By Ahmed Abusharkh
The oceans are rising, the animals are dying, and the Earth is heating up. Young people know it. Adults know it. The politicians and millionaires refusing to address the issues know it. The question is, “Who’s going to do anything about it?” Seemingly, our hope rests on the shoulders of young people and the future generation of green leaders. They have the biggest stake in the game, given that they have to deal with whatever environmental catastrophes that are handed down to them for the longest. Even though it might not be their fault, even though they didn’t build the system that pumps out millions of metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, they’re going to have to figure this out if we want a chance at a cleaner Earth in the future. Luckily, the two Living Building Challenge sites at Hampshire College are helping sculpt the next generation of young environmental leaders who can do something about it.
What happens when two architects, two research scientists, and an advocate for healthy buildings walk into a room? If their assignment is to influence the architecture, engineering, and construction (A/E/C) community to embrace the design of healthier buildings, they might pose these questions: If you knew that a building product you selected for your project caused cancer, you wouldn’t specify it, would you? If you knew that day-care furniture was exposing children to a vast array of toxic chemicals, you wouldn’t buy it, would you? If you knew that stain-retardant treatment was poisoning our water supply, would you still select white carpet and upholstery, which won’t stand up to use without that treatment?