Approaching Sustainability


On the scale of the building or how humans dwell, we find the scale architecture, where technology can be most blinding. Recently sustainability employed in architectural practice has been a very singular venue via energy efficiency: a science of Btu’s—where design moves and choices are proved only by statistics and green material attributes that may have more statistical weight than substantial effect, meaning the more effective thing to do does not always look good to the economist. In William McDonough and Michael Braungart’s (Cradle to Cradle authors) differencing between eco-effectiveness and eco-efficiency; they describe efficiency as being “less bad” and effectiveness as a strategy that not just avoids environment harm but increases ecological health.1 Environments we create should mimic nature, as working ecosystems. Steven Kellert in his book Building for Life offers this critique, “though admirable, McDonough and Braungart’s concept of ecological health needs to be extended to include a greater emphasis on human experience, incorporating the recognition of how much people’s physical and mental well-being depends on their contact with nature.” 2 Therefore designing a human environment as a working ecosystem is important, as well as designing an environment that brings people closer to nature.

1. William McDonough and Michael Braungart, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the way we make things. (New York: North Point Press, 2002).

2.Steven R. Kellert, Building for Life: Designing and Understanding the Human-Nature Connection. (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2005).

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