Architects are the gateway through which most green technologies find their way into the marketplace. The architects in Miami ‘specs’ particular technologies made by the manufacturers they are most familiar with into the plans for a project, then the person or organization contracting them fronts the cost, and it ultimately ends up as a working element of the property. This is all well and good assuming the architect knows every available green technology on the market, but that’s obviously impossible, so what you end up paying for and using for your renewable energy or efficiency project is inherently limited by the extent of the architect’s knowledge and research. Ultimately, this means you could end up with yesterday’s technology if the architect gets lazy and you don’t hold them accountable for keeping your project on the cutting edge of an industry that’s evolving rapidly towards more cost-effective, efficient and environmentally friendly alternatives.
When taking on something as ambitious as a complete HVAC or lighting retrofit, a solar panel (or pv) installation, small wind project, water consumption reduction effort or just about any other green technology project, you pay the architect handsomely to guide you towards your best options. Come to think of it, you pay even more for the materials themselves. Don’t you think you ought to have some insight into the materials that are planned for your property and the companies that get to use your money as a way to showcase their wares?
GreenTechBuyer does, and we think you should be proactive about it by doing some research on your own while holding the hired architect accountable for the extent of theirs. Here’s how:
1. Don’t discredit yourself as incapable of understanding your options. After all, you did manage to get yourself into a position to be in charge of this project in the first place.
2. Go ahead and open up an internet browser to do some poking around for the types of green technology products you know you’ll use. It’s really not that complicated at a high level. Need help finding the right terms? We know a website where you can get matched the best green technology companies…
3. Note a healthy mix of two or three industry leaders and a couple of newcomers who seem to have products or services that fit the particular types of applications you’re seeking.
4. Ask the architect what products they are planning to utilize for your project and why. Then follow up by asking about how many projects they’ve used this product for and over how long of a timespan.
5. If they’ve been using it for years on the majority of their projects, that’s a red flag that they’ve stopped looking for new and improved alternatives. Now is the time to introduce some of the companies and solutions you’ve discovered on your own.
6. Brace for defensiveness and a few guffaws about how you couldn’t possibly understand the market of the implications of product selection. Remember, you’re the client. They work for you. Press on, and request that they humor you by looking into the solutions you’ve presented and re-enforce that you welcome other alternatives as well. It’s perfectly reasonable to request options.
7. Be reasonable. Architects really are experts, and if they shy away from the bleeding edge it’s because they don’t want your project to fail due to the bluster of being a too-early adopter. The point is to push them to do their research, not to force anything down their throat and onto your roof.
8. Go forward with the green technology product knowing you’ve done your part in the product research due diligence. Maybe your involvement in the selection process led to an improvement. Maybe it just added work to the architect’s busy schedule. At least you know proper effort was applied.
Architects are educated, skillful and thoughtful professionals, but they’re as prone to cutting corners as the rest of us when not held accountable for evolving their technology practices. Make your expectations and goals clear upfront, stay informed about the progress of your project, and push for answers if you ever feel like you’re getting less than the best effort and option. Taking an active role in the development of your project may not be the architect’s dream, but it’s your dreams that are important.