No building is an island.


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An intelligent building doesn’t end at its’ walls that are surrounding it. It inevitably extends in every direction, visually, ecologically, and sociologically. It is the way in which it interacts and be affected by its own surroundings –its externalities– that make it smarter.

Externalities are variables such as current weather predictions, emergency-system notifications, demand management from utilities or transportation, and traffic events.  So smarter buildings are not just data sources; they also have to intercommunicate intelligently with the externalities around them.

The most common problem with green building programs is when the buildings are treated in isolation from their urban contexts.  For instance, relocating an office building from city center to a new ‘sustainable’ building in the suburbs often requires new means of energy and resources when they are not fully integrated within the infrastructure of the city, as employees traveling alone adds more energy consumption than the gains of the new building. New systems, which appear to be well engineered within their original determined parameters or site-specifically calculated efficiencies, interfere with many other already existing systems, often in an occasional and non-linear way.

Sustainability has been diversely defined and described. It is not always a fixed concept, but rather the constatntly changing states between economic and natural systems regarding their social impacts. It is risky to define it in a wide fashion, making it challenging to come up with useful data concluding in abstractions. Then again, there is the risk of concentrating too much on the particulars of a single strategy or a project, solving problems that are not applicable to all conditions.

A more prosperous design methodology, combining diverse approaches that are working across bountiful scales is far more accurate means in adjusting to circumstances at a much finer grain of structure. It features diverse systems that do more than holding up the building and also accumulate heat through thermal mass. And perhaps most crucially, they don’t stand apart from context and urban fabric, but work together with other scales of the city, to achieve benefits at both larger and smaller scales. The lesson is that we can’t deal with energy consumption in isolation. We have to look at the concept of energy more broadly, including embodied energy and other factors.






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