Most simply, the idea of sustainability, or ecological design, is to ensure that our actions
and decisions today do not inhibit the opportunities of future generations.
This means making sure that our efforts work with our Earth's ecological systems rather than
in opposition to them.
Given that all human actions alter the systems we live in, the challenge of sustainability
is a complex issue. It includes looking at how we attain the resources we use, using them in a
way to get the most from them, and eliminating the idea of 'waste' from our vocabulary. There
is no way to know with certainty how complex ecological systems will react to our influence,
but there is an undeniable responsibility to act with the best of our knowledge.
Buildings account for about one-third of the energy consumed in the United States. Of this one-third,
heating and cooling systems use 60 percent, while lights and appliances use the other 40 percent.
Manufacturing and transporting building materials require much additional energy.
Some of the most important ecological issues impacted by the building process are:
- Global Climate Change - the result of increased pollution in the upper atmosphere.
- Declining sources of non-renewable fuels - and increased damage from their extraction and use.
- Habitat Destruction & Loss of Bio-Diversity - conversion of wild lands to human developments
combined with resource extraction.
- Toxic Pollution - the over-reliance on synthetic chemicals has many consequences that
have complex interactions once released.
Doerr Architecture is committed to the development of projects that minimize their impact
on the natural environment. As part of that effort, we stay up to speed with the most
effective strategies and technologies to produce more sustainable designs. And we work with
owners to balance these opportunities with the myriad other factors that impact a building project.
The impacts of human development on other natural systems continue to grow and compound themselves.
Since many of the best ideas of sustainable design also help reduce waste and costs to building owners
and managers, it would be foolish not to use them. Every building project requires change to ecological
systems and uses energy and resources; a perfectly green building is not truly possible. Instead, every
building project presents the opportunity (some would argue, the responsibility) to improve its
environmental performance, within the inevitable constraints of budget and building codes. Doerr
Architecture welcomes this challenge.