Friday, August 14, 2009

Cradle to Grave Design and Sustainability

As with television where the argument has become that children need better programs to aid in their development and ensure their head are not filled with violence…The issue is they are watching too much TV…Don’t address the symptoms…oh, you’re sick, whats wrong?...ok here are some drugs to make you not feel bad and fool your body into thinking you are okay…what about addressing the underlying issue…for example, your back hurts because you have a leg shorter than the other; you are sick all the time because you are mal-nutritional and stressed; you aren’t sleeping at night because you don’t feel fulfilled and you don’t get any exercise during the day…instead we say, ok here are some pain killers for the back, some flu vaccinations and anxiety med to keep you from getting sick and stressed, and take these sleeping pills before you go to bed at night…Oh yeah, and here are some more pills to treat the side effects from what we have you before…Really? REALLY?! WAKE UP!...Oh that’s right, you don’t care to look at the problem or the root of the problem…work consistently as hard as you can…buy lots of crap…that’s how you get through life…isn’t it?...

Architects, Designers, Land Planners, and Governments need to perform the same self evaluations and rethinking as Modern Medicine Doctor. No more can we go, okay lets build a box that is completely impractical and simple and throw some other boxes on the side. We’ll keep out all the evil sunshine, air, heat, weather out then add lots of lights and heat in it..Oh, but wait we don’t want to have a huge power bill, so how do me make it more energy efficient?...That’s working backwards! How about designing buildings intelligently, practically, useful, naturally integrated, spiritually significant, unique (but not at the loss of practicality), from what is locally available, and that uses what is naturally given in the surrounding environment….and how about this, no turf farms in the desert where they won’t grow, no palm trees in alpine ranges, no swimming pools right next to a lake, natural light, collection of rain water… I mean, come on people…seriously.

But we in and of ourselves cannot sit and say, you are wrong…what the hell. We need to go back and look at why nations and populous simply look at the overlying issues, the symptoms. Somewhere in our lives there has been something that stimulated us to ensure that we took action. People that come together to stimulate change in policy, in environment, in living conditions, in design, in our future; we have all had some calling card; some series of events that has led us here, some certain experiences that have proved in our own minds that:
·         This world is worth saving/preserving/conserving for the benefits of ourselves and others
·         The changes in effect now present a viable threat to the non-existence of what we cherish in the foreseeable future
·         We have the ability to influence and the control the way in which we change our environment
·         For one reason or another most people (or a sufficient amount) are not aware of their impacts and how they are making or can make a difference

What is the root of sustainability? Why do we look to be sustainable? Why has this become a keyword?

I took a course in college called Engineers for a Sustainable world in which I was highly disappointed. The topics of the course included:
 More concentrated on the effects of engineering and technological development on society. Having sustainable practices in engineering and development procedures in the stead of
Not so much concentrated on sustainability as much as something simple that will keep working for you for a fair amount of time…?
My question that was never answered: can sustainability be sustainable without consideration for environmental impacts? Is simply saying that something is more sustainable or better than what we currently have worth raving about? Can you say you are a sustainable builder because you produce something that is relatively more sustainable? Can you claim that you are all-knowing simply because you know more than everyone else? To do so is conniving, false, illusionary, deceptive, and fundamentally flawed.
Start from the beginning, go back and design/build from the ground up with purpose, consideration, and multiple revisions…develop a revolutionarily original design, not a most improvement upon the design…innovation is not enough!
The lists of projects for the semester included Cayuga Lake Watershed, Aqua para el Pueblo, and Solar Cooking

Even more important in design is undersign…. We need to understand that in creation of something we are also responsible for the “uncreation”, for the degradation, and non-existence of our creation…understanding that our creation will cease to exist at some point and we must understand (with a frame of mind that it is already dead) what will be the aftermath of what we have created? How are we designing in the end of the lifecycle of our creation? What will be done with the various components when they are to be removed from the house? Will they be destroyed? Will they be reusable? Will they be recyclable? What components of the creation will have to be disposed of? How does their decomposition/reuse time compare to their useful time? Are we throwing that 1000-year plastic bottle in the landfill when it only has a useful life of a month in the average use? Are we creating something toxic to be disposed of only in a landfill? Consider the fact that 43% (from Sustainable Wanaka figure) of landfill waste comes from construction and demolition combined.

Consideration for construction practices, materials and implementation is crucial! We cannot design a building, structure, etc and simply say here is what you are to make, now order the materials and make it happen; I don’t care how you do it just get it done. The fact of the matter is you must include in the design the planning for construction, how pieces are assembled, what materials are readily available and best suited for the project, what sizes we can use to reduce waste (and decrease construction costs).