James Wescoat: Climate, energy, and water-conserving design

The Five Thousand Pound Life: Water, Opening Remarks

February 7, 2015

In The Five Thousand Pound Life: Water opening lecture, James Wescoat establishes context for the subsequent regional case studies by providing an overview of water resources management in the context of climate change. He presents three overarching concepts to guide understanding of contemporary water supply and use: mitigation, energy intensity, and water-conserving design. This last topic is his focus, exploring methods of environmental design, engineering systems design, and policy design to more effectively manage our water systems.

Wescoat offers comparative analysis of hydroclimatological conditions — such as sources of water supply and levels of greenhouse gas emissions from water use — across the United State’s major urban regions. While recognizing the diversity of contexts and, therefore, the unique issues faced by these regions, he also emphasizes the potential of lessons learned from disparate places, bringing in inspiration from his own research in Rajasthan, India and Karachi, Pakistan. He calls for an innovative, integrative approach to water-conserving design to address our critical water problems.

James Wescoat is a landscape architect and geographer and Aga Khan Professor in the Department of Architecture at MIT. Wescoat has carried out research in the Colorado, Indus, Ganges, and Great Lakes basins.



The Five Thousand Pound Life: Water, a symposium on issues of water supply in the context of climate change, examined case studies on Los Angeles, the Great Lakes region, and New York City. The event was organized by The Architectural League and The Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design in February 2015.

The Five Thousand Pound Life (5KL) is an initiative of The Architectural League on new ways of thinking, talking, and acting on architecture, climate change, and our economic future.