A new feature article in Environmental Building News examines how a focus on resilient design could advance green building more quickly than our current focus on sustainability.
Sometimes advancing sustainability feels like pushing a boulder uphill. Are we like a modern-day (benevolent) Sisyphus who keeps pushing the idea of sustainability uphill only to have it roll back down as other priorities grab society's attention?
I thought about this question during a six-week bike trip through the Southwest at the beginning of my sabbatical from BuildingGreen. To be sure, there has been a lot of improvement in building practices over the past few decades. Standard levels of insulation have risen in homes, and windows have gotten better. We're using daylight more effectively. Efficiencies of virtually all mechanical systems have improved. Photovoltaic modules have become more cost-effective.
There are innumerable improvements being made to buildings, but climate scientists tell us that we're only chipping away at the edges. If we are to prevent a climate catastrophe in the century ahead, we need to make far more dramatic progress. Rather than incremental improvement, we need threshold improvement--an order-of-magnitude reduction in fossil fuel consumption. How will we get there? I thought about that a lot in the hot, dry sunlight of Arizona and Texas as I snaked my way across 1,900 miles of gorgeous terrain.
Resilience as a motivation for change
I came to the realization that we need motivation beyond simply "doing the right thing" or staving off climate change--a distant and overwhelming-sounding task. What if people did all this stuff (building carbon-neutral homes and weaning themselves from automobile dependence, for example) not because it was good for the planet, but because of self-interest?
For you and me, that probably isn't necessary. Anyone reading Environmental Building News or perusing BuildingGreen resources regularly is probably already convinced that we need to make these sorts of changes for reasons of altruism. But for lots of other people, that isn't the case. And even people committed to the need for addressing climate change are sometimes overwhelmed by the shear magnitude of the challenge and what can seem like insignificant contributions that they are making.
I am a little (a lot) late to this conversation, but I think the only wood-burning appliances should be direct vent masonry ovens which burn at...
Am hearing about this new technology and seeing positive reviews online but have also being told that they're not appropriate for larger, older...
I am a little (a lot) late to this conversation, but I think the only wood-burning appliances should be direct vent masonry ovens which burn at..." More...
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Hi Tanya, I'm going to punt on this question, but hopefully in a way that is helpful. There are a lot of advantages to mini-split systems, but..." More...
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I am curious about this new technology but have heard different views regarding its use for a large, not-yet-well-insulated 1860s home in Vermont..." More...
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