Tool Development

The Center develops analytical tools that facilitate better understanding and incorporation of sustainability principles.  These methodological procedures are based on benchmarked and peer-reviewed datasets establishing economic and environmental impacts, including greenhouse gases, criteria air pollutants, toxic releases, and employment.  Our tools provide an organized and hierarchical method to guide decision-making and can be tailored for many scales, from individual buildings to county, state, or national levels.  In addition, we use a combination of GIS, input/output analyses of the U.S. economy, and life cycle data to address the balance of air, water, energy, food, and materials.  Economic impact is demonstrated in the form of regional boundaries and the flow of currency between these boundaries.

Introduction to Lenses

The Lenses are tools for guiding design and critical inquiry which both inform and are informed by policies and prototypes that we have developed and cultivated through the years. Pedagogy--via these lenses--promotes practice, the lessons of which feed back to reinforce and enrich the methods. The work of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems is predicated on this cyclic relationship, and we share these lenses in hopes that the state of “maximum potential” can reach ever higher plateaus.

Conceptual Space Race

The limits of Nature’s capacity as a global ecosystem will soon be reached while the potential of the human brain sees no boundary.  The Conceptual Space Race describes this quandary: will the carrying capacity of earth will be exceeded before we can realize a state of convergence between the biosphere and the noosphere?  Our approach recognizes this critical gap and utilizes important brain space-time behavior to resolve it.

Meta Max

The future of green design includes interventions that have global repercussions. Meta Max is a protocol that provides global-scale systems thinking--such as making cement with waste product brine from produced water, augmenting organic compost with the bioremediated trace elements of coal, and creating salt water-based sewage systems.

Mini Max

Appropriate and intermediate technologies are critical to global efforts to connect basic, people-oriented life support processes to those in need and to demonstrate how high-thinking, simple living can occur worldwide. Mini Max is a protocol for engaging efficiency and integration between human power and nature power to support basic needs and potential.

Feedback City

Paralleling the thinking behind Ross Ashby’s “Design for a Brain”, Feedback City demonstrates how recognizing feedback loops within the structure of a city can become a model for sustainable urban|rural well-being. This protocol is also represented by the “development ladder” of evolution within the city|region as systems of incorporated micro to macro feedback.

Baseline Green/GreenBalance

BaselineGreen is a protocol for using national data sets and peer-reviewed methods to produce an input-output/Life Cycle Assessment/GIS-based standard for material specifications. Its companion protocol, GreenBalance, advances these principles in order to effect an input/output balance in projects ranging from furniture
design to large building complexes and eco-industrial planning.

Green Health

Our experience has demonstrated four principles across the health spectrum necessary for developing a community of health awareness.  Fundamental principles of precaution—transparency and disclosure of material hazards—and cycles of life—effecting health promotion and disease prevention—guide design methods for healthy bodies and finally strategically-planned healthy communities.

Area Point Network

One of several planning protocols, Area Point Network utilizes land, people, and their institutions (“Area”, “Point”, and “Network” resources) as the foundation for community organizing and planning. Area resources are organized with suitability maps, Point resources target regional human experience, and Network resources are measured through four flows--information, currency, energy, and material.


Educating for a green world must be both data-rich and participatory.  Capitalizing on the pretext that the best way to learn is to play, we promote a protocol for gaming environments of varying scales, employing four primary methods--the virtual|real scale simulation, roleplaying, crowdsourcing and community gameboarding--to produce informative results and simulate new conceptual possibilities.

Supports & Connections

Whole building system approaches with constructed prototypes are a foundation for advancing how buildings are conceived. Our building systems protocols are based on eight low-impact methods--Design with Climate, Building System Typologies, Design for Manufacturing, Design with Nature, Design with Reuse, Design for Open Building, Embodied Carbon Balance, and Evidence-Based Economics.


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