Medal Count

By Amy Knight

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The House We Live In: A Series on Building the Sustainable Home in Tucson, Arizona


Last weekend I made a recreational visit to that rare creature, the combination bookstore and bar Changing Hands up in Phoenix. I was after fiction and a glass of wine, but I came across a big coffee table book called Green Architecturea compilation of photos of green building projects with information about their green features, on a deep discount. Of course I had to get it.

I have to admit I haven’t found time to watch much of the Olympics this summer, but the spirit of international competition and stretching the boundaries of human achievement is in the air. Flipping through my new book, plus a few I already had, I realized just how far-flung these projects are from one another. Although there are of course a lot of them in California, and the list is surely weighted toward projects selected for the audiences of these books rather than being an objective collection of everything that’s out there, it’s still pretty neat to see all the countries where exciting projects have been built:

  • U.S.A. (no, Texas does not get its own)
  • New Zealand
  • Slovenia
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • Australia
  • The Netherlands
  • Spain
  • Czech Republic
  • Portugal
  • Norway
  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • China

Before I traveled to Ireland, friends pointed me toward some projects there, as well. People are doing this all over the world. And surely there are many more that aren’t in my glossy books.

I think of the Olympics. I think of the space race. I think of the nuclear arms race. Imagine if we brought that fervor to energy independence. Imagine if the U.S. and Russia were desperately trying to outdo each other in creating net-zero buildings, throwing all their resources into one-upping each others’ green technology. The countries who do that will surely survive.



Amy Knight is the fiction editor for Terrain.org. In this weekly series, she chronicles the process of designing and building an eco-friendly house in Tucson, Arizona. The series will explore both how it’s done and what it means, from the perspective of someone who wants to do the right thing but knows almost nothing about sustainable building. Look for new posts every Monday. You can email Amy at [email protected] or leave a comment here.

Image of map on hands courtesy Pixabay.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.