Designing a More Sustainable Future
Two of the biggest interconnected challenges of our time, how to live sustainably on this planet and how to be effective stewards of the environment, are as much problems for the design professions as they are questions for science and engineering. Sustainability and the environment present challenges that are as broadly cultural as they are technical. Sustainability and the environment are as much the problems of the fine arts, philosophy, the humanities, journalism, business, and of course architects, as they are problems for scientists and engineers.
Architecture is uniquely situated to wrestle with these issues. Architects work collaboratively to engage and synthesize broad bodies of knowledge in the design of solutions to these challenges. “Collaborative Education for a Sustainable Future” is the School’s motto and reflects an aspiration held by our entire community. Architects today must be well-educated critical-thinkers and problem-solvers who possess and can effectively apply highly refined aesthetic and technical knowledge.
Our students’ performance is the most effective measure of our success in sustainable design. For example, in the fall of 2011 a team of 200 Maryland students, faculty and mentors from multiple disciplines designed and built WaterShed to blend solar energy efficiency and water conservation. They drew their inspiration from the Chesapeake Bay. Panels of experts judged the competing entries on ten dimensions, and WaterShed came in first overall, and placed first in Architecture, Energy Balance and Hot Water. Today we are forming a team to compete in the 2017 US DOE Solar Decathlon, and we are looking to empower a new generation of students to become experts in sustainable design.
But our expertise in sustainable design does not begin and end with the Solar Decathlon. In 2015 and again in 2016, students in the Architecture Program captured national honors in the AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten for Students Design Competition. Likewise in 2014 and 2015, teams of students from the Architecture Program, Real Estate Development, Planning, and Landscape Architecture, competed with other schools internationally and won top honors in the Gerald D. Hines / Urban Land Institute Competition. More recently graduate students working in the Urban Design Studio, developed proposals for Ellicott City, Maryland that are designed not only to reinvigorate business but to deal with the onslaught of rain-water run-off during storm events. The project was part of the Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS) developed in the School. Don't think that the world can change? Don't believe in natural forces threatening our very existence? Check out the exciting work by Maryland Architecture students at Restoring Ancient Stabiae a town buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.