Sustainable Design for a Green Tomorrow

Article excerpt

introduction

The naturalist Henry David Thoreau once wondered, "What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?" Sustainable design, Green technology, and environmentally friendly are terms used interchangeably to try to describe the process of designing more responsibly in order to reduce negative impacts on our environment. Asking children to try to think about Green technology and the impacts of technology on the environment may seem a daunting task, but it can be accomplished with proper resources that are kid-friendly. Speaking of resources, try out this one.

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The current Green technology trend has roots in the nature and conservation movements and incorporates new technologies to achieve sustainability.

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But, what is sustainability? Sustainability is the process of maintaining or prolonging. For those interested in the Green technology movement, this means that we need to design technology that preserves the Earth's resources and provides a quality environment for future generations. Green technology also requires us to pollute less, create less waste (or none at all), and be more mindful of our energy consumption; these are goals that need to be achieved quickly, and sometimes this comes by locating alternative means to deal with these issues.

Today, we are inundated with information about climate change, pollution, oil and food prices, jobs, overspending, and countless other issues from mass media. Currently, technologies are being designed to solve these problems. There is an imperative to educate all the children of this planet, challenging them to think of these global issues and to brainstorm possible solutions so they can become change agents as they become adults. There are many things educators can do to stimulate children's minds in this area. Activities like mulching, gardening in school common areas, and recycling are a good start. One important issue raised by Green technology is to create Green buildings--buildings that no longer contribute to wasted energy and pollution.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that buildings account for 39 percent of total energy usage, 12 percent of water usage, 68 percent of electricity usage, and produce 38 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. Buildings are where we sleep, work, and live the majority of our lives, yet buildings are often overlooked when it comes to sustainability.

sustainable design resources

Video: The PBS e2 Design series, The Economies of Being Environmentally Conscious, is an excellent resource that explores sustainable design and those who are pioneers in architecture who are trying to answer questions dealing with the environment. Each episode deals with this topic and what is being done to create lasting sustainable designs. Some examples of episodes are: "A Garden in Cairo," which talks about a 500-year-old dump transformed into a public space, and "Grey to Green," which is about the making of residential homes from recycled building materials.

How will this affect your students in the future? This series is about people who are designing buildings in use today. From New York, Chicago, and even China, sustainable design is being integrated into buildings today, with a look to the future. Chances are that, at some point, students will walk into or possibly work in one of these buildings. They might, at one point, even design their own sustainable building.

The design series has had three seasons, and now [e.sup. …