Now that the holiday season is over, many people are busy making their New Year’s resolutions.  One suggestion for architects and designers in 2009 would be to take advantage of the diverse continuing educational opportunities that are available -- particularly those offered by professionals in the stone and tile industries.

I know this is a topic that I have mentioned in the past, but I believe it is important for it to be said again because many might not realize the broad range of seminars and programs that are out there. As last year was coming to a close, I participated in an innovative, interactive session on the use of stone in architecture, and I thought it would be appropriate to share my experiences here.

VeronaFiere -- the trade fair company that owns and manages Marmomacc, a leading international stone exhibition that is held annually in Verona, Italy -- collaborated with Mapei, a leading manufacturer of maintenance and installation products, to host a two-day seminar program that allowed architects to earn LU credits towards their accreditation for the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

One of the presentations was an on-site visit to a luxury residential high-rise in Manhattan that is targeted for LEED-Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council and the recent recipient of the 2008 EPA New York City Green Building Competition Grand Prize.

Craig Copeland, AIA, Senior Associate of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, the design firm for the building, gave the architects a tour of the Visionaire, as it is called, and explained how the natural stone employed for the exterior base of the structure as well as for the interior lobby is considered environmental friendly and lent itself to the overall green design of the building.

“From the beginning, we talked about enhancing a sustainable project with stone,” said Copeland. “The two fundamental reasons why we chose stone were because it has been around a long time and for its beauty.” The architect also explained that the reason Virginia Mist granite, which was used for the exterior base, is considered green is because it is a natural material that was quarried within 500 miles of the project site.

The tour presented architects with the opportunity to gain insight into the steps taken during the design process to produce a LEED-certified building as well as observing the final result.  Additionally, it provided a forum for an exchange of ideas between design professionals -- giving them an opportunity to learn from each other.

In a time where “Going Green” has become the norm -- as most people have a desire for a healthy lifestyle and want to preserve our environment -- it is important for all sectors involved in design and construction to come together to share their knowledge so that the most efficient buildings can be created. Taking advantage of the numerous educational seminars available -- such as the recent one offered by VeronaFiere -- can only assist in achieving these goals and producing positive results.

Jennifer Adams