Many people have raised evocative discussions about Green Building lately, dissecting, analyzing and attempting to define exactly what it means. Does it mean racking up as many LEED points as possible? Reversing the greenhouse effect by installing solar panels and insulating well? Or to build like indigenous cultures, with what local, natural earth and organic materials are available.
Perhaps there are many “shades of green” for all the definitions. However you define “green”, it is important to remember why we are even having this discussion. It has everything to do with our relationship with nature and the imbalanced societies we have created. When we produce and build on a massive scale with no sense of “enough”, we have tipped the scales and now we are seeing the results in ever-degraded global environments. Since we live in a material world of opposing/complimentary forces, it is relevant to look at the Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine to illustrate what is happening on Gaia, the ancient name for Mother Earth. Most ancient cultures, such as the Greeks, Egyptians, Hindu, Aztecs, Chinese, Norse, Mayan, Celtic and many others, had their gods and goddesses that together balanced their cosmology and affected their societies. Those societies that ignored the lessons of balance created either a matriarchy or a patriarchy.
For the last few thousand years, there has been a predominance of patriarchy, and in much of the industrial world the imbalance toward the masculine has gone to the base level of the gender. In other words, at the base level of survival, the male’s aim is to pollinate, to spread the genes through the sperm as prolifically as possible. We have “monumented” the world’s centers of commerce with a predominance of phallic symbols in the growing competition to build the tallest tower, creating work and living spaces that block natural light, and obliterate virtually all of the living habitats in their spaces. Gaia seems to be saying, “It’s not size that matters”. The world’s leading societies are exhibiting the out-of-balanced male attributes of aggressiveness, forcefulness and impatience, as seen in the rush to build more shopping malls that sit empty and develop mono-characteristic, cheaply-built homes that sprawl over valuable farmland or ecologically sensitive areas. Of course, there are men and women collaboratively creating this condition and both genders must take responsibility.
Naturally, we would not want to swing to the feminine side of the pendulum to solve this problem we face with our over-use and pollution of earth’s resources. Rather, when we bring in the Divine Feminine in harmony with the Sacred Masculine, we can synchronize with nature’s balance. Caroline Myss describes this balance:
“I suspect that the way to understand Mother Nature is best found through the study of the Tao – the study of the laws of balance that essentially govern the activity of Nature. When Nature is out of balance, the system itself will initiate whatever action it must take in order to reestablish an environment capable of sustaining all life – not just human life, but all life. Within the realm of Nature, all life is equal. Life is precious because it is life, not because it is human life or wealthy life or educated life or young life, but because it is life.”
And from a yogic view, the goal is to marry the two genders in constant Union. Their attributes are not seen as exclusive to man or woman, as we have these character potentials in each of us: “The Divine Feminine is receptive, nourishing, holding space, allowing, and inviting. The Divine Masculine is focused on solar purpose, discerning, concentrating, holding form, and acting. At the highest level of Consciousness, the two are in constant Union. Like fire and its power to burn, they are inseparable.” (Yogini Tejaswini)
When we bring the Divine Feminine into development and construction, we can create a balance in the ecosystem that sustains a large, changing, thriving diversity of life. Some of the building industry certification standards are incorporating categories that harmonize the design and construction process with nature, such as the The Living Building Challenge that considers eight categories: site, water, energy, health, materials, equity, beauty and process. A few leading architects have ventured outside their colleague’s boxes to demonstrate these ideas. William McDonough is one of the leading minds in sustainable design and architecture, even acknowledging that the “greenest” way to build is to leave natural places as they are. He developed the concept “Cradle to Cradle”, where anything manufactured or built can be designed so that all of its component parts can be disassembled at the end of it’s life cycle and “reincarnated” in to new products, thereby completely eliminating waste and generating “ecological, social and economic value”. In his presentation to the Chinese government for the design concept of a whole new city, he kept the existing flow of water, ecosystems and energy of the valley and simply raised them up to the rooftops. Farming takes place on all of the roofs of homes and businesses, and every home’s living space has access to natural daylight. The entire city is self-sustaining without the use of coal or nuclear power plants, and solar panels and alternative energy sources are abundant.
As in yoga, we must take a holistic approach to create balance, and the typical culture supporting green building tends to already have adopted a holistic lifestyle and philosophy, yet the building industry is faced with the greatest bridge to gap to get from the wasteful, destructive practices of the recent past to a truly sustainable way of development and construction. What has been missing quite often is the receptive, nurturing, protective, flowing qualities of the Divine Feminine. Even as more people and companies in the industry begin to cross this bridge, it is important to develop new balanced, integrated patterns of business operation that maintain the objective of a harmonized, thriving, life-enhancing planet we inhabit.