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Tonight at the U: a forum on sustainable housing

According to “The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture & Design,” a panel exhibition in Rapson Hall until March 8, “the mainstreaming of sustainable design” has occurred.

According to “The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture & Design,” a panel exhibition in Rapson Hall until March 8, “the mainstreaming of sustainable design” has occurred. In addition, “the sustainability movement is reaching maturity and wider acceptance.”

Now, there’s no disputing we’ve all become more eco-conscious since 2006, when the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., opened the full version of this eco-exhibition (the one at the University of Minnesota is a traveling panel show) to critical and popular acclaim. Soon after, Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” won an Academy Award.

To reduce our carbon footprint, many of us recycle, ride bicycles more than drive cars, grow gardens, buy organic, and compost food scraps. President Barack Obama’s campaign platform included a recognition of global warming and commitments to alternative energy and green jobs.

But ongoing news of melting ice caps, erratic weather disasters, disappearing species and an economic climate that makes going green feel like an additional financial strain might make one question how mainstream sustainable really is — or can become right now.

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Tonight (Feb. 23), two of the U of M’s sustainable-design gurus — John Carmody, director, and William Weber, senior research fellow, from the Center for Sustainable Building Research — will discuss such questions during a free public forum, “Sustainable Housing Research and Practice.” They’ll also discuss the ongoing exhibition.

The exhibition includes images of green houses outfitted with sustainable technology in deserts, tropical areas, forest, cities and suburbs; texts and graphics describe the construction and climate challenges in those regions. In addition, architect Michelle Kaufmann narrates a video about her Glidehouse™ in California, a prefab-dwelling of glass, steel and wood perched above a valley.

Carmody and Weber’s talk, in conjunction with exhibition, should provide plenty of food for thought.

Panel discussion: “Sustainable Housing Research and Practice.” Monday, Feb. 23, 6 p.m., 100 Rapson Hall, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. The “The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture & Design” exhibition ends March 8.