On October 4th, FountainBlue brought together a panel of experts from across the building field in a discussion entitled “Sustainable Solutions for the Built Environment.”  From each of their different vantage points, the panelists engaged in a conversation about the possibilities and challenges of designing, constructing and maintaining sustainable buildings.  The panelists consistently pointed to the need for fully integrated collaboration between all parties participating in a building project, starting with the architects and policy makers through to the end-users of the building.  

One of the core tenets in designing a sustainable human existence on this planet is to use systems thinking to understand how each aspect of a system interconnects and affects all other parts of a system.  Without this broad perspective, people create solutions for a given challenge that may actually add to the over all problem, if solving one small part.  It makes sense that the direct experience of these experts calls for more collaboration between all participants in a project, that they call for a systems thinking approach to the building process.  

As an example, an architect can design a home to work with the angle of the sun in order to decrease the need for heating and cooling, but if there is not proper collaboration with the HVAC installer, then a much larger and less efficient heating and cooling system might be put into the home, and the owners may run this larger system more than necessary.  This would cancel out the benefits of the architects original design, leading to more energy consumption than necessary.  

In order to create the most sustainable building, each part of a building needs to be considered from the perspectives of all the other parts of the building.  This requires experts who are willing to work with others, and to learn more about all parts of the whole.   As sustainable solutions require systems thinking, the voice of experience of the panelists calling for integrated collaboration confirms this important need in creating a sustainable world.

The need for tihs collaboration is just one of the important themes that emerged during the panel.  Follow this PDF link to discover what other topics were discussed at the Sustainable Solutions for the Built Environment event:  FountainBlue is a remarkable resource for innovative entreprenuers and engaged citizens throughout Silicon Valley and the Bay Area.  Through the hosting of monthly events, Fountain Blue “[stimulates] collaborative innovation one conversation, one leader, one organization at a time.”  To find out more about all the events hosted by FountainBlue, go to , where you can also find archived notes from all past events.  

By Natalie Forsythe

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