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SBSE Retreat 2014

Biosphere 2, near Tucson, AZ 
Thursday, June 19—Sunday, June 22, 2014

Over the last three years, politicians have transitioned from climate change mitigation-driven policy to climate change adaptation-driven policy, an acknowledgement that anthropogenically-driven global warming is inevitable, and that the time is at hand for innovating resilient adaptation methodologies.


Our students will practice architecture in a world where buildings not only will have to carefully manage carbon, water, and material cycles, but also will have to resiliently adapt to dynamic environmental conditions. This retreat’s theme, “adaptation,” frames the conversation around “adjustment in natural or human systems [the built environment and infrastructure] in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli and their effects, to moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities.” (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC))

As many of us are involved with the 2030 Challenge and efforts to reduce our carbon footprint, the retreat will focus on tools, activities, innovations, ideas, research, strategies, and tactics that the SBSE community actively engage to foster adaptation and resilient design, especially on methodologies that translate “… anticipatory and reactive adaptation, private and public adaptation, and autonomous and planned adaptation” (IPCC) into built form. Critical to this process are inclusive definitions of the relationships among mitigation, adaptation, and resilience—the ability of a system to absorb disturbance/events without failure of the structure/ system (IPCC).

Over three days we’ll share lessons, exercises, and experiences; listen to each other’s stories; and mentor students interested in teaching and research—all the while enjoying the views and wildlife of the Santa Catalina foothills.

Biosphere 2 is a large-scale Earth Systems Research facility owned by the University of Arizona since 2011. From 1991–94 it was operated as the tightest envelope ever constructed, housing two materially closed, energetically open, long-duration life support experiments. These experiments, which tested the design and application of sustainable architecture in novel hybrid ecological–technological–cultural modes, provide useful insights and lessons for increasing adaptation and resiliency in sustainable design today. 

SBSEers will stay on-site in comfortable casitas (with open kitchen/large living spaces conducive to group discussions) and partake in catered, restaurant, and self-prepared family-style meals. The tentative retreat schedule is structured to facilitate cool morning desert walks or hikes, formal presentations, discussions, evening programs, and plenty of open time for informal networking and impromptu gatherings.

Formal presentations will be scheduled during the morning and early afternoon, with ample open time for informal networking, hiking, or impromptu gathering of work groups.

If you are interested in coordinating or presenting in a session, please see the Call for Participation.

We’re also arranging an optional extended post-retreat stay that will include tours of Taliesin West, Arcosanti, Cosanti, and other significant Phoenix- and Tucson-area sites that engage whole-systems approaches with an emphasis on water scarcity. 

This retreat is supported in part by the B2 Institute, a scientific think tank and research incubator that addresses scientific Grand Challenges that require solutions combining expertise from a broad range of scientific fields; and by the Knowledge Resources of The American Institute of Architects, promoting research linkages between the academic community and practice as well as establishing research initiatives at all AIA component levels and involving local schools of architecture.

Program Committee:
Alison Kwok, University of Oregon, <akwok@uoregon.edu
Wendy Meguro, University of Hawaii, <meguro@hawaii.edu
Alexandra Rempel, University of Oregon, <arempel@uoregon.edu
Meredith Sattler, Louisiana State University, <meredith.sattler@gmail.com
Site Coordinator:
Meredith Sattler, Louisiana State University, <meredith.sattler@gmail.com

SBSE Society of Building Science Educators
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For more information about SBSE, visit the home page or contact one of the board members.