Government: Friend or Foe

Government intervention to encourage sustainable design efforts may be necessary and beneficial for forwarding our environmental conscientiousness. Although the free market is helpful for some of our societal issues, the government—whose responsibility is to protect the people— has the unique ability to standardize conservation strategies and provides benefits for efforts to do so. One of the ways the government can help to protect us—the people—is through the protection of the environment; the challenge to this for the free market is the high upfront costs associated with these changes. Because of the difficulty in encouraging businesses to create “green” buildings and process, programs such as LEED have been on the rise to provide incentives for corporations who choose the more environmentally friendly options. LEED and similar programs provide a compromise between government mandate and allowing the economy to aimlessly wander to the side of intergenerational responsibility. Evaluating the environmental friendliness of a building based on set criteria, LEED certifies the benefit of a building in a tiered system, with higher levels of responsibility in design achieving higher tiers, which allows small businesses to achieve these benchmarks at their own pace without ruining them. Government mandates, such as those on the minimum wage tend to harm small ma-and-pop shops that have a small, community-centered reach in favor of larger corporations.

The Wicked Problems website seems to have some interesting information regarding the state of our world. One particularly fascinating article was titled “A Large-Scale Distraction” focusing on the limits industry puts on innovation. Due to a variety of reasons, products are released based on economic efficiency, not available technology. This is another example of power and money holding us hostage as a society. Although it makes economical sense for some businesses to incorporate this system, it hinders our growth, and leaves us stagnant.  “Updated” products use cookie cutter aspects of the previous year in order to cut corners in the production phase, thus creating an increase in consumer activity.  By updating the product as often as possible, consumers feel the need to keep up to date, which increases transactions and the pocket size of large corporations, fostering economic irresponsibility because of the increased materials used in production.

Current State Analysis provides a framework for problems to be identified. This is significant for those in the business of wicked problems because one of the key factors of a wicked problem is the fact that they are so difficult to define. This form of analysis helps to define the degree of a problem, its causes and the potential effects. However, it also seems to create paralysis by analysis. Even though it is only an analysis framework, it does not seem to encourage action, instead it highlights an endless cycle of debate and research without any application.

Adobe, the computer software giant has pledged to carbon neutrality by the year 2035. The significance of this statement to the world is that Adobe is not a small startup, but a Fortune 500 company, which suggest that it is possible for big business to turn to environmentally responsible practices. In order to aid them in this process, Adobe is utilizing the strategy of energy measurement to pinpoint the locations that it can best improve their harmful output. They also address the paradox of a growing business reaching for a minimal carbon footprint by combining existing environmental strategies with cutting edge research.

About chrbrack

I am an Architectural Engineering student at Oklahoma State University.
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