The Future Will Not be Similar to the Past

By Frank Shermanreposted from

In light of all the significant weather events that have happened this year, culminating in the massive destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, it is worth revisiting a report co-authored in 2011 by the University of Michigan and the U.S. Green Building Council.

The report titled: “Green Building and Climate Resilience” is an in-depth analysis of the impact of changing climate conditions and the need for more resilient design strategies in buildings and communities. In the aftermath of Sandy, I wrote about the need for resilient design. This report supports much of what forward thinking building professionals are saying; Buildings need to be more resilient to the impacts of wind, rain, fire, flooding, drought, tornadoes and severe weather events.

“World climate change experts … have indicated that the world will almost certainly experience some degree of climate change no matter how quickly greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. This makes climate adaptation necessary”.

Regardless of on which side of the climate debate you fall, based on the types and intensity of weather events we have experienced in the recent past, and are expected to experience in the future, our buildings, infrastructure and communities need to be more resilient. Our built environment needs to withstand an uncertain climate future.

“While climate has always been integrated into the building professions, our codes, standards, and practices typically assume that the future will be similar to the past. Climate change requires that we update these codes, standards, and practices with the best available knowledge.”

Adaptation takes time. We ignore the science and the warnings. We squander the precious time we have to address the causes and effects of a changing global climate. You may want to deny it, but our planet is on a trajectory that does not bode well for future generations. If we are not willing to adapt, or make how and what we build more resilient, we put our our physical and fiscal well-being in peril.

Frank Sherman is an architect and green consultant based in Philadelphia PA. Frank is East Coast managing partner of Alpine Green Solutions, a national green building and energy efficiency consulting company, and maintains a design and consulting practice Terrain Consulting+Design focused on green building design and construction. Frank is a green building expert, educator with Cleanedison, and aspiring beekeeper.


Fields Northfield Volvo Awarded LEED Silver

It’s Official!  Fields Volvo Northfield has been awarded LEED Silver Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Fields Volvo Northfield is Volvo North America’s first LEED Certified facility, and the newest addition to the Fields Auto Group’s award winning family of dealerships.

Fields customers expect quality and performance from the cars they sell. Now customers can expect the same quality from the service and facilities they operate. LEED Certification is the benchmark for environmental performance and design, and Fields new facility at 770 Frontage Road in Northfield is a shining example of quality design and performance worthy of the Volvo name.

When it comes to fuel economy the building is as efficient as the cars they sell. The new facility uses 35% less energy than a normal building of its size. It generates over 5% of the electricity it needs annually from solar panels located on the roof of the facility and from  wind turbines mounted in a rain garden next to the service lounge.

When it comes to water, the building does its share not to waste a precious community resource. The facility will collect almost 468,000 gallons of rainwater a year and uses that water to flush toilets and irrigate the site. They are able to reduce the amount of public water we use by a whopping 81%! You can see the water storage tanks outside the facility, and there is an additional tank under the garden that allows Northfield Volvo to store 14,000 gallons of rainwater at a time.

Not only do they harvest rainwater to use in their facility, but they also have installed low-flow plumbing fixtures to conserve as much water as possible. Together, these systems help Northfield Volvo save water and money while helping the community and the environment.

Good design, safety, and quality construction are hallmarks of Volvo automobiles. Fields new facility reflects the same commitment to design, safety and quality.

Their new building is designed to take advantage of natural daylight, and uses advanced lighting technology to showcase its cars and create a pleasing environment. They use high efficiency fluorescent and LED lighting, sensors and controls, and provide daylight throughout the facility. The building is heated and cooled using highly efficient equipment in ways that provides comfort to customers and employees, all controlled by a system designed to save energy.

The new building is healthy and safe by design. They made sure to use materials that are non-toxic and promote good indoor air quality. During construction, they followed a plan designed to protect workers and employees, as well as the building itself from mold, moisture and contaminates. The materials and finishes they chose for the new facility release little or no contaminates that pollute the building.

Fields worked closely with the design team and general contractor to insure that the construction of our new facility met high standards for quality and environmental responsibility. 95% of the building waste generated during the construction of the new facility was recycled and diverted from going to a landfill, and over 26% of the materials used in the building have recycled content.

51% of the materials came from local and regional manufactures, which reduces the pollution caused when shipping materials and helps support the regional economy. They made sure that most of the wood used throughout the building came from certified sources that sustainably manage and protect our forests.

Northfield Auto Group is proud of our award for environmental responsible design and construction of their new Northfield Volvo dealership. LEED Silver Certification demonstrates their commitment, as well as Volvo North America’s commitment to providing  customers with the quality and performance they expect. We invite you to come see their new facility for yourself. Tour the building, take a test drive, and see why Fields Northfield Volvo is a leader in sales and service; and now a leader in environmental responsibility.