New book and digital design tool show how cities can achieve sustainability.
Who would have thought that construction, which causes so much environmental destruction, could save nature and deliver social and environmental justice?
According to Dr Janis Birkeland, a leading author in sustainable development, while ‘sustainable buildings’ are making great strides, they still do more damage than no building at all.
“Each green building increases the problem,” she says. “Even though there are numerous sustainable building initiatives and processes that purport to contribute to sustainability, such as the green star rating system, the industry is still doing all the wrong things in all wrong ways.
“True sustainability is possible and affordable, but not if we use the same strategies.”
Dr Birkeland’s new book, Net-Positive Design and Sustainable Urban Development, offers an alternative view on why current solutions are not effective. It systematically dissects these failings and reverses their underlying concepts.
The book builds on this critique to show how cities and buildings can increase ̶ rather than just repair, restore or regenerate ̶ overall social and ecological sustainability.
Accompanying Net-Positive Design is a free digital tool/app called the STARfish that enables designers to go beyond zero (or recycling systems) to create designs that yield net-positive environments.
“Positive Development theory leads to new methods, strategies and tools that enable professionals and students to design (and assess) net-positive buildings and environments that give back more to the ecological base and public estate than they take,” said Dr Birkeland.
“Technically speaking, in a net-positive city, nature’s ‘positive’ ecological footprint would exceed humanity’s ‘negative’ ecological footprint, relative to pre-urban conditions.
“The new approach not only up-ends building assessment tools, it integrates assessment and measurement with design. It synthesises the ‘hard’ technical and ‘soft’ creative dimensions in planning, decision making and design.”
Net-Positive Design presents game-changing sustainable planning analyses, a collaborative design process and the free STARfish digital tool. This tool/app defines new criteria and benchmarks based on fixed, objective biophysical conditions, rather than relative to conventional (unsustainable) buildings or current conditions.
Creating and measuring ‘beyond zero’ cumulative impacts is no easy task but, thanks to Dr Birkeland’s insights and dedication to sustainable development, it has now been done and is available around the world for educators and professionals alike.
Authoritative comments about Net-Positive Design:
“From the author who developed Positive Development theory comes another tour de force – a delightful guide for those of us disappointed with the direction of conventional approaches to wicked problems.” Mirek Dymitrow, Lund University and University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
“Janis uniquely synthesizes the vast ground of interdisciplinary practices required to transform the world of both physical and institutional design and assessment – and thoroughly details the what, why and how of it.” Peter James, engineer and director of Gatchi Pty Ltd.
“By re-engineering our approach to urban development, Birkeland reveals how cities could become our most powerful resource in reversing the trends associated with climate change…Essential reading for all decision makers.” Dr Kathi Holt, architect and strategic urban designer.
Book availability & links: Routledge Publishers. RRP from $A37 for eBook:
Paperback: ISBN 9780367258566 Hardback: ISBN 9780367258559
About the author: Dr Janis Birkeland was an architect, city planner and attorney in San Francisco before becoming an academic in Australia and New Zealand. Dr Birkeland has devoted her working life to sustainable development, originating many increasingly familiar sustainable design concepts. She is presently an Honorary Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne, having been a Professor of sustainable architecture in Australia and New Zealand. Her books include Design for Sustainability (2002) and Positive Development (2008).
Book cover below:
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