PEG Green Week: Ecology of Architecture

Penn Environmental Group (PEG): Green Week

Symposium: Ecology of Architecture
January 27, 6-7:30


William Braham, Penn Architecture
Muscoe Martin, M2-Architecture
Scott Kelly, ReVision Architecture
Tim McDonald, OnionFlats Architecture

I gave a brief presentation on the problem of style and definitions. Ecological architecture is not a particular style or technique, but a way of looking at architecture. Every building is located somewhere in the global ecology of energy and resource flows. The ecological question is to understand that position and its connections.

Contemporary, industrial civilization exists largely as a result of tapping the ancient solar energy stored in fossil fuels. The most progressive, “zero-energy” building is zero only in terms of annual operating energies. Every single aspect of modern construction uses the stored power of fossil fuels, from the mining, transport, and fabrication of materials to the food required by the designers, contractors, and tradesmen.

The power stored in fossil fuels is a remarkably valuable resource, which we cannot simply renounce, since other companies and countries will continue to draw on them, but must use it wisely to build a system that can operate without those resources.