« Courtyard by Kaven: visiting the Interchange residence | Main | Of cars, lanes and neighborhoods: discussing the new Sellwood Bridge [updated] »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


How is LEED and its certifying agents working with the fact that some ostensibly green building technologies are not at all very green or sustainable when they require lots of remediation?


does mr hoff understand that much of the construction detailing and such is not within the purview of most Architects? I am not suggesting that this is the best solution, but it is the truth. the execution of the design is not within hands of the designer.


Proper detailing to prevent leaks or other defects is a very important issue, but to imply that green building is the cause is misleading. Those types of problems occurred long before anyone conceived of a green building, and while adding a sun shade can precipitate a problem, so can adding an typical awning or a sign. In my opinion simple lack of attention to detail causes the problems weather or not one is trying to be innovative.
That said, it should be obvious that a truly sustainable building shouldn't need to have its siding torn off and replaced. I'd love to see some sort of 'commissioning' process for the building envelope that verifies that the various construction trades responsible for the building envelope do proper installations. I've heard that an average building uses 2% more energy because of unwanted air infiltration through gaps in the envelope. That may not seem like a lot, but it adds up.

Brian Libby

Sut, if I made it seem like Hoff was implying green building is the cause of leaks and other defects, that's my mistake. In our talk, he was not doing so. Rather, I inquired about how sustainability figures into their work and may have been leading him in that regard. I just meant to explore how innovative technical and material solutions sometimes, by nature, don't have the test of time to benefit from, but are still worth it in the long run.


As an architect I have been integraly involved with the design of bulding envelopes with and without envelope consultants. Condos were the biggest driver for firms like RDH and Morrison Hershfield to offer their services in the Portland market. Big time consultants who helped Canada work through what was a colossal mess at the time. Portland was fairly lucky to have its wave of high end condos lag even the Seattle Market which also suffered through its fair share of tented buildings.

For some of us incorporating appropriate detailing has become the standard, rain screen systems second nature. By neccessity the level of detailing has increased and improved with more three dimensional and sequencing drawings such as for window installation. Intersections and saddle details are a must. Developing and maintaing a quality review process is really important at all phases of a project. Deciding to check systems and details after the permit is issued does not work.

Many Archuitects got caught up in the feeding freenzy of condos in the past few years without the expertise or knowledge to pull it off.

I also agree that Portland is filled with many talented designers who, while creating spatial delights, may in fact be setting the stage down the line for litigation.

The reality is that proper detailing is not rocket science. but it does take a commitment by the entire client, contractor, architect team to make it a reality. There has been some movement towards providing a ten year whole building insurance policy like they do in Canada. which requires a number of provisions including third part review. Others with more insight can discuss this.

being proactive to prevent a tear off or tear down after ten years makes nothing but sense both finacially and environmentally. It is also true that many Leed certified buildings may actually be energy dogs. It is possible to have a building with 50-60% glass be certified and yet have a bulding envelope with an R-3 or R-4 average envelope performance. It would seem that reducing demand is a lot easier than building so called clean coal plants.

Sorry for the length but it is a fascinating topic.


I am concerned that kitten starts off her comment with the idea that construction detailing is not in the hands of the architect. In fact the exact opposite is true -- the detailing is in the hands of the architect. The famous (and sometimes infamous) line 'God is in the details' holds true to the detailing of any construction project - especially when trying to keep moisture out of a building. Without crossing the line of the 'means and methods' of construction, the details within the drawings and the information in the specifications should give clear communication to the contractor on what to build for any given project. Please understand, I am not suggesting that architects/engineers or their plans are perfect, but the goal should be to communicate, in the details, to what level of protection a building envelope should achieve. And that information is most assuredly in the control of the architect. Luckily kitten corrects her comment at the end by saying its the execution of the details that is the problem, to which I would agree that the architect has less control.


I also wanted to add that buildings, no matter how well they are detailed or the construction is executed, all require maintenance both near and long term to keep them working properly. As in the case of Condos we made it a contractual obligation that the developer pay for a maintenance and renewal manual that ultimately the HOA must follow. This document also gives the HOA a tool to develope budgets especially for big items down the road such as roof replacement. It is also great protection against litigation. A big issue that we see in a lot of the affordable housing stock in this town is due to lack of understanding about how to maintain projects and limited funds to pay for it. The older buildings that use a face seal or barrier approach to the envelope need a lot of attention.


"He estimates that more than half of all LEED-rated buildings are not performing as efficiently as designed"

More Than Half?!? Good lord.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Lead Sponsors


Portland Architecture on Facebook

More writing from Brian Libby


  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad

Paperblogs Network

Google Analytics

  • Google Analytics

Awards & Honors