Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on January 17, 2008
By now, everyone is keen to the chatter about building more-efficient, cleaner cars and many of us would like to get off the grid. But what does it take to design, engineer, and build a totally carbon neutral building? The brains behind the Aldo Leopold Foundation have done it with their Leopold Legacy Center, which was featured in ArchitectureWeek, the leading online magazine for design and construction. The center earned the highest LEEDs rating and is the world’s first carbon neutral building.
In fact, it produces roughly 15% more energy than it uses. Which is an amazing feat.
Leopold, often called the father of the American conservation/environmental movement, is best known for conceiving a land ethic, “that land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics.” The new campus that will promote his legacy took these words to heart from the very beginning.
The Leopold Legacy Center was developed on “wasted” land, it used trees harvested from the property, stones acquired from abandoned local buildings, and on-site clay, sand and straw to finish the framed walls. The center is powered by geo-thermal energy and has an array of solar panels. Rainwater is collected and reused or gently re-absorbed into the aquifer.
In essence, this place fits into the landscape rather than dominating it.
Are these ideas transferable? The major problem with projects like this is that they are great for one building, but cannot be duplicated on a greater scale. Unfortunately, the Leopold Legacy Center falls into this category. The world definitely needs to employ smaller-footprint technologies in all buildings, but the time and cost remain prohibitive even for the most eco-conscious companies.
Kudos to those at Leopold for taking the time and putting in the effort. Now how about putting some time and effort into making these technologies available to rest of us?