Lance concludes that “ Design isn’t separate from sustainability—it’s the key to it.” But you would have a hard time convincing most designers of this. Lance also mentions education as being a problem. He worries about continuing education, finding that most architects are clueless about the cost of building green; I worry about the schools, many of which are like the one I teach in, where sustainable design is an optional course taken by a third of the third year students, when it should be compulsory for everyone and baked into the program from year one.
The embodied energy of the existing building, a term expressing the cost of resources in both human labour and materials consumed during the building’s construction and use, is squandered when the building is allowed to decay or be demolished.
Dist. of Col. (Washington DC), USA – Ian Volner is a writer for Architect, the magazine for the American Institute of Architects. His article ‘Architecture’s afterlife’ discusses the ongoing obsession of recycling obsolete building materials over reclamation and salvage, and the processes and costs involved in getting into the reuse game.
Volner begins by painting a picture of the building industry today in the US, with forty percent of solid waste attributed to construction, he says ‘not only rubble and rotting beams, but also countless odds and ends from new construction such as cast off nails and packaging’.
Buildings Materials Reuse Association (BMRA) executive director Ann Niklin adds ‘ “We say it [recycling] is all very well and good, but we also say many of these [materials] could simply be salvaged”.’
There is a positive statement from architects who are using reclaimed materials consistently in their projects.
‘ “We’re really starting to get plugged into, in a much more architectural way, the stream of these materials,” says David Dowell, AIA, a principal of El Dorado Architects, also of Kansas City, Mo. Since expanding to include general contracting services, the firm has been working reuse deeper into its practice.’