Architecture program accepts energy challenge

The School of Architecture is doing its part to save the environment with the “2010 Imperative,” a challenge to restructure how students are being taught to design and build.

To successfully impact global warming and world resource depletion, the organizers of the imperative want ecological literacy to become a central aspect of design education.

The imperative also includes changes to make the architecture building a healthier ecosystem.

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Administrators Conference introduced the 2010 Imperative last November with a live webcast that was shown at the School of Architecture.

Approximately 120 students, faculty and local architects gathered for about three and a half hours with James Hansen, director of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies; Edward Mazria, American Institute of Architects founder of Architecture 2030; and Chris Luebkeman, director of Global Foresight and Innovation Initiative, to talk about the way people live and how to approach life in the future while sustaining a healthy environment.

The broadcast was dedicated to discussing the key issues of the 2010 Imperative and the 2030 Challenge.

Each American exhales 2.2 pounds of carbon dioxide a day, according to AIA Record magazine.

In this year alone Americans will emit roughly 44,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per capita this year, three times the per capita average for the world.

Still, the highest threats to the environment are buildings and the emissions of greenhouse gases. According to, research has shown that buildings are responsible for almost half of all energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions annually.

The goal of the 2010 Imperative and 2030 Challenge is to lower the emission of greenhouse gases by the year 2030.

If at that time the level of greenhouse gases isn’t lowered, scientists predict continual rapid melting of the polar ice caps and more catastrophic storms like Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the 2004 tsunami in Thailand.

Faculty and staff at the School of Architecture are up for the challenge and have already begun to make plans to better their impact on the environment.

Last semester the school offered an elective course called “Sustainable Construction,” taught by professor Beth Lewis.

This course prepared students take the Leadership Energy Environmental Design Exam, distributed by the United States Green Building Counsel.

“Hopefully in the near future more courses like this will become a requirement,” Lewis said.

The school’s dean said it will incorporate the ideals of the imperative, but will not completely overhaul its curriculum.

“The faculty and administrative staff are looking not to change the old curriculum but to revise it to better prepare their students for a changing career field,” said Rodner Wright, dean of the school.

Students in the architecture program are also being asked to design more energy-efficient buildings using resources responsibly to create a healthier environment for the future.

“I think the 2010 Imperative should definitely be incorporated in the school,” said Lawrence Kaiser, 25, a master’s landscape architecture student from Miami. “The school doesn’t really

have direction as far as how a building should be built. Students just build what they like, but with this it’ll give some direction on how to build for the future.”

The school is also hoping to make some changes to the building, such as adding a green roof and waterless urinals, to help the cause.

The green roof (vegetative roofing) will allow better insulation, add to the regeneration oxygen supply and reduce rainwater runoff. Waterless urinals that use an oil instead of water will reduce water usage.

“We should make our School of Architecture and School of Engineering be more environmentally responsible with our resources,” Lewis said. “My personal goal is to see that all new buildings built on FAMU’s campus be LEED-certified buildings.” Wright said FAMU has an important role in the endeavor. “It is really important that FAMU be a part of this because there are only seven schools of architecture at HBCUs in the U.S., and those schools easily account for 70 percent of African- American architects,” Wright said. “If we are not a full participant in redirecting the design of buildings in the environment, then it can only contribute to the hardships that exist in many of our communities.”