Sustainable Design Goals

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Sage Crosby

Environmental sustainability is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of sustainability. To do this, we need to make a concerted effort to minimize our impact by targeting waste and consumption of materials and resources both in the design and construction phases as well as the operation phase. Practices such as composting, having renewable energy on-site, stormwater collection, water recycling, and using sustainable building materials can help to attain these goals.

A good example of a building that has prioritized environmental sustainability is Bristol Community College’s John J. Sbrega Health and Science Building in Southeastern Massachusetts:

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Completed in 2016, it is Zero Net Energy and LEED Platinum certified. To achieve this, they used optimized glazing, rooftop solar PVs, and solar water heaters.

Sustainability also makes me think of reciprocity and adding value. To be sustainable, a project should be appropriate for the setting and climate (cultural and environmental) in which it is to be built, have a purpose (beyond making money) that benefits the community, and should be safe and comfortable for the occupants. An inspiring example of this for me is one that has not been built yet: Sen̓áḵw, a mixed-use development project on unceded territory of the Squamish Nation in Vancouver.

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While it is still in a conceptual phase, this project promises to bring net zero carbon housing to a city in the midst of a housing crisis, be transit-oriented and car-free, use mass timber construction, ensure economic security for the Squamish Nation, and incorporate Coast Salish designs and art. Additionally, the lead architect described it as a “village in the park” with plenty of green space and a bike garage below ground. This project reminds me to be mindful of the land that I choose for my project and how it impacts surrounding communities, especially Indigenous communities.

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