Dating Nature

Dating Nature

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  At a recent conference, I heard David Orr express the need to ‘fall in love with nature.’ His point was that without a relationship of love and kinship, too many of us will continue to see nature as an enemy to be subdued (tornados and tigers), a nuisance (mosquitoes and poison ivy), or provider of a functional service (delivering clean water and food.) He went on to state that we need to focus on helping children experience this connectivity. I thought, what about the adults? Have we given up on the people who can activate the change that we need right away? We might not have time for these children to move into positions of authority. Throughout their lives, people fall in love with one another. Adults marry at all ages, and elders experience profound love for their grandkids. Can this pattern be extended to love for nature? We

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Voting with Colored Dots

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Have you ever been in a group exercise at a design charrette where participants are asked to suggest a range of issues they feel are important for the project? The list goes on the wall, perhaps communicated by a bunch of post-its. The list contains individual wants, needs, visions, aspirations, environmental imperatives, LEED points, budget concerns, building or project programming issues, and so on. Then each person is given a selection of colored dots and asked to ‘vote’ on what they feel is most important. Pretty heavy responsibility for a colored dot. What’s wrong with this process? It sounds like a reasonably fair way of making decisions. In fact, it’s an OK process if you want to get a read on what people are thinking. But it is not a way to achieve long-term agreement and integration – there will always be perspectives left unaddressed or unreconciled by a majority

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Evolving The Way We Rate Progress Towards Sustainability

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“Growing more efficiently merely makes society more efficiently unsustainable.” William Rees, PhD, FRSC – University of British Columbia, one of the developers of the Ecological Footprint concept “If you save the living environment it automatically will save the physical environment. If you just save the physical environment (as we’ve come to understand it), we’ll lose both.” (Wilson’s Law) E.O. Wilson, Harvard, Entomologist, Ecological System Scientist and Author Currently, Green Building Rating System credits address the efficient use of resources such as energy, water, and materials. But without addressing the world of living systems – the living environment that supports us and surrounds us—we will never achieve a sustainable condition.

A Regenerative Context for LEED

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In 2000 the U.S. Green Building Council officially launched the LEED® Green Building Rating System. LEED is a grading system that assigns points and levels of performance to various criteria relating to our health and the health of the ecosystem. It grades a client and design team’s willingness to reduce impact in a number of broad areas such as energy and atmospheric pollutants; community issues; habitat; water quality and conservation; material resources; and the quality of our indoor environment. The purpose of this rating system was to put these issues in front of us as a grouped system. While it has been very successful in its impact on the marketplace, the danger is that users think that LEED helps create sustainable buildings.  It does not.