Climate Change and Mental Health

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Our Thursday green news brings you the latest on green architecture, climate change, energy and communities:

green architecture, Clark art institute, innovative design

Photo courtesy of Tucker Bair

  • Climate change and mental health: Although depression is already the second leading cause of disability around the world and effects of extreme weather are more and more common, there hasn’t been enough research monitoring depression in connection to climate change conducted. Some research on mental health and climate change has been done in Australia by psychiatric epidemiologist Helen Berry of the University of Canberra. Since 2011, Berry has published 27 papers and book chapters on this subject. Her studies don’t focus on specific psychiatric diagnoses, but general mental health and well-being. In her research, she has documented increased levels of distress in young people in drought-affected areas as well as in farmers. She has also studied the effect of climate change on Aboriginal communities. As she explains: “When you think about what climate change does, it basically increases the risk of weather-related disasters of one sort or another. What happens from a psychological point of view is people get knocked down. Whenever people are knocked down, they have to get up again and start over. And the more that happens, the more difficult it is to keep getting up.”
  • The newly renovated Clark Art Institute goes green: The new museum designed by Tadao Ando in collaboration with Gary Hilderbrand merges modern architecture and landscape design into a new paradigm in green museum architecture. The element of water-although water is becoming a luxury commodity-plays an important role in its sustainable design approach. As the leader of the sustainable design consulting team at Gensler Maddy Burke-Vigeland explains: “In all of our projects, water comes up as a bad thing–how are you going to keep the water out? One of the things architects need to talk about is–you’re keeping the water out, but what are you doing with it?” The 140-acre museum site now uses 25% less water than before its renovation. And how does the system work? Rainwater is collected from the rooftops of the Manton Research Center and the museum building. A simple gravity pipe connects them to the reservoir system. Other sources of water, including the roof of the Clark Center, surface drain water collection along permeable surfaces, foundation water drainage, and geothermal wells, are also connected to a water tank. The reservoir serves the water feature, as well as plumbing fixtures, site irrigation, and the site’s cooling tower. Emergency overflow from the water feature goes into a nearby brook, and since the water is treated with ozone instead of chemicals, there’s no danger of contamination or pollution in the brook.
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