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The Journal of Sustainability Education


Theories of sustainable architecture that address sexual difference are rare in an architectural context, whether in the United States or Europe, and this paper proposes a critical perspective on architectural design using sustainable schools as an example and adopting the question of sexual difference. Informed by the words of young people, the philosophy of Luce Irigaray, and research carried out as part of a research project, “Iowa’s New Schools: A Future Invested in Sustainability,” this paper examines contemporary approaches to sustainable school architecture. It addresses questions of lifestyle and behavior and architects’ aims to produce energy-efficient and sustainable architecture and build sustainable lives. Key to the problem of sustainable schools and education for sustainable development is the language of sustainability. Language connects a concern for methods with the perspectives of children and young people. In this paper, I argue that a philosophical reconsideration of relationality is the primary objective in the development of a sustainable built environment. I argue that building cannot start with master planning or conceptual design, and it is not simply about constructing ourselves in our communities, adopting predefined and encouraged “sustainable behaviors.” Rather, sustainable building ‒ sustainable architecture ‒ must start with social questions of difference. For Irigaray, this means cultivation of the relationship with the other who is sexuately different. This suggests radically new approaches to the question of sustainable architecture, to pedagogy, and to the building of new schools.


This article is from The Journal of Sustainability Education (2017), Posted with permission.


Journal of Sustainability Education is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.