Gallery: Green Design Predictions for 2013

 
Eric Corey Freed Founding Principal of organicARCHITECT, Author of "Green Building & Remodeling for Dummies"

My hope for 2013 is that we come to our senses. After a bitterly divided presidential cycle, partisan gridlock and threats of secession, I think we are all ready for a little civility and level-headedness. Frankly, the change is overdue and will be exciting!

This coming year is about three things: transparency, resiliency and carbon.

TRANSPARENCY: Manufacturers will be forced, either by consumer demand or regulation, to disclose the environmental impact of their products. New approaches, such as the Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) from UL Environment or SCS Certified, and new open standards, such as the Healthy Product Declaration (HPD) from the Healthy Building Network, have paved the way for a transparent future.

EVIDENCE: One of the biggest announcements from the recent Greenbuild Conference in San Francisco was the $3 million grant from Google to support the US Green Building Council's work on healthier building materials.

RESILIENCY: Hurricane Sandy, the storm that crippled New York and Philadelphia, (and leveled Atlantic City), highlighted the extreme vulnerability of our transportation and electricity infrastructure. To millions this past November, climate change suddenly just became very real and very expensive. When the Governor of New York suggested we build walls around Lower Manhattan, you know resilient design is an important topic for the year. In fact, BuildingGreen's Top 10 Products for the year focused on resiliency.

EVIDENCE: The newly launched Resilient Design Institute (RDI) and the current efforts of Architecture for Humanity showcase an approach to building for a resilient future.

CARBON: The profession of design is about to change drastically. If you're an architect, engineer, planner or builder, the way you build is about to undergo some radical new transformations. 2012 is on track to be the warmest year on record, with some 40,000 temperature records broken in the US alone. We can no longer ignore or procrastinate about how carbon is treated.

EVIDENCE: The State of California's recent carbon cap and trade program is not perfect, but the start of a wave of change how carbon is treated. Work by organizations such as the Post Carbon Institute highlight this change in attitude toward carbon.

Bill McKibben Environmentalist, Green Journalist, President and Co-Founder of 350.org

I think there’s actually a chance 2013 will be a significant year in climate history — the year when the planet’s leaders actually ran out of excuses for their inaction. We’re seeing record temperatures, record melting, record storms, record everything: it’s clearly not the same world we thought it was even a few years ago. But we’re also finally seeing record dissent. In the U.S. for instance, students on more than 190 campuses are fighting to demand the divestment of stocks in fossil fuel companies. They’ve peeled back the layers of the onion — they’re not demanding new lightbulbs, they’re demanding systemic changes in the balance of power, trying to weaken the forces of the radical status quo, the ones systematically altering the chemistry of the atmosphere.

It’s a hard fight, of course, because those forces are led by the richest industry on earth — the oil, coal, and gas tycoons. So I don’t predict the outcome. Only that the choice for the powerful is going to get harder almost by the week, if we keep building the movements we need to build. We’re not as powerful as Exxon yet, but we’re closer than we used to be, which is the only good news I can think of.

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2 Comments

  1. triffids January 8, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    I enjoyed the predictions but there is a huge component missing. There seem to be no predictions that include addressing the biggest green thing – the existing plants and biodiversity and design that includes enhancing or protecting this biodiversity. The closest to even mentioning the word plant is the prediction by Ferry and Monoian concerning pre-industrial (low energy) ideas. Perhaps 2013 will not see the recognition that all life needs plants and that is why this basic green sustainability component is not listed.

  2. report from the heartland January 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Someone has to start evaluating everything by embodied energy and the impact on wildlife, plant and animal. A \”recycled\” material here, a bike there: nice, but unless we are made to pay the true cost of the way we live bye-bye birdies… and us.

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