Ask the Architect: What is Sustainability? #Green #Architect #ilmaBlog

What is sustainability?

Sustainability has become a “buzz” word which has been used to describe conservation and protection of the environment we live in. 

Due to the fact that the general public (through old and new media platforms) has become increasing knowledgeable about climate change and pollution (from print news articles, online websites, documentaries and films that focus on the wrongdoings of companies), they are holding companies accountable and voting amongst industry competitors with the dollars they spend on goods and services.  An Inconvenient Truth is a 2006 American concert film/documentary film directed by Davis Guggenheim about former United States Vice President Al Gore’s campaign to educate people about global warming. The film features a comprehensive slide show that, by Gore’s own estimate, he has presented over a thousand times to audiences worldwide.  Films like “An Inconvenient Truth” can shed light on the way that people and companies play a part in the world we live in.  Because we live in a world of limited resources it is important that we focus not only on ourselves, but the earth and all its eco-systems (plants and animals included, not just human beings).  Human beings have the greatest impact on the planet and need to be accountable for how we live our lives.  Companies and organizations need to do the same.

How can we make sustainable development a reality?

This response focuses on a world driven by economics: Impact from “Corporations” & “Organizations” are two of many ways to help materialize sustainability because they shape the lives we live through community, what we buy, where we learn, where we work and how we choose to spend our income.

The European Commission (2010) defines corporate social responsibility (CSR) as ‘‘a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis.’’ A common definition in the management literature comes from Davis (1973, p. 312), who defines CSR as ‘‘the firm’s considerations of, and response to, issues beyond the narrow economic, technical, and legal requirements of the firm to accomplish social [and environmental] benefits along with the traditional economic gains which the firm seeks (Source: The benefits and costs of corporate social Responsibility” by Geoffrey B. Sprinkle, Laureen A. Maines) .”

In creating and distributing CSR Reports, companies not only share their reports with their customers and their employees, but in the process, they are able to reflect on what they are doing and how they can make improvements.  In the words of W. Edwards Deming, “Measure of productivity does not lead to improvement in productivity.”  However, by recognizing attributes that make the organization unique help move it forward.  By identifying key metrics that impact the business the organization will be able to better address the financial, social, and environmental benefits, commonly referred to as the Triple Bottom Line.

Customers need to be aware of companies that may be using “greenwashing.”  There are times when organization may not want to directly promote their activities through advertisements because it may appear like “pinkwashing” or “greenwashing.”  Savy customers may be turned away by marketing tactics.  More important is to do the right thing, keep employees motivated and focused on the organization’s values, and report in their annual CSR report (Source: Marquis, Christopher, Pooja Mehta Shah, Amanda Elizabeth Tolleson, and Bobbi Thomason. “The Dannon Company: Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility (A).” Harvard Business School Case 410-121, April 2010. (Revised September 2011)).

How sustainability can be measured?

Because I have focused the past 20 years of my career primarily in the higher education industry I will focus my response on what I know, instead of tackling this problem from a larger more global perspective like I have in the responses above.  However, it is with much thought and consideration that I share these insights because I strongly believe that other industry sectors can prosper from this information.  This is by no means an end to all measurements of sustainability but it certainly is a good start to put a dent in this massive undertaking!

For the past few years APPA/NACUBO has compiled a survey of institutions of higher education.

The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) is a membership organization representing more than 1,900 colleges and universities across the country. (https://www.nacubo.org) APPA is the gathering place for educational facilities professionals, dedicated to the ongoing evolution of the profession.  Although their name has changed over the past 100 years their mission remains: “To support educational excellence with quality leadership and professional management through education, research and recognition (https://www.appa.org).”

APPA/NACUBO provides an annual survey on the self-reported information submitted by their constituents which is comprised of: (1) Community Colleges; (2) Small Institutions; (3) Comprehensive/Doctoral; and (4) Research Institutions (High and Very High Research Institutions). 

