Gaines Group Architects

Can one person make a difference?

If you read my blog, you know, I am fighting for change in our community and every community. I want homes to be built that are more energy-efficient, recycling to be thought of as the absolute minimum that can be done and everyone does it, and indoor air quality to be as important as granite counter tops in the kitchen. The ideas I write about are not really new, in fact, I have been talking about them for at least 15 years now myself. As William McDonough stated in a class I took at UVA in 1996 (and opened my eyes about design), we are focused on being less bad when we should really be focused on being good. So after 15 years of fighting for change, have I made a difference?

philip simmons

Can one person make positive change in our community? There are many with more power and influence that impact change quickly. Certainly when a politician wants something done there is immediate news coverage, hearings scheduled, and legislation is drafted. When a celebrity wants to make things happen, they lean on others with high-profile influence and benefits are organized and articles are written. So what am I to do, how can I move things along. I barely hold influence in my own home, much less in the larger community?


Well the answer is simple, I need you. Each of us has a circle of influence and each of us have power over our own decisions. If we all make small changes to set an example and share our knowledge and influence with one another we can build a better future. We can create a demand for high performance homes, reduce waste through recycling and composting, and support families in our community by shopping local. Simple actions like using social media to talk about how much you love a local company like Lucas Roasting or how much your energy audit from Building Knowledge helped you cut your monthly utility bills are huge for a small business. Calling your senators to encourage them to support a comprehensive Statewide energy plan that not only relies on fossil fuels but encourages alternative energy and conservation will change our future for many generations to come. Even doing something as simple as taking the cardboard out of your trash can and putting it into the recycling bin this week will prolong the life of our landfill and help support a growing industry that needs those materials to thrive.

One person can make a difference. I have seen it happen in our industry, community, and family. Please share your experiences in the comments section below so we can all know how you are making a difference.