Friday, May 31, 2013


NEDCO converted the sanctuary of the old First Baptist Church into The Marketplace @ Sprout! (all photos by me)
I recently learned a great deal about NEDCO, the Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation.(1) NEDCO is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and became Oregon’s first community development corporation when it was formed in 1979. Its mission is to collaboratively build human and capital assets to strengthen neighborhoods and broaden community ownership and governance. NEDCO fulfills this mission by helping neighborhoods and families build assets through home ownership, neighborhood revitalization, and business development. 

Sprout! is one of NEDCO’s many success stories. Sprout! is a community food hub project that brings together a commissary kitchen for rent, a year-round indoor/outdoor farmers market, and business services all under one roof. What intrigues me about that roof is that it happens to belong to the former First Christian Church in downtown Springfield. 

The exterior of the former First Christian Church

I was somewhat familiar with the First Christian Church building because a few years ago I was part of the Robertson/Sherwood/Architects team charged with designing the new Springfield Justice Center across the street. I was aware the church’s congregation was dwindling and pondering its future. I did not know NEDCO purchased the building from the church. I’m very happy NEDCO did. By doing so, they’ve given new life to an architecturally significant and historic landmark in Springfield. 

NEDCO hired Arbor South Architecture to imagine the repurposing of First Christian Church. Firm principals Bill Randall and Dan Hill responded by situating the indoor component of the farmer’s market in the lofty church sanctuary, and placing Sprout!’s new community kitchen in the former fellowship hall. Arbor South took full advantage of the opportunity presented to them by NEDCO. They bestowed Sprout! with a functional and commodious home, while preserving a familiar and memorable part of the urban fabric. The members of First Christian Church wanted their building to remain a community resource; the new Sprout! fulfills this wish. 

Sprout!'s floor plan (Arbor South Architecture)

Wisely (and perhaps compelled by a limited budget), Arbor South chose to avoid substantial new gestures that would have appreciably altered the character of First Christian Church’s architecture. While a good but not outstanding example of its type and era(2), the original design’s timeless use of light, proportion, and space fulfilled its ecclesiastical functions and the needs of worshipers well. These distinctive attributes now provide Sprout! with a character all its own, a unique branding that will agreeably serve it and NEDCO’s mission. 

I’m increasingly appreciative of the concept of reinventing our food systems through localization. Food hubs like Sprout! are valuable because they provide the social and physical infrastructure to connect local buyers and sellers. They offer facilities for farmers to store and process, market, and distribute local food. According to Sprout!’s website, a 1% increase in our local food production and consumption would keep millions of dollars circulating here in Lane County. Keeping it local strengthens our region, our farmers, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs. 

Sprout! is truly using food to grow community. Its 3,000 s.f. certified commercial kitchen is the solution for businesses in need of additional production capacity. Whether it is a food cart looking for prep space or a local farmer interested in creating value added items, the new kitchen has all the equipment necessary to assist getting their products ready for sale.

Sprout! also offers food business development services. Its menu of services includes business plan development, financial analysis, brand/marketing strategy, operations management, recipe development, and nutrition analysis. It is a business incubator focused on the needs of the food industry in Lane County, providing technical assistance, one-on-one help, group education workshops, affordable office space, and access to financial resources.

The new commercial kitchen facility available for use by emerging businesses

Unlike specialized and industrialized agribusinesses, local farmers wear many hats. From planting and raising animals to harvesting and marketing, the local farmer is often faced with more than a full time job. Food hubs like Sprout! support small-scale, family farming while helping to meet the increasing demand for local food.

The creation of Sprout!, which opened its doors last October, is truly a feel good story, a classic win-win situation: downtown Springfield retains an architectural landmark at risk of being lost, which becomes the home to a vibrant community food hub. Kudos to NEDCO and Arbor South Architecture for making it happen. 

My wife and I visited the farmers market at Sprout! this past Friday. We not only thoroughly enjoyed strolling the aisles of produce stands but also the opportunity to find our dinner there and among the variety of locally owned food carts that park alongside Sprout! The market operates each and every Friday from 3:00 to 7:00 PM, year-round regardless of the weather. If you haven’t already done so, check it out.

