We initially hesitated to discuss sustainability on our blog.  After all, it has become so ubiquitous over the past decade, especially in the building trades (and especially in the SF Bay Area) that there isn’t much more to say that hasn’t already been said.

The reason I am interested in discussing it is partially because I wonder if our company is doing enough.  Are we keeping up with the Joneses?  Do we need to push our clients to do the right thing even more than we already do?  In fact, whose responsibility is it to champion sustainable strategies on each project?

The field of sustainable architecture, green building, ecological or resource conserving design – all terms used interchangeably – has become overwhelming.  In the larger push for environmental stewardship that has made its way into virtually every different sector of the economy over the last decade, the impact on the building trades has been transformative.  And rightly so; the construction and operation of buildings is still one of the highest uses of energy by the human race.  Therefore, it is common sense that we – as architects, contractors, and those who commission built projects – take responsibility for doing all we can to reduce the impact of our projects on the environment.

But is this a moral imperative?  Should someone who simply doesn’t like the design of their house feel bad about renovating even though it hasn’t reached its usable lifespan?  And are we obliged, as architects (and businesspeople), to resist requests by our clients because they are not aligned with the interests of the larger society?

In future posts, we look forward to dissecting sustainability and looking at its subgroups.  For example, water conservation strategies vs. indoor air quality.  What really matters for the design of an office park is quite different for the design of a custom home.  We are also very interested in the real life dilemmas it poses.  Hopefully, we can come up with some answers and perhaps give both us and our clients some guidance on how best to simultaneously achieve their goals and do their part.