Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You Are Here

It's been a while since I've written about regionalism in sustainable design. Lately though, especially through my involvement with the Irvington Green Initiative, I've had a number of discussions about the sustainability of local business. So when I read an article by Lance Hosey in Architect magazine about "Localism" in sustainable design, I figured it was time to re-visit the subject and try to tie two of my passions together.

Mr. Hosey's article is a different take on Vanity Fair's recent "World Architecture Survey." Where Vanity Fair opened their survey up to your five most important structures since 1980, Hosey conducted a poll seeking your five most important 'green' buildings since 1980. You can check out the results of the surveys for yourself but what really interested me was the impetus for Hosey's "Toward Localism" article.

To sum it up, he was surprised by the lack of "place-base innovation"; the lack of localism; the lack of projects designed and built specifically for their unique locations. Localism. Or Regionalism if you like.

Hosey goes on to list 5 place-specific projects that garnered votes. So why are these types of projects so important? Why is supporting local business so important? Here are my top 3:
  • They support local jobs / local economy
  • They provide services and products specifically needed in your area
  • They often utilize materials and resources that are sourced locally
And so the cycle repeats and sustains itself.

So how in the world does this relate to sustainable design and construction? Again, my top 3:
  • Time-proven, local building techniques are familiar to local craftsmen and support local jobs / local economy
  • Time-proven, local technologies for heating, cooling and use of natural resources are often more efficient and less expensive
  • Time-proven, local materials have weathered the storm (both literally and figuratively) and have proven themselves over generations

So you see, local businesses and localism are not all that different when it comes to the question of sustainability. Next time you talk to your favorite, local Architect or builder, engage them in a conversation about localism or regionalism. You are here, shop here, design for here and build for here.

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