A New Paradigm for Sustainable Design

Sustaining with meaning, purpose and authenticity!  Sustainability is not about a plaque, it's about creating positive energy instead of depleting it.  Making sustainable choices in building design makes for beloved buildings that resonate with people on a much deeper level because sustainable buildings have heart!  Sustainability is

"connecting people to the rhythms of nature in their daily lives".

Sandy Mendler, a nationally recognized expert on sustainable design, and principal at Mithun in San Francisco, previously senior vice president and design principal at HOK, sheds some positive light on the direction sustainable design is heading.  Following is a snapshot of some key principals that are challenging designers to rethink how we relate to our natural environment as interdependent instead of dominant.

Experience: The story of space unfolds over time; evoke your senses to authentically narrarate story.

Context: Connect traces of the past with the present to recall the story of our rich cultural histories.

Nature: Engage nature by capturing views, opening to the outdoors, or bringing the outdoors inside.

Diversity: Beauty is complex, unveil it in difference and detail by mixing materials, colors, and textures.

Interconnection: Take cues from mother nature, beloved buildings are multifunctional & interdependent.

Resilience: Cultivate longevity!  Even if systems seems redundant, they may be longer lasting.

Local: Learn about your local natural resources and materials for reuse.  Artisan made is meaningful.

Chatham University, residence lodge (Mithun) is scheduled to break ground in 2013.  The lodge is designed to be energy positive meaning it will generate more energy than is needed for operation.

Drawn from What is Next for Sustainable Design, Contract September 2012 issue