CINCINNATI, OH — The Radiant Panel Association (RPA) held its 8th annual Radiant Heating Conference & Expo (REX) recently in Cincinnati. The theme of REX was “Radiant Green — Using Radiant Technology in ‘Green’ Building Construction.”

The keynote speaker was Alexis Karolides, a registered AIA architect and senior research associate/ consultant for the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), Snowmass, CO, who spoke on how to capitalize on using radiant in green construction.

RMI defines green buildings as those that are “more comfortable, more efficient, more appealing, and ultimately more profitable.”

Karolides posed a question to attendees: “Why should we ‘green’ a building?” Answer: “We can make a building three to four times more energy efficient simply by a retrofit project.”

Karolides added more reasons to go green:

  • Buildings use 3 billion tons of raw materials.

  • Up to 40% of the world’s energy goes into buildings.

  • Building industries use 16% of the world’s fresh water supplies.

    “Energy efficiency has community benefits,” she said. “It creates local jobs and saves millions of dollars.”

    “The built environment is humanity’s largest artifact,” Karolides said. “People spend 90% of their time indoors. How we design buildings is critical to our well-being.”

    She cited the Village Homes of Davis, CA, as one of the earliest examples of a sustainable community. These homes were built in the early 70s during the oil embargoes and energy crisis.

    The Village Homes were described as the “earliest of what are now called ‘ecoburbs,’ communities that respond to and respect native vegetation, plan their land to harvest water from natural drainage, and site homes and other buildings with respect to climate,” she said. “The houses at Village Homes were designed to take advantage of passive solar for heating, and depending on local climate and topography, siding for wind protection and natural ventilation.”

    Karolides said that homes in the Davis subdivision achieved indoor comfort despite outside temperatures of up to 115 degrees F.

    “The homes contained ceiling and oscillating fans, attic radiant barriers, a whole house fan, and double drywall,” she added.

    Although the early homes were a hard sell, the mature subdivision has long waiting lists for buyers. Property values have soared.

    Karolides also cited reasons why buildings are designed with the well-being factor in mind. “Day-lit schools [utilizing natural daylight in design] result in higher grades among the students,” she said.

    Karolides disputed the opinion that greening a building is costly. But she added that cost is an important part of a financially successful project. “Green technology has to cost less to the developer, cost less to the homeowner, and cost less to the environment and its inhabitants,” she said.

    Publication date: 06/17/2002