- Sustainable Infrastructure: The Guide to Green Engineering and Design
Our profession has long sought to both quantify and qualify our context, yet we often struggle with the passage of time and the temporal nature of the land and our designs. As we measure the change of a tree by caliper and rod alike, how can we quantify the impacts on associated systems and environs from the planting of that single tree? Further, how do those impacts ebb and flow in time in a state of dynamic equilibrium as a response to the qualifying forces and influences?
Previous “stop-loss,” or reactionary approaches to infrastructure first meted by ancient civilizations were necessary in order to exercise control over wild forces within natural systems that endangered human existence. As science and society grew to further understand the human place within the natural world, this approach receded from modern designs as our understanding of larger systems—ecological, hydrological, energetic, and cultural—increased. There is an ongoing shift in the once myopic perspective of mechanized systems to now include the principles of varying scale, reach, temporal aspects, and impact of design efforts. We can look to gradients, energy flows, and ecosystems as design bases. We can use benchmarks and metrics in lieu of the completion of master plans as measures for success. We can look to the functioning of the whole site within its context as a measure of the integration of site design into the surrounding environment. In hopes of developing an infrastructure to complement this new design approach, Sustainable Infrastructure: The Guide to Green Engineering and Design proposes a holistic, systems-based strategy to the design of infrastructure, rather than a piecemeal assemblage of a disparate set of devices, disciplines, and design approaches. [End Page 319]
S. Bry Sarté reconceptualizes the design of infrastructure. Applicable systems, principles, and gradients provide the base of understanding for the analysis and design of later construction specifications. Sustainable Infrastructure proposes a three-part design process to achieve this: (1) identification of the overall framework approaches pertinent to sustainable infrastructure and systems design; (2) identification of integral resource networks and systems for future framework assemblages; and (3) assembly of critical design applications and interventions into a system-based framework for sustainable infrastructure. This triumvirate of design tenets provides a dynamic way to design with temporal benchmarks based on system responses rather than static visual cues. The additional benefit of this approach is that the designer can assign associated metrics to quantify system response to each design measure, as well as to provide a scientific approach to replicate the process and analyze results. An additional note provides a set of current metrics from around the world for choosing the “best fit” for each specific design, as well as to provide assessment of the efficacy of differing methodologies and approaches.
Sustainable Infrastructure’s three sections build from idea to implementation: “The process and systems of sustainable design,” “sustainable resource systems,” and “design applications.”
The book leads off with an examination of resource efficiency analysis through LEED and other metrics as the basis for the analysis of methodology and implementation effects on the overall systems. The premise here is that all organisms live in complex multi-systemic environments that maintain dynamic equilibria, or changing balances, which ebb and flow by the stasis or dynamism of the collective forces acting on them. These systems are complex, and it follows that our understanding of and design responses for infrastructure systems must also be complex and comprehensive. Current design teams must play to individual team members’ strengths. In this section, Sarté provides the setting for each potential player and their roles.
Four systems for developing sustainable infrastructure frameworks emerge from Sherwood Design Engineers’ (Satré’s company) knowledge base: (1) The pillars of sustainability; (2) the scale-density framework; (3) the transect (Andres Duany’s seven-zone assessment of “balanced land use” design); and (4) the built form-ecology framework (human and natural system interrelationship and ecological baseline establishment as...