October 14, 2021
Moving Towards Circular and Regenerative Design
“The concept of regenerative design is not new,” continued Colin Rohlfing, director of sustainable development, HDR. “Unless we build a regenerative essence into buildings, they’re really not regenerative,” he said. “This means assigning metrics and studying ecological and social links. It’s about material transparency. It’s about linking social equity to environmental responsibility.”
Picking up on this idea, Charles Griffin, director of product integrity and quality, Carnegie, said: “We want to go deep into our supply chain to show how we’re affecting communities around us. It’s a pain point, but we have to do it.”
New Orleans-based Z Smith, director of sustainability and building, Eskew Dumez Ripple, shifted the discussion to buildings. “Architects have been incentivized to make buildings that are single use,” he said. “This is a mistake. The iconic San Francisco Victorian house has in the past century been used in different ways by different ethnic groups. Similarly, the classic SoHo loft is so versatile and sought after because it was originally a manufacturing plant. We’re our own worst enemies when we don’t realize the tremendously reusable form of buildings like this.”
As the discussion wound down, Rohlfing lamented: “Why are buildings torn down after 50 to 75 years? Why this short life span? There used to be 500-year-old buildings.”
Rajagopal enthusiastically jumped on the bandwagon: “We need a fundamental shift in values and value. In real estate, we think of land as an appreciating asset and buildings as depreciating assets. Maybe it’s time to reverse that.”
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