AI Architects: The Path to Zero Net Energy – Part One: Seeing the whole system

AI-Architects is a Santa Monica-based architecture firm.  Here the team discusses a current project: Los Angeles’ St. Elmo’s Village.

The first step in our green masterplan for St Elmo was one we take very deliberately in all our projects:

It is to carefully analyze the existing conditions and identify ALL opportunities for improvement – making it a point to look beyond the requests immediately put in front of us by the client.

In this case, we knew there was more to this project than the call for a solar system. The underlying, far more complex desire of the Village was to become a model for a sustainable community.

Consequently, our analysis included all the ways in which we humans affect our environment, and determine how sustainable our existence really is:

  • Water Use  (domestic and landscaping),
  • Energy Use  (for machinery and daily use),
  • Material Use  (resources),
  • Climate  (heating+cooling),
  • Food  (production and surplus),
  • Waste  (treated as a resource),
  • Community Dynamics  (teaching, learning and sharing)
“You can’t just look at one aspect of anything and really get a true understanding of it. You need to look at all aspects.”
Scott Pittman, Founder of the Permaculture Institute

For more on Aleks Istanbullu Architects, please visit their blog.


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