Taking Green Footsteps

National
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
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Are architects doing enough for sustainability? The Rocky Mountain Institute has a new website that can help.

Are architects doing enough for sustainability? The Rocky Mountain Institute has a new website that can help.

Planetizen published an interesting piece over the weekend looking at the relative disconnect between sustainability and starchitecture, or how form may have gotten futuristic of late, but not with the future in mind. The article’s a little plodding at times, though the argument is valid and clear:

Many contemporary buildings embody the age-old conflict between individual expression and the common good, while some appear almost antagonistic towards the environment. Frank Gehry’s aluminum billows and Daniel Libeskind’s tilted spires are largely aesthetic accents that use computer-aided design to create forms unbuildable, if not unimaginable, even a decade ago. The sheer expense of iconic libraries, concert halls, and corporate headquarters contradicts environmentalism’s drive for efficiency.

As if answering the call, the Rocky Mountain Institute launched a new site today, Green Footstep, designed to help architects calculate the carbon impact of their buildings. According to Victor Olgyay, a principal at the institute, their calculator is different than predecessors because it helps determine the building’s footprint over the life of the building, not simply at inception, something most buildings—including in the LEED spectrum—fail to take into consideration. Having never designed a green building ourselves, we can’t speak to the efficacy of the site, but it certainly look impressive and operates intuitively, so it’s worth checking out. Should you do so, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

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