This is an article from the Architecture Australia archives and may use outdated formatting

The ‘energy’ debate hit the public arena in the 1970’s as a result of the oil crisis. Two decades later ecological issues are still prominent as global concerns increase. This earth is a finite resource. The earth’s natural resources are declining, and with them the earth’s living systems are declining at an ever increasing rate. The limited capacity of the earth’s living systems must now be recognised.

The way our society uses these finite natural resources in our built environment greatly affects the natural environment—the built environment is responsible for a significant proportion of our energy and resource usage. The RAIA’s Environment Policy recognised all these issues when it was introduced in 1994.

Architects have a unique understanding of the built environment and its energy, resource and waste implications. The built environment is an integral part of our living systems. In any natural eco-system, the waste output from one level becomes the food input for the next link in the chain. Architects must consider this concept and develop life-cycle designs that provide long-term solutions which do not stop responding to ecological issues at the site boundary.

Making buildings and built environment systems more efficient, even by only 10%, will have an enormous impact. But it is simply not good enough for architects to rely upon high-tech or smart inclusions when a fundamental and learned approach, to say orientation and envelope design, can substantially affect energy consumption. Most of the substantial energy and resource issues in the built environment can be resolved through a fundamental design strategy.

Architects are uniquely qualified to respond to these environmental issues—to re-imagine the world and to re-design our built environment. This will require tremendous vision to redefine the problems and enormous creativity to devise imaginative new solutions to improve this earth’s living systems.

Architects have the power to change the world. You only have one story to tell in your life. What will your legacy be?

Ric Butt FRAIA
National President



Published online: 1 Sep 1997


Architecture Australia, September 1997

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