New Questions, Different Thinking, Positive Impact: Start at Zero?

Think about this for a moment. When the kindergarten students of 2017 are college freshmen in 2030, what will the world be like? Will they have a bright, clean energy well and a health-focused world? Will we have done anything substantially different so that they have a better future?


It’s time for a new approach, a new way of thinking and living. What if every morning we start the day at zero and work throughout the day to have positive impact? If we use zero as our constant baseline for living, then zero would be the worst we did instead of our best. Thinking this way can help us go beyond traditional incremental improvement, which amounts to “less bad” outcomes, and move toward more positive outcomes.

How does this work? Take zero net energy, for example. The current approach establishes zero as the endpoint and best-case scenario. But if we start at zero instead, a design team would get no energy budgeted until the natural resources available are optimized using passive strategies. Then, when energy is needed, it is budgeted sparingly while calculating how much energy can be made onsite or nearby.

Starting at zero can lead to compelling questions. Read more in Design Intelligence.

Topics: Sustainability & Resiliency