Several weeks ago, I sat on a panel at the 2009 ARDA Convention in Orlando to discuss sustainable design. The session was titled Sustainable Design While Sustaining Your Bottom Line, and one of its educational overlays was to discuss sustainable design in the context of the current economic market.
It was a balanced panel that covered design and strategies as well as LEED and the U.S. Green Building Council. The first part of my message covered what sustainable design is, what its drivers are, and some of the challenges. The second part covered design strategies and what we need to move forward to include sustainability on our projects. I spoke about the need for having a green vision through return on investment lenses, and about the need to think long term rather than first cost and the need to emphasize what you will get in return.
However, the deeper message I was trying to get across is the need for a 'new map'...a paradigm shift…a change in thinking about how we view sustainability. That shift happened for me awhile back while exploring an interest I had in systems thinking, where interconnectedness and relationships in a system demonstrate how small changes can have big impacts. It was then driven deeper when I had children and the focus of intergenerational thinking came into view. It became suddenly apparent that the choices this generation makes today have an impact on future generations.
In my panel presentation I used an often quoted piece of wisdom from Einstein: "Problems cannot be solved with the same awareness that created them." Looking at something familiar from a different vantage point can lead to insight and change. And change brings about adaptation and opportunities for growth. The current market is bearing witness to this now as businesses are having to adapt and look for opportunities for growth in an effort to sustain their livelihood. Their shift in thinking will hopefully incorporate sustainability into the evolution of their newly adapted business models. As another Earth Day comes into the forefront of people’s minds this week, I am hopeful that it sparks a change in thinking…whether for pragmatic reasons such as operational savings or consumer demand, or holistically deeper seated…like our impact on the future.
As we assemble our fourth CANstruction team and begin planning for the annual competition sponsored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in support of the Hawaii Food Bank, I would like to pause and reflect on why it's more important than ever to support those in need. Like many other firms, we were forced to tighten our belts and make some difficult decisions. But we all agreed that despite the swirling negativity surrounding our economy, we would remain committed to the charitable organizations we supported in the past. There is a feel to this competition that is very different than in previous years. It's difficult to explain in words, but I believe we aren't focused so much on winning this year as we are focused on making this competition a success.
Our entry last year was the Olympic torch and rings. But more importantly, it contributed to the 48,775 pounds of canned goods that went directly to feed the hungry. If you would like to contribute to this worthy cause, please contact the local AIA office at (808) 545-4242, contact any of the CANstruction teams directly, or bring canned food items to the event itself. CANstruction will be held Saturday, August 15, 2009 at Pearlridge Center - Uptown, and the theme this year is Celebrating 50 years of Statehood; Hawaii then and now.
| Blog Home |