Cuningham and Earth Day: Then and Now

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Cuningham and Earth Day: Then and Now

Paul C. Hutton

I have a vivid memory of the first Earth Day in 1970. I was sitting in my tenth-grade classroom when I noticed what looked like a large number of protestors on the front lawn of the school. Given the era, I thought they must be Vietnam War protestors, although the war was winding down. Then I was able to read some of their signs and saw the phrase “Earth Day.” I hadn’t heard the term before and so during a break between classes I went outside. I couldn’t spend long without risking a trip to the assistant principal’s office, but quickly got the idea that this was about something else altogether. While I can’t say the experience shaped my career choice, it certainly made a strong impression on me and I’ve looked for ways to celebrate Earth Day ever since.

Another Earth Day Memory
I have many other Earth Day memories. In 2010 for the 40th anniversary, Cuningham (then Hutton Architecture Studio) decided to reach out to a favorite client to see if we might work with some of their students. From this came the idea of presenting to both schools at a campus where we were working. Our small staff worked together to create a presentation for each school.

The first school was a middle school and the presentation was held in their gymnasium, as that was the only space large enough to hold their 1,400 students. The presentation covered a brief history of Earth Day and career opportunities related to the environment. We then moved to the high school where we had student volunteers help us demonstrate energy use intensity on the stage. Our use of thousands of matches to illustrate kBtu’s increased both risk and audience enthusiasm. There is nothing like a potential disaster to get students’ attention!

Earth Day, Today
Appropriately, the theme of this year’s Earth Day is “Restore Our Earth,” which focuses not only on the need to reduce our impact on our planet as we recover from COVID-19, but also underscores that we all have a responsibility to help restore human-caused damage. This aligns with Cuningham’s shift from sustainability to regenerative design, in which we seek to restore natural and human systems to a healthier condition.

To see some of the ways Cuningham currently acts as a steward of the environment, check out the articles below on our research into improving indoor air quality and our first all-electric school in southern Colorado. Also be sure to check out our analysis on how working from home greatly reduced our firm’s carbon footprint.

As you consider Earth Day this Thursday, here are some external resources to help you think about how you can make a difference:

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Author: Paul C. Hutton

Posted In: News

Paul’s career has been dedicated to integrating sustainable building strategies with creative design.