From the very beginning, green building has been an effort of inspired individuals. Every project and every building can be traced to a particular person who wanted to create something better. The results, of course, are immortalized in concrete, in the stunning and intricate structures that form the fabric of our cities. But the movement has always progressed because of the people who dedicate their lives to this ever-changing target we call sustainability.
What is sustainable, by its very nature, is a reflection of what we know. And with each passing year of experimentation and innovation, we understand the shifting limits of what our communities can support. Even compared to 10 years ago, research has revealed so much more about the lifecycle impacts of materials and construction methods, the built environment’s impact on human health, and ultimately, the long-term changes to our climate. But as Harold Rickenbacker so eloquently explains in his interview, measuring metrics is nothing if we don’t improve the lives of the people we seek to serve.
More than any one success or technological triumph, sustainability lies in the creation of places where people can thrive. As Alex Co describes in his article, buildings are intimately connected to communities and economies, with lifelong effects on every person who lives, works, learns, or plays there.
So the field has become more complex, with competing values, priorities, and certifications to balance. In some ways, it can be overwhelming. But as Chris Cieslak highlights in her piece, the very real compromises we make lead to far greater innovations.
Places become what people dream. And as we dream bigger, more people in more professions become an essential part of our community. As Vivian Loftness explains, continued innovation is predicated on the equal expansion of perspectives in conversation. Sometimes that means asking different questions, and sometimes, as Ivette Mongalo-Winston concludes, we simply have to listen to a different voice.
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