(1)  Ted Corbin is the current chair of NEDCO’s board of directors. Ted cajoled me to be a member of a design panel charged with evaluating applications for NEDCO’s grant and no-interest loan program associated with private improvements along downtown Springfield’s Main Street. It was from Ted that I learned about NEDCO and the fantastic work it does in the Eugene-Springfield community.

(2)  Percy D. Bentley of Eugene was the architect for First Christian Church. He designed the church in a Norman Gothic style. W.H. Shields was the general contractor and completed the church in 1948 at a cost of $120,000.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Building/Construction Failures – What Went Wrong

The I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Washington State collapsed after a truck clipped a truss member overhead (photo by roswellgirl via Wikimedia, used under terms of Creative Commons)
Unbeknownst to those of us attending last Thursday evening’s Willamette Valley Chapter CSI meeting at the Eugene Hilton Hotel & Conference Center, the Skagit River Bridge in Mount Vernon, WA collapsed as we dined. The accident severed I-5, dumping two cars into the chilly water, injuring (but miraculously not killing) three.(1) 

Officials say it is difficult to accurately estimate the economic disruption caused by the bridge’s loss along the west coast’s primary north-south transportation artery. It will be huge. Certainly more consequential is the wake-up call the event signals on behalf of much needed attention to the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure. 

Ken Carper
In retrospect, it was kismet that the topic for our meeting’s program was building failures. Ken Carper, professor emeritus at Washington Sate University and a well-published expert on the subject, authoritatively delivered lessons gleaned from his decades of forensic engineering experience.(2) Foremost among these lessons is to learn from failures when they occur. Failure literacy is critical if we are to avoid repeating the same errors in the future. Performance that falls short of expectations can be an effective teacher. As the old saying goes, “experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.” It behooves the construction industry to take heed of experience, trial and error, and the tremendous educational value of failures. 

Some of the more spectacular building and structure failures of the past include the Quebec Bridge (1907), Tacoma Narrows Bridge (1940), Ronan Point (1968), (Hartford Arena (1978), Kemper Arena (1979), the Kansas City Hyatt Regency walkway (1981), L’Ambience Plaza (1987), Husky Stadium (1987), and the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis (2007). We can now add the Skagit River Bridge to this list. Each of these failures added to the body of knowledge associated with engineering pathology and teratology.(3) 

Unfortunately, it too often requires news-grabbing catastrophes such as these to remind us of the importance of learning from what can go wrong. The fate for those who cannot remember the past is to be condemned to repeat it. Even so, the architectural profession has been lamentably inattentive to the investigation of failures of all types and dissemination of an ever-growing body of failure avoidance strategies. 

A beautiful failure: the Syndey Opera House (photo by Jacques Griebmayer via Wikimedia, used under terms of Creative Commons)
Ken bemoaned the tendency of the architectural “glossies” to ignore problems that accompany some of the most heralded projects. What sells advertising space are pretty pictures, not exhaustive forensic analyses of building problems. The classic case in point is the Sydney Opera House, universally lauded for its iconic design, which has come to symbolize an entire nation. What are now almost as universally ignored (at least by architects) are its infamous tribulations, which include mind-boggling cost overruns, a protracted construction phase, political bungling, and terrible acoustics. The ostensible takeaway: “If you don’t have a clue, at least make it beautiful.” The Sydney Opera House is a beautiful failure. 
Perhaps more damning is the American Institute of Architect’s decision in the 1980s to not co-sponsor the Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The aim of the journal (for which Ken has been the editor since its inception) was and is to improve the quality of construction through interdisciplinary communication and examine the causes and costs of failures and other performance problems. In its infinite wisdom, legal counsel at the time advised the AIA to not become involved in discussions about building failures, believing that architects must be protected from information that may be damaging to them in litigation. The focus was definitely upon avoiding liability rather than accepting responsibility for design errors. 

In any event, good design isn’t always enough. Architects are idealists and want to be innovative, but this can be a problem in the face of rapidly evolving real-world issues. The construction industry is increasingly complex, exponentially boosting the likelihood of errors. There is ever greater specialization, confusion over roles and responsibilities, and litigiousness. The proliferation of new construction technologies and types of materials make it difficult for any one design professional to comprehensively understand their interrelationships. Regulatory codes are likewise ever more byzantine and difficult to navigate. Piling on are clients’ unrealistic expectations and onerous project schedules. 

