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LEED, Architecture 2030 & The Living Building Challenge

B y S i n g u l a r N e w m a n

In an ideal world, good ideas would be welcomed immediately and perhaps quickly implemented. However wishfully wonderful that would be, the odds are against that scenario ever occurring within our generational life spans.

Discussing the three methods to a better future, in my humble opinion Architecture 2030 1) makes the most sense. It is clear, and concise, and it doesn't spend too much energy on knit picking minimal and divisive non-issues. I call them non-issues because inside the framework of say, The Living Building Challenge, to be called TLBC from now on, one finds factors of accreditation that do not really benefit or help the concept of creating a more sustainable future.

Ideas expressed by the TLBC 2) such as habitat exchange are absurd. The idea that a building should use only the water it recuperates out of the environment is utterly ridiculous. What happens in a town like Las Vegas? Do you drink stale water from six months ago when there is an abundant man-made lake next door.

I understand water is a source that needs conservation, but the earth has a natural cycle that contains the self sustained ability to recycle all of its own water. The earth is a living planet, it breaths and sweats and freezes and rains and gets a suntan sometimes. It even has a heart beat that beats irregularly sometimes and shakes us violently. Once water from your sink is used, for most household chores that is, assuming that you’re not using poisonous chemicals, (and that could unfortunately mean, store items currently on the shelves) it could be reused and recycled back to the source. Water is always trying to get back to the source, to its cousins and brothers and sisters and uncles in the water table, lakes, rivers, bedrock, seas, oceans and finally evaporated back into the atmosphere where it takes the form of vapor and then it condenses and turns to ice or rain and pours down where it is again accumulated into the water table from where your faucet water come from in the first place.

So what I am proposing is that water usage should not be restricted. What should be restricted is the amount of household pollutants released down-stream from the said dwelling.

Due to time and space constrictions I will not add anymore negative critiques directed towards TLBC, it is suffice to say that in my opinion the TLBC system is flawed from the get-go and it fails in the narrow scope of its mission. The target audience may be eccentric millionaire art collectors and Al Gore but the idea of sustainability is the idea that the world needs concrete solutions that everyone can attain and soon if this ideal of a better planet is to grow wings and fly.

LEED 3)is a good start but it fails because if falls short of really creating a sustainable standard. It fails from the start as well because everyone knows the back doors and shortcuts in achieving LEED Certification already. LEED is a good idea but great systems take a good constitution. The problem with the Certification is that as soon as you get it you are free of worries. A building’s performance is basically claimed on paper. That paper figure however has no relation at times to the actual real-world scenario. A building may use more water and energy in the longer term and figures do change as certain issues become apparent.

Here is a news article that I found on the web at grist.org. It sums up why LEED is no longer leading the sustainability evolution, “Milwaukee's new Urban Ecology Center is one of the greenest buildings in the upper Midwest. Certified? No, “because it could have added as much as $75,000 to the cost, just for the paperwork,” Ken Leinbach, the center's executive director was quoted as saying, “In LEED, you need 26 of 69 possible points to get certified, and all points are weighted equally, even though some have far greater environmental benefits than others.”

Architecture 2030 makes the most sense because it goes to the source of the environmental damage in the first place, not including agricultural petro-chemical corporations that pollute massively and destroy the environment is other ways besides the carbon level, Architecture 2030 does take giant leaps towards a better, fresher future. It targets the carbon emission of Coal plants. Hands down the largest by far, Gross Domestic Polluter or GDP. The amount of carbon released by a regular coal refining plant in one month, is equivalent to the entire output of California’s cars and trucks during the course of one year!

Numbers such as these should make any sustainable environmentalist cry out loud. If Architecture 2030 had no other goals but to reduce the pollution coming from coal plants it would still be more successful than both LEED and TLBC. It is more successful because it concentrates its energy to go after what really needs to be done to conserve our energy and reduce carbon pollution.

Arch 2030 also wants to reduce building energy consumption by 50% by the year 2030. That is an attainable goal. Carbon neutrality is also possible, and needed to solve the issue of carbon pollution. Implementing a battle plan requires a good constitution as well as I said earlier. Reliance on a time tested and proven energy source such as the Sun star, constantly bombarding us with cheap, free and clean energy is a genial idea. If every home had a solar panel roof, or some sort of installation that harvests the solar current, the world energy consumption would literally drop by more than 60%, keeping in mind that private residences currently consume over 75% of all energy produced in the United States. Concise, intelligent, purposeful and most importantly, within reach. Architecture 2030 is a better system and is the system I would support .


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