Hello, Sustainability! – GreenBlogger

Welcome to the first OldWorldNewGirl installment in the University of Arkansas green blogger competition, OWNG Green Bloggin’!  To start us off, I’d love for you to visit an article I wrote for Landscape Architects Network, “What does ‘green’ actually mean?
While that particular article goes into detail about different terminology that is understood to be synonymous with “green,” let’s just focus “sustainability” for now.  The label “green” is all encompassing – it is the common term used when referring to acts of sustainability, i.e. green buildings, green cleaning supplies, green cars, green living, the list could go on and on.  The definition that has been drilled delightfully instilled into my mind as a sustainability student is that sustainability is “… meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs…” (The Brundtland Report).  Sweet and simple, no?  No.  There’s so much work that goes into it all!  But that discussion requires a cozy fire and big books.  I’ll tell all while rocking in my wooden rocker and looking out over my spectacles.  So, later, in several installments of OWNG Green Bloggin’!
There’s no telling what all areas of sustainability I will latch onto during this competition.  However, as you very well may know, I have a fetish for the older things in the world (hence the name) & architecture, so a major topic will be the correlation between sustainability and architecture, especially preservation of architecture.  One such example is the Convent de Sant Frac (Church of Saint Francis’ Convent).  Check out ArchDaily’s story about it.

18th century church turned auditorium – Architect David Closes.

Absolutely beautiful, no?  Seeing as the original building was mostly in ruins, the preservation of it was done mostly for its spatial quality rather than it’s ability to serve as a functioning building.  But one of my goals this year is to make that connection of sustainability and preservation.  I believe the Cannon Design firm in Saint Louis, MO achieves just that through the “restoration, renovation & adaptive reuse” of an old power house.  19,000 sq. ft. of embodied energy was put back to good use (therefore, no energy was wasted on demolition or ground-up construction) and converted to 32,000 sq.ft. of office space for this architecture firm.  Talk about transformation!  This right here is what makes my heart pitter patter a little faster =)  Check Cannon Design’s own description about it.

The old power house exterior which is home to Cannon Design, a world renowned architecture firm.    (Saint Louis, Missouri).

Cannon Design’s uniquely designed interior took advantage of the ample space of the open volume which was once used as a coal-fueled steam producing power house in the early 1900s.

I hope you stay along for this journey…(commence James Earl Jones voice)… the gruesome competition which is green blogging.  The treacherous ups and downs of trying to understand and help others understand those actions which will make our earth a little less dismal, a little less warm (in my southern voice – dern ozone depletion, thanks, humans & your industrial revolution!), and a little more.. Green!!! And when I say gruesome, I mean getting down to the nitty gritty of sustainability… but I think y’all already knew that.  Anywho…  It’s about to get real, y’all!
Snap back to reality, I must bid you all adieu.  Feel free to ask questions or suggest topics, I would love the feedback and ideas which will lead us all to look at sustainability in many different ways. Once again, welcome to OWNG Green Bloggin’! Happy sustaining to you all! Until next time, Ci Vediamo!!!
Old World New Girl for Sustainability 2012!
OWNG Green Bloggin’
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2 thoughts on “Hello, Sustainability! – GreenBlogger

  1. I’m loving this article! In my previous professional life, I was a cultural resource manager and love this topic. I have to ask, what do you think will be the impact on all these wonderful architectural buildings as our sea levels rise and natural disasters follow in suit? There’s a discussion that needs to happen about architectural resiliency as well, no?

    Keep up the good work!

    • Thank you for the question, Carlos! I believe that the structural integrity of existing buildings would determine whether natural disasters could prove to be a major factor in preserving them or not. Luckily there are many innovative methods which can help make older buildings more secure without tearing them down. The question then becomes whether it would be more economically sustainable to retrofit older buildings with the materials they need for a changing climate (more natural disasters, therefore they would need a structure that could withstand extreme natural forces), or would it be more economically sustainable to demolish and build new edifices that could be more safe. The answer will be different for every case. But I will always hope that sustaining the building wins =)

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