Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Future of Architecture: 2005-2015

My December 28 blog mentioned the book 'The Philosophy of Sustainable Design' by Jason F. McLennan.
The last chapter, The Future of Architecture, summarized what the author thinks may transpire in 10, 20 and 50 years from now. Here are his predictions for the the Next Ten Years: 2005-2015

• Over the next decade there will be a continued doubling of support for Green Building initiatives around the U.S. and Canada. However, even at this rate this will still represent only 20% to 30% of the buildings being built each year. By 2015 the sustainable design movement will be mainstream, but will still have a lot of room to grow.

• A growing number of local and state jurisdictions will adopt green building practices as their base standard. Near the end of the decade stricter standards such as California’s Title 24 Energy standards will become commonplace in all states.

• The USGBC will continue to grow in influence in the first half of the decade through its LEED rating tool. However, a growing backlash will occur by individuals interested in sustainability but who do not want to use the USGBC’s tools due to cost and complexity. The USGBC will have to find ways to reinvent itself and resist bureaucratic complacency to continue with its success. Competitors to LEED will emerge by the end of the decade.

• Almost every architecture school will develop curriculum specifically centered on sustainability. Engineering schools, reacting to pressure from the industry, will also begin sweeping changes to how their students are taught.

• The architecture profession will begin to build incredible buildings that combine environmental performance with beauty and trend-setting design. Many of the perceived barriers to green will be lifted.

• The era of the generalist sustainability consultant will diminish to be replaced by individuals with both highly technical knowledge and a holistic grasp of the issues.

• By the end of the decade most design firms will have a few green projects built, thus beginning to diminish the distinction between green firms and non-green firms.

• Alternatives to PVC products, ubiquitous today, will appear on the market and meet with widespread usage.

• The US Green Building Council will completely redesign its LEED tool and near the end of the decade will significantly raise the bar for performance. The Platinum level of performance will then be the same as the Living Building.

• Many of the economic barriers to green will continue to be removed by the end of the next decade further accelerating the adoption of green building strategies.

• A majority of contractors and developers will now be familiar with green building practices and will start to reduce their resistance to sustainability ideas and principles.

• The U.S. and Canada will create a widespread national database of materials that helps make it easier to select environmentally products.

• Product manufacturers will, almost without exception, be marketing the environmental advantages of their products and many will make great strides to reduce the embodied impacts of their products. More companies will adopt Natural Step and other sustainability frameworks as part of their operating principles.

• PVC will be banned from production and lawsuits similar to the tobacco industry’s litigation history will ensue. Other toxic chemicals will be banned as ingredients to consumer products.

• Near the end of the decade we will see the emergence of technologies that will soon change many aspects of our built environment. The first fuel cell cars will be released to the public and the beginnings of a hydrogen infrastructure will be tested. More buildings will also begin to include fuel cells and photo-voltaics, which will continue to slowly drop in price. Green power from wind farms will soon be readily available to almost all consumers. Smart glazing will be introduced and will see limited demonstrations in buildings.

• Energy costs will rise throughout the decade making alternative energy more cost effective, further accelerating its acceptance.

• The environment will continue to see widespread decline and the beginnings of climate change effects will be confirmed.

• War, conflict and new diseases will increase throughout the world due primarily to resource scarcity.