Architect Bill Reed recently spoke at the Living Future 10 conference in Seattle. Reed, a principal at the Integrative Design Collaborative, was a founding board member of the US Green Building Council. Julia Levitt from Worldchanging wrote a nice piece about Reed’s talk, which was part of a panel entitled, “Integrating the Whole System — The Practice of Living Systems or Regenerative Design.” (A video and transcript will be forthcoming on the Living Futures website.)
Reed was just one of many fascinating speakers at what must have been a marvelous event. Check out this item from Worldchanging for more coverage.
Some excerpts of Levitt’s piece:
[Reed] opened by offering two big questions to the audience: if sustainability is about sustaining life, then what is life about? What will our design practices and organizations look like if we are intentional about sustainability?
“Sustainable” and “regenerative” are words which, when spoken conscientiously, evoke a much more comprehensive and long-term vision than “green,” “recycled,” or even “energy efficient.” Even “carbon neutral,” he argued, isn’t really his idea of sustainability. If the ultimate goal is to replicate nature and to create systems for sheltering and feeding ourselves that are truly regenerative, it’s important to recognize that sustainability is not the same as zero.
“‘[D]o you want to do LEED, or do you want sustainability?’
It seemed that in his experience, many have simply become so used to thinking at the level of individual, segregated components that they’re unable to easily see the system or their place within it. In order to think systemically, one needs to reestablish relationships; to feel connected and to care; to be personal and up-close rather than academic and arm’s-length. To underline this point, Reed quoted Wendell Berry: “no one ever called his home an ‘environment.’”
As he put it, it’s important to remember that “living systems aren’t just about buildings and things. The people who work on them are regenerated, also.”
Earlier this year, Reed spoke on “The Practice of Living System Design” as part of a lecture series sponsored by the Boston Society of Architects. His talk addressed “the need to redevelop a conscious understanding of the whole system of life-giving processes that shape the places we live in order to reintegrate our building—and our communities—with life on Earth.”
A couple of tidbits from the talk:
Sustainable design “is not just carbon neutral…it’s fundamentally about our relationship with place.”
Restoration…doesn’t mean restoring something to its original condition…It actually means restoring an ecological subsystem to the condition where it has the ability to self-organize and evolve.
The talk is well worth watching. Reed imparts his wealth of knowledge and experience about integrative ecological design.