Archives For Austin sustainability

6101415124_7e87da0cd8_oSustainability is on everyone’s mind these days, especially with global leaders coming together for climate change talks in Paris earlier this week. And there are many ongoing debates towards the most efficient efforts in combatting global warming, which is why sustainability has become a priority for architects, and why there is much criticism about a building’s performance and energy efficiency. In Texas, sustainable architecture has seen continued awareness and growth. The Lone Star State ranks in the top ten in the US for LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green buildings per capita, and is second overall in the total number of commercial buildings that are LEED-certified and pursuing LEED certification.

Particularly in Austin, there are many LEED-certified buildings. At the University of Texas at Austin alone there are thirteen LEED-certified buildings, including eight gold certifications.

So what makes a building LEED-certified?

Well, there are many different classifications depending upon the type of building it is. The different groupings are: Building Design & Construction, Interior Design & Construction, Building Operations & Maintenance, Neighborhood Development, and Homes. Once a building is classified it is evaluated in different ways, such as: indoor environmental quality, neighborhood pattern and design, water efficiency, materials and resources, location and transportation, amongst others. After the building is evaluated it is given points depending upon the many different criteria. The points are added up and the building is given a level of certification: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.

You may recognize these LEED-certified buildings in Austin.

Austin City Hall



Frost Bank Tower



Now, here are all the others:
Austin Resource Center for the Homeless
Biomedical Engineering Building, UT Austin
Capstar Plaza
Combined Transportation Emergency and Communications Center
Dell Pediatric Research Institute
Frost Financial Center at Mueller
George Washington Carver Library
George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center
IBM Tivoli Systems – Building 1
Lakeway MUD W-3 Operations Office
Lance Armstrong Foundation
LCRA Dalchau Service Center & Office Building
LCRA Emergency Operations Center
LCRA Western Maintenance Facility
Lowe’s – Southwest Austin
Mexican American Cultural Center
Norman Hackerman Building, UT Austin
Office Depot
PeopleFund Headquarters
Ronald McDonald House Charities
Student Activity Center, UT Austin
TSU Round Rock Higher Education Center – Nursing Building

By: David Plick

heymann_beautifulTo truly love Austin means to give to its culture, and not simply take from its advantages. It means not blindly supporting expansion, especially given its mindlessness at times—for more opportunity, more money, and growth for growth’s sake—but rather, the thoughtful and conscientious expansion that would benefit all Austinites regardless of their economic distinction. This purer love, of humanity, of art and its relationship to urbanization and a city’s occupants, and of course architecture, is at the heart of University of Texas Professor in Architecture David Heymann’s short-story collection, My Beautiful City Austin (John M Hardy Publishing Company, 2014).

In the book, which consists of seven sometimes absurd, yet painfully real short stories told by a protagonist/architect named David, the narrator recounts different experiences with various dimwitted clients around Austin. The thought process and decisions of his clients always baffle him, perhaps most notably an elderly couple whose main goal is to build a home that will entice their grandchildren to visit, so they essentially try to model it after a theme park. For anyone who knows Austin, the landmarks will hit home and these stories will resonate with that “I’ve always thought this, but didn’t know how to put it into words” feeling. You will read it with a smile on your face, shaking your head in equal parts befuddlement and identification.

As acerbic as this book is, Heymann clearly loves this city that he calls home. The way he describes landmarks such as Barton Springs and Lake Travis, and this city’s quirky residents, it’s clear that he has a sincere admiration for Austin, and seeks only a gentler, more sustainable future. This book is a charming and funny warning sign that Austin’s future is up for grabs, and it’s up to us to push it in the right direction.

By: David Plick