Design in Response to Climate Change

Blogger: Bruce Carpenter, Central Region Civic Director | Omaha, NE, USA
May 02, 2012

In March 2012, more than 15,000 records were broken for high temperatures across the nation.  January to March, warmest on record. April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012, warmest on record. Sunday, April 1, in my community, the temperature was 32 degrees above the average…no fooling. 

Global warming is present and real and consistently increasing. Whatever the root cause, our actions are contributing to the event. Being actively engaged in designing the built environment and understanding that buildings currently constitute 40% of the world’s energy use, puts the emphasis on how important our work is. 

Creating spaces that are inspirational and functional are givens, but at the same time, serious dialogue on energy and environment is essential at every step. Designers’ primary conceptual thoughts should include conversations on energy use and the environment. 

When we begin to consider and incorporate more energy-efficient, creative and dramatic ideas for reduction and environmentally sensitive solutions for all of our projects, we will succeed at a critical aspect of our jobs – being good stewards of the built environment.

We find ourselves in the same place the American auto industry was in the 1970s: not really focused on improving efficiency. At that time, the Japanese market changed their focus and became highly successful. Their process, termed kaizen, which means “change for the better,” applies universally today.  Global warming will change our priorities as well. 

Carbon neutral, net zero energy, biomimicry and alternative energy sources are concepts on which we need to hold an intimate knowledge and act to implement solutions.  We have talent and creative minds, but creativity only provides a solution when it is implemented.

Now is a great opportunity to lead and carry the vision for the future. 

Trust me, this issue is heating up.

Image—FlickrCC: lrargerich

Reader Comments (2)

Bruce, I am so glad that you, as a leader, have posted on this issue: the most critical one facing all of us today. (Us = design professionals; us = everyone on our planet.)

A radical change in the design process to make architecture resulting from cyclical thinking > regenerative.

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