Finding Hope After the Death of Sustainability

Monday, December 19, 2016

Architect (11/11/16) Brownell, Blaine

The U.S. election's outcome reflects a wide-ranging apathy toward ecological sustainability among the general public, and experts say this and other trends signal the demise of the sustainability movement. At a recent symposium, University of Minnesota professor Richard Graves said "sustainability is dead or, at the very least, meaningless after the term has been co-opted by the branding and greenwashing of corporations and governments and as the technological pursuit as typified by green building programs and other reductive approaches." Graves and others favor regenerative design as a more effective means of going green, which is an approach that suggests a rethinking of what comprises design excellence. Critics also are targeting the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification program and similar sustainability checklists, claiming LEED insufficiently stresses carbon reduction, for example. LEED fellow Jerry Yudelson proposes making all buildings net-zero energy consumers by prioritizing the direct application of real-time data collected automatically using inexpensive, cloud-based technologies rather than documentation. "Next-gen green building rating systems should start with the idea that all data required for making them work are already available...via vendors for energy, water, waste, etc.," Yudelson says. "Data that are not readily available should not be included in new rating systems.”

Blaine Brownell 12/19/2016

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