The potential for failure is inherent in errors of all types. Besides design errors there are also errors inherent in the fundamental conception of a project: ill-advised site selection, inappropriate programming, or reckless development. Errors during construction and errors during the operational life of a structure (structural overloading or operator training deficiencies are examples) are also threats. It was a deadly combination of various kinds of errors that resulted in the recent collapse of a multistory garment factory in Bangladesh. There is plenty of blame to go around in that tragedy.(4) 
Dhaka Savar Building Collapse (photo by Rijans via Wikimedia, used under terms of Creative Commons)
Unfortunately, the potential for failure is present in every human undertaking. Mitigating the risk of human error should thus be a fundamental goal for the design and construction of all buildings and structures. The famous structural engineer Lev Zetlin once said “I look at everything and try to imagine disaster.” Besides attempting to predict a structure’s performance, mitigation strategies include evaluating constructability, conducting project peer reviews, designing for maintainability, and keeping up one’s professional education. 

Of course, numerous forces and destructive agents of natural, and not human origin, are at the root of many failures. Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados, wildfires, flooding, and landslides are among the threats. Although not always practical, the most effective strategy for dealing with these forces is to avoid unnecessary exposure to them. Absent that option, mitigating the potential for progressive, disproportionate structural collapse is the priority. Lives are very much at stake in these instances. 

A distressing new problem is failures attributable to intentional damage—criminal destruction wrought by terrorists. At best, anti-terrorism strategies can aim to reduce the impact of unidentified threats by unknown weapons against unspecified targets. What facilities are most at risk? Is it the high-profile, high-value target (i.e. the World Trade Center or the Pentagon), or is it the local Starbucks? The implications for our society and cost impact for building projects of all types are immense. 

No, not that CSI.

People often think of the TV series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation when they hear the acronym “CSI” rather than the Construction Specifications Institute. However, when it comes to the real world of forensic engineering, Ken Carper believes our industry's CSI is playing a leading role. It is precisely the increasing complexity of the world that demands effective, systematized, and sophisticated modes of information organization as advocated by the Institute. CSI is the one organization that embraces the entire spectrum of construction-related endeavors. It fosters collegiality between the disparate parties involved with the conception, construction, and operation of buildings. CSI is also the industry’s premier advocate for information dissemination. To avoid repeating the errors of the past, we must learn from them and from the experience of others. Education and communication are the foundation of many failure avoidance strategies.
We have tremendous challenges to face as design professionals. Postponing the destruction of our buildings is one of them. Thanks to Ken for delivering an important lesson about the fundamental concepts of errors. It was a wake-up call in its own right. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Octagon Design Committee Report

A vision for The Octagon (all images courtesy of Willard C. Dixon, Architect LLC)
The AIA-Southwestern Oregon Octagon Design Committee has developed its vision for the future of our chapter's new Center for Architecture, the Octagon (located at 92 East Broadway in downtown Eugene). The members of the committee are excited about the design concept they've come up with and now want to share it with everyone.

The committee has posted its schematic design drawings behind one of the Octagon’s glass facets (alongside the Center’s current exhibit describing the 7 Pillars of Envision Eugene). I stopped by and took the opportunity to check out the drawings. I left suitably impressed.

The proposed design is clearly a project that can be achieved incrementally, at modest cost, and provide the biggest bang for the buck. Its signature gesture is an array of linear LED light fixtures. They’ll be like nothing if not so many shooting stars flashing across the firmament. Transcending its compact boundary, the fixtures will trace glowing lines on the Octagon’s ceiling and the surrounding soffit outside.(1) I expect the overall effect will greatly improve and draw attention to the Octagon’s presence when viewed from Broadway or Oak Street, particularly at night. 

Reflected ceiling plan

According to 2013 AIA-SWO president Will Dixon, AIA, the next step for the project is the production of construction documents (for which his firm will be responsible) and donor solicitation. The hoped-for timeline proposes executing the actual improvements this summer. If all goes to plan, AIA-SWO will celebrate with a Grand Opening party on October 4th! 

