Sustainability can be associated with wildly expensive technological advances. Which not coincidentally can immediately turn off clients. So how do we define it? What does it mean, from a resource-conservation standpoint, as well as from a business one? For one viewpoint, we turn to Mark English, AIA. He has promoted sustainability efforts on several different levels for years. That means that not only does he incorporate sustainable strategies in his designs, he also helps other firms implement them in their work. He has been involved in programs including the California Solar Initiative, Green-point Rating, and he is also a Director on San Francisco’s AIA Board. He also edits two online publications including “Green Compliance Plus” where articles explore such topics as Passive Houses and the debate on Green Certification, and which also assists other professionals in meeting energy-efficient goals. Another publication, “The Architect’s Take,” presents news from an architectural standpoint. In fact one of those articles provided the basis for some of this author’s work.
But what is most interesting about Mr. English’s approach to sustainable strategies is they are practical, which appeals to those who think that sustainability is merely a fad. Instead, Mr. English observes that implementing green strategies is not about faddish technological advances. It is about saving money. No, we aren’t discussing those persuasions which start with, “Well, yes it does cost a lot but in ten years, you’ll more than recoup your initial outlay.” Instead, Mr. English offers some pragmatic tips, observations, and goals. For example, when asked what his goal is in promoting sustainability, here is what he says, “Sustainability is about common sense. It isn’t a movement, a reaction, or a philosophy. It’s simply about doing no harm, making thoughtful choices, and being concerned with the impact of your actions over time. It is essentially a conservative approach to life and building. Obviously, to care about this requires not thinking about yourself all the time. My main goal in promoting sustainability is maintaining common sense. Every intervention is expensive in every sense of the word; time, impact, resources, risk. A successful building is one that lasts because it is relevant and delightful.”