This week was the most discouraging for me. The more I learn, the more I feel like there is no right way to achieve sustainability. I use towels to clean up messes instead of paper towels so that I save paper but after reading about energy use in washing and drying, I don’t know if my actions are as sustainable as they should be. It is common to say and hear not to waste energy but it isn’t a physical thing that people can see or feel and I think this is why it is difficult to try to be energy efficient. I think it is the designer’s responsibility to educate end users on how to be energy efficient and to equip them with ways to do it. An example of this would be using occupant sensors for lighting so that lights are not on unnecessarily. Our life cycle of building reading also emphasized the importance of materials used in buildings. Once again I think it is the designer’s responsibility to regulate this. A client may request certain things and the ultimate decision is up to them but the client does not have the knowledge that the designer has. One cannot specify a material they do not know about therefore designers should push the importance of using sustainable materials despite the sometimes higher initial cost. Many people are not aware of the energy used in the manufacturing and transportation of certain materials. According to our reading, previous research was only accounting the energy used initially in the first materials used and then their deconstruction (upstream and downstream) but didn’t research the time between these points. As designers we must find a balance between using materials that are initially sustainable and finding durable materials that won’t need to be replaced often. This course has revealed to me that there is no easy answer when it comes to finding energy efficient solutions. The life cycle of building is not only about the construction and deconstruction of it but the maintenance as well.
My epiphany this week was the role that designers have in helping others lead a sustainable lifestyle. I feel that designers should also be educators. If we pass our knowledge along then hopefully people will be less reluctant to spending more on these materials and processes.
I really enjoyed learning more about how energy works. Having a visual to go with the concept of energy made it more of a real thing to me that I can change. I would like to learn more about how energy works in a simple way.