See the inaugural post here. It would be tough to argue with the suggestion that the sustainable-design movement has made significant, even dramatic, strides over the last decade. For architects, for industry, for the media, and for the general public, green design has moved from the fringe to the mainstream. We might not have reached the proverbial tipping point that would bring forth a massive shift in the way buildings are designed and built.
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See the inaugural post here. It would be tough to argue with the suggestion that the sustainable-design movement has made significant, even dramatic, strides over the last decade. For architects, for industry, for the media, and for the general public, green design has moved from the fringe to the mainstream.
We might not have reached the proverbial tipping point that would bring forth a massive shift in the way buildings are designed and built.
But compared to, say, the automobile industry—which is actually regressing when it comes to energy efficiency, with average miles-per-gallon figures ballooning back to where they stood a generation ago—architecture looks downright progressive. But in Santa Fe, New Mexico, an amiable six-foot-six-inch-tall, year-old architect named Edward Mazria is engaged in what can only be called a personal crusade to convince the members of his own field that the conventional wisdom is dangerously out of touch with reality.
For Mazria the way the human race is changing the environment, specifically in terms of global warming, suggests nothing short of coming catastrophe. Already quantifiable results like melting ice caps, rising sea levels, and disappearing species, he says, should be enough to prove his case. He places both the blame and the responsibility for turning things around squarely on the shoulders of one profession: architects.
Cars and trucks, by comparison, do roughly one-sixth as much damage. Masonry walls and floors in the dining and living areas absorb heat and provide cool interior surfaces in summer and warmth in the winter.
Courtesy Doug Hoeschler. But not swiftly enough for Mazria. The story of how Mazria came to this late-in-life conversion from mellow to rabid environmentalism began innocently enough.
Every Friday afternoon at about 3 p. Mazria and the rest of the architects and staff in his office leave their desks and convene. A couple of people in the office even make their own beer, and sometimes they bring that in. But we want to understand why —why you suggest those particular choices, and what experience leads to them, and all that stuff you did in the s and 80s.
Mazria agreed, but realized he needed to give himself a refresher course. He had plans to take his four-year-old granddaughter to Disneyland that weekend, so he grabbed an extra bag and packed it with books.
They included classics of environmental literature like The Limits to Growth , the text of a report by several noted experts first published in Many of them ended with projections for the year , which at the time they came out, Mazria notes, had seemed like the distant future. But Mazria found that, if anything, the projections in The Limits to Growth and other books had been frighteningly accurate.
Barely recognized in the s, global warming is now undeniable. Since worldwide temperature measures began in , the 15 hottest years have all been since Each of the top three has come in the last five years. Some scientists think average world temperatures will increase by ten degrees by , a jump that would do almost unfathomable damage to the planet. Even the more conservative estimates of a rise between one and three degrees over that time promise changes, in the form of floods, drought, disease, and lost ecosystems.
Can you imagine? The stakes are so high. While the Bush administration continues to counsel patience in face of what it claims somehow to see as contradictory science—their favorite word when it comes to the global-warming threat is uncertainty —world temperatures keep going up. Mazria flew back to New Mexico with an inclination to recommit himself to sustainability. He began devouring more recent texts about fossil fuels, carbon, global warming, and other issues.
Traditionally assessments of U. Significantly energy consumption usually tracks pretty closely with carbon dioxide production because most of the energy consumed is in the form of fossil fuels, which release greenhouse gases—primarily carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.
Thus a pie chart showing carbon dioxide divides along roughly the same ratios as one showing energy use. He did this by combining the residential and commercial sectors, and then adding the portion of the industry sector that goes to the operation of industrial buildings and their construction. A key statistic for anybody hoping to build in a sustainable way, embodied energy is a measure of the total energy required to produce a particular material or building component and get it to a building site.
A similar rearranging of the chart for carbon dioxide production left architecture with 46 percent of the total. What all of this means for Mazria is that the environmental movement has been scapegoating the wrong targets.
That kind of misguided focus actually keeps us from addressing the real issue. Of all the suggestions out there for what the average citizen can do to combat global warming, few if any mention architecture. The list of suggested steps usually includes driving a fuel-efficient car, recycling, investing in clean energy sources like solar and wind power, and cutting back on electricity use at home and at the office.
But is it fair to make architects responsible for the damage caused by the entire building industry? Mazria thinks so. He cites figures suggesting that architects design 77 percent of all nonresidential buildings, along with 70 percent of all multifamily and 25 percent of all single-family construction. Minimized glazing on the west facade of the Peggy Ann Findlay Arts Center protects the interior from the low summer sun.
Courtesy Design Workshop Inc. If we specify a material with low carbon dioxide emissions in its fabrication—say, floor tile, carpet, gypsum board—industry will respond. This is the American way. The design information needed to accomplish this is freely available.
Mazria has come up with a multipronged strategy to use architecture to attack the problem of global warming. He began to look at the five billion square feet of building space that goes up each year in this country, along with the additional five billion square feet of renovation, as a place where remarkable energy savings might be achieved.
The nearly windowless west facade is designed to protect the interior from harsh direct rays. Courtesy Robert Reck. The approach has also led the architect to criticize more quantitative and regulatory green initiatives, including the U. So every firm needs to get one person LEED certified, and they usually send the technical guy, not a design guy. And then that technical guy becomes the guy who has to get your design in shape for LEED, and that process becomes divorced from design. Green Building Council in Washington, agrees with that analysis.
Everybody involved in every building project has to look through an environmental lens. While energy use in the U. Developing countries—China and India most notably—are not likely to respond well to high-toned calls from the United States to implement aggressive new energy-efficiency and greenhouse-gas guidelines.
They have almost given up on trying to find a way to convince the general public, or even the design community, just how shocking the numbers look when it comes to global warming. People like Greenwald and Howard may not be surprised to hear that, but you can bet that the man on the street—and pretty much every architect in America—will be. You have to. You start seeing every single building on every street differently—as a producer of emissions, as a symbol of inefficiency— as a threat.
Would you like to comment on this article? Send your thoughts to: comments metropolismag. E, Not Sad. The World's Best Design Cities From the Metropolis Archive: Architects Pollute! Originally published in , this article profiles Ed Mazria, veteran of green design who has studied global warming and sees its cause—and possible solution—coming from the same unlikely source: architects.
Christopher Hawthorne ,. September 10, Energy Consumption by Sector A reorganization of existing data—combining the energy required to run residential, commercial, and industrial buildings along with the embodied energy of industry-produced materials like carpet, tile, and hardware—exposes architecture as the hidden polluter.
Show Caption Hide Caption. Total U. Energy Consumption Despite the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which promised to restore greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to levels, U. Global Temperature Variation Since average worldwide temperatures increased more than an entire degree—a statistic that Mazria sees as a call to action for architects. Categories: Architecture , Sustainability. Tags: Archives. Dear White Architects, Be B. Love, NOMA.
Meet the Initiator: Edward Mazria
Edward Mazria is an American architect , author and educator. He later worked with the firm of Edward Larrabee Barnes in New York before completing his master's degree and beginning a teaching and research career at the University of New Mexico in His architecture and renewable energy research at both UNM and the University of Oregon established his leadership in the field of resource conservation and passive heating, cooling and daylighting design. His design methodology, developed at that time and presented in The Passive Solar Energy Book, is currently in use worldwide.