Planting a SEED
On September 22, 2010, a group of local architects, designers and active community members gathered at FOAM – a coffee/beer bar at Jefferson and Cherokee in south St. Louis to kick off a local chapter of the SEED Network.
The SEED (Social, Economic, Environmental Design) Network is an organization whose goal is to further advance socially, economically and environmentally healthy projects in communities. As a useful shorthand, what LEED is to environmentally sustainable design, SEED seeks to be for socially conscious design.
The SEED process puts a heavy emphasis on local community-based input and results. Projects going for certification must define goals in each category and come up with metrics and means to measure the results and impacts. Where LEED is a prescriptive approach, SEED is a more open approach that allows each project team to define the areas of impact and goals. Review is done by a committee and certification of a project opens up avenues for grants.
It’s not a radical idea or a panacea. A widely used SEED Certification program can become an industry accepted shorthand for ‘doing no harm’ in the social, cultural, and economic realms. The success of LEED as a grassroots becoming the industry standard has paved this way. It will be an interesting time to watch this SEED sprout.