Bringing building science and beauty together doesn’t happen accidentally.
It’s very easy to go wrong. I think of my poor neighbor, who remuddled together some cliché ideas about luxury with efficiency upgrades, festooning his bright and airy apartment building with dark wood floors, crypt-like basement bedrooms, and over-the-top moldings and cabinetry, to end up with a colorless, gloomy space with the feng shui of a hotel lobby.
It’s a common problem: good building science undone by imitative design.
One of things I love about this annual issue, honoring the best green homes in the nation, is that true artistry supports the science of building these great homes. That doesn’t mean every project involved an architect or design pro. But I’d hazard to say that a good builder knows his or her design limitations and asks for help when a keen eye is needed—the same way a good editor relies on a graphic designer to make a publication more than gray text and photos.
But the same principle applies to product innovation and even city planning. Composite decking material that’s impervious to moisture and rot, and lasts 50 years, represents a huge upgrade from wood. But if it lacks texture and color, it may not last in the marketplace. The same is true of city sustainability. Will we use bike paths that cut through urban blight in dark byways?
I bring up these latter examples because for the first time this year, our awards program is honoring product innovators and sustainable city planners, along with fine-home builders. We’ve put a lot of our own passion into our current issue to identify and honor leaders in sustainability at all levels, and introduced a new, special award for the year’s “Sustainability Superhero.”
We live in uncertain times, yet perhaps that has always been the case. These tangible homes, products and people demonstrate that real results, motivated by real heart, lie within our means. Let’s take this moment to celebrate, to wonder and applaud some worthy efforts.