Digital Energy and Environmental Design Standard

Perhaps no single technology has been as successful in changing the way that architecture, urbanism, design engineering and construction think about sustainability than the LEED standard. While the initiative certainly has limits and problems (mostly tied to its underimplemtation) its successes prove the ability of technical standards to clarify and organize an otherwise unmanageable economy of interests around common goals and understandable metrics.

As software becomes an increasingly important ingredient in our built environment, perhaps just another building material like glass or steel, its enormous capacities to program human habitats in its image represent another equally complex challenge to systems design thinking. Smart spaces are not necessarily open spaces, or democratic spaces, or even desirable spaces. We can each one of us imagine our own version of the dystopian digital city which—despite all other design successes— becomes unlivable and unsustainable because of improper smart space policies. For some Gilles Deleuze’s society of control conjures images of a total, if invisible cybernetic enclosure. For others the infamous retinal advertising scenes from the film, Minority Report, represent the worst case scenario in the interweaving of smart space and behavioral targeting. For others, the dystopia may be one that comes from willful opacity of exactly how information is being captured and processed, about people, about energy, about economies, etc, and it is the opacity that comes to enforce systemic corruption.

The D.E.E.D (Digital Energy and Environmental Design Standard) project seeks to build on what has worked through the LEED standard and apply it to the delicate and complex design policy problems that inevitable frame any large scale smart space initiative. If information is captured on smart space users, how much transparency do they have about this? Can they correct and control how this information is used? Is bandwidth available for a wide-range of private purposes? Are building systems as efficient as they should be through the tactical use of IT? Is it transparent how smart sites are using energy and are users able to control and reduce energy use through easy and available means?

In 2011 we will convene several working groups to draft initial guidelines for DEED and involve industry groups, governmental stakeholders as well as user groups and later begin the real-world testing of this new standard.

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