This section includes:
Limited real world examples of fully sustainable development means much of the discussion in this documentis derived by considering potential benefits. This section presents real examples to help show how those theoretical benefits translate into actual value, notwithstanding that qualitative benefits are difficult to measure. While the four case studies do not provide an in-depth analysis, they do provide a starting point for exploring the practical benefits of the various approaches.
Each case study is formatted slightly differently, as consistent information is not available for each. Some of the projects are in different stages of development.
Designer: Phase I: Farewell Mills Gatsch Architects, LLC; Phase II: Hone+Associates; Landscape: Back to Nature.
Consultant: Regenesis Group
Willow School is a private primary school with a focus on holistic education, for 200 pupils, aged five to 13. The school has a strong focus on sustainability and a living-systems approach to education. The school site covers approximately 13 hectares.
During the school’s development, the founders sought to include teaching environmental stewardship as one of its three fundamental teaching objectives, and to make its site a living classroom.
The school is designed around ecological system regeneration, including a constructed wetland for wastewater paving, use of permeable paving, living roofs, bio swales for storm-water runoff, wetland treatment of storm water, and collection of rainwater for irrigation and toilets. In addition to the physical design, the educational programme helps the school and wider community learn how they could work with the original land use – an extensive forest – to increase its life-supporting capacity.
Materials used in the construction of the buildings used recycled or renewable materials, do not emit toxins, and were locally sourced where possible.
Willow School typifies a regenerative development, focusing on:
The Willow School encourages the belief that everything is part of a complex living system – a key component of a regenerative approach to development. The school buildings and wider site design integrate with the curriculum to provide extended educational opportunities for students, thereby incorporating the regenerative approach into the education system. Regenesis Group actively worked with the site developers to help them understand and develop a sense of place, which was then reflected in the ultimate development plan. Incorporation of high specification green buildings (two LEED Gold and Platinum buildings) into the physical design of the school, along with use of constructed stormwater management systems and other water management techniques, makes a significant contribution towards regeneration of the site.
Brattleboro Food Co-op (www.brattleborofoodcoop.com and www.regenesisgroup.com/userfiles/SampleProjects08.pdf)
Playa Viva, Mexico. Playa Viva is a residential regenerative development on Mexico’s Pacific Coast (www.playaviva.com)
Loreto Bay, Mexico. A residential and vacation home development on the Baja Peninsular in Mexico (www.loretobay.com)
Designer: Keepers of the Waters
Builder: The Chengdu Fu and Nan Rivers Comprehensive Revitalisation Project
The Living Water Garden was built by the Chengdu Fu and Nan Rivers Comprehensive Revitalisation Project. It is a five-year plan to rebuild infrastructure to support Chengdu’s growing population for the next 200 years.
Each day, the Living Water Garden system treats around 200 cubic metres of polluted river water to a state where it is clean enough to drink. The system diverts the polluted river water through settling ponds, flow forms for aeration, wetland plants, aquatic life ponds and a fountain, before returning it to the river. Water in the fountain is clean enough for swimming.
Although the amount of water treated is insufficient to affect overall river water quality, it has been successful in teaching and inspiring Chengdu’s inhabitants. The Garden is helping facilitate and build long-lasting community relationships which are positively affecting acceptance of other environmental projects.
The Garden includes the use of native plants, which at the time of development was unusual in China. There is also a strong educational component, particularly about the value of water.
The Living Water Gardens typifies a restorative design project, focusing on:
The Living Water Garden exhibits characteristics of both restorative and regenerative design approaches, showing that these approaches are not mutually exclusive. The project recognises that it may be difficult to measure the success of all aspects of a design in the short timeframe of a human lifetime and exemplifies designing for extra long timeframes.
Development of the Living Water Garden however, involved relocating thousands of people to a new residential location to enable the Garden’s construction. This is an inherent conflict between the values of the development to the wider community versus the rights of previous occupants.
