Buildings are huge consumers of just about everything, accounting for:
• 40% of total energy use and 71% of electricity consumption
• 36% of greenhouse gas emissions
• 30% of raw material use
• 30% of waste output and
• 12% of potable water use
So if we want to make a positive impact on the environment and do something serious about slowing climate change, greener buildings are a great place to start. Greater awareness within cities and towns and among residents that building design and construction exists in a larger context is encouraging builders to become mindful of their roles and responsibilities. The response from the building world has been steadily evolving as a new paradigm for how we build is taking shape. More and more builders are striving for LEED certification and adhering to the tenets of the U.S. Green Building Council. And in the process, the criteria by which we measure good architecture are changing to take into account environmental respect, consideration of human health and quality of life, and a responsibility to our communities.
What Is Green Building?
Green building integrates natural resource, human health, and community concerns into building design, construction, and operation that significantly reduce or eliminate the negative impact on the environment and occupants by addressing energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor air quality, waste reduction and occupant productivity and health.
Market Transformation and Public Policy
Greener options are in high demand. With rising energy costs, tightening budgets, expanding populations and diminishing resources, an increasing number of businesses are turning to green buildings, and cities and towns are implementing greener development strategies.
The change in mindset is most keenly felt in the marketplace. The evolution of green building, having moved beyond the early adopters to today’s widespread experimentation, has witnessed the shift from educating the public to keeping up with market demand for a greener way of doing things.
While the current practice in green design focuses on minimizing damage to the environment and human health, and using resources more efficiently, a school of thought that is evolving within the green building movement is regenerative design. Regenerative design shifts the frame of reference from minimal to positive impact under the premise that human activity should result in net benefits to our ecological and social environments.