March 21, 2022Reading Time: 3 minutes
A few years ago, AIA New Jersey Past Regional Associate Director Clair Marie McDade, RA, observed a problem in the industry. Buildings were being demolished when they still had 30 – 50 years of life left in them. While LEED awards a point for reuse, it was not doing much to help the problem. This young professional with aspirations towards a more sustainable future found this very frustrating.
Clair started digging to identify some applicable research, but there was not much documenting this issue. Clair became passionate about the possibilities and decided to dive in, founding her business Archneura.
According to Clair, in order to determine the longevity of a building, the quality level of a variety of elements needs to be evaluated. Clair developed a system that plugs building data into an equation to calculate life span. She calls it the Building Quality Index, or BQI. Roofing materials, exterior cladding, foundation systems, building maintenance and other aspects are evaluated and calculated. A continuous program of maintenance and renovations supports a longer building lifespan. For example, every 10-20 years the mechanical systems need evaluation, and code upgrades must be addressed. In order to do all of this, the owner must have cash reserves or a way of financing improvements while keeping cash flow positive. The solution is to increase quality because higher-quality buildings have lower operational costs and yield higher rent whereas the converse is true of lower quality buildings. When the cost to improve is greater than the cost to build new, a tipping point is reached, leading asset managers to choose demolition over renovation. The BQI prevents this tipping point from being reached, keeping the building in use.
Clair’s company, Archneura, recently announced that their patent application for the Building Quality Index was approved by USPTO. This news came quickly – only 10 months from filing when the average is 23 months. This helps fast-track future commercialization and fundraising plans.
While a few similar pieces of prior art were discovered (that’s what related patents are called in IP lingo), none of them contained a claim describing how building quality is intrinsically tied to its economics. Archneura’s patent describes a step-by-step system for increasing building quality and preventing premature demolition. If the process is followed, a building can be maintained for much longer than its initial useful life – in some cases, for perpetuity. This is the goal – to outline a process to transform the industry from one that rapidly consumes and trashes buildings, with all the embodied carbon outlays that come along with manufacturing, use and disposal – to one that conserves and preserves them instead. It is, at its essence, an economic problem, and as a result, the solution is also economic.
Congratulations to Clair, Founder and CEO of Archneura! We at AIA New Jersey will stay tuned to the BQI story.
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Founded in 1857, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through a dynamic network of more than 250 chapters and more than 95,000 member architects and design professionals, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. The organization’s local chapter, AIA New Jersey, has served as the voice of the architectural profession in the Garden State since 1900. Based in Trenton, AIA New Jersey has over 2,000 members across six sections. For more information, please visit http://www.aia-nj.org
By Stacey Ruhle Kliesch, AIA, AIA NJ Advocacy Consultant | Posted in Environment, Technology in Practice, Women in Architecture | Tagged: #Architecture, #archneura, #avoidemolition, #BQI, #building, #buildingquality, #buildingqualityindex, #ClairMarieMcDadeRA, #constructionquality, #diversity, #EDI, #equity, #EquityInArchitecture, #Girlboss, #girlpower, #Inclusion, #JEDI, #quality, #USPTO, #WIA, #womeninarchitecture, #WomenInArchitectureMonth, #WomenInArchitectureSpotlight, #womeninbusiness, #WomenInConstruction, #WomensHistoryMonth, #WomenWhoBuild, Business | Comments (0)
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