largest portion of a building's energy consumption. Designs that incorporate natural daylighting strategies and efficient use of electric lighting are a critical aspect of reducing energy consumption. In order to have the greatest possible impact on energy reduction, architects must work diligently on each project to develop effective and efficient lighting plans. Lighting should not be viewed as a stand-alone element, but rather as an incorporated building system.
Architects should take up this challenge by studying and understanding the past. For centuries, new buildings were sited to take advantage of passive solar heating and cooling prevailing breezes. Homes and communities were also carefully placed where geologic formations could offer protection and where natural resources were available within close proximity. Throughout history, successful building construction techniques have included massive walls to temper heat gain and loss, overhangs (both constructed and natural) to protect against unwanted climatic conditions, and building configurations that included window openings on two sides to facilitate natural lighting. Today, we have advanced and sophisticated resources on hand. Yet it is vital that we not forget the simple energy efficient and sustainable techniques of the past.
As an architect, Bruce Richey has a long history of designing energy efficient, passive solar, and naturally lit buildings. Building sustainably is not a new technology or skill. Mr. Richey integrates specialized expertise with a dedication to environmentally responsible design. Building green is not a fad. It is a long-term commitment showing that design innovation can work on many levels.