Newsletter Spring 2016

Welcome to the Spring 2016 edition of Okapi eNews Forum, the Okapi Architecture quarterly eNewsletter.

Hello everyone.

Welcome to the Spring 2016 edition of Okapi eNews Forum, the Okapi Architecture quarterly eNewsletter.

First off, many thanks to the people who have expressed their enjoyment at reading our inaugural edition. We are committed to publishing materials that interest you, stimulate you, and give you food for thought. Your comments have been helpful in shaping the direction that we are charting.

This month’s topics include:

In our continuing Road to Greenbuild 2016 series, we highlight the life and contributions of Ray Anderson, Founder-Chair of Interface, whose legacy remains vibrant despite his passing in 2011.

A conversation with SRK Architecture managing partner Brian Kite who recounts his experience with an early off-grid ZNE home project.

A Q&A with Dr. Pablo La Roche of Cal Poly Pomona regarding the upcoming PLEA international conference to be held in Los Angeles.

More information on California’s upcoming changes in Title 24, Part 6 and Energy Code ACE.

On the diversity front, a brief article on how green buildings can include social equity.

In our What Are You Reading? section, reviews of two notable books worth your time: Let There Be Water and Can A City Be Sustainable?.

We welcome submissions on topics related to themes of environmental sustainability, energy efficiency, and diversity.

Send feedback and articles to:

Lance A. Williams, Ph. D., LEED AP, Editor


The Road to Greenbuild img1

by Lance A. Williams, Editor
The above photo captures the essence of Ray Anderson (1934-2011), Founder and Chairman of Interface, Inc. It is the public Ray, stalwart as the face of the corporate giant that he built and pushed to its lofty pedestal within the sustainable flooring industry.

Anderson’s professional life was certainly governed by a set of well-drawn principles that embody the tenet of doing well by doing good. A southerner by birth and graciousness, Ray’s professional ethic was demonstrably not far from the fundamental Golden Rule of his upbringing.

To the world’s great detriment, Ray Anderson died in 2011 at 77 years young, ravaged by cancer in his last years. His passing marked an eerie symbolism coming at that particular moment of emergence by the environmental movement.

Ray’s primary staging ground, the green building industry, has undergone a remarkable evolution in American contemporary life, in no small measure because of him. The public awareness thermometer has moved green building from brainchild status, the curiosity of pioneering early adopters at the turn of the 21st century, to wide mainstream acceptance of green building concepts and applications by an intriguing mix of public and private sector interests who recognize the benefits of greener buildings. Read More

   SRK’s Brian Kite and the Lessons Learned Through a Personal ZNE Project img1
by Lance A. Williams, Editor
On the urban design front, Brian Kite’s expertise in high-density transit oriented development is widely recognized with key mixed-use projects along the Vermont corridor and in downtown from Chinatown to University Park. Kite is President and Managing Principal of SRK Architects Inc., a downtown Los Angeles architectural, engineering and interior design firm specializing in sustainable high technology projects.

His recent portfolio of sustainable projects include work on the AltaSea for the Annenberg Foundation at Port of Los Angeles; and a 23,000 acre sustainable master plan in the Coachella Valley. Kite’s entrée into energy efficiency projects was the 1 million square foot renovation of Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX while employed at Leo A. Daly Architects. The project was the first LEED-rated airport terminal renovation, and was completed in 2010.

Kite’s own off-grid, net zero home project in central California was completed in 2007. It was featured at the 2008 Annual Metropolitan Water Districts Green Conference and is the core subject of the conversation below. Read More


The Okapi Q&A with Dr. Pablo La Roche of PLEA img1
(Passive and Low Energy Architecture)
PLEA is an organization engaged in a worldwide discourse on sustainable architecture and urban design through annual international conferences, workshops and publications. PLEA is the acronym for “Passive and Low Energy Architecture”, a commitment to the development, documentation and diffusion of the principles of bioclimatic design and the application of natural and innovative techniques for sustainable architecture and urban design.

PLEA pursues its objectives through international conferences and workshops; expert group meetings and consultancies; scientific and technical publications; and architectural competitions and exhibitions. Participation in PLEA activities is open to all whose work deals with architecture and the built environment, who share our objectives and who attend PLEA events. It has a membership of several thousand professionals, academics and students from over 40 countries.

PLEA serves as an open, international, interdisciplinary forum to promote high quality research, practice and education in environmentally sustainable design.

Lance Williams recently spoke with Cal Poly Pomona Architecture professor Pablo La Roche about the organization and its upcoming conference in Los Angeles, July 11-13, 2016. For information, visit

Okapi: Tell us a little bit about your personal background, Pablo. Where were you born? What were your early years like? How did you become interested in a career as an architect and social activist? Where did you study and what were some early accomplishments? What attracted you to the idea of PLEA?

Pablo La Roche: I was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Both of my parents were University professors. They provided us with a good education combined with a strong sense of social responsibility. I was attracted to architecture and how it could help solve some of the larger problems of society; a rather naïve view, but one that I still think is important. Read More

The Promise of Energy Efficiency: img1
The Okapi Interview with CSULA’s Barbara Queen
By Lance A. Williams
California State University, Los Angeles is in the midst of a major facilities facelift powered by an active commitment to energy efficiency. Director of Planning Design and Construction Barbara L. Queen is a recent hire charged with the responsibility of keeping the sustainability juggernaut on track.

How new is Ms. Queen? When Okapi interviewed her, she was so busy that she hadn’t had time get business cards printed. As you will read – this interview was conducted in the midst of a hit-the-ground running moment.

