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Innovation 2008 Conference Explores Progress in Race for High Tech and Cost Effective Zero Energy Buildings

Architectural Record welcomed a record number of 380 architects, engineers, scientists and students to Innovation 2008: The Net-Zero Energy Buildings Conference at the McGraw-Hill Headquarters in New York this week on October 7-8. Attendees filled every seat and spilled into the aisles, anxious to learn about the latest technologies and best practices in super-energy efficient building from industry experts.

Innovations such as MIT Professor Daniel Nocera's photosynthesis approach -- using Cobalt, Co(III), as a catalyst and enabler for efficient energy storage in homes -- will create homes that can be both power generators and gas stations. The latest high-performance glass and photovoltaic coverings were also presented, and there was a strong call to action for change in the way buildings are designed and used in light of global warming, greenhouse gases and the imposing carbon footprint created by buildings around the world.

"There's a tremendous amount of energy wasted because we're not exactly sure how we work," said Charles Linn, deputy editor at Architectural Record, citing the example that his building among many others leave the lights on in empty or sparsely used workspaces.

Dr. Andrew Laing, managing director for DEGW North America challenged attending architects and developers with "creating the right workplace that will attract the kind of people who will want to work there in a new way." Laing's proposed "new way" of working and thinking about workspaces involves reinventing the office to take advantage of mobile, shared and flexible workplace options, which can reduce space needs by 20-30% and significantly affect a building's carbon footprint. "On average, we let our assets be used only 30% of the workday," he added.

"It's not just about the tools that we use, it's how we use them, and we need to change the process," said Denzil Gallagher, partner and MEP regional discipline leader at Buro Happhold North America. "We have tools, we have codes, we have standards, but someone has to set the goals early in the process."

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