Wall Section

Here’s a list of the Octagon Design Committee members. Provide them with your feedback about the proposed design and also be sure to thank them for their considerable donation of time and energy to this exciting project:
  • Sara Bergsund, AIA – Champion
  • Will Dixon, AIA
  • Travis Sheridan, Assoc. AIA
  • Yingying Liu, Assoc. AIA
  • Aaron Buckman, Assoc. AIA
  • Todd Miller, AIA
  • Kurt Albrecht, AIA
  • Renee Benoit, Assoc. AIA
  • Scott Clarke, AIA
  • Jenni Rogers, Assoc. AIA
  • Gabe Cross
  • Don Kahle

(1)  The one reservation I have about the concept has to do with how it would be executed: it seems the installation of the many separate LED fixtures will necessitate extensive cutting and patching of the existing exterior soffit in order to conceal the wiring between them.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Oregon Experiment

Image from the University of Oregon's Campus Plan depicting patterns
At time goes by, it becomes easy to forget how revolutionary and transformative many principles we now take for granted seemed when they first appeared. Notwithstanding our tendency to nostalgically mythologize our past, it's a fact the turbulent 1960s and early 70s engendered an increased idealism and faith in the dawning of a better world. The civil rights movement, increased personal freedom and expression, new aesthetic forms, new types of community, and broad democratic participation are among that era's lasting legacies.

Architecture and planning were not immune. User involvement—democratization of the design process—became commonplace. Theories about organic growth gained a foothold, challenging the ascendancy of centralized, top-down strategic planning. There was a flourish of sincerity and earnestness about harnessing the power of people-centered architecture to repair the mistakes of previous generations. 

It was within this context that the University of Oregon administration would in 1970 commission Christopher Alexander and his colleagues at the Center for Environmental Structure (CES) to develop an entirely new approach to architecture, building, and planning on campus. At the time, Alexander was very much in the process of developing his radical ideas about piecemeal growth, pattern language, and participatory design. The administration selected CES precisely because it recognized the university’s established planning philosophy isolated campus decision-making from those it affected most. By embracing a groundbreaking approach to future campus development, the university would forestall criticism from students and faculty by making them integral players in the planning and design of all future developments.(1)

CES’ development of a language of patterns appropriate to the University of Oregon was central to its overhauling of the campus planning processes. CES established patterns as a means of articulating commonly held values that pertain to campus environment and design. In a nutshell, each pattern identified a clear problem that occurs repeatedly in the environment, states the range of contexts in which the problem will occur, and gives the general features required to solve it. Groups of patterns ideally function together as words in a sentence, creating a cohesive whole built on a common design language. 

The process and its constituent components utilized by CES were fully described in its 1975 book The Oregon Experiment. The purpose of developing a pattern language was to provide a non-technical vocabulary of design principles that would allow building users to communicate effectively with the planners and designers of those buildings. The use of patterns helps to achieve this goal. Patterns articulate long-lasting shared traditions and understandings yet adapt well to changing development needs. 

As outlined in the book, the six basic principles of The Oregon Experiment are
  1. Organic Order: Campus design emerges through a process, not from a map. This principle suggests that development of the campus should be guided by explicitly debated and approved basic policies (or "patterns") that articulate shared traditions and understandings of the university community, rather than a definitive master plan. 
  2. Incremental Growth: Development occurs in large and small pieces. This principle acknowledges that development of the campus occurs gradually over time and that although there will be need for large projects from time to time, available funds ought to be distributed in a way that allows for continuous care and improvement of the entire campus. 
  3. Patterns: Patterns are shared design statements that describe and analyze development-related issues and suggest ways in which those issues might be resolved. This principle, which is perhaps the most famous, largely because of Alexander's book A Pattern Language, calls for the establishment of patterns that articulate commonly held values as they pertain to the campus environment. 
  4. Diagnosis: Assessing existing conditions informs ongoing improvements. This principle calls for a periodic analysis of the campus to provide a general context for implementing new projects. Because the University has not been able to provide staff for regular diagnoses, they are performed in conjunction with the early planning stages of new projects. 
  5. Participation: User involvement must prevail throughout the planning process. The virtual cornerstone for the entire planning process is the notion that the people most directly affected by the results of development are best equipped to guide it and should be directly involved in its planning. 
  6. Coordination: Working together benefits the campus as a whole.
Today, the University of Oregon Campus Plan upholds these principles. Additionally, the plan overlays twelve “policies,” which are adopted methods that describe how to apply the Campus Plan to development projects. The policies are expressions of the university’s requirements with respect to the physical development of university properties. Policies apply to all development within the plan’s jurisdiction. 

