In the face of global doomsday predictions, sustainability has become one of the most crucial aspects of the 21st century, now playing a huge role in everything from politics to the way you dispose of your trash. Fortunately, most architects understand sustainability implicitly, and have adopted it into their lives and work. Or have they? In this article, originally published on Common Edge as "Why Architects Don't Get It," green building expert Lance Hosey highlights the failures of the architecture community in reaching their stated sustainability goals, and argues for a new conception of architecture in which good design and sustainable design are integrated.
A few years ago, the American Institute of Architects, the self-declared “voice of the architecture profession,” announced that "AIA members will no longer need to complete the sustainable design requirement to fulfill their AIA continuing education." Why? Because “sustainable design practices have become a mainstream design intention.” Hooray! If sustainability is “mainstream” now, and knowledge about it is no longer necessary “to maintain competency” and “to advance and improve the profession”—the purpose of continuing education, according to the AIA—then the profession must have met its environmental goals, and there’s nothing left to improve. Mission accomplished.