Design on the Edge – David W. Orr (2006)

Design on the Edge

I recently finished Design on the Edge by David W. Orr, the story of the creation of the Lewis Center for Environmental Studies at Oberlin College in Ohio. From the beginning this was planned as a sustainability project, to design a building that would use less energy and water, be built of materials with minimal ecological impacts (both in their creation and use), and would serve as an ongoing learning center about ecological interconnections.  David Orr is a professor at Oberlin, and was a champion of this project through its full lifecycle.

Orr makes it clear that there were many hurdles along the way; most of them institutional, not technological. At this point it seems fairly clear that there are tested techniques for making these project successful, but it seems that the mindset of many people is not yet ready to embrace the concept. Orr was very disappointed to see that even after the proven success of the Lewis Center, that subsequent Oberlin building projects, in particular a new science center, were built using conventional approaches, with guaranteed higher lifetime costs.

It’s really time for a total embrace of smart, green building in all projects.  We know how to do this!

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