Sustainability Has Students Talking

Maloney and Park's finished dormitory model

By Kaitlyn Bolton

Ever thought of installing grey water recycling? Or in other words, re-using all your home’s wash water on your plants and flowers? This sustainable feature along with others such as, solar panels, recycled counter tops, and floors have been stirring up curiosity. The question is, are these “costly” measures really worth it?

Students at Pratt Institute’s architecture school in Brooklyn, New York study the ins and outs of designing a structure.  When it comes to sustainability, Brendan Maloney, 21, Hyunwoo Park, 25 and Brian Schulman, 21, hard at work on their model buildings had different thoughts on the effectiveness.

The mission of sustainability is to avoid negative long term effects on the environment by using sources like water, energy and land effectively. Some students see the importance of having features installed, while others think the idea is too new to know the effects.

For one student, these high cost features simply don’t cut it. “Sustainable architecture undermines good design,” said Maloney, a strong believer in building without sustainable features. Whether or not paying extra money to install solar panels wasn’t his issue. Maloney believes it’s a waste of time and money to tamper with the traditional guidelines of structures.

Maloney, at work in his studio.

Though there is disagreement, professors at Pratt recommend that design projects include sustainability. Professors believe that it is increasing in popularity and there is a high client demand.

Student, Schulman sees sustainability through his professors’ eyes and was quick to adopt the methods.  “Sustainability is a pressing issue, I think it’s an emerging market and there’s a lot of money to be made” said Schulman. He has included features in many of his projects including solar paneling, saying that it adds a nice touch to the building.

When building or making a home sustainable it is important to know the concept of LEED.  LEED or, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is a system of points earned depending on how many eco-friendly features a house has.  LEED is seen on Pratt’s campus with the construction of an environmentally friendly graduate dorm, and is also a sustainable guidebook for architects.

Depending upon the level of LEED points the client chooses will increase the down payment, which makes some hesitant to engage in the features. Others claim that it will pay off in the long run and save you money on energy bills.

Park, next to some of his renderings.

Although money may be saved in the long run, there is the issue of error. Room is often left open for repair after the first installation of sustainable features.  Working these features in to the design of a house can sometimes be a problem because the practice is so new. New practices therefore have created the issue of fishing out more money for repairs.

Some feel it isn’t worth the cost with so much room for error and a high down payment. “If you really want a 100% sustainable building then you should just go back to the Stone Age,” said Park.

Sustainability for some lovers of money is not economically attractive, and they are looking to see up-front results.  They are hesitant to put money into something that may not benefit them.

Could it be like that Furby you forgot about after playing with for two months? “I think it’s a fad and I relate it to low-carb diets of the 90s, it’s a waste of time” Maloney said.

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