RE: Hurricane Sandy, It’s Now or Never

Today I attended the AIA Convention and one of the events I sat in on was the keynote address where three firms presented a few projects of their own and what their firms strive for. I was inspired by every speaker and project but Bob Berkebile, FAIA and principal of BNIM, really got me thinking and looking at the blogs, I just had to respond to this one with what I had learned today. The first thing Bob Berkebile addressed was Hurricane Sandy and how climate has changed over the years with its multiple storms and disasters. He then pointed out that these disasters are occurring due to the way we treat and build our environment. BNIM strives to not only fulfill LEED qualifications but to make every project of theirs a living building and “lead to vital and healthy organizations and communities (BNIM webpage).”

Interior view of Omega Center for Sustainable Living

Omega Center for Sustainable Living, a built project in Rhinebeck, New York is one example that demonstrates their core values and the first project in the world to obtain both “Living” Status and LEED Platinum. BNIM was hired to redesign a wastewater system already in place for 119 buildings on a 195 acre campus. The campus sought to not just have any ordinary system but one that “would handle water not as a waste, but as a precious resource (EOMEGA webpage).”They created three goals: water reclamation using zero chemicals, water reclamation using low energy and educational opportunities for individuals and groups. With BNIM they achieved these goals by designing an eco-machine and a living building that would contain this machine. In other words, water is cleaned by replicating the systems of the natural world, the building generates and supplies all energy for the eco-machine and itself creating a zero carbon footprint. Lastly, the building contains indoor and outdoor classrooms and an exposed mechanical room in order for visitors to learn and experience a full living building and system.

Exterior View of Omega Center for Sustainable Living

BNIM is an example of one firm that is thinking passed LEED with what they can do more and how they can truly make a difference for the future. If all firms were to take on this challenge and strive for every project to reach this achievement, who knows what could happen. Everyone knows that our planet is suffering from the built environment and how we live our lives, but nothing ever seems to sink in until a traumatic event occurs that forces us to realize what is physically occurring in our world. We cannot let such traumatic events wake us up for us to make a change. We need to be like BNIM and do that on our own before it’s too late.

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