Prescriptive Approach to Energy Efficiency–a Cost Effective Alternative

Energy efficiency the most important factor defining a High Performance Building. There are two paths to increase a building’s energy efficiency in relation to a “brown building”. You  could use a performance-based approach in which a baseline energy consumption is established and the building is designed to reduce energy consumption below that baseline.

Alternatively, you could use a prescriptive approach to attain compliance under which the building is designed to meet the requirements of an existing prescriptive standard. Typical examples of such standards are ASHRAE 90.1 and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

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Governments Distort Decision Making

We are often asked about government incentives or subsidies associated with SERF certification.  After all, it’s no secret that LEED and others go to great lengths to get written in to the code.

We see at least 3 problems with that, the first of which is hidden cost.  Municipal, county, state and national lobbying to secure favors comes at a stiff price  and is one  of the  many factors behind the  high cost of other certifications.

Moreover, the notion of artificial incentives–all government incentives are artificial,  lest why would they exist–runs counter to our aim of Practical Environmental Stewardship™.   Put another way, common sense solutions do not require subsidies–they work on their own! [Read more…]

Practical Environmental Stewardship

While rummaging through a pile of green building literature, looking for material to write my first  blog around SERF’ s mission of Practical Environmental Stewardship ™,  I learned of 330 North Wabash’s recent SERF certification. 330 N. Wabash is the last American design of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and is one of Chicago’s finest architectural gems.   The owner/manager’s commitment to this goal makes this vital structure an exemplary  model of  SERF’s mission.

The level of intrusive retrofit that can be performed to green a historic and iconic structure is severely limited. Renovation of any nature must be performed without altering any of its historic features. The management could be forgiven if they didn’t attempt a green renovation given the complexity involved, but they did! Innovation on their part revealed the existence of several affordable, high impact and low intrusive greening strategies.

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It seems like we’re on to something…

When our small group of real estate owners and professionals founded SERF a little over a year ago, none of us expected that we would be accepted so quickly and broadly.   Already we have SERF certified facilities in 10 states!

Perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised.  After all, each one of us independently came to the belief that the USGBC’s phenomonal success in bringing sustainability in to the public consciousness through its LEED certification would be enhanced by a certification which is more streamlined, user-friendly and cost-effective.

After all, to endure, sustainability must be affordable.

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SERF’s up in Chicago!


SERF will be hosting a booth at the International Council of Shopping Center’s Chicago Deal Making Show at the Hyatt Regency Chicago on October 28 and 29.  If you’re going to be there, drop into booth 810 (that’s us), rest your feet, and say hello!