Environmental Design: Work with What You Have

Filling up the empty spaces of the world has been an activity that has kept humans fascinated and enthralled since time immemorial. The variety of the creative manifestation this endeavor has given rise to is massive, and throughout the world, we are able to see the full spectrum of design ideas and cultural trends. Over time, materials have become more durable, and buildings have been built to last longer, withstanding the test of time and the wearing effects of the environment. Wood replaced mud and thatch; iron and steel replaced wood; and the modern era has seen shifts to fiberglass and other composite building materials, as well as the integration of unique substances for aesthetic and practical purposes.

Our progress was going quite smoothly, but as our technological skills advanced, so too did our awareness of the environment and the impact that human beings inevitably have on the planet’s health and the sustainability of resources. Unfortunately, the demand for houses, buildings, and other urban construction projects has often superseded any concerns about sustainability and environmental awareness. Concepts like recycling and carbon footprints have been embraced around the world to some extent, but old ideas of urban design have remained stubborn fixtures in global culture.

The problem is, once a useful technology is discovered and integrated into our understanding of how the world “should” look, it is difficult to convince people to change their perspectives or expectations, let alone ask them to take steps backward in the name of more sustainable behavior. The energy and resources required to make some of the most common construction materials are immense, but these processes are allowed to continue and largely ignored besides the occasional tweaks to make them more efficient. Steel is still the most common construction material used today, despite all of the resources that are needed to create, transport, and construct steel structures.

The persistence of this usage is not meant as a malicious unwillingness to change, but is due to the lack of a viable alternative. Green architecture is a definite shift that some designers and architects are making moves to promote, but the basic elements of construction have largely remained the same for the last several decades. In other words, a building made of steel and stone that has a garden on the roof and solar panels to bolster the energy efficiency, is still a building made of steel of stone. The question is “what alternative is there?” People will always want to build new houses, and new businesses will continue to require specific functions from their buildings. The problem has no clear solution. Learn more about environmental designs only at the University Canada West, one of the best universities in Canada, offering various business and management related programs.

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