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What obstacles do you think sustainable architecture is facing?

USGBC once set two goals in 2007: 100,000 LEED-certified buildings and 1 million LEED-certified homes by the end of 2010. While according to the data it announced in 2011, the number of homes with LEED certification has reached to 10,000 across the US. Yet, no matter whether the previous 1 million goal was produced through sophisticated calculation or basically just a number with hope, when comparing our hope with the reality in these years development of sustainable architecture, what are the real obstacles or problems in your opinion that hinders the booming of sustainable architecture?


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    Apr 1 2013: I am an environmental design professional who has worked periodically on LEED certified projects.

    My experience with LEED certification is mixed. While admiring the motivation behind the certification system, I find that it supports the assumptions of the authors of the system rather than encouraging good design. I assume that the designers of the LEED system are mainly technically oriented architects. LEED provides them with a validation system that gives them the implied accolades of other people of like mind ... This is quite distinct from experiences and opinions of the actual residents/users of the spaces. At worst the design professional is encouraged to put inappropriate and expensive components into the project simply to score the desired LEED points.... Yes this happens!

    By good design, I mean delightful spaces, well suited to the functional, social and emotional needs of the actual users. If the users of a "green building" find it to be too limiting or pose behavioural demands that are too extreme, they will soon enough tire of the supposed environmental values of the building or site.

    This is the modern equivalent of the medieval monks who whipped themselves then wore horse hair shirts to prove their devotion.

    In my opinion, the rush to codification was too rapid and procedurally complicated. It is better to have a variety of design experiments going on with radically differing technologies, forms and aesthetics. Then run competitions that include judging by actual users of the spaces..not just technical or aesthetic architects. We might then have one project that exhibited particular brilliance for energy efficiency, another for supporting multiple uses, another for residents delight. If you think that Leadership in Environmental Design" does not include residents/users delight...consider the embodied energy and materials in a building ... A delightful space is kept viable for decades or centuries longer than a mundane one.

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