Recently gaining large momentum, the Green movement—in lifestyle, public awareness, and more—is ushering in a new era of responsibility for individuals at home as well as the designers behind it. At its core, the Green movement urges the public to become more consciously aware of their current impact on today’s environmental landscape. Green is about recycled materials, alternative energy sources, lower emissions and much more. It is more so a way of life which can be adopted on a personal scale, believing in the idea that if enough people work together to make a change, a change will occur.
Though Green can be adopted by everyone in the simplest of manners—changing lightbulbs, buying reusable grocery bags—there are professionals in our world who have greater influence than others. These professionals are architects. Architecture has the power to change a landscape in more ways than just the presence of a building. Design ideologies can push forward lifestyle ideologies—buildings can perform in the same way that we do. If Green living is all about personal responsibility towards one’s environment, then Green buildings, too, must recognize the current world in which they operate.
Green architecture can reach the people at a quicker, more tangible rate than any other medium. Each good building has at its center a concise design principle. Some buildings have their primary concerns be lighting, while others care for materials, or energy consumption. Buildings have always had a purpose, there has and always will be the concern of what a building is being made for, and how it is going to be occupied. Only until very recently though has design begun to move from “how is this building going to be occupied” to “how are individuals going to occupy this building”. The difference, in the design process, is tremendous. While the former mindset creates spaces for the function in which a space is to be used, i.e. a cafeteria will be a long rectangular hall to fit maximum occupancy, the latter allows for spaces to be created based on the possible experience the occupant is allowed. With this new approach, office buildings can move away from predictable, cubicle ridden halls to provocative, productivity increasing spaces. The ability to have a space affect its occupants in a new way allows for architecture to inform the public of important changes in their world. Thus, it is the architect’s current responsibility to begin to design Green.
We are currently witnessing a shift in the way we approach our world, and it is a shift towards the better. If today’s architect’s promote this shift by creating public spaces which both follow the constructs of Green while making their occupants aware of the constructs themselves, we will have a more informed and educated landscape.