Sunday, December 27, 2009

When We Were Young

A view of us architects on the AIACC Board at Yosemite during our retreat that year. Only the top dogs got to stay at the Ahwanee, the rest of us were down in camp, but we enjoyed the dining and collaboration anyway.

The AIACC Sustainable Architecture Taskforce prepared the following principles as a measure to review and propose legislation and agency practice. The principles emerged out of a day-long roundtable where the Taskforce discussed issues, principles and case studies that could be applied to AIACC’s efforts to advocate for laws and regulations that support sustainable building practices and more livable communities.

Issues like affordable ownership, Infill housing, and schools as centers of communities. It was a community-centered vision that was starting to incorporate sustainable practices in buildings and move away from the urban sprawl model to walkable urban areas. We especially noted that Prop 13 had shifted financial responsibility and capacity for schools away from local districts to the State, and felt that local community support for the schools was important. Our five issues were:

Issue 1: Project funders, public agencies and tenants, do not recognize the economic benefit of green building design.
Issue 2: Many agencies and institutions do not incubate a culture of innovative application of sustainable design.
Issue 3: Sustainable design is not being applied at city and regional scales.
Issue 4: Our use of natural resources is not sustainable and imperils our economy, health and political stability (water, air quality and climate)
Issue 5: There seems to be a lack of awareness among policymakers of benefits of sustainable design.

What a difference a decade makes. From the first small voices in 2001 to a 2009 global summit on warming and carbon reduction, with water a critical issue as the global weather changes and creates critical shortages of food and fresh water. All as a result of development, transportation and industrial wastes. Who's in control of this juggernaut? It's slipping out of the hands of the large developed societies and is necessarily becoming a consensus with the third world countries at the table which are struggling to survive in a new global era of limits.

This global dialogue (who knew?) is critical to addressing the development that has brought us to this unimaginable brink. The first world will need to concede tremendous resources to other countries in reparation for the carbon dump of the industrial revolution that has resulted in our situation today. Our lives are irreparably changed, and the sooner the corporate world gets that, the better chance our children will have to inhabit a decent world.