Monday, March 4, 2013

Green building is the future of all building

Green building industry has grown at a very impressive rate and experts predict that it will continue to grow by as much as 400% in coming years. The motivation to build green also comes from the business opportunity it represents. Builders all over the world surveyed recently reported being involved in green construction on some level. Green building provides an assortment of economic advantages and therefore is the future of all building.

The impact of 'green' has united disciplines that have worked independently from one another, such as architects, engineers, builders, material suppliers, community planners, mortgage lenders and contractor trades. Many architecture and engineering firms have experienced that sustainable design projects were, on average 25% more profitable than conventional project. Some of the benefits that builders of green building enjoy are: 

- Competitive advantage because of higher quality
- Less construction waste
- Lower material and labor costs during construction
- Reduced purchase cost of mechanical equipment
- Reduced callbacks and warranty claims

Does going green change the face of design or only its content?

Aesthetic attraction isn’t a superficial concern - it’s an environmental imperative. We spoke of Lance Hosey's book The Shape of Green in the last post. We decided to share more from this book which we think is true for our profession. Let us understand why beauty is inherent to sustainability, for how things look and feel is as important as how they’re made. 

In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan shows that domesticated plants and animals have thrived because they have an important survival advantage over their competitors in the wild: we like them. Pollan writes: “Human desires form a part of natural history in the same way the hummingbird’s love of red does, or the ant’s taste for the aphid’s honeydew. I think of them as the human equivalent of nectar.” The fate of many things depends on whether they please people. Wolves might seem heartier than dogs, but there are 50 million dogs in the world and only ten thousand wolves. Which has adapted better? This view of nature may give you pause - should other species exist just to please us? But as a principle for design, it is essential. If you want something to last, make it as lovable as a Labrador.

Studies show, we form positive associations with things we consider beautiful, we are more likely to become emotionally attached, giving them pet names, for instance. We personalize things we care about. Experiments in interaction design also reveal that people generally consider attractive products more functional than they do unsightly ones and therefore are more apt to use them. We prefer using things that look better, even if they aren’t inherently easier to use. Consider the ramifications - if an object is more likely to be used, it’s more likely to continue being used. Who throws out a thing they find functional, beautiful, and valuable all at once? A more attractive design discourages us from abandoning it: if we want it, we won’t waste it.

The Shape of Green is a beautiful book that designers and also design lovers will turn to time and again. Author Lance Hosey explores the critically important but too rarely discussed dimensions of this goal elegance, joy, and beauty. The book has ability to inspire hope in the most pessimistic readers.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

If it’s not beautiful, it’s not sustainable

Architect and author Lance Hosey, in his book The Shape of Green, argues that beauty is inherent to sustainability, for how things look and feel is as important as how they’re made. He went further and wrote 'If it’s not beautiful, it’s not sustainable'!

Long-term value is impossible without sensory appeal, because if design doesn't inspire, it’s destined to be discarded. “In the end,” writes Senegalese poet Baba Dioum, “we conserve only what we love.” We don’t love something because it’s nontoxic and biodegradable - we love it because it moves the head and the heart. If people don’t want something, it will not last, no matter how thrifty it is. And when our designs end up as litter or landfill, how prudent have we been? “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us,” wrote Rachel Carson half a century ago, “the less taste we shall have for destruction.” When we treasure something, we’re less prone to kill it, so desire fuels preservation. Love it or lose it. In this sense, the old mantra could be replaced by a new one: If it’s not beautiful, it’s not sustainable. Aesthetic attraction is not a superficial concern - it’s an environmental imperative. Beauty could save the planet.

© Shape of Green

Friday, March 1, 2013

India needs to build taller, environment friendly and smarter cities

Majority of cities in India are short and most grew outwards and compact. Their skylines are almost nonexistent. Isn't this strange when we find that millions in India are without housing, millions more facing exorbitant rents and crumbling infrastructure? According to a report, Indian cities are short of 18.8 million homes. That’s an improvement over 2007, when a report prepared by the same group put the national urban housing shortage at 24.7 million. Therefore, one of the solution is to grow vertical!

In spite of the urban development explosion, Indian cities haven't developed a taste for skyscrapers and tall building. "With 250 million people to be added to India's cities and towns over the next 20 years, the country needs a vision of the future, to inspire the next generation of cities to become world-class centres of urban endeavor  business, finance, sport and culture, while ensuring that smaller cities become stronger and more able to efficiently participate in the growth story," says Aashish Karode who is an architect and urban designer.

India needs to build taller, environment friendly and smarter cities.