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


Warning: Only you can make a difference – Global smog recorded at all time high by Mauna Loa Observatory #Environment #ThinkGreen #Eco #ilmaBlog

At the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, carbon dioxide levels were recorded at 415 parts per million last week. That is the highest level recorded there since it began such analyses in 1958. It’s also 100 parts per million higher than any point in the roughly 800,000 years for which scientists have data on global CO2. In other words, “levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are now nearly 40 percent higher than ever in human history.” [Popular Science]

Governments of the world need to triple their current efforts to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in order to prevent global warming of more than 2 °C by 2030, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said in its annual “emissions gap” report (Nov 27, 2018).

Drawdown Emissions – Big Ideas

Some “big think” solutions for CO2 gas emissions reduction can be found at the Drawdown website. These recommendations have been identified and ranked using an objective scientific method. Many of these ideas require engineering and scientific solutions, therefore, we offer the following as methods that you can get started today in doing your part towards reducing the emissions of C02.

Ten Ways to Reduce Greenhouse Gases – Start Small

Burning fossil fuels such as natural gas, coal, oil and gasoline raises the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and carbon dioxide is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect and global warming. You can help to reduce the demand for fossil fuels, which in turn reduces global warming, by using energy more wisely. 

The following is a list of 10 steps YOU can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

  1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  2. Use Less Heat and Air Conditioning
  3. Replace Your Light Bulbs
  4. Drive Less and Drive Smart
  5. Buy Energy-Efficient Products
  6. Use Less Hot Water
  7. Use the “Off” Switch
  8. Plant a Tree          
  9. Get a Report Card from Your Utility Company
  10. Encourage Others to Conserve

These 10 steps found at this website will take you a long way toward reducing your energy use and saving you money. Less energy use means less dependence on the fossil fuels that create greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming.

We would love to hear from you about 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


#FollowTheFrog: Small Actions Can Make A Big Impact #ilmaBlog Subscribe Today

Some comic relief mixed with a great message at the end. Enjoy!

Frank


Links to Sustainable Resources

  1. What is solar energy? by Consumer Affairs
  2. 13 Examples of Green Architecture
  3. Materiality and Green Architecture: The Effect of Building Materials on Sustainability and Design
  4. Green Glass at Corning Museum
  5. @babfari Recognized for Green Architecture and Design
  6. 10 Simple Steps To Living Green Tips
  7. Who or What is the US Green Building Council
  8. Why Is Green Design and Construction Important?
  9. High Performance Building Design
  10. Passive Temperature Control and Other Sustainable Design Elements to Consider
  11. You Know LEED, But Do You Know WELL?
  12. Creating High Performance Buildings through Integrative Design Process
  13. Awesome LEED Project in NJ ::: “CENTRA” by @KohnPedersenFox
  14. Contemporary Mediterranean Home With a “Breathing” Eco-Façade
  15. What is a High Performance School?
  16. Exclusive #EcoMonday Interview with Architect Bill Reed with host @FrankCunhaIII (Part 1 of 3)
  17. Exclusive #EcoMonday Interview with Architect Bill Reed with host @FrankCunhaIII (Part 2 of 3)
  18. Exclusive #EcoMonday Interview with Architect Bill Reed with host @FrankCunhaIII (Part 3 of 3)
  19. Team New Jersey To Make Precast Concrete Solar House Reality and @RutgersU and @NJIT Compete in 2012 Solar Decathlon
  20. The 2030 Challenge for Planning @Arch2030
  21. What is The 2030 Challenge? @Arch2030
  22. Sustainable Cities
  23. Cool Concrete Home in Jersey City

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