Issue 18 Editor's Letter

By Mark Spellun

Since it was introduced seven years ago, LEED—a standard for eco-friendly architecture established by the U.S. Green Building Council—has been the leading driver for environmental innovations in the building industry. Many prominent new buildings these days are aiming for top LEED ratings of platinum and gold, from Bank of America’s new tower near Bryant Park in New York City (slated for completion next year) to another project in the Big Apple, the headquarters for the Hearst Corporation (which earned a LEED gold rating in 2006).

Though it’s been adopted as a standard by many government agencies, LEED didn’t start out as a government mandate. Instead, it was created by a group of architects and other building professionals. They simply hoped that crafting a set of voluntary guidelines for energy efficiency, recycled materials, and other targets would help inspire an entire industry to reduce its environmental impact. And it worked—today, good architecture has almost become synonymous with green architecture.

Though its goals are laudable, LEED has had its share of critics, including architect Travis Price, an innovator in the use of passive solar design in the 1970s and 1980s. In this issue of Plenty we feature a profile of Price (“Function Over Form?”, page 60), who’s touting a different emphasis for green building: He says the industry has become too focused on incremental improvements like the energy efficiency of buildings (the very things LEED acknowledges) and has forgotten how to inspire people to think about their relationship with nature.

Price’s pet peeve is near and dear to our hearts at Plenty. In each issue we strive to give you the most up-to-date information on how to improve your lives today—but we also aim to inspire you with a vision of what the future can look like. It’s impossible to achieve a perfect balance between these two goals, but we’ll keep trying to improve every issue—just as a new generation of architects is striving to make efficient and beautiful buildings that help us see our world in a different and better way.

Issue 25

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