Developers accused of pursuing gadgetry instead of saving planet

The Guardian reported on Saturday on the CABE criticism of architects and developers who are, according to CABE ignoring the threat of climate change and failing to address concerns over sustainability, (Based on design reviews of more than 700 large construction projects over the last two years that concluded that fewer than 10 made sustainability a priority)

Thats less than 2% !! Why has it taken two years and 700 project reviews to highlight such failings?

“painfully slow, piecemeal approach to sustainability” and a focus on
superficial “green gadgets” is threatening efforts to build green towns
and cities.”There are some architects and developers who really get climate
change, but most don’t or choose not to. As a result we get a lot of
greenwash, such as green gadgets and microtechnology stuck on to
buildings, rather than a proper approach to sustainable design.”

I am intrigued as to the review criteria used by CABE and will report more here when I can track down and read the report.

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zeroHouse

A search over a coffee, starting from Pam’s link (here) led me to zeroHouse.

Now this may be hitting a lot of boxes on the zero list, may be an architects vision or dream, but to call eco (as in ‘eco’ =’home’) and a place to live?

Does this primary school Lego construction have a soul – ie a spiritual dimension. Is it at all aligned to nature – it actually looks as though it has flown in to the location and cant wait to be off again. And just imagine a society, a neighbourhood or development of these. Or even, gulp, an eco-city.

And on the current theme here of usability – has anyone lived in one of these I wonder and feedback comments to designers, or indeed feedforward experiences to the next iterative design.

Saying all that this would be a good design to have within the Second Life International Eco Code Park so visitors can move around, experience its ‘feel’ if only virtually and leave comments on their ‘experience’ (click here to enter into the Park)

are green buildings usable?

It seems we are becoming awash with green buildings, eco homes and eco towns.

There are some great sites out there with green architecture eye candy (check out Mad Architecture for example).

We have some major and significant conferences and events on the horizon – from the international Eco City 2008, Green Build 2008 and West Coast Green, here in the UK Think 08, and more locally the Elevate Exemplar event in September and the Lancs Best Practice Club July event.  All very different and important to their target audiences.

Even in Second Life there are great green and sustainable ‘built environment’ demonstration and education projects

And yet in all the design, conferences, events and working groups I see very little about the usability of green buildings – what is it like to work, live and play in them?  What does the comfort level  within (and around) green building do for health, for productivity and for well being?  What is it really like to be a citizen of a eco-city such as Auroville?

Once again I am convinced its not the building – green or other wise – but the way we use buildings that is paramount importance on the sustainability agenda – as Prof Keith Alexander down at the Center for Facilities Management comments – its about building consumption – not production. 

Time to turn the telescope around?  Is the green / sustainability movement in the built environment stuck in the building production with eye candy design, at the expense of the usability of the buildings?

As a Friday comment – I am throwing down a challenge for comments and evidence – are  Green Buildings usable?

I invite guest posts here and links to sites that discuss this issue.

Eco City 2008

The Eco City 2008 blog continues to profile Eco City projects and urban architects and other leading thinkers in its build up to the Eco City World Summit conference at the end of the month.  The posts, links and articles make fine background reading to urban futures and the whole concept of eco, whether its eco-cities, eco-towns or eco-villages world wide.

Low impact eco village

From the eco cities of the world to plans for a low impact eco-village in Wales.

Lammas, in its bid to get planning permission has put together a comprehensive and absorbing website. Well worth checking out.

from the Lammas website: 

The Houses

Low-impact architecture uses a combination of recycled and natural materials. The project is essentially a self-build affair. The first phase will see the construction of five detached dwellings and one terrace of four dwellings. There will be a combination of building styles including straw bale, earth sheltered, timber frame and cob. The houses will feature the latest environmental technologies and design techniques. The dwellings will blend into the landscape. Indeed they will be largely made from elements of the landscape (for example turf roofs, cob walls, timber cladding).

 

Urban revolution

Continuing the theme of Eco Cities

Jaime Lerner‘s ‘urban revolution’ successfully transformed a congested, grimy, crime-ridden city into a world-renowned model of green living and social innovation. London can do it too, reports  Tom Phillips in an excellent and inspiring article.

Jaime Lerner will be speaking in London next Monday, one of a series of Exemplar Talks at Somerset House. For details email exemplartalks@somersethouse.org.uk