17 Oct Can the building industry start doing good instead of less harm?
We’ve been quite busy in the last few weeks spreading our passion about green buildings! In the beginning of September we were at the 14th Green Forum hosted by the Green Architecture Advocacy Philippines group. Following this, we were at the International Green Building Conference in Singapore speaking about whole systems thinking and Living Buildings. We’re now back and hopefully have a steady stream of blog entries ahead.
The conversation around energy in green buildings for the last decade has been framed around doing less harm. We understand that our buildings are using a lot of resources including energy and emitting a large amount of carbon back into the atmosphere. Green buildings aim to reduce the amount of energy by being more efficient and sometimes even generating some energy on site. While this is commendable, at the end of the day, we’re still contributing to climate change.
More recently, the conversation has been slowly shifting. People are asking “Why are we so focused on doing less harm? Shouldn’t we focus on doing no harm at all? Are we truly able to build buildings which do not do harm to the environment?” I think the answer is yes. And in fact, there are now buildings all over the world in different climates that are net-zero in energy, which means they are able to generate as much energy as they use in a year.
Let’s take this a step further and ask ourselves – “Are we able to create buildings which regenerate their surroundings? Why wouldn’t we create buildings that make the community and environment better?” I think the answer is also yes. This type of regenerative design is something that the industry should be exploring and embracing. It’s simply the responsible thing to do.
At some point, we will have to stop focusing on doing less harm and instead try to do some good. Of course, this can’t happen over night. There must be a deliberate transition away from creating wasteful buildings and towards buildings which do not harm the environment. The good news is that this isn’t something that is in the far future. In fact, there are buildings now that meet this criterion. I encourage you to find out more about net zero buildings and living buildings out there!
In the next blog entries, I’ll talk about a few specific projects we’ve previously worked on which contributed positively to their surroundings. Stay tuned!