From vole poop to light sensors, 7 tales of green building failure

green building failure, Kroon Hall

If you read one article on green building this month — present website excluded, of course! — I recommend this piece from Building Green on How Buildings Fail Their Users.

In the spirit of learning from others’ mistakes, Paula Melton and Peter Yost share seven tales of problems that run the gamut from uneven heating and cooling, to light sensors run amuck, to customized ductwork design gone wild. Two examples come from college campuses and two are government buildings, while the three privately developed buildings are understandably not identified.

The authors quote renowned civil engineer Henry Petroski to explain the thinking behind the exercise:

“Successes don’t teach you anything,” Petroski told BuildingGreen. “Following successful models is always dangerous.” That’s because we tend to build on success by pushing the limits further and further—and eventually we push too far. “But if you start worrying about failure and designing against it,” Petroski said, “you’re more assured that your design is going to be successful.”

All in all a fascinating read. I highly recommend it.

PHOTO ABOVE: In Yale University’s critically acclaimed Kroon Hall, “there are spaces that are too cool, warm, or muggy for comfort.” Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


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