The following key performance indicators are measured, compiled and reported by APPA/NACUBO based on the one of 4 categories listed above:

  • Energy Use Intensity (measured KBTU per square foot)
  • Electrical (measured kW per square foot)
  • Water daily (measured average gallons per FTE student enrolled)
  • Recycled waste (measured in pounds annually per FTE student enrolled)
  • Garbage waste (measured in pounds annually per FTE student enrolled)
  • Carbon footprint (measured in metric tons CO2 per FTE student enrolled)

The report illustrates the year-over-year comparison of results from the survey, as well as comparisons by type of institution. APPA/NACUBO encourages the academic institutions of higher education to explore these findings as a starting point to better inform their campus decisions.

It is vital that each institution look at similar organizations (community colleges, small institutions, comprehensive/doctoral, and research universities). The survey reports raw data by gross square feet (GSF) and by student full-time equivalent (SFTE). The raw data can be used to evaluate and reduce consumption.

Further Reading:

https://www.nacubo.org/Topics/Facilities-and-Environmental-Compliance/Key-Facilities-Metrics-Survey

https://ilovemyarchitect.com/category/green/

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Frank_Cunha/answers

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Mansueto Library by JAHN

JAHN is an international architectural firm with over 75 years of experience that has achieved critical recognition and won numerous awards. JAHN’s ability to integrate design creativity and corporate professionalism makes it a leading firm in global design Innovation.

The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library opened at the heart of the University of Chicago campus in 2011. It features a soaring elliptical glass dome capping a 180-seat Grand Reading Room, state-of-the-art conservation and digitization laboratories, and an underground high-density automated storage and retrieval system. The Mansueto Library speeds scholarly productivity by allowing for the retrieval of materials within an average time of 3 minutes through use of robotic cranes. Designed by renowned architect Helmut Jahn, the Mansueto Library has been recognized with a Distinguished Building Citation of Merit by the American Institute of Architects’ Chicago chapter and a Patron of the Year Award by the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

Joe and Rika Mansueto Library-01Joe and Rika Mansueto Library-02Joe and Rika Mansueto Library-04aJoe and Rika Mansueto Library-05Joe and Rika Mansueto Library-01bJoe and Rika Mansueto Library-02aJoe and Rika Mansueto Library-01aJoe and Rika Mansueto Library-03Joe and Rika Mansueto Library-04Joe and Rika Mansueto Library-00-SketchesJoe and Rika Mansueto Library-00-SiteJoe and Rika Mansueto Library-00-ElevationJoe and Rika Mansueto Library-00-Cross-Section
Location:
University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, United States
Architect: JAHN
Lead Designer: Helmut Jahn
Area: 58,700 SF
Project Year: 2011

The site in the center of theUniversity of Chicago’s Campus is surrounded by a variety of different buildings. With a mixture of styles, ranging from the gothic quadrangle to the south, the Limestone Brutalism of Netsch’s Regenstein Library to the east, the Henry Moore monument and Legorreta’s colorful Student Housing to the north and a building to the west, which will be replaced by a new Science Building. There is not much to relate to.

The problem was to store 3.5 million books with an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS). The expectations in the brief suggested to house those in a well-designed “Box” above grade. In an effort to infringe as little as possible with the open space, make the Reading Room and the Preservation Department the most pleasant space to be in and in line with our approach to challenge habitual conventions, we opted to put the books below grade, where their environment can be better controlled to achieve the desired constant temperature and humidity of 60 degrees, 30% RH – at less cost. The people-oriented spaces could thus be located at grade in a minimal elliptical glass dome, which fits the context, because it defies conventional relationships.

Murphy Jahn think it has been embraced by the leadership of the University, because it represents the mission of theUniversity of Chicago  as catalyst for the advancement of knowledge. It is interesting that this happened at an Institution where the disciplines of Architecture and Engineering are not taught, but a spirit prevails to go beyond where others stop. Science, Physics, the liberal and applied Art start, when others think they are complete.

Once a consensus on the design was reached, the normal process started to solve the problem: comfort and sustainability, light-control, structure, life-safety, operation and maintenance.

The structural grid-shell of 120 x 240 feet and the insulated glazing represent a very minimal and intelligent system for mediating between the varying exterior conditions and the desired interior comfort.

At the interior there is a seamless integration between lighting, air supply and furnishings, which were fabricated in solid European White Oak.

More than anybody the users will benefit from an environment that is pleasant and conductive to study and research. This is not your classical Library, but points to the library of the future.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook