Architectual design and construction awareness

What does Sustainability mean to you?

GREEN – What does Sustainability mean to you?

This being my first post I wanted to touch upon a hot topic that has gained some serious traction in the design and construction industry over the past decade and will become even more imperative as our lives and the environment continue to revolutionize for decades to come.

Along with some other important angles and concepts I will discuss in other posts, I would first like to touch upon a simple term that has been thrown around since the start of the green wave.  A word I see in endless news articles, magazines, billboards, product advertising, business cards and used again and again at industry trade shows like ‘Build Boston’ and Green Build’.  The simple term and catch word;  Sustainability’.  What does it mean to you and how does it relate to your project?

sus·tain //  (s -st n )

tr.v. sus·tained, sus·tain·ing, sus·tains

1. To keep in existence; maintain.

2. To supply with necessities or nourishment; provide for.

3. To support from below; keep from falling or sinking; prop.

4. To support the spirits, vitality, or resolution of; encourage.

5. To bear up under; withstand, prolong: can’t sustain the blistering heat.

6. To experience or suffer: sustained a fatal injury.

7. To affirm the validity of: The judge has sustained the prosecutor’s objection.

8. To prove or corroborate; confirm.

9. To keep up (a joke or assumed role, for example) competently.

10. Keep on, retain, continue, keep.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Well, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak.  To keep in existence; maintain, vitality, withstand, prolong, retain, continue, and keepAll terms used for something that stands the test of time, and in my mind is the most important factor in green design and construction.  Designing and building to last, is something I have become passionate about during my career and use every opportunity possible to explain all of the options, including environmental factors that clients face when entering the project world. 

Education is the foundation and basis of confident decision making.

What flashes through ones mind when reminded of Boston?  Colleges?  The Celtics, Bruins or Fenway Park?  History and heritage?  Perhaps Sam Adams beer?  Well sure, all good answers, but having attended college in Boston and spending a great deal of time in the streets, I think of bricks, bricks and bricks.  Brick walkways and steps, endless brick facades, brick retaining and landscaping walls one lazily sits to reflect, read a book or my favorite, people watch.  Ok, my point; brick is only one item but an important one.  If used and installed correctly, masonry products can last for hundreds of years and longer.  Sure, everything eventually needs to be repaired or replaced, but in comparison to its competitors, I know where I’d hang MY hat.

Sure, selecting sustainable building materials could possibly increase the initial costs of a project, but carefully consider your budget, life cycle, investment and your return on investment, your re-salability, how long you plan to own your building or property, your maintenance and repair costs, your operational costs, and your waste production.  Have you thought about the materials you will need to replace in 15 years?  How much will those materials and labor cost then?  How many fossil fuels will be burned for the manufacturing and logistics? Where will those used and possibly unrecyclable materials go?

There are several other factors in green design and a few of the obvious are energy and water consumption and waste, use of recycled materials, and your direct impact on the eco system.  Another big one that I will discuss in a future post is the prevention of sprawl and how sprawl has a tremendous direct and indirect impact on our environment.

For now, all I know is that there’s a good reason why your Timberlands will outlast you blue light specials!



4 Responses to “What does Sustainability mean to you?”

  1. Paul, it’s Whitney here. Congrats on your new blog, and with your brilliance about to be exposed, there will be lots of opportunities that come to you soon. Have a great week, and I can’t wait to hear the good news coming to you from this.
    Whitney McClough, psychic, Astrologer, Medium & writer of Whitney’s Whirl, a weekly Astrology Column.

  2. Nice post, Paul!
    I found you through a Tweet from Bob Borson (another fine blogger).
    I look forward to your future ideas on sustainable design and whatever other “architeps” you come up with.

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