The twelve policies are: 
  1. Process and Participation: All construction projects and campus planning activities shall follow processes founded on the cornerstone principle of participation. 
  2. Open-Space Framework: As opportunities arise, the fundamental and historic concepts of the university’s open-space framework and its landscape shall be preserved, completed, and extended. 
  3. Densities: To control the look and feel of the campus, no construction project shall result in a density in excess of those established to preserve the historic character of the university campus as a setting conducive to thoughtful and reflective endeavor. 
  4. Space Use and Organization:  All proposed projects and space assignments shall distribute the campus’s available space in ways that are functional, flexible, and compatible. 
  5. Replacement of Displaced Uses: All plans for new construction (buildings or remodeling projects) shall keep existing uses intact by developing and funding plans for their replacement. 
  6. Maintenance and Building Service:  All new buildings and remodels shall be designed with high-quality durable materials and finishes that require a low level of maintenance, and employ construction methods that minimize the need for frequent maintenance by specialized personnel. 
  7. Architectural Style and Historic Preservation: All new buildings and additions shall be compatible and harmonious with the design, orientation, and scale of adjacent buildings. 
  8. Universal Access: All new facilities shall be welcoming and accessible to all users without discriminating on the basis of ability. 
  9. Transportation: All development, redevelopment, and remodeling shall carefully address transportation needs to create a cohesive, functional campus. 
  10. Sustainable Development: All development, redevelopment, and remodeling on the University of Oregon campus shall incorporate sustainable design principles. 
  11. Patterns: All construction projects shall consider patterns articulating commonly held values to achieve effective and meaningful dialog about important campus design issues.
  12. Design Area Special Conditions: Attention shall be paid to the unique details that give each individual Design Areas its own character. 
A fundamental aspect of the University of Oregon Campus Plan (as well as Alexander’s world view) is the belief that a whole emerges gradually from separate actions and that the joining of these actions into a cohesive whole comes not from a predetermined map, but from the application of a process. In other words, there is no dominating fixed image for the campus of the kind that preceded the adoption of The Oregon Experiment. This concept acknowledges the fact that although change will occur, the exact nature and magnitude of that change cannot be predicted with any degree of certainty. Planning at the University of Oregon is a continual process. It is not a static document that is dusted off periodically only to become obsolete soon after it is updated. 

Willamette Hall, a product of the UO Campus Plan and its principles & policies (via Wikipedia)
The university does have special interests that must be accounted for, and coordination of separate development activities is essential if they are to result in a cohesive campus. To the detriment of its Campus Plan, the institution acknowledges it must maintain a “balanced” perspective when it comes to the physical development of the campus. Translation: The University is often compelled to respond quickly and unquestioningly to opportunities for facilities improvements as they emerge. For example, funding approvals from the Oregon State Legislature tend to favor larger building projects even though smaller projects might be more desirable. Small projects are still accomplished, but not to the extent originally envisioned by the principle of incremental, piecemeal growth in The Oregon Experiment

Periodic analysis, or diagnosis, of the present state of the campus is required in order to provide a general context to direct continuous repair and improvement. This also proves difficult when powerful interests with the influence to dictate how campus development proceeds bring their own visions. The John Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes is a case in point. 

By any measure, the Jaqua Center fails to support several of the Campus Plan policies. Notably, it was not the product of a participative design process and falls short on the following key patterns: 

Architectural Style: The design of the Jaqua Center is not compatible and harmonious with the design of adjacent buildings. 

Connected Buildings: The Jaqua Center is not physically connected to any existing building; instead, it sits on a raised plinth, isolated from its context by a surrounding moat. 

Future Expansion: The Jaqua Center is a perfectly symmetrical Platonic cube. It was not designed with expansion in mind. 

Positive Outdoor Space: The Jaqua Center is a beautiful pavilion set within space, not a building shaping outdoor rooms. 

Welcoming to All: The Jaqua Center is not welcoming. By virtue of its express purpose, it excludes everyone except an elite minority (student athletes) from most of its spaces; the building functions as a symbol of inequity. 

