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There is definitely a movement towards more sustainable building in this country and around the world, and rightly so. There is only so much energy we can extract, drill, or techno-create and only so much landscape to cultivate. We live in a finite system with finite resources where infinite growth is not scientifically or rationally conceivable. Buildings currently consume the lion’s share of energy in the United States at 48%, checking in ahead of transportation (27%) and manufacturing (25%) (source: US Energy Information Administration). They also swallow up once productive land while leaving a trail of asphalt and turf in its wake. After a typical building is constructed it is hooked up to the power grid to produce electricity, to the water supply to provide potable water, and to the sewer system to carry waste. Gobbling up resources from those utilities to support its needs while never giving anything back. Historically, there is not much longevity for an eco-system or civilization operating under that premise. This is due, in large part, to the design paradigm of one-size-fits-all architecture. A house in Fargo looks and behaves no differently than one in Fort Lauderdale. Read the rest of this entry »
The straw in this building was produced a mere 50 miles away just on the other side of Mount Palomar. The production of straw did not involve the chopping of any trees, a visit to a sawmill, kiln drying, the mining of ore, or the smelting of steel. This straw was baled at the farm and shipped to the site where it sat until it was installed in the walls of the building. This assembly produces an R-40 insulation value, something quite welcome in a climate where the summer temperatures range around 105 degrees. Read the rest of this entry »
Another piece of the design world that needs better exploration is the food system. Outside influences have contributed to the dereliction of our food delivery system, probably best explained here and here. However, how to fix that system is oft described as a repair of the metaphorical link between people and their food. My common frustration is the lack of design intervention in the conversation. There is no reason why everything we build, inhabit, etc does not have an edible component. Read the rest of this entry »