Bein’ Green: Easier Than You Think

BY Elizabeth Shell  March 1, 2012 at 5:02 PM EST

“It’s not that easy, bein’ green,” Kermit the Frog first lamented in 1970. “It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things.”

We became interested in greenness during research for a story on B Corps: given companies that are interested in becoming certified as a B Corp are already socially and environmentally minded, a good number of them work in various types of “green” spaces.

Making Sense

“Green means it’s a smarter building,” says Ken Wilson, head of the Washington, D.C.-based architecture firm Envision Design. “Green usually means energy efficient, but it also has other aspects to it that are important like natural light, non-toxic materials, and controllability of your environment.”


To measure “greenness” in an office, factory or home, there’s the LEED system: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The U.S. Green Building Council awards points for water reduction, energy efficiency and the like. The more points, the higher the certification level, ranging from lowest to highest: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

“You don’t have to be certified in order to be green,” says Wilson. “But LEED is a third party certification saying you did what you said you did.

“We’ve crossed a milestone where in the U.S. market there are more than 10,000 LEED certified buildings. Recently the U.S. General Services Administration studied about 29 LEED certified buildings and determined that, compared to non-LEED certified buildings, they’re saving about 25 percent in energy, 17 percent in water use and have about a 30 percent lower carbon footprint.”

And as far as green blending in — Kermit’s principal complaint — well, watch the video, and see how your workspace compares to the U.S. Green Building Council’s. (Full disclosure: It’s a lot nicer than the NewsHour’s offices.)

Videography by Justin Scuiletti. LEED graphics used with permission. Video edited by Elizabeth Shell.

This entry is cross-posted on the Making Sen$e page, where correspondent Paul Solman answers your economic and business questions