Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v04n01)
Green Broad Ripple - Buildings - by Cortellini
posted: Jan. 12, 2007
In 2005 the UN Commission on Population released a report which stated that half the world's population will live in cities in two years, and that time has arrived. This year marks a threshold in human evolution. We humans are evolving into an urban species - a process that we can expect to advance even more quickly in the future. In cities, buildings go beyond their utilitarian function of protecting occupants from the physical elements: buildings become the environment.
Buildings provide not only physical but also psychological sanctuary. We all share a sense of personal space - our invisible envelope, our immediate individual physical space. When this 18 inch boundary is entered by another against our wishes, we are made uncomfortable and even feel violated depending on the severity of the intrusion. Buildings - our homes, and spaces in our workplace become extensions of this personal space - they become our habitat.
Buildings speak to us and about us. We fill our habitat with a bewildering array of items. Some are practical some sentimental. Some are from our past, and some are from our expected future. The mix is a reflection of our own complexity because, in a very real sense, our habitat is an extension of ourselves. When we return home from an extended absence, our space retells us the story of who we are. This story is also told to any receptive ear that may visit.
Our interaction with our buildings is bidirectional. We create them with intent, yet when completed they often influence us in unexpected ways. They influence our character; great religious buildings remind us of our humility and morality. They influence our heath; in the history of civilization, plumbing has done more for human health than medical advances. They even influence our happiness: a quality building not only protects from the elements but also uses space, light, color and sometimes elements such as whimsy to uplift the spirit.
Although Broad Ripple likes to refer to itself as a village, it is very urban. Although it has a large residential faction, it also has a sizable, diverse, and vibrant commercial corridor. Some buildings remain in their original state, some have been remodeled, and some are relatively new. Each has a unique story. So what kind of stories are the buildings in Broad Ripple telling these days? What are our buildings saying about the content of our character or the quality of our aspirations? Do we know? Do we care? These are questions of self-assessment - the first step toward developing any sort of vision of a desired future which Broad Ripple, to this date, has been unable to develop. Such a plan and the process for its development could produce quite a bit of that mysterious Civic Glue (see the last article), perhaps even transforming Broad Ripple into a more cohesive community.
Buildings account for 40% of all that is extracted from the Earth. Large percentages of the world's fresh water withdrawals, wood harvest, material and energy flow go into buildings. As the world population grows, this level of resource consumption cannot be maintained. On the practical side, building Green is an opportunity to use our resources more efficiently while creating healthier buildings that improve human health, maintain a better environment, and provide cost savings.
On the spiritual side, Green is the vision for a positive future - The New Day Dawning. Now, in 2007, the time has arrived. We in Broad Ripple have the opportunity to embrace this future, seize the moment, and collectively work to bring it about. Building Green is happening all over the world, and it can happen here. Being Green will be good for our health, good for our self esteem, good for our sense of community, and good for tourism. Most satisfying, however, is the thought that our quality Green buildings could, for generations to come, tell stories of our compassion for the whole of life, our respect for the Earth and of our delight in the beauty of nature.