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Beyond LEED Symposium - Opening Remarks by David Lake

BEYOND LEED REGENERATIVE DESIGN: A SYMPOSIUM JANUARY 27 + 28, 2012   Friday, January 27, 2012 Beyond LEED Session   Beyond LEED.   EVOLVED.   Following previous discussions with Bob Harris (Lake|Flato) and Bob Berkebile (BNIM), a few questions kept coming to mind: Why aren’t there more living buildings? Why are they NOT being pursued, built and dreamt about?   USGBC and LEED have been a transformative force for the good. In one decade, we have witnessed unparalleled changes in the building industry with 200,000 LEED accredited professionals and 28,000 certified LEED buildings. However, is this good enough?   Raymond Cole said, "the LEED process is an insufficient requirement for charting an ecologically sustainable future and an insufficient aspiration.”   For the next 2 days, how do we shift from doing less harm (LEED) to a regenerative design paradigm?   What's the urgency and where's the outrage? – Best to confer with E.O. Wilson:   “Biophilia is the innate propensity to affiliate with the natural living environment and its wide diversity of life forms."   "Mankind is behaving, like so many Godzillas – breathing fire – emitting toxic wastes and blindly stomping about the earth extinguishing life we don’t even know exists!”   Rainforests covered 14% of earth’s surface – now 6% – at the current rate the forests will be gone in 40 years!   Wilson again states: “The mass extinction of species is occurring at 1,000-10,000 times the biological norm. Besides losing species that have lived on our planet far longer than we, and have every right to exist as we do . . . we are losing genetic diversity . . . and head toward a future impoverished of the magnificent beasts we remember as children: ferocious tigers, armored rhinos, brilliant macaws, colorful toads . . . this extinction event is by our own making fueled by habitat destruction.”   We seek a sacred narrative, a sense of a larger purpose . . . QUICK!   Since this is an election year and since the loss of biodiversity is not on anyone’s radar at all . . . perhaps a bumper sticker:   We Believe in the RIGHT to LIFE . . . FOR ALL LIFE! All species. All ecosystems. All biomes. . . . now THAT Is PROLIFE!   We are drowning in information and starved for wisdom, so I asked Phaedra Svec at BNIM to define regenerative design. A simple request; hoping for a simple answer, I have edited Phaedra’s definition from 1,000 words to this:   "Regenerative design (regen) explodes boundaries of site. Demands we invest more time to build capacity in that place – build to endure and evolve after completion. Regen becomes an excuse to work on broader community goals.   Regen is a catalyst to reconnect community to itself/to increase capacity for all life in this place.   Place is more than just site – it is water shed, political structure, eco-structure, it is region, it is BIOME.   We become part of the balance in natural systems . . . BIOMIMETIC at all scales.   So after the design team has integrated all systems, optimized the loads, applied technology wisely, then Regen creates prosperity by nurturing ecology, economy, health and humanity. It’s all about design for a higher purpose!”   Beyond LEED is more than beyond platinum LEED building. It is about smart energy and infrastructure. Wisely balanced communities. It is about networking as if all other life besides our own is on the verge of EXTINCTION. Maybe then we get the attention we need to move the USGBC off “high center” to embrace Regen as a pivotal tool.   A process which brings a higher purpose for all to pursue.   Welcome to everyone for attending and thank you for collaborating to chart this urgent course!     Saturday, January 28th Beyond LEED Session   Why are we here?   Push LEED to a higher purpose – increase passion!   In honor of the right reverend professor Heymann, I begin by quoting one of our preachers, E.O. Wilson:   “Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a renaissance painting to cook a meal!”   “If all mankind were to disappear the world would regenerate. (There’s that word again.) Regenerate back to the rich equilibrium which existed 10,000 years ago . . . if however insects vanished the environment would collapse into chaos.”   So, again, back to definition of Regen.   “Regen explodes boundaries of site. Regen is a catalyst to increase capacity for all life in this place.”   Regen helps us to move from imbalance to join the balance found in natural systems.   It is about design for a higher purpose!   Today is about ACTION ITEMS Beyond LEED.   Beyond LEED is beyond us to include emerging countries, emerging cities, and emerging economies.   Beyond LEED is about strengthening USGBC/LEED.   By actively embracing regenerative design (Regen) brings passion, the higher purpose forward!   USGBC needs to accelerate the adoption of REGEN as the next level in LEED.   Since AIA and USGBC are here today – absurd that these two entities are not in lockstep – how can we bring the thousands of AIA members and 200,000 LEED AP members together to strengthen both AIA and USGBC?   Those pesky AIA continuing education units for sustainability should be waived for life if an architect becomes a LEED AP!   On education, inculcating our global to the crisis that is the extinction of species, biodiversity critical to go beyond LEED to teach youth of the world.   Speaking of education, KUDOS to Dean Steiner and everyone at UT Architecture School for seeking excellence in design. UT is ranked #1 in public architectural schools in US and ranked #2 of all schools nationally.   Why? Because they go beyond the school to touch all students.   Dean Fritz educates students at freshman orientation and at graduation on the beauty and need for sustainable practices.   Thank you Dean Fritz and the school for hosting Beyond LEED!     Action Items:   Strengthen LEED. - Increase USGBC membership. - Increase professional connections to USGBC, AIA, ASLA, AIID, contractors, etc. - Provide sustainable platforms for emerging cities, emerging countries, and emerging economies.   LEARN BY DOING. - What if there was a platinum building for every biome in the US, the world?   - What if there were living buildings at each biome on the plane? There are four now, Missouri, New York, Vancouver, Hawaii.   PROVE IT BY DOING IT. - LET’S DO IT! - There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about.     “You will see it when you believe it.”
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