Net Zero Design – A Cure for Insanity!

By Brent Sauser

insanity 03Albert Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.  Yet, consider the priorities that have motivated construction over the past 50 years. Depending on which side of the bottom line you stand on will determine if your assessment is positive or not.  For those who feel pretty good about it, are probably doing very well financially.  For all the others, how is it working for you?  With the almighty dollar as the predominate motivator, those who benefited most did so (in general) at the expense of the environment, the unsuspecting buyer, and common sense.  Oh sure, they may have paid lip service to how important these other factors are, but the GO, NO GO decision usually has been based on the margin of profit obtainable.

insanity 04Knowing no other alternative, the gullible buyer “bought” into the bottom line agenda thinking it to be the best (and only) standard for conventional construction.  Decades have passed and very little has changed.  The movement toward a greener, more energy efficient built environment is slowly gaining speed, but still too much construction is holding on to the outdated, 20th Century, dollar driven standard.  I don’t need to travel far to find new housing developments featuring monster sized homes that look like all the others . . . bigger versions of their smaller counterparts.  They are monsters notinsanity 01 only because of their size, but are beasts when it comes to energy consumption.   These unsuspecting buyers have not considered that energy costs are going to continue to rise. Just ask those living in Hawaii how they feel about their power bills.   Continuing to build as we have in the past and expecting a change in our environment is nothing short of INSANITY!

Triple bottom line 1Significant and meaningful change that demonstrates measurable energy efficiency and compatibility with the environment, requires a change from the singular, dollar driven, bottom line, to the Triple Bottom Line.  The Triple Bottom Line provides long term benefits that are sustainable, not only for the buyer, but for the environment, and community.

One creative way to embrace the Triple Bottom Line is by thinking inside the BOX.  The trade imbalance with China has resulted in a countless supply of shipping containers that are choking our ports. Shipping Container Photo 03 One way to relieve the environmental blight is to reuse the containers in an entirely different context.  This “Up-Use” of a readily available resource (at very low cost) may sound insane from a conventional standard, but using the BOX to think outside the box can provide the results the Triple Bottom Line is promoting . . . . and that is not insane, but just good ole common sense.


The following Net Zero, Shipping Container Townhouse design provided by dbs Architects PLLC:

Rendering 02A

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Rendering 04A Rendering 01A

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