Earth Day is April 22, but the entire month of April is typically dedicated to environmental education, impact, and appreciation. While I like to say that Earth Day is every day, I do appreciate the extra love and attention our planet enjoys this month as it’s a great opportunity to observe its wonder and take steps to improve it. It’s also a good opportunity to think about what sustainability and regenerative design are because you’ll likely be hearing these terms a lot this month.

The term sustainability is widely overused and generally misused when you think about its true meaning. For something to be sustainable, it needs to be able to sustain itself indefinitely. The damage humans have done to the planet is extensive, yet if all humans—or even most humans—disappeared tomorrow, the planet would start to repair and restore itself. We started to see some of that restoration in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when people around the world were sheltered in place. For this reason, I can’t help but struggle with the term, regenerative design.

Before we can get to a regenerative state with design, don’t we first need to restore the damage that’s been done? While I do think individual projects can be sustainable and even restorative on their own, can you philosophically have an individual project that is regenerative? One thing I know for sure, as designers, engineers, and architects of the built environment, we must do better, and not simply design and build to meet code, which is the worst possible legally allowed building. Thankfully, here in California, we have progressive green building standards of which I’m very proud. I only hope that across the globe we can all begin to push the boundaries of what is possible within every project’s scope, budget, and schedule, reaching for zero impact and beyond.

I was asked recently by BUILDINGS magazine for my thoughts on regenerative design and I invite you to read the article here.

At HMC Architects, we believe that buildings should positively impact the environment and benefit society while also promoting human health and quality of life. We work internally as well as with our clients to measure, plan, and reduce our carbon footprint with the overarching goal of zero-carbon architecture. For more information, please contact Director of Sustainability Jennifer Wehling below. 

Jennifer Wehling AIA, LEED AP BD+C, ID+C, WELL AP

Director of Sustainability

A licensed architect with over 20 years of experience working on a wide variety of project types, Jennifer’s experience as an architect and passion for the environment gives her a unique appreciation for the various constraints of a project. She strives to deliver the most sustainable project possible without negatively impacting budget, scope, and schedule. Jennifer believes designers and architects have a responsibility to protect the natural environment. As HMC’s director of sustainability, she leads strategic initiatives for sustainable building firm-wide and aims to impact not just HMC’s designs, but its operations as well; guiding HMC in minimizing its footprint while maximizing its positive impact.

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