2022 | John Carmody: A Life in Sustainability

John Carmody

Writer, problem solver, baseball-lover, mentor, and designer. John Carmody (1947-2019) changed the world with the belief that human beings can live and build in harmony with the earth.

John Carmody: A Life in Sustainability

Exhibition Dates: September 17 – December 1, 2022

HGA Gallery, Rapson Hall

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John Carmody - A Life in Sustainability celebrates his remarkable 40+ year career as an environmental activist and systems designer who brought actionable solutions to complex problems. This exhibit traces John’s journey over four decades to enrich humankind's spiritual connection with the Earth and inspire responsible stewardship for the future. Curated by colleagues at CSBR, MDC (Minnesota Design Center), and the private sector, Carmody’s expansive work continues to shape how we live and build.

For over fifty years, John thrived with the passions and challenges of his time. He was a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War and served two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic. Following Buckminster Fuller’s belief in hands-on problem solving, John and his friends later built a geodesic dome in North Carolina.

In the 1970s, when the energy crisis demanded tools for conservation, John became a leader in earth-sheltered housing. He joined the University of Minnesota’s Underground Space Center, leading sophisticated planning projects for buildings and cities. When “Sustainability” came to the fore in the 1990s, John founded the University’s Center for Sustainable Building Research. There he made two major contributions that continue to shape sustainable building nationwide:

  • His advocacy for high-performance windows transformed the North American windows industry and its products
  • With his exceptional technical and communication skills, John created sustainable design guidelines that continue to guide the architectural and construction industries

Many have said that John would have made a great diplomat. The people who really knew him remember that he always was.

Potential underground development beneath the University of Minnesota campus (drawing by John Carmody).