What Do We REALLY Know?

As an architecture student, LEED and building codes are something that I have spent a lot of my time thinking about and working with.  Much like Leigh Fletcher, I too have questioned the current system for building codes and the process for getting sustainability achievements.  In the reading, Leigh Fletcher analyzes the current lack of national policies for green building and discusses the need for more regulatory policies to reduce carbon emissions created by buildings and building construction, as well as analyzing the Currently the standards for what constitutes a “green building” is spread out amongst various government and non-government rating systems such as LEED, ENERGY STAR, and  the Green Globes. Leigh states that these rating systems don’t look at every aspect of green building in the rating process, making these systems not truly a qualification for identifying what is a green building. Along with unclear green building standards, it has been proven that green building costs more which is just another deterrent for clients, contractors,and the like. However, there have been programs put in place by local and state governments to help offset these costs such as financial incentives and regulations to meet a certain LEED standard.  The real question here is, should there be more regulations on the federal level to combat climate change and further regulate green building? Leigh believes that without interference from the national government, certain regulations created by local and state governments such as land use, zoning, and building codes will continue to be barriers that inhibit the implementation of attempted climate change policies. Along with creating a standard code and zoning, the federal government should also address what constitutes of green building. 

To be honest, I’m not sure where I stand on this subject.  On one side, I do think that setting a national standard would be a start to reducing the carbon emissions produced by buildings.  However, as someone who understands (or at least is beginning to understand) the ins and outs of code, 1) I just don’t see how a huge task  like that could be feasible for the national government to want to handle, and 2) I KNOW this would cause a lot more unforeseeable issues. For example, something that Leigh was upset about was that some of the local and state zoning and coding regulations were impeding the progress of sustainable building, but let me tell you why her proposal of leaving these types of things to the national level would be impossible.  Our nation is so large and contains so many different climate zones with there own unique needs that there is no way that one standard could be set that would accommodate all of these needs. In relation to the local codes and zoning in particular, the individuals that make these codes are the people that live in the area, are impacted by these decisions daily, and fully comprehend the implications of their actions. This is unlike representatives on the national level, who do not understand the needs and implications of each environment; therefore, would not be able to accurately make positively impactful decisions based on this subject.  These are the kinds of dilemmas that people face when attempting to solve wicked problems.

Before this class began, I had no idea what a wicked problem even was, and had never heard of the term before.  Over the last six weeks, I have learned so much about what a wicked problem is, how to categorize one, and how to go about solving them.  Even more than that, I have learned so much about other things such as mindfulness, social-entrepreneurship, and how all of these things are connected.  I connected with the wicked problems website because it felt as though I was reading through a journey very similar to my own and the way it was able to connect this newly found definition to  what people are doing about it was enlightening to me. I have begun to make these connections in my everyday life. For example, last night I was watching the new season of Abstract on Netflix and one of the episodes was on a toy designer.  This toy designer was unlike any other. She created these toys in which facilitated the free play of children. Children are the future of the world. They are the ones who will either solve the wicked problems or usher in the destructive era of our earth. To be able to solve these problems it will take creative solutions with ideas that have never been thought about before. So why do the toys that fill stores today have a particular script in how to use them? Toys are what children use to learn. The company Heros Will Rise, has set out to give children the toys that stimulate the growth of creativity and ingenuity while using sustainable building practices.  I feel as though it is the children that are forgotten, but should be the ones we should be investing in if we want to be able to solve the problems brought about by our ancestors and is seems that the Heros Will Rise agree. The creativity of children today will be the ingenuitive analysis and solutions to the world’s problems tomorrow. 

More than just today’s children, the search for new ways to analyze and solve problems have been the driver for human progress for centuries.  One of these is the current state – future scenarios analysis. This particular form of analysis uses six factors to analyze problems, which begins with defining the problem system.  Followed by classifying the drivers both direct and indirect, conducting a causal chain analysis, assess the impact and trends of the driver, pinpoint the factors influencing human activities, and lastly identify indicators.  This type of analysis would be a good way to try to analyze and alleviate wicked problems. The six factors of the current state analysis closely relate to the six characteristics. For example, wicked problems are usually related to an ideology of humans which is one of the factors that the current state analysis focuses on, as well as its close relation to identifying the problem, its trends, and impacts.  I could easily see this analysis helping me to finding a solution to begin to mitigate the wicked problem I am using for my investigative report. It is a topic that I have spent a lot of my time researching and analyzing throughout the last several weeks in a very similar way to the current state analysis. The toxicity of building materials is a topic that is so unknown that I think the first step to solving it would be to inform people of the problem.  The best way to do this would be to create a database in which identifies the toxins in building materials or in the material’s manufacturing processes. Just as with all wicked problems, you have to begin with your own self narrative if you ever want the paradigm to shift.  

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