Steadily, ideas from ecology began to permeate the design world. First there was the idea of sustainability. This is old news now, but in the 1990s it was a big deal. The idea of being “less bad” though did not seem like there was enough improvement being made. Green building standards like LEED were established followed by a plethora of standards with differing focuses and levels of difficulty. The idea of carbon neutrality was established along with carbon offsets. The design professions advanced the idea of zero energy buildings. Now there are living buildings, or buildings that make more energy than they use.
So what’s next? There are enormous opportunities in the existing building stock world wide. Green building standards largely concentrate on new construction and leave existing buildings out of the conversation. The reality is that existing buildings make up the vast majority of structures in the world today. Also, we would be wise to study systemic change including how our transportation systems and cities are designed. These are huge, long term projects. In aggregate, migrating toward systems that mimic what are called climax ecosystems is imperative.