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A fun interview with Joe Lstiburek

Martin Holladay | Posted in General Questions on

Andrew Michler at the Inhabitat website has just published a fun interview with Joe Lstiburek. Read it here: INTERVIEW: Building Science Pioneer Dr. Joe Lstiburek.

Warning to Chris Briley and Phil Kaplan: there’s some architect-bashing involved. So, all you architects out there — if you’re feeling squeamish today, don’t read the interview.

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  1. user-716970 | | #1

    Thanks Martin. Awesome interview....wonder what he would have to say after a few cocktails...maybe he would lossen up and not hold back so much...just kidding.

  2. user-1096505 | | #2

    Thanks for the link Martin. Talking with Joe I figured I'd have to throw the questions away and go with the flow. To anyone who wonders he is actually a very easy going fellow even if he is only drinking diet Coke.

  3. Christopher Briley | | #3

    Hoo boy. There's lots of bait to snap at there for the architect. But Joe's really not off base at all, in my opinion. In fact, I share a lot of his flabbergastion at our profession. I mean, so many architects still ignore solar orientation, for crying out loud. Often, you open the glossy magazines and there's a gorgeous, sexy glass, titanium, and steel building (and without handrails somehow) and its very seductive, yet I shrug and give it a C- since it clearly and completely ignored energy efficiency or resource efficiency. Of course, no space in the magazine is devoted to construction details either (the real ones anyway, the ones that manage moisture migration or thermal performance)

    The only thing Joe is guilty of here is gross generalization of our profession. Believe it or not, there's a lot of architects striving to truly master this craft (which is immense in scope) and perfect our details for performance, longevity, occupant health, comfort, and yes, beauty. We love the pages of finehomebuilding, environmental building news, and blogs on the here on GBA and building science Corp. way more than the pages of the glossy magazines of dwell, Architecture, and the like. The good news is that I think we're growing in number. Architecture is functional art. Without the "function" or the "art" it suffers.

    As for LEED, well, again he's mostly right. But LEED has been great for getting the market place moving in the right direction. LEED is just a rating system. That's it. It's a tool that can help you organize around certain green principals (at best) it is not a replacement for design in any way. LEED is very broad and very shallow. There are LEED silver buildings out there that are way greener than some of the LEED Platinum. Likewise I'm sure there's plenty of non-LEED buildings that are greener than some LEED certified buildings. My philosophy (if pursuing LEED) is to design your energy-efficient, environmentally friendly building, and take the LEED score they care to give you. Point-chasing is just that, time and energy spent getting points and usually has no effect on the overall building.

    As architects our skins become very thick. Joe's just keeping the arrows really sharp so they can get through. I'm okay with that.



    Chris, I'm with you, buddy. And with Joe for the most part...but not all the way. I just gave a workshop to other architects in DC with the most excellent Peter Pfeiffer last week on Net Zero homes. I asked for a show of hands of how many people out of about 100 had ever used a blower door test on any of their homes. About 5. Pretty sad. Peter asked them, "are we embarrassed yet"? As a profession, we should be.

    But I always end my presentation with a slide that says "no beauty, no green". Good design encompasses many things. Beauty does not exist in a vacuum, and great performance alone does not guarantee a great house.

  5. user-1012653 | | #5

    I read this a few days ago, but decided not to respond. That lasted a long time...
    I agree with the over generalization of our profession, but then again, its over generalized by many. Contractors, consultants, and even owners. However he is right. Very few in my firm care to push the green envelope unless required by the owner or LEED points. And even then, its typically only IEC minimums. The projects are driven by the dollar, and tight budgets many times do not allow for many improvements besides IEC requirements. However our moisture mangement drives many of our designs. I feel most in my firm have a strong hold on it and the importance of proper design.
    With that being said, I have to basically agree with LEED. Sitting at my desk just today editing a spec for a University LEED Silver projects, I just can't help but think of the comments Joe made as I read through the products. I struggle with the buy in LEED requires, and feels it puts way too much importances on things that really arent. Its frustrating as I adjust my drawings to add additional showers to obtain a credit when I know the showers will never be used!
    We have many clients that ask about LEED at the beginning. We talk through it, through the costs involved, etc. Most rarely proceed. Instead we agree to use many guidelines, and add a few other energy items on the way. Most take that route. (until budgets kick in later.....)
    There are more and more "green" seminars I notice being offered by emails every week, and I know our AIA conventions are focusing more on green and change, less on LEED as it did in the past.
    I think the word is getting out there, and its a process, but its certainly not hopeless.
    I admit, I personally have learned a lot from reading here, and my personal home goals have changed since starting the design over 2 years ago now. It has been gaining attention in my area since its not really done ever. I hope to inspire more people with the benefits of it.

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