Malin, CEO of Troon Pacific, discusses some of the advances in green building.

Malin, CEO of Troon Pacific, discusses some of the advances in green building.Troon Pacific Inc. was founded in 2000 and is based in San Francisco. Its Troon Residential division specializes in high-end, technologically-advanced green building with a focus on healthy living and wellness. Troon Pacific employs experts in architecture, lighting, irrigation, structural engineering, landscaping, interior design and construction to create homes that are unlike any other in their class.?CEO?Gregory Malin took time to speak with Modern Builder +?Design about the latest news from the green building scene.

What are some of the lesser-known green building innovations?

A rapidly emerging area of innovation addresses concerns about building occupants’ health in addition to the health of the planet. Heightened demand for building materials without hazardous fire retardants and toxic chemicals is good for both people and the environment. Product certification standards, such as those from Cradle to Cradle, have helped promote usage of these more health and eco-sensitive materials.

Due to lingering droughts and concerns about water quality, there are an increasing number of technologies related to water supply and conservation. Shower systems are in use that clean drained water, making it suitable for irrigation and use in toilets. Similarly, closed-system toilets that purify and recirculate the water for flushing have started to appear in homes, and hopefully we will see more adoption in commercial buildings. Both beautiful and eco-sensitive, natural swimming pools use biological processes to filter and clean the water - eliminating the need for chemicals and reducing energy usage.

Very new and interesting innovations include materials and technologies that do more than mitigate negative effects, but actually promote environmental quality. For example, there are new drywall and cement products that absorb carbon dioxide and VOCs.

What are the best metrics for measuring green building techniques’ effectiveness?

Effectiveness can be measured in a number of ways, with metrics that assess building standards, green policies and final outcomes. In terms of standards and the metrics around the building industry’s adoption of these standards, there are established certification and performance programs that use strict criteria such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program. The Living Building Challenge and Cradle to Cradle programs are both emerging and becoming more important in the industry. These types of standards are being translated to policy with more jurisdictions incorporating green building into planning processes and codes.

Another key metric is human health. Studies of commercial buildings indicate higher-quality air filtration systems have reduced the number of sick days employees take. This type of clear economic consideration will likely spur more studies in this area and spawn new metrics.

How have building materials and supplies available to accommodate green building changed over the past five years?

Substantial changes have occurred with lighting and wood supplies. Energy-efficient light fixtures and bulbs are now commonplace with vast availability to both builders and the general public. Supplies of FSC-certified wood suitable for green building have also noticeably increased, with many woods available that are free of toxic chemicals as well as being sustainably sourced.

There is a growing awareness about which older materials are unsuitable for recycling and reuse. For example, some older carpets can often be dangerous due to the toxins contained in them. Looking ahead, you can expect to see a big push on water conservation systems and technologies.

Are homeowners willing to pay a premium for a more energy efficient home – or is it seen as a value-added feature? What about in commercial building?

Society is becoming more aware of energy usage and that associated bills will rise. There is certainly a greater demand for energy-efficient homes and an understanding of the economic benefits over the long run. Furthermore, as new technologies are adopted by wider audiences, scaling the supply chain will help the cost come down. In discretionary markets, sustainability and the health of the planet are already key concerns of homeowners. Upfront costs are weighed less importantly.

For commercial buildings, industry leaders and larger corporate brands have widely adopted green practices and energy efficient technologies. Economics play as much of a role as corporate social responsibility policies. Customers, employees, tenants and investors are factoring or even requiring eco-sensitive and healthy products and work environments.

Are there signs that energy-efficiency is here to stay?

We’re only at the beginning of the energy-efficiency movement. Energy-efficiency and sustainability extends into so much of the infrastructure – from individual homes and buildings to wholesale systems. Water, building materials, lighting, air quality, appliances and many more elements have numerous opportunities to make improvements on the technologies and processes. The focus on energy-efficiency is most certainly here to stay.