Living Waters Garden (www.keepersofthewaters.org/lwg.cfm)
CH2 building, Melbourne, Australia, designed by Mick Pearce. Council House 2 (CH2) is an administrative building for the City of Melbourne, and displays some aspects of restorative design (www.melbourne.vic.gov.au)
Waitangi Park, Wellington, New Zealand, designed by Wraight Athfield Landscape and Architecture (www.wellingtonwaterfront.co.nz)
Designer: McDonough and Partners
Owner: Oberlin College, Cleveland
The Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, Oberlin College, is located between Cleveland and Toledo in the USA. The building is an ongoing green build experiment, with more than 150 environmental sensors installed throughout the building and landscape to monitor performance. The data monitoring and display system provides a unique opportunity to visualise in real time the flows of energy and cycling of matter that are necessary to support the built environment.
McDonough and Partners designed the building to function like a tree. The building is powered by the sun, embedded in local nutrient flows and beneficially produces more energy than it consumes. Solar power is collected via rooftop cells. Wastewater is purified by a constructed ecosystem that breaks down and digests organic matter and releases clean material. Design of the building was a collaborative approach with students, designers, external consultants and future occupiers.
From 1993 through 1998, designing the Lewis Center included these steps:
The Adam Joseph Lewis Center is a very young system. The orchard, wetland and ecological wastewater treatment systems continue to develop structure and function. Mechanical systems are still being installed, adjusted and modified. The College considers that these changes imply a steady increase in the performance of the Center, with greater improvement to come as the system matures.
The Adam Joseph Lewis Center exhibits the key characteristics of the nine Hannover Principles devised by McDonough, which exemplify the concept of cradle-to-cradle development. The building recognises the rights of humans and nature to co-exist, and their interdependence. The building designers and occupiers accept responsibility for the consequences of design and the ecological footprint the development leaves on the environment. The long-term value of the Center is demonstrated through its incorporation into the educational structure of the college. The Center is not only a demonstration of cradle-to-cradle for the wider community but a fundamental learning tool for students.
Oberlin College is researching the short and long-term evolution of the system. Readers should also refer to a number of post-occupancy studies done on the building.5 At this stage the Center is not performing as well as originally thought, highlighting the evolutionary nature of the system and the potential challenges associated with adopting new approaches. It is, however, delivering valuable lessons and learning opportunities.
Adam Joseph Lewis Center (www.oberlin.edu/ajlc)
Nike’s European headquarters, Hilversum, The Netherlands (www.mcdonoughpartners.com/projects/nike/default.asp?projID=nike)
Building owner: The Wellington Company
Building occupier: Department of Conservation
In searching for new headquarters, the Department of Conservation requested an environmentally friendly building to provide a safe, healthy and comfortable work environment for its staff.
The chosen building was a refurbishment of an old cinema complex in the centre of Wellington, New Zealand, adjacent to key pedestrian routes within the city. A bus stop outside the building provides access to much of the central city. The building opened on 26 February 2007.
Conservation House uses a number of passive, mechanical and staff behaviour strategies to meet the project requirements. Eco-efficient attributes include:
Conservation House provides an excellent illustration of eco-efficient design and the benefits of a partnership approach to development. Of particular relevance is the reuse of an existing building, rather than new construction. The refurbishment is very focused on the building and its occupiers, which is consistent with eco-efficient design, and is essentially a single-issue response. The approach taken in the refurbishment is directed towards a neutral impact, but ultimately still degrades the environment.
Conservation House (www.doc.govt.nz/publications/about-doc/news/conservation-house/)
Meridian Energy Building, Wellington, New Zealand, designed by Warren and Mahoney. This is new office accommodation at Kumutoto Site 7 on Wellington’s waterfront (www.meridianenergy.co.nz)
Curitiba, Brazil. A city built upon principles of integrated urban planning. In particular, the transport system works on eco-efficient principles (http://www3.iclei.org/localstrategies/summary/curitiba.html)
5 US National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Torcellini and Pless (November, 2004) Technical Paper NREL/TP-550-33180 -Energy Performance Evaluation of an Educational Facility: The Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio