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Email Interview of Jessë Valentine Portz, Architect

by Riley Shiraishi

Monday, October 17, 2011

RS: 1. How long have you been working in your trade?

JVP: I studied architecture for 6 years before graduating. I have been working in architecture for about 20 years.

RS: 2. What do you enjoy about your job?

JVP: I enjoy taking many requirements and integrating them into a beautiful solution.

RS: 3. What is difficult about your job?

JVP: Funding for architecture is often difficult. Unlike being an artist that just has to please herself, I have to please the owner, the occupant, the building department, the code, the planning department, and hopefully the neighborhood.

RS: 4. How have rules regarding eco-friendly standards changed over the years?

JVP: Building codes are written to a lowest common dominator. To build well any structure the architect must design beyond to code. These days many people use an additional method of checking for environmental design, such as LEED developed by the US Green Building Council.

RS: 5. Do you think it has become easier or harder to incorporate environmentally friendly elements into the home? Why or why not?

JVP: I think it is much easier now that the industry has finally jumped on the green ethos and many people are improving the knowledge base and selling green products.

RS: 6. Do you think that homeowners should incorporate eco-friendly elements into their home?

JVP: I think it would be foolish to not use all available knowledge to make better functioning higher quality home.

RS: 7. If so, what is one realistic change people can make?

JVP: Many features can be added to a new home during design at no extra cost. For existing buildings Solar Thermal panels or Photovoltaic panels are an easy addition to use free energy from the sun.

RS: 8. How do you feel you are making a difference in your community?

JVP: I am here to make the community better through healthy, beautiful buildings with the maximum positive environmental impact, and minimum negative impact.

RS: 9. In what specific ways would the world be a better place if more people would choose to “go green”?

JVP: Buildings use about 55% of all energy, and use large amounts of resources to be built. The trend for the future is for buildings to have enough power generation through the use of green tech like photo voltaic to be “power positive”, or feeding more energy back into the grid than they need. The more solar power generation capacity we have the less CO2 we will have emitted through fossil fuels. By using long lasting materials we reduce overall cost. By using quickly renewed materials like bamboo we reduce deforestation and allow more CO2 to be pulled out of the atmosphere.

RS: 10. What final words of advice would you leave with homeowners everywhere?

JVP: Today we have made many advances in building technology. Our environment is changing, but so is our knowledge. It makes both fiscal and environmental sense to design and build using what we now know, and not building the way our parents did.