In recent months, there has been a remarkable transformation of awareness in Germany. At last, the ‘energy turnaround’ towards a way of living and economic management without fossil fuels and nuclear energy has become the focus of a concrete public conversation. Instead of mere political declarations of intent, attention is finally being paid to the conflict of goals and interests, the questions of finance and the cultural consequences inevitably associated with such an ambitious millennial project.
This development is often painful, but nevertheless necessary and welcome. However, it also requires increased awareness, particularly among experts. Otherwise, well-intentioned solutions will be torpedoed and prejudices will be upheld when differentiation is what is actually needed. We have seen numerous examples of this in the recent public discourse. Blind polemic against thermal insulation – to mention but one of them - is just as fruitless as its non-selective application to historic facades.
Awareeness is also essential so that the energy discussion does not constrict the view of the overall, large-scale situation. Issues such as water management and bio-diversity are just as important as protection of the climate. There are also the social and economic questions of sustainable building: how can the gentrification of entire city districts be halted? How do we prevent future speculation bubbles in the real-estate market which result in thousands of vacant new buildings as on Spain’s Mediterranean coast? How do we retain clean, healthy indoor air in today’s new buildings, whose composition is often rather like an unknown cocktail of chemicals?
This current issue of DETAIL Green looks beyond the boundaries of the energy debate. It showcases buildings that offer solutions for the efficient use of water, healthy interiors as well as more bio-diversity in our cities and towns. However, these examples also underline the fact that it is not sufficient to merely do the ‘homework’ involved in ecologically sustainable building. It is also high time that architects once again bring the positive potential of their own discipline into the debate. After all, humans have two cerebral hemispheres: the left one for rational problem-solving, while the right, for perception, intuition and creativity. Only with buildings that stimulate both hemispheres equally, does sustainable building have a future.