The popular mindset concerning sustainable design is that green is good. Good for the earth, good for our kids, good for our pets…. Generally just good for our future. Sustainable design conjures up images of windmills spinning with in front of a backdrop of a clear blue sky, sleek sun shades and solar panels. And although these sentiments are both positive and exciting, there is a hidden problem with this mindset. It can lead an architect into thinking that sustainable design is something different or separate from design in general. Too often has an architect asked the question to their client or themselves, “Is this going to be a sustainable building?” For too long have architects held sustainable design as a separate, distinct effort.
Great design never rests. The best buildings work exceptionally well on every angle. From the program to the budget to the tiniest detail, one can find evidence of great design everywhere and at every level. The final solution of a great building grows from a foundation of balance amongst all design considerations.
The fact is, there is no piece of a building and therefore no part of design that does not directly impact on a project’s sustainable qualities. Every design decision, no matter how large or how small registers some weight on the proverbial scale of quality.
The questions shouldn’t be, “Is this a sustainable building?” Every building is sustainable – every building endures for a period of time. The question should simply be, “Is this a great building?” If we can answer yes, we can be assured that it is sustainable.
Sustainable design, like every other design consideration, is inseparable from great design.