Thursday, August 23, 2012

measuring sustainability, point by point

[Image from Energy Points website]
I recently posted my 3 Keys to Big Picture Sustainability, a wholly qualitative set of evaluations. Energy Points is an attempt at the opposite- a methodically quantitative set of measurements that accounts for a wide variety of sustainability issues. According to their website, Energy Points' "platform translates all resources into primary energy for direct, one to one comparison of domains such as electricity, water, and fuel." 

A huge problem in understanding sustainability progress, as founder Ory Zik points out to Fast Company's Co.Exist blog, is that the metrics don't line up. Comparing savings in water, electricity, and other resources overlaid with information about the location can be incredibly powerful information for building managers, homeowners and more. When investing money in improvements, these individuals want to be able to make informed decisions and tools like Energy Points give them the ability to do so.

Is this a good thing? On the surface, yes. For buildings managers? Definitely. For designers?  Not always.

Designers need to be able to do the difficult balancing of sustainability themselves. The tradeoffs are about more than energy used. For architects and interior designers, a building's function cannot be measured only in its use of resources but in performance for its users. Energy Points is a useful tool, but for designers cannot be the only measure of sustainability. 

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