Syska Hennessy’s Ann Banning-Wright: Office Building Construction has Turned Green Overnight
July 26, 2007

By Staff
Appeared in

She is the chief strategy officer and managing director of the Los Angeles office of Syska Hennessy Group, the engineering technology and construction firm. As such, Ann Banning-Wright has been bowled over by how fast the commercial building market has begun to incorporate the principles of green architecture into new office building construction.

“In the last three years, there has been a huge shift in attitudes,” Banning-Wright told “Today there is just so much momentum to do things differently, to build buildings that are environmentally friendly. People are feeling an obligation to go green,” Banning-Wright added, crediting Al Gore’s global warming campaign as a key contributor to a greater green awareness among contractors and building owners.

Banning-Wright says that almost every proposal for a new office building that she sees now specifies that the design take a “sustainable approach” that includes things such as solar power, daylighting and recycling.

More than that, according to Banning-Wright, more companies have started to “retro-commission,” meaning that they have started going over their older buildings to see how much more energy efficient they can be made through such changes as replacing pneumatic controls with digital controls.

In Banning-Wright’s opinion, retro-commissioning can make an office building 15% to 25% more energy efficient, which represents a huge overall savings in energy usage given the number of commercial buildings in existence.

According to published statistics, buildings consume 50% of the electricity load in the U.S. and emit 38% of carbon dioxide emissions. Over the next quarter century, emissions from commercial buildings are expected to grow faster than any other sector.

Presumably, all this greening of office building construction should be a boom to companies that make energy building controls and other energy-efficiency equipment such as LEDs (light emitting diodes).