Anyone out there trying to help save the planet?


Help! I am overcome with guilt everytime I read the news. The ocean is filled with plastic (of course the firm I last interned for trashed plexi like there was no tomorrow.. not to mention 15hr days full of WeldOn solvent exposure), natural disaster all over the world, the current political climate, and on top of that, the Architecture industry is hugely wasteful and most clients are (or are linked to) the greedy f*ckers who are profiting off of mither earth’s current demise...  Can anyone point me towards firms that are actually committed to a sustainable agenda and doing good? Trying to find studios whose culture I truly believe in (and won’t make me feel like fucking hypocrite).

Aug 8, 18 5:51 pm
Non Sequitur
Architecture does not cure cancer or solve political problems. We can barely keep windows from leaking for fucks sake...
Aug 8, 18 6:10 pm

I get that. I also knew I would get mostly this kind of answers. Still just trying to find firms who are trying to minimize the damage done... 

Aug 8, 18 6:24 pm
Non Sequitur
But the vast majority of the damage done is outside of the range of an architecture office.
Aug 8, 18 6:28 pm

sure but we could start by specifying local materials, when available, instead of shipping custom bronze cladding from Germany (for example). you don't have to solve climate change to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.


None of us are Captain Planet. Technically, architecture as a field is antithesis of being one with nature as nature intended. When we create structures to live unnatural lifestyle we are not saving the planet so until we do, we will continue to go out of balance. That is simply how things really are. No one likes that inconvenient truth. If you want to save the planet, you have to be against human civilization. If the planet is to be saved (which is restoration of the world), we literally have to give up living in artificially created structures, internet, computing, technology, motor vehicles and pretty much every aspect of human civilization since the ice age. We literally have to go back to pre-ice age life style. Perhaps even further back to the first 1000 years of the human race. 

That is literally how far back we have to go to be one with nature as intended in the natural order. We are basically an out of control virus on this planet as the character Agent Smith described in the Matrix. In ways, we are exactly like a virus. We can't be civilization. We can't be top predator on this planet. We became it by creating inventions. We will have to self-constrain our race to limit our capability to hunting and our diet to how it is with the other primates on the planet. 

We would have to limit ourselves to wood spears that we can throw and basic knives but not more advance tools. We have to limit ourselves to what we are able to do physically with limited tools to augment our lack of claws and muscle strength (or gorillas and other apes) to give us the capacity to kill and eat the rabbits, fish, and other animals and the ethos that we have to kill to eat and eat what we kill. 

Until we are ready to live this way of life, there is no saving the planet.... at least no saving ourselves from our own demise while the planet may eventually restore itself after us (provide we don't nuke it to the point where no life beyond microbial life and restore itself on the land and shallower waters for the next 700 Million years or so). 

If we don't literally nuke the planet, we would end up killing our species among many others because of our pollution which will continue to grow even if we try our best efforts of sustainability possible in the laws of science with our life style. We can slow down our own demise but it will catch up to us as death always will. 

This planet also has a finite time it will support life and this is our of our control.

Aug 8, 18 6:49 pm

Yeah. If we can't fix it all now, fuck trying. All or nothing NOW. PUT UP OR SHUT UP!


I didn't say it was easy. There is no fixing and the inconvenient truth is that we have to give up what we built for the last 50,000+ years because none of it is going to keep human race impact footprint in line with nature. 

The rhetorical question--In order to do so and return back to nature and save our species for committing suicide are willing to give up "Paris" to return to nature's "farm" as it was in the beginning? It isn't something one person is going to be the difference. This is something that we have to do as a whole human race. If that has to be done by force then it will have to be done or we WILL destroy the habitability of the planet for our species and many others will die before and even for sometime after our species are extinct. This is the kind of implications we are talking about. Yes, SneakyPete, a basement is not a cave so thanks for speaking the obvious.

Unless the whole human race does this, there is no sensible point in me trying to do something futile as a single person. Even if I did all this on my own, it won't be enough. 


"Unless the whole human race does this, there is no sensible point in me trying to do something futile as a single person. Even if I did all this on my own, it won't be enough. "

That's the reason we're in this shit, because every individual expects everyone else to do it first. Be the motherfucking change you want to see in the motherfucking world, motherfucker.


First, we have too many laws currently in the states that would inhibit ones ability to live that way such as regulatory limits on hunting as well as numerous legal institutions that would just be a problem in actually living that way of life. Alaska is the only state where you get as close as legally possible to live that way of life. Otherwise, you'd likely end up in jail because you can't legally live out in the woods. It would be a legal can of worms that I haven't fully investigated but they would have to go to enable people to live that way of life.

