A conference gathering 400 architects in Des Moines this week focuses on how earth-friendly practices can have a big impact on our homes, workplaces and schools. Paul Mankins is a Des Moines architect and co-organizer of the American Institute of Architects/Iowa Chapter convention.

Mankins says “Sustainability is an extremely hot topic for architecture but it’s an important issue for the world. Most people understand the way in which we use the resources of the earth have become critically important and that buildings make up a significant component of our resource use.

About 50-percent of resources go to building.” He says the theme of this year’s conference is “Sustainability…It’s Infinitely Possible.” He says the heart of this year’s convention topic is “how do we make informed decisions about how we build that are environmentally responsible and will allow the world to exist forever?”

Mankins says there’s a misconception in the public that “green” homes and other buildings cost a lot of green to build. Mankins says “There are simple measures which you can take which really have no cost that are the result of just careful design.” That ranges from: orienting the building correctly, use of daylight and properly sealing windows — all which can bring significant energy savings. The conference is underway at the Polk County Convention Complex in Des Moines on Thursday and Friday.