Maybe We Aren’t Doomed?

I think what I contributed to the learning community throughout the course was a knowledge of how both Architecture and production effect the environment. Buildings require so much energy to run and it is kind of crazy that we let it. If we were required to use LEED (or other similar design standards), our energy consumption would be much less and we would have a better chance of survival. I think it’s important that Architects and designers. During last week’s discussion about whether or not LEED should be implemented federally or not, I brought up the point that local conservative governments would be less likely to implement green building laws. This would mean that in order for large scale change to happen, we need to act federally because conservative states would be less apt to these types of building restriction. Discussions about production was also something I felt I could contribute to the class. The ways we make, produce and distribute products is not sustainable. By that I mean the waste produced, the energy required to make and the transportation required to distribute these products is too great to continue. By producing products locally, we could become more aware of how these practice effect our environment, because we would be feeling the effects where we live.

I’d say the biggest takeaway I received from this course was learning about how we are not living in harmony with the earth, and that is why we need to change. Since the Industrial Revolution, we have become dependent on resources that have taken years to create. Old growth trees, oil, and coal just to name a few. And at the rate we are consuming these resources, we will end up like the Easter Islanders. Like the Easter Islanders we are consuming resources at an unsustainable way. The islanders, who’s main cause of collapse was deforestation, ran into larger unseen problems which led them to cannibalism in the end. Our society needs to learn from the mistakes that these people made. We are now at a place where we have to choose whether our way of living is more important than our future on this planet.

As individuals, we should try to be sustainable in our daily lives. If every person made small changes to live more sustainably, then globally there would be a large scale change benefiting everyone. For instance, if every grocery shopper brought their own shopping bags, think about how much different our landfills would be. Also, if every consumer stopped buying fast fashion items and instead bought more utilitarian clothing, or bought second hand clothing, think about how that would affect our waste and pollution. However, with this being a wicked problem, this would drastically effect our economy and the fashion industry. This class has done a good job at explaining how we need to look at different perspectives to understand the whole issue.

Because of this course I am walking away an interest in alternative building materials and systems. In my first blog post, I explored this some due to our discussion about deforestation in class. I think that it’s worthwhile to explore because our industry definitely encourages deforestation through the materials that we use. In our info graphic project, I discovered that only about a fifth of surveyed Architects believe that the building industry encourages deforestation. I truly believe this is a huge problem. If Architects and designers alike are not aware of this problem, who is going to educate and encourage them to use or find other materials? Personally I’d like to further my research on this topic because it doesn’t seem like there is enough attention about this in the profession currently. I think I’d also be interested in learning more about LEED certification and other green building technologies. From what little I’ve researched so far, I can become a LEED Green Associate before I graduate! In the future I’d like to take these principals and design building that yes are beautiful, but are also energy efficient.

Within my circle of influence, I feel that I can influence those around me. For example, whenever I eat at my desk at studio I bring my own fork and drink out of a reusable water bottle. Over time I have noticed my classmates doing the same. I think that this same idea could be used in other ways too. I’ve noticed that since I have begun recycling this semester, my roommates have too. I put a bin next to our trash can and it’s amazing to see how much waste we produce that can be recycled. Between the three of us, we recycle between one and two trash cans worth of products a week! And by seeing how much waste we generate, I have begun to buy products with minimal packaging. I think that I can also start to educate my friends and family on small ways they can help to reduce their carbon footprint. Recycling is a really easy first step, but beyond that I would advise them to not participate in fast fashion practices and to only buy things when they need them. Because there is no reason to be buying a new iPhone, or really any product every single year.

Considering everything I’ve learned in the last four weeks, I really think that in order for survival it will take everyone to make changes, large and small. I think that educating the public is key to a sustainable society. People can only do what they can with what knowledge they have, and I think the majority of people aren’t aware of how large our issues really are. While it’s scary to think that our generation will have to be the leaders in the sustainable movement, I think that we are off to a great start. With young people like Greta Thunberg being so instrumental in enacting change, it’s kind of inspiring. I often hear talk about both her and sustainability in general with my friends. It won’t be easy to change our ways, but from what I’ve seen, our generation is very passionate about saving the environment.

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