On Tuesday 2nd March Eco-build took place in London, Earls Court for sustainable design, construction and the built environment. A group of our IEDers took a trip down to attend it on the Tuesday and Wednesday collecting information to help us with our current sustainable renovation project. The first day was spent taking time talking to companies selling the products and designs that they believed were sustainable or Eco. They were very encouraging and enthusiastic talking to students, many of them felt that we were the ones that benefited more from this information as it’s easy to teach us the ‘Eco’ way rather than change everyone elses usual ‘un-Eco’ approach.
However on the second day we attended a lecture that spoke about a different approach to sustainable living;
Cradle to Cradle: Re-thinking the Way we Make Things by Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart.
In this lecture it was clear that Barungart didn’t agree with the world aiming to be carbon-neutral instead he believes that being carbon- positive is the best way to go. A tree is not carbon neutral, it’s carbon positive taking in the excess co2 in the atmosphere, to be carbon neutral means you must not exist, it is impossible. Just thinking about it stops you from being carbon neutral! Braungart talked about some amusing ways of reducing your carbon emissions such as drinking still water rather than sparkling water, it’s proven that wearing a tie reduces your emissions and even taking the elevator rather than the stairs can!
Braungart talked about how at the Eco Build event many of the displays, flooring and materials used to create the exhibitions were filled with chemicals and were un-ecofriendly, it seemed ironic that the carpets used at a sustainable event were designed cheap, to look good with a short life span the opposite of the Eco Build’s vision.
Braungart believes the concept of Eco-Effectiveness is the way forward rather than Eco-Efficiency. Eco-Efficiency means doing the right thing where as Eco-Effectiveness means doing things right. Embracing this concepts allows us to think about transforming our footprint into a source that supports the environment allowing it to rely on the footprint rather than trying to reduce our footprint. In order to adopt this method a we must be positive driven rather than blame driven, celebrate our footprints to succeed in reaching a beneficial impact.
It was a though provoking lecture that helped me realise the alternatives to designing sustainably, how instead trying to fix our mistakes we should embrace what we have done and improve our processes. It’s a process allowing us to move forward rather than dwell in our past. Eventually designing sustainably wont be a requirement we need to fit into our products and designs but instead will be subconscious and automatic. It will come naturally.