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Re: sustainable design

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> amounts of energy to produce and transport. We can design durable and
> adaptable buildings which will have productive lives of 200 years instead of
> 20 years.

I could probably list a couple dozen buildings recently torn down or about to be
torn down in the Seattle area.  None that I can think of seem to be in such bad
shape that they need to be torn down; they are being cleared to make way for
bigger or more "upscale" buildings.  I can see two very nice 3 to 5 story office
buildings out my window that will be knocked down to make way for a 10 story
multi-use complex.  Most of those that aren't in good shape are generally that
way because they weren't maintained properly, not because of poor design.
Examining durability requirements and expectations on a project-by-project level
is crucial, but this approach sounds more like social engineering than
structural engineering.  If people can't come up with ways to design
"sustainably" (as interpreted by the powers that be) and simultaneously create
value for the client (who will foot the bill for it), then the discussion tends
to degenerate into ways of increasing taxes and other forms of government
regulation.  And to respond to another recent posting, Al Gore has indeed
announced that a "sustainable economy" will be one his central campaign themes.
I don't think he's provided any specifics about what he means by that (though I
guess you could read his book).