Sustainable Design – Green Building… What does it all mean?

It is with great pleasure that I continue to lecture on how to green your home and business, provide workshops on green building certification and continue teaching about contemporary sustainable design at the University of Miami.

Still, I frequently get the same question when noting that my architectural business focuses on sustainable design: What is that… and what does it mean?

We read about greening this and saving the planet in that way, how to recycle your plastic bottle, use your own bags for groceries and change a light bulb to save energy. The publications and articles about “green” are plenty and stretch across a wide variety of sectors; real estate, fashion, construction, food & wine and many more. Still there remain many people out there, that are not sure what this trend all means and why and how it affects them.

Well, it is not a trend and it will most certainly affect you and your children. The words may be trendy and will likely change over
time, but the meaning remains valid. So here I offer a basic introduction to the topic from my perspective.

What is green design and sustainable building? …do I paint my house green to be a green building? …is it all about energy savings? …does it have to be certified?

Sustainability is the basis of green or better sustainable design and construction. Sustainability being defined as “meets the resource needs of current generations, without compromising those of future generations.” It depends on where you look, that might be one or seven generations, but the principal remains the same. The construction industry, when considering material harvesting and manufacturing through design and construction to operations and maintenance is probably the largest consumer of resources; including water, energy, natural resources and generation of waste. In order to be sustainable, the industry must
change to incorporate better practices that are less harmful to the environment and reduce the need of resources. This is the foundation of sustainable design and construction.

To make this work however, something else must be considered. A multitude of factors must be in balance for these changes to be
effective and permanent. In the industry we call this the “Triple Bottom Line”.
Think of it as a three legged stool. All three legs must be stable, in order for someone to sit on it… same with the following principals:

Environmental considerations: Doing the right thing for the environment; creating healthier environments to live and work, reduce the strain on natural areas and resources.

Economical considerations: We have to make a living, so there needs to be a reasonable profit involved under the current market economy that we live in.

Social considerations: The people at large must be able to use it and be comfortable using it. It must serve the welfare of the general public and it must be accepted culturally.

Take energy for example, specifically Photovoltaic’s. The idea is not new. But when first created and installed, the inventors created odd looking structures that were not socially accepted: they had the right idea to save money on energy and reduce their environmental impact; but the social factor prevented them from becoming main stream and make a lasting impact…

Now think that you can do business and make a profit by doing the right thing and create something beautiful and lasting… that is what sustainable designers strive to do!

Interested in more information or a presentation? Want to start your sustainable project or have questions about it? Feel free to contact me for more help. Sebastian Eilert, AIA. Sebastian Eilert Architecture, Inc. – a Transforming Architecture company. 786.556.3118




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