Nantucket Principles: A Policy Agenda for Architecture and Design Firms on Green and Sustainable Design

March 17, 2006 · by DesignIntelligence

What follows was authored and unanimously agreed to by the Delegates of the Design Futures Council at the Architects’ Environment Summit, Nantucket, and since updated at subsequent summits.

Facilitated by Phil Enquist, Partner, SOM and Sandra Mendler, Vice President HOK

On Sept. 28-30, 2002, 85 design firm professionals and AEC leaders gathered on Nantucket, MA, for the first Design Futures Council’s Architects’ Environment Summit. The think-tank session focused on analyzing, discussing, and debating the trends and issues that will influence green building and sustainable design over the next three years. During the event, participants developed an action agenda to equip firms and organizations of all sizes with a recommended strategy to facilitate the successful movement forward in green and sustainable design.

What follows was authored and unanimously agreed to by the Delegates of the Design Futures Council at the Architects’ Environment Summit, Nantucket, and since updated at subsequent summits. Current practices in the design and construction of the built environment are contributing to our accelerating environmental crises. The architecture, engineering, and interior design professions and their clients are a critical part of the solutions – solutions that point to a bright, alternative future.

Recognizing the fragility of our environment, design firms and clients should redefine themselves:

  • to engage
  • to listen
  • to learn
  • to educate
  • to act toward a strong sustainable model

    It is time to operate under a new paradigm, a new set of values, a new set of ethics, and with new awareness of the impact of design.

    Under these Nantucket Principles, design and construction organizations commit to the principles of sustainable development, including:

  • environmental awareness
  • social/cultural equity
  • economic fitness
  • public policy
  • technological ingenuity

    Design excellence shall incorporate, by definition, the meeting of sustainable principles. We believe that there is no conflict between sustainability and the art of architecture and design.

    Our future and our solutions start

    It is time to redefine our conscience and look toward expansion. We must expand our view of the client to include tomorrow’s child.

    We must expand our obligations to include the health of the public environment and the planet.

    We must expand our consideration of the community, site, and space to always include the larger systems and influences.

    We will integrate these models of sustainability in our future work:

  • Sustainable Development is that which meets all the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.*
  • Design for Sustainability requires awareness of the full short and long-term consequences of any transformation of the environment.

    Sustainable design is the conception and realization of environmentally sensitive and responsible expression as a part of the evolving matrix of nature.**

    An action agenda...the next steps for architecture and design professionals and firms:

  • Lead with vision and integrity.
  • Hold a sustainable conference in your office to educate and empower your employees.
  • Develop a plan of action for your firm’s sustainable agenda.
  • Mandate firm and staff accountability toward sustainable action.
  • Empower internal champions to mentor staff and external champions to guide the firm to day-to- day sustainable action.
  • Build a Knowledge Base on sustainability within your firm.
  • Encourage your staff and fellow principals to actively participate in organizations that support green values.
  • Identify measurements of success: life cycles, issues, user success, durability, connection to the larger community.

    Broaden the profession:

  • Become a more responsible professional and adopt the role of sustainable design educator within your firm, with your clients, and in your community.
  • Engage with design schools and listen to the students’ perspectives about sustainability.
  • Communicate the benefits of sustainability to the client and community at large, including research, shared knowledge and case studies.
  • Connect with fellow design professionals, schools, and other contributors to the industry to plan future directions toward sustainability.
  • Develop a process which points to a holistic approach to sustainability that involves all disciplines (i.e. community, public sector) and seemingly unrelated or unexpected disciplines that can add value.

    Redefine success goals in terms of service:

  • To the users
  • To the community
  • To your clients

    Collaborate with leaders in your region to align larger development strategies that are more inline with sustainable principles, including:

  • Transit/development solutions
  • Preservation of larger natural eco-systems
  • Commitment to existing urban centers
  • Reducing dependence on fossil fuel
  • Promote the development and use of ecological sustainable building products and components

    Envision your future victory and celebrate each increment of success. Sustainability is now clearly an ethical issue for us as professionals. It shall be reflected in all of our future work.

    Authored and unanimously agreed to by the Delegates of the Design Futures Council at the Architects’ Environment Summit, Nantucket, September 2002; updated and revised during subsequent summits.

    • From the U.N. Brundtland Commission, 1987.
      ** Part of the Hannover Principles, 1992.

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