Meghan Walsh, Architect/Artist
My concern with climate change is focused on humans as a fragile species on a very resilient planet. The earth will survive massive changes, but humans won't. It is critical that we develop focused strategies to ensure that we, as a species, will survive.
This trend of thought is reflected in my life, both as an artist and an architect. In my day job as an architect, I work with financing and policymaking around the design and construction of housing that embeds resilience to climate change, energy-efficiency, and healthy building materials. And in my artwork, I create abstract contemporary mosaics using stone and recycled materials, including blown apart tires I find on highway shoulders, scraps of discarded countertops from construction debris, and the detritus of other artists' making processes like broken pottery, glass slag and even neon light tubes. I find beauty in discarded things. There is a Tagalog (Filipino language) word that cannot be translated fully into English, but the closest translation would be “To see oneself in another” or “I am you." Climate change, like COVID-19, highlights our fragility and the need to care for each other.
When it comes to the District of Columbia, the affordability of housing is a critical concern. It is critical that, in considering affordability and home ownership, we not only look at the upfront costs of a home but instead the long-term benefits and savings from quality, energy-efficient, resilient and healthy homes.
Thinking about steps I can take to reduce energy use, I believe small things matter. Here are a few tips I incorporate into my daily life and also recommend to my fellow DC residents:
1. Getting an energy audit, which will expose the items you can improve in your particular home construction.
2. Replacing all your lightbulbs with LED bulbs.
3. Whatever you do to tighten up the envelope of your home increases the risk of decreased indoor air quality. Get an indoor air quality monitor, take your shoes off in the house, use low VOC paints, get a professional radon test, and make your home a smoking-free space.
See Meghan’s art here: www.meghanwalshartist.com.