calls the Once-ler.
He lets something fall.
It's a Truffula Seed.
It's the last one of all!
You're in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds.
And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.
Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.
Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.
Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.
Then the Lorax
and all of his friends
may come back.”
― Dr. Seuss, TheLorax
This week the world will celebrate "Earth Day", many commemorate this day by planting trees on April 22. Planting a tree is a wonderful way to commemorate; however, our studio, MIIM Designs, celebrates the environment in a number of other ways, namely through sustainable living and our projects that preserve the environment rather than damage it, extending this celebration of our Earth to everyday. It is very common for architecture and design studios to mull over the celebration of sustainability through LEED certifications. Projects such as Pittsburgh's Phipps Conservatory, one of the "greenest buildings in the world", written by Architizer, clearly express why Phipps Conservatory not only met, but rather also exceeded all expectations, allowing it to receive the Platinum LEED status, meeting the Living Building Challenge (net-zero water, net-zero energy) and making use of "Sustainable Sites Initiative". Another example is the Wayne L. Morse United States Courthouse in Eugene Oregon, a project that we had the opportunity to be a part of, alongside Thom Mayne - Morphosis and DLR Group. The Wayne L. Morse Courthouse received Gold LEED certification. For runoff from rainwater that irrigates the landscape and natural light is celebrated adequately to allow for an efficient HVAC system. All of the construction materials were sustainable: sealants, carpets, paints, and adhesives, preventing 90% of construction waste from entering the landfills. Considering that sustainability should be of second nature and an integral part of our day to day, a building to just be LEED certified is not an aspect that is readily accessible at the tip of our fingers and simply is not enough.
Last summer, during
the United Nations Rio+20 conference in
which our MIIM Designs participated, there were several vital
"Sustainable" key points raised in creating a "Sustainable
City": Food Security, Nutrition and Sustainable Agriculture; Energy, Job
Growth and Economic Development; and lastly,
Health and Population. However, while discussing each of these topics,
we realized that none of these departments sections is able to flourish without
water. Water covers 71% of the Earth's surface, and in order for the Earth to be preserved and
for us to survive, we are in need of water.
We must not only build structures to conserve water, but also cities and rural communities that reuse treated waste water and communities that learn about water harvesting and storage. Women are an essential part of this shift. By empowering rural women as critical agents for food security and nutrition, we will be able to enhance and support sustainable agriculture, livestock, fisheries and aquaculture, while conserving land. For example, Tabitha, a 28- year-old woman living in Rongai, Kenya, received a loan from Water.org to buy a water tank for rainwater to harvest for her 1 acre farm that she resides on with her husband, their 4-year-old daughter and her husband's family. The water tank has allowed for clean water from rainwater harvesting to be distributed throughout the farm.
Alongside water harvesting and storage, the importance of water sanitation is at the core of sustainable development. Creating access to safe drinking water is the foundation of sanitation child mortality prevention. Approximately one child dies every 21 seconds, or roughly 4,115 deaths per day. These children die because of dirty water, often containing E.coli, Salmonella Typhi, Schistosoma, Cholera Vibrious and Hepatisis A. Organizations like Charity:Water are delivering clean water and creating wells in developing countries. Through donations and crowdsourcing, such as dedicating your birthday to a cause, friends and families can donate money to Charity:Water to develop a well for clean water in rural areas in need. If your birthday is further in the year and you want to make a contribution, besides planting a tree this Earth Day, you can simply download the instead app and "instead" of reaching for that cup of coffee, you can make a donation straight from your smartphone. So, go ahead, start celebrating "Earth Day" everyday and allowing sustainability to be weaved into your being.
Maryam Eskandari, founder of MIIM Designs LLC, an art and architecture studio based in Palo Alto, California and Cambridge, Massachusetts.