by Linda G. Miller Kristen Richards Hon. ASLA and Jessica Sheri
Sustainable Design for the New Decade: Deep Dive on Issues and the Role of Design
What will sustainable design mean — and look like — in the next decade and beyond? For moderator Susan Szenasy, Hon. AIANY, Hon. ASLA, editor-in-chief of Metropolis, “LEED has taken the profession into the sustainable world. Now we have the foundation and are ready to go beyond LEED and come up with design solutions that are carbon neutral.” The three panelists put forth presentations that helped define carbon neutrality and what the A&E industry has achieved — and still needs to accomplish to reach such an increasingly necessary goal.
Yale School of Forestry’s Stephen Kellert linked crises in both natural and built environments, explaining that the separation and alienation of people from nature is critical to rebuilding our degraded and depleted natural systems. He called for moving towards “restorative environmental design,” that combines low-impact, LEED-type design with biophilic design. As examples, Kellert compared Yale’s new Kroon Hall and UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. Both serve similar clientele, and both are LEED Platinum, but “which one makes you want to be in it?” His answer: Kroon has “more restorative environmental/biophilic design features,” while the Bren building actually turns its back on its ocean views. (According to Kellert, Kroon Hall “is using more energy than anticipated because students won’t leave the building.”)
Robert Drew, LEED AP, associate principal of Busby Perkins+Will, presented Dockside Green in Victoria, BC, as a case study of how large-scale development can achieve carbon neutrality. The 15-acre waterfront brownfield site is being developed into a 1.3-million-square-foot mixed-use neighborhood (35% is now built out). The design team “moved the focus from buildings to community,” he said, working from a “triple-bottom-line approach” of economic, environmental, and social assessments. Key to the aim of achieving LEED ND Platinum is the development’s self-sufficiency. Dockside built its own biomass and waste water treatment plants, and a planted greenway that supports storm water management. But a key ingredient has been to “empower the user.” Residents can learn what will save energy through the smart metering system installed in every unit that measures a number of metrics, from electricity usage to a greenhouse gas emissions profile.