Building better buildings and a better future?

Just came back from a busy week in Helsinki, Stockholm (sort of), Tampere etc.  There’s so much to read/write about the political/economic issues right now (as in what the hell are they doing with $700bn!?!) and yet I feel like I haven’t done enough reading to process it… so, I go back to the interesting “fun” reads on the environment:)

Great interview in Discover magazine with “the King of Green Architecture

William McDonough aims to create buildings that produce oxygen, sequester carbon, and produce more power than they use.

There’s a visionary in action. McDonough touches on a lot of great ideas and innovations where business meets environment.  I’ve touched on some of these before, but things like green roofs, microgeneration (producing own energy on the building), sustainable product design, limiting chemical input in textiles and reverse supply chain (i.e. take-back systems for products so that the “used” product goes back into the manufactuing cycle).

In June I wrote about my experience at the Net Impact conference in Geneva and how Simon Zadek‘s words really grabbed me: “the world you’re about to inherent is nothing like the world we live and work in now”. Seems true no?  Our financial system is being redeveloped (or hopefully!), the balance of powers (as in political and economic) is shifting and our environment is surely changing… Where will we be in all of this? Our generation is inheriting a complex and dynamic system of international players that we will have to reform again….

And hopefully, we’ll make some smart choices along the way. Listening to gurus like McDonough will be a good starting point.

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4 thoughts on “Building better buildings and a better future?

  1. Jay Godse says:

    You quoted:

    ” buildings that produce oxygen, sequester carbon, and produce more power than they use.”

    Didn’t those used to be called trees?

  2. Avery Henderson says:

    So true, everything is changing. It’s interesting talking to so many people and hearing their opinions. My boss Cait believes this is the end of the United States, and it might be true. You always hear about change is inevitable growing up, but actually seeing it happen (and knowing what’s going on) is…. well… exciting, even if it is another recession. Working for a gold company now, I’ve actually starting watching the markets, and oh man, is this the time to watch the markets or what. It’s a gongshow over here Jane!

  3. josue says:

    Better future? I hope, but the problem is most buildings going up aren’t the “tree” kind. How many are there of these up and lived in? 2? How much do they cost? A fortune! This is decades away in our “developed” economies – I have a hard time imagining Indian or Brazilian laborers affording such housing… but they will want better homes , and these will be built further from cities, uprooting more land, with concrete and cement blocks, hooked up to ever expanding electric grids. It seems we’re now choosing nuclear power as the source of choice… Clean, good money, only small chance of horrendous catastrophe… but oh yeah… new small hybrid cars will take them to work. That’ll solve everything 😉

  4. janeporter says:

    jay –

    trees – yes, but as josue explains – most bldgs going up aren’t the “tree” kind, nor should they (not enough wood to make all of our houses!) Although, yes, that’s exactly what trees do… makes me reminisce about my treehouse:)


    As for the end of the US, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. I see if faltering but we have to remember that its a pretty dynamic economy that has been hit before (perhaps not like this and not with competitive nations like India & China…) but it’ll be interesting to watch, and partake!

    josue- thanks for commenting:)

    true true, some of these bldgs could cost a fortune, but I like to think that some of this is done for “state of the art” purposes – but the ideas behind them are likely cheaper and lower tech. Building a green roof (huge in Russia right now), adding small scale wind generators or maybe solar can be done at (likely) a competitive cost with regular bldg.

    and most importantly, building sustainable blgds will lower the maintenance costs in the future – making the entire bldg cheaper in the end.

    It’s the marketer’s job (or just the biz development guy) job to get people to see the value in this. With more bldgs like this going up, the price will drop.

    But yes, that’s being optimistic:) just god forbid, we continue our urban sprawl….

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