One step at a time!

Throughout this course, I was able to interact with others in diverse majors and backgrounds. Each and every one of us is unique and I appreciate the intriguing conversations we had with each other during whole course discussions and breakout sessions. Architecture courses focus on the built environment, obviously, more than fashion and merchandising. We learn to be aware of the pros and cons of different building materials and building systems such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning, plumbing, gas, electrical, and many more. Little did we know that fashion and merchandising struggle with the same issue… how can we make our profession more sustainable? During class discussions and group projects, various ideas arose about how to solve the problem of our unsustainable lifestyle in the United States, however, I wish I would have been able to see my classmate’s final propositions. I personally wish we would have been able to hear the other team’s thought processes and final presentations just in case it were to help our individual research more. I know the course is short, but I think it would further our understanding of unsustainable practices across the design world. By sharing our ideas, it would cultivate a number of ideas and possibly lead to an idea down the road and develop into something more than just an idea. I am intrigued to see what problems my classmates tackled!

After wicked problems, I am taking away the knowledge that it is imperative that architects must pay close attention to the longevity of materials they choose and the design of buildings they create. Materiality is an important asset for designers; making the chosen material palette of a project important to its unique final look. There is an infinite amount of materials to work with, each with their own unique strengths and identity. This unlimited use of materials, though, can also serve as a double-edged sword, as not all materials can stand the test of time. By concentrating on the longevity and relationship between materials, our work will weather with purpose and withstand the test of time. The integrity of natural processes and objects, similar to patina, can be kind or cruel to materials over the years.  We must knowingly choose materials that last longer than 20 plus years, instead of choosing materials that are trendy, cheap, and will fail against natural causes. The beauty and serenity that comes with the aging of materials can only be produced with this method of thinking. Material longevity is a favorable factor for ethical sustainability practices. Our responsibility as designers is to choose environmentally responsive materials that do not have to be replaced frequently is imperative. The frequent replacement of low-cost materials produces higher costs and more waste in the long run. Furthermore, material longevity is a favorable factor for ethical sustainability practices. Our responsibility as designers is to choose environmentally responsive materials that do not have to be replaced frequently is imperative. The frequent replacement of low-cost materials produces higher costs and more waste. In the long run, less embodied energy will be demanded for the production of materials and more materials will be available if we design with the intention to be sustainable. Copper, aluminum, and stainless steel are examples of materials that possess a low embodied energy and life-span, therefore, these materials are sustainable and should be used often.

Within my circle of influence in school, I am surrounded by students who aspire to be architects, architectural engineers, car designers, stage set designers, and other related disciplines. Many students are aware that our profession is adding to the increasing material waste problem in our world, but there are still a few who do not agree. By implementing principles I learned in my sustainability courses such as ethics of the built environment, biomimicry, and wicked problems, I will be able to inform my fellow students in class of the problems our Earth faces today, yesterday, and tomorrow. 

Within my circle of influence outside of school, I believe that through little acts throughout the day such as not using plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic cups, fast fashion, and other unsustainable products will be noticeable to my friends and family. By switching to reusable water bottles, silicon straws, second-hand clothes, and more sustainable alternatives, one step at a time we can make a small difference that can evolve into a bigger difference. Most people believe that one person cannot make a difference, but I believe in the ripple effect. Just one person can have a positive impact on their close friends and family who then positively impact their close friends and family, then this continues on and on until the whole world realizes the impact our actions have on this earth. 

Major takeaways from this course are that research in materials and how they are made needs to be conducted before the selection of materials. Too often do architects choose materials that are cheap and harm the environment just because they are convenient, however, how convenient will it be when we no longer have an Earth to live on? Similar to what I said before, we must carefully consider how a material ages and how a material reacts to the environment it is surrounded by when we choose materials on the interior and exterior of buildings. Thankfully, the world is starting to see the light with the importance of sustainability, but we need to help spread the news about ways we can do our part individually. As a whole, the world will begin to spread awareness and stop the spread of unsustainable products. 

I am thankful for the knowledge I learned in this course. The lessons opened my eyes to what our part is as designers in the fight against waste. I hope I can share my knowledge to my peers, classmates, friends and family in order to further the understanding of sustainability and our part in saving the world. All we can do is try our best to make the world a better place for plants, animals, and humans. 

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