As you can probably tell from all the gray hair in my photo, I’ve been around long enough to have seen the growth and development of green building from its earliest days, driven by its earliest leaders—the pioneers of today’s green building industry.
One of the most enjoyable and gratifying aspects of my job as chief editor of EcoHome (in addition to seeing the industry finally start to “get it” in terms of accepting change) is reconnecting with so many visionaries who never gave up over these past 35 years. It’s amazing how many are still so deeply involved. And as thankful as we may be for their career-long contributions, we should be even more grateful they are still leading the way. Their passion, experience, and credibility are making all the difference as the mission becomes ever more urgent.
I was inspired to bring this up after visiting Edward Mazria in Santa Fe, N.M. Mazria was just named as the first recipient of The Hanley Award for Vision and Leadership in Sustainable Housing, sponsored in part by EcoHome (click here to see more). A visionary architect, Mazria’s name is synonymous with passive solar design and the deepest roots of today’s high-performance homes. Santa Fe of course was at the core of innovations emerging from New Mexico during the ’70s and ’80s.
But trace the roots of almost any of our pioneers and they will connect at some point, whether they started in the studios, offices, and jobsites of Santa Fe, Brattleboro, Austin, Boulder, Cocoa, Los Alamos, Atlanta, Aspen, Harrisville, Portland, Albuquerque, Boston, Minneapolis, or Washington, D.C.
Mazria’s career, like many of the early green leaders, has evolved, and so has his focus and voice. His historic influence on environmental building and his understanding about the relationships between energy consumption and the building sector now fuel a fight he is waging against climate change through his non-profit Architecture 2030. His voice and that of so many other pioneers have formed a clear and credible chorus that is bringing a mature and analytical perspective into what has to be one of mankind’s most important conversations. The timing couldn’t be better—or more crucial.
In fact, Mazria’s current bold and convincing push in favor of energy code update provisions contained in the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454, Section 201), has put him on the front lines of policy and politics. The provisions he supports would set new targets for building performance regulations that he says are required in order to meet the goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as defined in the legislation. Section 201 calls for new and renovated buildings to consume 30% less energy than the baseline energy code (IECC 2006 and ASHRAE 90.1-2004) by 2010; 50% less than the baseline by 2014–2015; and then 5% additional reductions every three years after 2029–2030.
It’s obvious we haven’t made the best use of the past 35 years in recognizing and reacting to the challenges we knew we’d have to face, and if more stringent regulations are needed now to make up for lost time, we should face that reality head-on.
It’s time for bold vision and outspoken leadership like Mazria’s. It’s time we listened closely to him and other visionaries like Amory Lovins, William McDonough, and Alex Wilson whose voices still stand like lighthouses burning through the fog of time.
Contact Rick Schwolsky at email@example.com