Monday, December 31, 2007

The Future of Architecture: 2015-2025

The last blog again mentioned the book 'The Philosophy of Sustainable Design' by Jason F. McLennan.
The last chapter, The Future of Architecture, summarizes what the author thinks may transpire in 10, 20 and 50 years from now.
Here are his predictions for Twenty Years From Now - 2015-2025

• The green building movement will finally emerge into its adult stage and become the dominant paradigm of architecture and development in the West. Twenty years from now what was the gold level of performance in LEED will be the standard level of performance for all buildings in the U.S. and Canada. Multiple examples of the living building will exist, further raising the bar to performance. Most buildings will use 40% to 50% less energy than their counterparts today. The best buildings will use 80% to 90% less energy than their counterparts today and use 50% less water.

• A national labeling system for green building materials and products will be created based on the database created in the previous decade. This label will become a mandatory part of any product sold in the U.S. and Canada similar to the nutrition labels found on all foods. Consumers will demand to know what is in the products they buy and all ingredients will be listed. There will be a backlash against materials containing known carcinogens, mutagens and teragens.
Example: Environmental Impact Rating – Unit Size – 1 square foot
Overall Weighted rating – 7.7* [based on weighting by the EPA]
Water Consumption – 3.4 gallons
Energy Consumption – 18,000 BTUs
Criteria Air Pollution Score – 87
NOX –82
SOX – 78
PPM – 90
CO2 – 96
Criteria Water Pollution Score – 52
Toxicity Rating – 46
Life Expectancy – 7-9 years
Recyclable – NA
Contains: Straw, water, linseed oil, formaldehyde, g-Terpene, ethyl acetate, camphor, benzyl acetate
• Biomimicry will emerge as a vibrant specialization in the economy.

• The national park system will double in size to protect the few undeveloped areas left in the continent. A worldwide effort at ecosystem sanctuaries will gain momentum.

• Studies linking productivity and well-being to the built environment will finally transform the market. Building owners will now engage productivity experts to review designs and suggest ways to improve buildings.

• Resource scarcity will start to become a serious problem in a large part of the world. Resource based conflicts will erupt in the third world on an increasing scale. The effects of global change will weaken the agriculture and food production systems of the world. The public at large will finally understand the connection between their lifestyles and the effect on the environment. Political parties will start to be influenced to a greater extent by environmental groups.

• The rising costs and safety concerns of aging nuclear power plants and spent fuel will spell the end to that industry. Most western countries will dismantle their existing plants because of citizen pressures and the result of a few spectacular failures in safety. Hundreds of thousands will be exposed to unhealthy levels of radiation during this time.

• Traditional energy costs will rise more, but will be stabilized in the West by the continued emergence of renewable energy. Wind power will be the cheapest form of energy available. By the end of the second decade photo-voltaics will drop to the point that this power source will be competitive with conventional energy sources. The amount of photo-voltaics and wind turbines will quadruple in use and will start to become a noticeable part of the landscape. Much of the third world will begin to leapfrog over the mistakes of the West.

• All design and engineering schools will teach the principles of sustainable design as a central part of their curriculum. A new generation of designers will emerge that will take the design of our buildings and communities to a whole different level of performance.

• The hydrogen economy will become a proven component in many countries around the world. Fuel cells will start to become as ubiquitous as television is today, further transforming society. The major automakers will stop making the internal combustion engine near the end of the second decade as the hydrogen infrastructure is completed.