Indian Architect & Builder
The Buddha Principle in Green Building Design Image Credit: Indian Architect & Builder
The Buddha Principle in Green Building Design Image Credit: Indian Architect & Builder

The Buddha Principle In Green Building Design

Gautama Buddha is said to have received instruction in spiritual practices by overhearing a music teacher tell his pupils: “Do not tighten the strings too tight or they will break; do not make the too loose or there will be no music.”

Jerry Yudelson

In America, we call this the “Goldilocks principle,” after the fairy tale, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” in which the porridge should be neither too hot or too cold, but “just right.” The lesson is the same in both stories: follow the middle path between extremes.

This principle also holds true in green building design: do not make things too complex, or they won’t work right. Also, don’t make them too simple, or they won’t deliver superior environmental and health benefits.

In my 2013 book, The World’s Greenest Buildings: Promise vs Performance in Sustainable Design (with Prof. Ulf Meyer of Berlin), I reported on a similar phenomenon: “Unmanageable complexity is the biggest problem of all (in green building design). Most buildings are too complicated for the people who must run them. There’s too much technology that’s trying to do too much, there are not enough resources devoted to running the buildings properly, and often designers tend to think that one size fits all. But it doesn’t.”

Even in the United States, we find that many “super green” buildings using active management systems don’t work properly. As an example, a large consulting engineering firm renovated one floor (about 1500 sq.m.) of a 1970s office building for its new office in Portland, Oregon. Despite its expertise in building design, it took more than six months to commission


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