With time, the UO campus may physically mature to the point where an anomalous structure like the Jaqua Center contributes, rather than detracts, from the wholeness of the environment. Indeed, the guiding principles of The Oregon Experiment encompass the concept of dynamic growth and repair. Through the use of established patterns, development needs can change and be adjusted. After all, the university’s commitment to its patterns and planning principles will ensure that shared traditions and understandings in the design process prevail over thoughtless interventions. 

The Oregon Experiment presents a cautionary tale. It serves as a chronicle and vindication of Christopher Alexander’s Pattern Language concepts, as well as a convincing argument in favor of user participation and planning as a continually ongoing process. Conversely, some argue the University bureaucratized much of the life out of The Oregon Experiment and that it is being applied impurely in practice and with less than complete success; this is undoubtedly also true.

What cannot be denied is that the underlying principles, which seemed so radical back in the early 70s, have now become the norm rather than the exception in planning efforts everywhere. Graduates of the University of Oregon’s School of Architecture & Allied Arts don’t always appreciate the significant role their alma mater played in this history. The Oregon Experiment is a noteworthy and monumental legacy the University of Oregon uniquely can claim. I for one am proud of and grateful for the University’s openness to a new paradigm during a time of great change and uncertainty.  

(1)  Greg Bryant penned an excellent account (link here) in 1991 revisiting The Oregon Experiment twenty years on. Bryant is a computer scientist and appropriate-technology activist who co-founded both the Center for Alternative Transport and the now-closed Tango Center. In 1997 he worked with Christopher Alexander in an attempt to develop CAD software capable of helping people design with feeling.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Don’t Let the Senate Turn its Back on Sustainability

Class photo of the 111th United States Senate (Senate Photo Studio)

I’m not someone who is easily caught up in the arcane arena of politics, which all too often rewards only the shrewd and moneyed. The machinations are too devious and the lack of transparency too irksome for my liking. They have bred a cynicism I cannot easily overcome. Consequently, I’m surprised whenever I do feel moved to take sides and do something. 

Last week, Christina Finkenhofer, Manager of Federal Relations for the American Institute of Architects, issued a plea to members whose senators serve on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. There is an immediate risk the committee will gut sustainability targets for the design of new and renovated federal buildings enacted in 2007 as the Energy Independence and Security Act. Christina needs our help to stop the committee from abandoning this legislation, laws which demonstrate Federal leadership on the sustainability and global warming fronts.

The following is an excerpt from Christina’s message: 

In 2007, with the strong support of the AIA, Congress passed legislation that ensures that new federal buildings and major renovations meet the 2030 targets for greenhouse gas reductions. Already this law is showing results, as architects are designing buildings that achieve the targets, saving energy and creating new markets for cutting-edge sustainable designs, products and technologies. 

But opponents of this law in the fossil fuel industry are hoping to sneak a repeal of this law into energy legislation that the Senate is taking up. We cannot let that happen! 

The Committee might vote on an amendment as early as next week that would repeal or severely weaken the 2007 law, and unless architects raise their voice, this amendment might just pass. Because one of your Senators serves on this committee, we need you to urge the Committee not to abandon policies that reduce energy use in federal buildings, save taxpayers money and protect the environment. 

Today, the AIA and a group of more than 350 organizations and companies have written to the Senate in support of the current law and opposing any efforts to roll it back. But Senators need to hear from you, their constituents, that now is the wrong time to retreat on sustainable design. 

To send a message to your Senator, please click here. To read more about the provision and why it needs to be protected, click here

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Christina Finkenhofer
Manager, Federal Relations

According to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, the building sector accounts for 39 percent of total U.S. energy consumption, more than both the transportation and industry sectors. The same study found that buildings are responsible for 71 percent of U.S. electricity consumption and that buildings in the United States alone account for 9.8 percent of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. 

As design professionals, we know significant energy reductions are both practical and cost-effective. Architects across the country have signed up for the 2030 Challenge to design buildings that use significantly less energy and emit less carbon. Without commitments such as these and the support of domestic and worldwide legislation, there is little hope we will alter the current trajectory we are following toward global overheating. 

I’m distressed to see groups whose self-interests trump those of everyone else wield so much influence in Washington D.C. The shortsightedness and lack of vision are astonishing. Let’s heed Christina’s call to action and oppose the amendments being proposed that would weaken or repeal the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.