The issues related to sustainability are so all-encompassing that many feel that a different word should be used. The word “green” is often used because its connotations are flexible and it symbolizes nature, which truly is sustainable. For the same reason, many use the word “ecological.” Still others prefer the phrase “environmentally responsible.” The words might be different, but the goals are the same.
In “The Next Industrial Revolution” (Atlantic Monthly, Oct. 1998), archi- tect William McDonough and scientist Michael Braungart suggest that sustain- ability is based on the following three principles:
Waste equals food – Everything must be produced in such a manner that, when its useful life is over, it becomes a healthy source of raw materials to produce new things.
Respect diversity – Designs for every- thing will respect the regional, cul- tural, and materials of a place.
Use solar energy – All energy sources must be nonpolluting and renew- able, and buildings must be solar responsive.
Many parts of the world are using water faster than it is replenished. The greater the population, the greater the impact on the environment. The more affluent a society, the greater the impact on the environment. For example, a family that lives in a 2500 ft2 (225 m2) house affects the environment far more than a family that lives in a 1000 ft2 (90 m2) house. Thus, it should be noted that for a given impact on the environment, the greater the population, the lower its affluence must be.
Technology has a great impact on the environment. A person today will have a much greater impact on the environment than did a person a couple of centuries ago, when there were no automobiles, air travel, air-conditioning, electrical appliances, electrical lighting, etc. So far, most technology has had a negative impact on the environment. We can change that situation, by using technology that is more benign. We must be recognize that sustainability cannot be achieved only by good technology; it requires us to change our values so that a high quality of life is not equated with high consumption.
Heating, cooling, and lighting are all accomplished by moving energy into or out of a building. Energy use is the most urgent to address, as modern society is critically reliant upon it.
In the traditional linear design process, the various building design professionals work on a project sequentially. Unfortunately, this method does not promote the design of high-performing sustainable buildings.
In the whole-earth integrated building design process, the needs of the various building systems are considered from the very beginning of the design process. The resultant designs are then harmonious with the needs of the various systems to create high-performance buildings. It also makes possible synergies that further improves the performance and sustainability of a project as in harmonics in the world of sound.
The integrated design process requires the key building professionals to work as a team even before the first line on a the first drawing is made. The architect (designer) is then able to create a while-building design with high performance.
– Sustainable buildings provide resilience: passive survivability in case of power outages or high fuel costs.
– Sustainable buildings should also be adaptive by anticipating a more sever climate due to global warming.
– White is the greenest color. Roofs and walls should be white to create cooler buildings and cooler cities.
– It is imperative that buildings use less energy and achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions.