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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Small Scale Big change

Wrapping up the class we had a great guest lecture. One of the things they talked about was the Living Building Challenge. The goal of the challenge is to use human perception as a design tool, create more energy, find was one thing can have multiple uses, and use less energy in the construction process as well. The Challenge also deals with the idea of Net Zero energy by staying away from materials on the Red list such as asbestos and PVC. The more the guest lecturers talked about the challenge it hit me! John Quale talked about something exactly similar a few weeks ago. The topic was Carbon Neutral Design. The 2030 Challenge says that every 5 years we should try to reduce the regionally allowed fossil fuel consumption by 50% and then eventually in 2030 the consumption will be reduced by 90% of what it is today. This can be achieved with by designing buildings that balance the amount of carbon released with the same amount  offset and designing climate responsive buildings that require little energy or only renewable energy. This directly relates to the Living Building Challenge in that they employ cradle to cradle design, regenerative design, and vernacular architecture. Vernacular architecture, architecture before industrialization and mechanization, did not waste so much carbon and had to be climate responsive because no one had electricity and all the other modern technologies that we enjoy today.

The idea would be to use on site generation to reduce energy demands and the 2030 Challenge also outlines that structures should be daylit, surfaces must see air flow, masses must be thin, volumes must be vented, water instead of air must move heat, and air must flow in the natural direction it is flowing. As the guest lecturers, the Burke couple,  talked about, we should also insist on the rights of humanity to coexist with nature and recognize that all flows will come through the building over time.

The Meti (Modern Education and Training Institute) Handmade school in Bangladesh is one example of cradle to cradle design. It is made of bamboo and mudworks/cobwalling. The use of local materials is an economic and ecological advantage. The school is based in group learning, having a positive attitude for learning, revealing hidden potential in children, and a reverence for nature. Sitting/studying cubbies are built into walls and a vertical garden facade keeps the building cool and the earthen walls from eroding.   The teachers, students, and parents helped build the school themselves.