All posts tagged: sustainability

Sustainable. But have you ever been to Baden-Württemberg?

What makes a building a green building? Green buildings are designed with sustainability goals and fulfill specific criteria in their construction, maintenance, and life cycle — designated by certifications such as LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) from the U.S. Green Building Council or the DGNB System (Deutsches Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen) from the German Sustainable Building Council. For those looking for entry points and a general understanding of how a building is actually a sustainable building though, it helps to consider models and look at details.  “The most sustainable building in the world” Earning a platinum certificate with the highest DGNB certification score achieved thus far, the building known as the Eisbärhaus (Polar Bear House) in Baden-Württemberg, Germany proffers many mindful details. These include: building material choices, such as using recycled concrete in the reinforced concrete-wood hybrid structure; energy efficiency solutions, such as a battery storage system for storing the electricity generated by a photovoltaic system — to use when needed; and a software system, which controls various features in response to current local weather conditions — and …

Survival of the Most Adaptable

The German Sustainability Award, sponsored by the Federal Government of Germany, is the most comprehensive environmental award in Europe. Competition is focused in eight categories: architecture, companies, corporate partnerships, design, municipalities, NEA (next economy award), packaging, and research. Research plays a significant role in all areas but merits its own category. A rich potentiality thrives in research and yet it can be daunting, as new ideas are cooled in theoretical frameworks, pooling deep in scientific journals and libraries—instead of focused, like a laser-beam, towards generating new dimensional realities. How do we shift into applied research (pivoting away from what Greta Thunberg recently called the “blah, blah, blah” of politicians’ speeches) and turn the knowledge available to us into solutions and action—baby steps, if that’s what will get us started—immediately? First, we recognize where we are. The leitmotif in the research category this year is adaptation — adaptation to climate change and extreme weather events. In western Europe, as in other regions of the world, the extreme rainfall, flash floods, and intense heatwaves in recent years have made it clear that …

Architectural Quality and Culture: Practically Perfect

Is a utopia the opposite of a dystopia? Dystopia refers to “an imagined state or society in which there is great suffering or injustice, typically one that is totalitarian or post-apocalyptic.” (New Oxford American Dictionary). Utopia calls to mind an ideal place – with all the desirable qualities for a wholesome human society.  Sir Thomas More introduced the term in his 1516 novel Utopia, about a fictional island society. And while that society was located in the south Atlantic Ocean, the word utopia translates from the Greek into English as “no-place”.  So actually, a “utopia” is, in its very code, a promise of perfection with an underlying belief that such a place cannot exist in the real world. Dystopia often calls to mind George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. But since that novel was published in 1949, dystopian science fiction stories and films have inundated the mainstream. Think of the stories that can be described as “utopian” – how many can you call to mind? Of course, an emphasis on dystopian patterns must have shaped the way that generations of people in western societies have consciously and unconsciously perceived …