Douglas Farr, a proud “Detroit-boy” and UofM grad spoke at Lawrence Technical University on last Thursday. He discussed where innovation in green building is headed, but also where it still has a lot of area to make up. Aside from a few cracks about policy and jargon he went on to say that sustainability is not just about light bulbs and bio-swales… the scale is much larger. Sustainability is about more than building performance and reusing materials, it considers transit oriented development and “perfecting every increment of the city.” In other words looking at every scale, not just the lot or the LEED plaque.
A particular question he brought up struck me: it was about designing for a “lifestyle”that actually changes the conduct of the user. One case study he mentioned (out of his book) revealed that almost 40% of the footprint was a product of the behavior of the occupants, the other 60% was due to the design of the building. So its not all about putting in new light bulbs and driving small cars. It goes back to good design.
He mentioned envisioning certain projects being in Detroit. It makes me wonder what sustainability in Detroit really looks like. Is it about butterfly roofs and bioswales? Could the design for a sustainable lifestyle create a culture unique to Detroit?