Okapi: Walking around campus, it’s very interesting to see how dramatically the physical environment of the CSULA campus has changed recently. What in your judgment is happening both at CSULA and system-wide with respect to sustainable projects? How has the CSU energy efficiency initiative evolved over time?

BQ: I began as a student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, assisting in the Planning Department. I worked my way up into project management. This was during the early 2000-era. LEED was in its origination phase.

In time, LEED proved itself and also gave credibility to the validation of design. So we adopted it and we made efforts at a minimum because the State at that time told us that they didn’t fund LEED for projects. The State was saying that we’re not going to pay you to just buy points. It’s not that we shouldn’t be doing LEED; we just needed to be accountable and prove that we’re not buying a toy. We need to bring value to the building process. Read More

Photo 1 – CSULA existing Physical Sciences Building, scheduled for a complete remode

Photo 2- Rongxian Xu Bioscience Innovation Center

Photo 3 & 4 – Rosie Casals and Pancho Gonzales Tennis Center

What’s New with California’s 2016 Title 24, Part 6 Energy Standards img1
by Gina Rodda & Sally Blair
The state of California has been a leader in building energy efficiency since the establishment of the energy code in 1978. In 2003, California adopted an Energy Action Plan which made energy efficiency the first choice in meeting the state’s future energy needs. Part of the “Big Bold Strategies” of this plan includes a goal that all new residential construction achieve zero net energy by 2020, commercial construction by 2030. The ambitious goals of this plan, as well as AB32 (California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 — legislation that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions), place an unprecedented reliance on mandatory building energy codes and standards.

Why the changes to the Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Standards and when will the 2016 code be required?

The CA Energy Commission (Energy Commission) re-visits and tightens the State’s building energy efficiency standards (Title 24 Part 6) every three years. The scale of the goals and challenges at hand prompt an accelerated strategy to make the codes cover more end uses and measures, while also becoming ever more stringent. The 2016 residential standards are projected to be 28% more energy stringent, and nonresidential 5% more.

The 2016 energy standards will affect projects that are submitted for building permit as of January 1, 2017 – more stringent, which means buildings being designed during 2016, that will go in for permit next year, will need to be designed to comply with the 2016 energy standards.

What are the real game changers in these new 2016 energy standards?

The Energy Commission has created an infographic that summarizes major changes to the residential and nonresidential energy standards, and Energy Code Ace has developed two fact sheets that go a little deeper:

♦ What’s New: 2016 Residential Code         ♦ What’s New: 2016 Nonresidential Code

In our opinion, the significant “game changers” for residential and nonresidential buildings and systems are as follows: Read More

Green Buildings Can Now Include Social Equity
by John Irvine, Principal, Energy and Associates
I was inspired by the conversation at our recent session on “Increasing Diversity in the Green Building Movement.” Held at the Municipal Green Building Conference in Los Angeles, our panel focused on actions to improve social equity related to the built environment. National Organization of Minority Architects President Kevin Holland reported on past, present and future collaboration between his organization and the US Green Building Council.

Greenbuild L.A. Legacy Project co-chair Maya Henderson presented the Eco-Tech Maker Space, which will offer underserved communities S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) curricula, hands-on learning, and environmental stewardship via the reuse of discarded, safe manufacturing materials.

My part was a discussion of three relatively new Social Equity pilot credits within the LEED Green Building rating system. Encompassing Community, Project Team and Supply Chain, the three credits offer development teams pathways to enhance the social benefit of their projects. The credits are a clear sign that after 15 years of ratcheting up project performance in energy, water, materials etc. the green building movement is now focusing on project performance for people.

If we need proof that inclusion and equitable treatment are an important part of doing business, we need only look at the daily media. I encourage you to check out these ideas as a means of guaranteeing tomorrow’s society will be even fairer and more equitable than today’s.

What Are You Reading? img1


Let There Be Water Israel’s Solution
For A Water-Starved World
by Seth M. Siegel
Reviewed by Stan Klemanowicz
Is there a land where 60% of the land is desert and 40% arid – a place so self-sufficient in water it can export water to its neighbors. A land that exports fruit, vegetables, and agricultural products that are known internationally for quality? There is and it is not California. Not yet! Read More


Can A City Be Sustainable?
Worldwatch Institute State of the World Series
Island Press, 414 pages

Reviewed by Lance A. Williams
Within this well-organized and thoughtful anthology, the Worldwatch Institute asks the most profound question of modern times: can a city be sustainable? The anthropological interpretation of civilization began when mankind started assembling in an organized, clustered fashion – later dubbed culture. Read More



Gina Rodda has been in the energy modeling field since providing residential and nonresidential energy calculations for a variety of building types throughout California; an instructor of full day trainings; and hosting various webinars specific to Title 24 (Part 6) Building Energy Efficiency Standards. Principal, Gabel Associates, LLC. )

Sally Blair has been in the sustainable building industry since 2003, and has done extensive work with Energy Code Ace, creating tools, trainings and resources to simplify compliance with Title 24, Part 6. Her building system knowledge paired with a passion for user-centered solutions is helping California’s building industry work towards zero net energy. Program Director, NORESCO.

John J. Irvine, MBA is Principal at Energy and Associates.

Stan Klemanowicz, AIA LEED AP, GGP is Technical Review Principal at Okapi Architecture.

Gail Oliver is Owner of Gail Oliver Design,

Lance A. Williams, Ph. D., LEED AP, is Editor of Okapi eNews Forum. He is Executive Vice-President of Okapi Architecture.

OKAPI TEAM Ying Wang, AIA, LEED Fellow, President

Chin Li, CFO

George Hron, AIA, Savings By Design Review Director

Sally Norgren, Office Manager

© 2016 Okapi Architecture, Inc.