Hi, my name is Larry Lucas. I am licensed architect, historic preservationist, and certified passive house consultant (CHPC®). I currently serve as the Main Street Architect for the Oklahoma Main Street Program. This is my personal blog.
My recent experiences with public and private customers and grass-roots community groups have given me a unique insight into community-wide sustainable development. It’s something I want to share with you.
Under the surface, in your community, there is a greener paradigm waiting to be discovered, and we all play a part. The Green Heart Town blog is about renewing your home, neighborhood, and downtown from the inside out.
I hope to empower you to build greener places that foster health, community, and legacy. Together we can all live fuller lives today and leave a better world to our children.
I welcome you to subscribe and contribute.
Nature & Nurture...
From my first memories, I have had a heart for the natural world.
Southeast Oklahoma was a beautiful place to grow up, surrounded by mountains, lakes and trees. Like many kids near nature, I built forts, climbed trees and caught tadpoles. A full life meant spending a lot of time outdoors, tagging along to check the cows, participating in Scouting and fishing with my Dad.
Learning about caring for the land was inherent in these outings. Environmental stewardship became concrete through many wonderful experiences in Scouting. My Scoutmaster, Mr. G, taught us that "we always leave things better than we found them”.
By age 10, my friends and I rode bikes and skateboard everywhere in town. No smart-phones, kids! I just had to be home by dinner. This time was during the late 80’s, and the Internet had not yet brought everyone inside and online.
After I found Architecture in college, I knew I had found my calling. I think that most architects are inborn with a love of nature. Designer-types just appreciate its underlying order, unity, and freeness.
After college, my heart ached to work on projects that centered on sustainable thought. However, I found the hard truth was not very green. Many architects and their clients saw sustainable design as an additional effort, added cost, or technical difficulty.
I experienced a paradigm shift in 2011 when I became the Oklahoma Main Street Architect. Although I had always felt an innate love for the old parts of town, I soon discovered why.
It Takes a Village...
At Main Street, my focus is assisting our program’s Main Street America™ communities to protect, restore and modernize their historic buildings. I also provide direction on district-wide planning and development issues such as walkability, upper floor re-use, public improvements, and municipal policy, among others.
Working with many grassroots community groups has provided a stream of insight into something genuinely sustainable. Seeing a home, historic property, neighborhood, or even an entire community discover its heart again is such a rewarding experience!
I also appreciate modern, high-performance buildings. In 2015, I was the first licensed architect in Oklahoma to become a Certified Passive House Consultant, CPHC®. The Passive House is the most energy efficient building standard available today. They are air-tight, efficient, quiet, healthy, resilient and very inexpensive to operate.
Why This Blog?
The places we love need you and I to make them stronger. The Green Heart Town blog is about renewing your home, neighborhood and downtown from the inside out.
From working in so many beautiful rural downtowns, I realized that the American Dream was in jeopardy! Through disinvestment, the quality small-town community life that I remember as a youth is becoming harder to find.
A half-century of poor development has caught up with us! These practices were our demise as we championed homogenized development; driving a bit further, and building bigger less-efficient homes to own and operate.
Strong downtowns gave way to strip malls. Unique became homogenized. Boutiques became big-boxes. Vernacular building traditions lost to mass production, and popular culture reigned over good sense.
Our Greatest Generation, the Baby Boomers, and many Generation X’ers (like me) have experienced living in sustainable communities. We “shopped local” before it was a thing, lived close to the land, ate homegrown produce, enjoyed parades and favored relationships over things.
Will our environment, communities, and local heritage continue to decline? It is our decision. If we become a little more conscious today, we can live fuller lives, build a better tomorrow, and pass down a legacy to our children.
Having a Vision...
Can you imagine living in a community with engaging public spaces and unique heritage architecture; vibrant neighborhoods that are safe and walkable for every age; and green homes that are healthy, comfortable and energy efficient?
Several months ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with a wild realization. I grabbed a notepad and wrote…
In a sort of vision, I felt like I was standing at a crossroads where green architecture, sustainable planning, and historic preservation all met together. What did this mean?
My life experiences had brought me to this exact place so that I could develop insights into the relationships and synergies between them. I felt like from this paradigm I understood that anyone in a community might take part in its sustainable development.
Some artists think that creative inspiration comes from the Muses, but I prefer to believe it was the Lord at work.
The Road Ahead...
I hope to relate concepts of sustainable design and seek new insights, though looking back at history for practical solutions lost over time and reuniting them with the best modern thought and technology.
We will focus on the realms that we all experience in our communities: our homes, neighborhoods, and downtowns. The principles of sustainable development prove these realms are firmly connected.
Every existing home and building, every plot of land, and every community has a unique story, and you are playing a part. How will you shape these places?
Why I Write...
You probably want to know why this blog exists. Why would I take the time?
- To jump into these topics deeply. If I don't commit to finding my own conclusions, then I may never understand what is best.
- To create a place for conversation. As a designer, I know that the best ideas happen through open collaboration.
- To catalog our best thoughts, solutions, and examples in one place
- To share what we find with others.
- To inspire new ideas that maximize life and legacy in your community.
- To love my family, my neighbors, and my community.
- Since my daughters were born, I have given infinite weight to the “why” I need to leave the world better than I found it. This blog is going to help me do that.
My Goals & Your Feedback...
A guiding principle of living in real Green Heart Towns lies in our determination to renew our own homes from the inside out. Then, we can move outward into our neighborhood and downtown realms.
All that to say, research and writing take time. More time than I can often spare while working full time and raising twins.
But, I love to write! You can still count on regular progress, but I cannot tie myself to the tracks of a weekly interval. My goal is quality.
If something resonates with you or if you have any questions, all I ask is that you take a moment to start a conversation. Add a comment below each post, or share it with others, as you feel led. Finally, shoot me a message anytime if you have ideas for a topic. I hope you feel welcome in this community.
Interested in learning more about sustainable design for your home, neighborhood, or downtown? Lucas Sustainable advises on select projects that create legacy for our next generation. Please send us message from the Contact page, and subscribe to the blog to get the latest updates.
My blog is built and hosted on Squarespace. I am using their Bedford template. The website fonts are Museo family and Myriad Pro. Michael Foster helped me get started on the layout. Trey from Pixelmongers brought the brand concept to life. The pencil illustrations were deftly handled by Craig Ridenour, AIA. John Pleasant Photography managed to make my mug shot look professional. Mason Mayhall took the colorful banner image on this page. Saradear Photography took my family's photo. Unless otherwise noted, the other photos on the site are either purchased, downloaded without restriction, or were taken by me. Code plugins were secured from Square Studio.