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Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems

“Sustainability is a way of expressing a relationship between the present and the future, of understanding that our decisions have consequences,” said Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems co-founder Pliny Fisk in a 2008 interview with Texas Monthly. “If I could distill it into one basic concept, it would be ensuring that a future is possible.”

For almost four decades, the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems has worked to design holistic systems that identify and utilize the full life cycle of products, buildings and regions. Their work examines the ‘cradle to grave’ of materials usage and waste, looking for smarter and more sustainable practices at every scale.

Principals Fisk and Gail Vittori are pioneers in green building and leaders in sustainability and ecological thinking. Their mission is to develop environmentally sustainable building materials and to fundamentally change the way we build our communities.

Most modern building materials are carbon-intensive and in some way dependent on a petroleum-based infrastructure. Pliny and Vittori’s research seeks out alternative ‘low-impact’ materials that can be a part of a carbon-neutral future, and independent of petroleum. They are also interested in repurposing waste, such as making concrete from magnesium oxide and phosphate brine, a by-product of petroleum and water treatment facilities.

Their projects over the decades have ranged from collaborating on an eco-friendly renovation of the Pentagon to designing adaptable kitchens that minimize remodeling waste to an eco-friendly village in China to many more, too numerous to list here.

Above all, their work is really about thinking differently; they seek to help the rest of us see human activity in a global, ecological context.

We had an opportunity to speak with Pliny and Gail at a special live episode of our podcast, Social Design Insights, where they shared with us and the audience some of their strategies for global change. Listen to the episodes here: