Designing outside the Box

As an architect I have always looked into what a site and or building will accept as its natural response to a specific use, as well as how it will function in its environment and how its aesthetic will express itself in its community. The options are usually endless but the use sets the direction. There will probably be a sweet spot just for the main attraction, the corporate leaders or the master bedroom. Sometimes this is the board room or the living room. But, there are many issues that will affect those and or many other options.

These are just a few of the design parameters that affect a design. Protecting the health, safety, and welfare of society is what Architects are charged with. One must lead to have this result! Health, safety and welfare are directly a Designing Outside Boxresult of choices. The big picture starts with the quality of earth (our land), air, water, and fire (energy) that exists. They are what our lives revolve and evolve around. Human choices affect these entities.

As citizens and design professionals we need to think in terms of NET-ZERO uses of these elements. I don't mean Net-Zero the famous free-internet-access company, I mean the idea that the net result of what one takes from the environment less what the architect adds to the environment with their careful design and materials usage should be zero. Designing out of the box, using existing knowledge that used to be common or new ideas that lead to more resource friendly choices are what the norm should be. The status quo is not working. Our environment is being depleted of its many gifts to us.

Live life thinking NET-ZERO! Change your life patterns. In your life or in your design solutions to all your building projects think of the effects you are creating in all your choices. Use the highest MPG vehicle you can for your needs. Build the most healthy and least utility consuming projects you can. Plan for NET-ZERO use for your electric, gas, and water. In 50 years (let alone 10 years) whatever you have been doing now will still be out dated. Be ahead of the curve just to be in the curve. It is our kid’s future we should be thinking of.

So, what is NET-ZERO related to construction? By designing out of the box using all our natural talents, historical and present knowledge bases, including new high tech systems approaches all our utility systems can be balanced re-using what is initially pulled, and collected and stored on your property. From solar collectors for electricity and heating of water, to day lighting reducing lighting energy consumption, to investing in tighter building envelopes reducing energy system consumption and reducing the size of required HVAC equipment. Also, to the use of high efficiency plumbing and electronic fixtures, all affect the greater environment and your bottom line, now and into the future.

Designing Outside Box(2)All of this is accomplished with an owner and facility manager who are interested in Green Development. All the design consultants, suppliers, general and sub-contractors, the utility and government organizations at all levels, the bankers, brokers, users and the community at large. All these relationships are critical to achieving a projects design parameter and end result. Everyone thinking from a new set of design parameters work to achieve these new goals, in addition to all of the time tested standard choices that are required. The team leader is pushing this new agenda. No one is more trained in this respect than the architect. Trust in the experience, intuition developed over many projects involving multiple design considerations and the team brought forth to direct the choices. The integration of many building systems, material selections, construction process, funding sources, all can bring the bottom line, over time, into the main direction for all choices made. Write down the desired results from the beginning, track them, stay flexible, and through commissioning you will be able to maintain and improve upon your stated goals. If you did it before, now it is time to try something new. Do not just brush the issues aside and ignore all the new possibilities. All the new electronic technology and communication advances have given us a start to truly see what each choice means to a project now and throughout its history. Be brave and explore the opportunities that exist. Research, grow, expand, and lead the efforts to have a positive result in all your projects. Put the visionary people at the top!