Green Architecture Spotlight: Architecture for Humanity

| 6/8/2009 1:50:33 PM

Sustainability doesn’t just have to mean building green anymore. The nonprofit group Architecture for Humanity is redefining sustainability to cover a building’s effect on the environment, the livelihood of its occupants, its impact on future generations and its vulnerability to disaster. This might seem like a lot to live up to, but Architecture for Humanity, a network of more than 40,000 professionals, is up to the challenge.

These men and women believe in “building a more sustainable future using the power of design.” Sharing ideas through networks such as the Open Architecture Network, they can create new and environmentally friendly solutions for many of their buildings. A building with a good design can alleviate poverty, provide access to water, sanitation, and power, act as a safe shelter for displaced populations or communities prone to disaster, create neutral spaces in post-conflict areas, and reduce the footprint of the built environment to mitigate rapid urbanization. For example, a community center can provide a safe gathering space, a place for employment opportunities and education, or act as a community library or daycare facility. However, it can serve none of these purposes if the space is not comfortable or if the costs of the center act as a financial drain on the community. A sustainable solution is not only cheaper in the long run, but can help teach the community safe and efficient building and maintenance techniques that can be applied to other shelters.

Architecture for Humanity’s clients include community groups, aid organizations, government agencies, foundations, and more. Founded in 1999 this group works tirelessly to benefit underserved communities across the world.

Here’s how the system works: an architect or architectural firm will design a project pro bono and submit it to Architecture for Humanity for review. Then Architecture for Humanity can support and manage all the rest of the aspects of the project through the design and construction process. However, before it will take on a project, the project proposal has to meet some high standards.

Project proposals must have:

• Strong partnerships with local community groups and design teams