Using Rating Systems to Guide the Charrette Discussion

Guidelines and rating systems provide a way to structure the charrette and to move efficiently through the various topics of green building. There are many good green building rating programs used in various parts of the country. Examples include Seattle's SeaGreen program (Washington); the city of Portland's Green Affordable Housing guidelines (Oregon); Alameda County Waste Management Authority's New Home Construction and Multifamily green building guidelines (California); EarthCraft's

FIGURE 2.5. The charrette is followed by research and cost analysis to support decision making around the most effective green strategies.

FIGURE 2.5. The charrette is followed by research and cost analysis to support decision making around the most effective green strategies.


Traugott Terrace (Seattle, Washington) Archdiocesan Housing Authority

Traugott Terrace was built to provide "clean and sober" housing in Seattle, Washington. The project includes 38 studio and one-bedroom apartments for very low-income individuals, as well as 12 transitional single-room occupancy (SRO) units and common spaces.

The entire project team held an initial charrette to determine the project's green building goals (in hopes of obtaining the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) incentive funding provided by Seattle City Light). Participants included the design team, the developer, client representatives, Seattle Housing Authority, and the local utility. The charrette provided the opportunity for the entire team to establish its goals and strategies for green building, as well as the chance to create buyoff among all parties.

As the design progressed, based on its initial goals, the team was able to incorporate various strategies that enabled the project to become the first LEED-certified affordable housing project in the country. Although the funding to pursue a LEED certification did not arise until midway through the construction documents stage, the team attributed their ability to achieve LEED certification at such a late stage to critical decisions made early. Without the charrette and initial goal-setting it would have been difficult to achieve LEED certification.

Single and Multifamily programs used in Georgia and other parts of the Southeast; and New Jersey's Green Homes program.

The two national rating systems that best apply to affordable housing are the Green Communities Initiative criteria developed by Enterprise Community Partners and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating systems for new construction (LEED NC) and for homes (LEED for Homes) developed and administered by the U.S. Green Building Council. While each program is slightly different in terms of the types of measures recommended and how different green items are allocated points (or credits in the LEED ratings system), each addresses the five core categories of green building—site, water, energy, materials, and indoor environmental quality. These categories and specific strategies are discussed in more detail in Chapter 3.

In the charrette, the facilitator can describe the intent behind each of the points and explain what design strategies would be needed for the project to earn the points. It is essential, however, for the facilitator to keep in mind what the goals are for the project and to avoid having the rating system either dominate the charrette process or lead the team to choose items that are not a good fit for the project just for the sake of earning credits.

The remainder of the charrette is used to determine how to best meet the performance standards—drawing on the expertise and experience in the room—with the goal of identifying several robust possibilities for integration and synergy, such as the following:

• Designing the building to have a narrow footprint (50 feet or less) and exterior walkways and stairs, thus creating a situation in which natural ventilation and ample daylight nearly eliminate the need for mechanical cooling or artificial lighting during the day.

• Designing the HVAC system around a central boiler, which produces hot water for both domestic use (sinks, tubs, and showers) and space heating through either a radiant (wall or floor mounted radiators) or forced-air system. This approach both eliminates the need for individual hot-water heaters and removes two sources of combustion (the water heater and the furnace) from the individual dwellings, thus reducing venting requirements and eliminating the potential for exposure to combustion gases.

• Designing the landscaping to reduce stormwater runoff through grading the site to direct water toward recessed areas, or paving walkways and fire access lanes with permeable materials, thus reducing the cost of stormwater infrastructure.

• Placing the laundry rooms or management office in a central location to increase interaction among neighbors, help build a sense of community, and improve safety.

During the charrette, the design team and developer should also anticipate the type of postoccupancy maintenance that will be provided and how the residents will use the building, given their demographic characteristics and the past experience of the developer. To that end it is important to solicit input from property management and maintenance personnel. If the building's design intent does not match the level of maintenance to be provided, or the ability of the residents to maintain their units, the benefits expected in design may not be achieved or may quickly diminish. The intent of certain features such as programmable thermostats, occupancy sensors, and automatic bathroom fans may even backfire if residents and maintenance staff are not informed about what the features are or how to use them. Chapter 4 provides more information on operations and maintenance issues.

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