Wood Guy

Delfina, there are firms doing their best to address the problems you describe, including mine. Everyone I know in the high performance field is extremely busy right now; for better or worse, it's a growth industry. Together we have an effect; it's never enough, but we have to try, and ignore those who say it's too hard. I would suggest looking into Passive House (aka Passivhaus) and/or The Living Building Challenge. 

There is a high percentage of architects and designers where I am in Maine doing this kind of work. Some friends, competitors and/or former employers you might find interesting:

Aug 8, 18 8:27 pm
wurdan freo

op... i would suggest starting by not reading the news... or go build an earthship in your parents backyard... or get an engineering degree and perfect plasma arc waste processing... fuck reading about feel good architecture... cause it's really bullshit.

Aug 9, 18 2:09 am

Best is to go into the development of projects where you can select the people that work sustainable, circular, CO2 neutral etc. Because if the demand-side doesn't ask for better ways of designing and building there will always be some schmucks that will keep on doing it in a business-as-usual kind of way with their 20th century carbon based attitude that got us into this mess. There are firms that design according to a different philosophy though, that are leading the way, I know a couple in the Netherlands, RAU or Superuse for example, but they can only do so much...But developing projects and demanding high sustainable etc standards on all levels, sets the bar for everyone involved basically.

Aug 9, 18 3:53 am

Some folks here would have been more than happy to flatten the Old Post Office Building in Washington DC and make it a parking lot. The same folks would be equally as happy to flatten the FBI building in Washington DC (completed in 1967) and have that agency move to the 'burbs and spend a billion dollars for new digs. But these same people are all for 'saving the planet'. Go figure.

Aug 9, 18 7:38 am

Supporting the preservation of Brutalist architecture? Did hell just froze over? ;)


Nah. Volunteer just wants his assumptions about us all to always be correct. They usually aren't.

The best thing Architects and allied design professionals can do to save the planet:

1. Encourage density and transit oriented development in existing urban and suburban areas. Increasing the density of the suburbs and restoring the density of our cities (mostly a US, Canada and European problem) is key and fighting the NIMBY folks who wish to stymie new development in existing cities and towns is critical. We need to stop suburban sprawl so we can preserve existing productive farmland and prevent people from developing in the farmland and wilderness. This can also reduce vehicle miles traveled and food miles traveled thus reducing the overall carbon foot print of a given area.

2. Select materials that will have the least possible environmental impacts.

3. design buildings that have as flexible as possible of a floor plan so they can be renovated instead of torn down once the building's original users out grow or no longer need the space.

4. design buildings that last

5. select finishes that don't require maintenance that is chemical dependent.

We have a lot we can still do or do more of to slow the negative effects of climate change and other forms of environmental degradation, but you got to be good at selling this to the client as a direct environmental benefit or by other means such as the cost savings of low maintenance finishes or aesthetics of natural not overly processed materials.

Over and OUT

Peter N

Aug 9, 18 10:35 am
won and done williams

McDonough + Partners

Aug 9, 18 11:14 am
Superfluous Squirrel

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Aug 9, 18 10:40 pm

This seems to apply to this thread as well:

In one or two hundred years, criss-crossed by railways and steamships, covered with factories and workshops, the world will
emit billions of cubic metres of carbonic acid and carbon oxide, and, since the forests will have been destroyed, these hundreds of 
 billions of carbonic acid and carbon oxide may indeed disturb the harmony of the world.

Eugène Huzar, 1857

Aug 11, 18 4:13 am

If it was that simple, we'd have done it by now. But as others have pointed out, it's incremental, it's piece meal, and it's almost always two steps forward, one step back.

Think about it. How would you even start to calculate the following: a single family passivhaus home built in the suburbs vs a typical densely populated residential high rise in an urban area? 

Nobody here wants to look the world, but the undeniable reality is that 99.9% of the world's developers simply don't care, and their budgets and schedules don't allow for it. That's not a bug, it's intentional. 

Aug 11, 18 1:16 pm

A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. -- Agent K

About 50% correct.

Aug 11, 18 1:35 pm

Compulsory reading material:


Is it a comfort or a curse, the knowledge that we could have avoided all this?
Because in the decade that ran from 1979 to 1989, we had an excellent opportunity to solve the climate crisis. The world’s major powers came within several signatures of endorsing a binding, global framework to reduce carbon emissions — far closer than we’ve come since. During those years, the conditions for success could not have been more favorable. The obstacles we blame for our current inaction had yet to emerge. Almost nothing stood in our way — nothing except ourselves.

Aug 11, 18 1:59 pm

Bullshit. This was about cashing in and burying any other idea.

Nope, they tried in the 70's. Agent 99

Aug 11, 18 4:31 pm

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