With the “financial crisis” lingering on, it has been interesting getting into high level dialog about the future of, well, the World! But more specifically, what lies ahead for the design and construction professions. Never mind that Green Building is really the only piece of the AEC world still logging positive numbers; the rest of the building industry has pretty much shut down. A San Francisco building official recently told me 100% of new building applications in the SOMA district of that city are proposed as LEED buildings. That’s a good thing, to be sure, but what does it suggest for the future of our planet and our economy?
Financial Crisis aside, all construction starting now could be done to LEED Platinum standards and yet we would not be solving the environmental crises before us. I love LEED, and at Design Ecology we like to say we can produce 14 credits, so the goal is not to criticize but frankly to be realistic about the task at hand. LEED is a tremendous tool, but we need to do more.
What we’ve been exploring at Design Eco, and what we are quite certain about at this point is that the AEC trades are in posession of the technology necessary to create regenerative projects. This means not only Net Zero or “sustainable,” but actually reversing environmental damage; generating energy, filtering air and water, providing habitat, producing food, sequestering carbon. Those who work with us know we are always looking for ways to do these things, and to give ourselves some credit, we do them successfully.
Every great concept needs an acronym, and we’ve got one: ENPIRS. It stands for Ecologically Net Positive Inhabited Restoration Site, and we intend to build ENPIRS as fast as possible. The beauty of this approach is that it opens the gate to unchecked development without damage to the Earth’s ecosystem. If every new project could be Ecologically Net Positive, the tension between economic growth and environmental sanity would relax and we could all get behind the idea of rebuilding our cities and our economy as quickly as possible. Every new development project would be mitigating climate change, protecting species, and otherwise restoring the global ecosystem. From a practical standpoint, to meet that lofty goal suggests turning our focus to urban infill sites while preserving intact ecosystems — but then that’s just common sense at this point.
Help us build ENPIRS, and stay tuned here for examples of such projects as well as more information about specific tools. Better yet, get in touch with us to discuss how we can bring this approach to your project right now, today, actually.