Remember when “green” meant the new color of glass, or, at best, figuring out how to recycle carpet?
It’s come so far so fast.
The buildings industry once considered “cradle to grave” to be innovative. Now it’s “cradle to cradle.” Designing buildings with sustainability in mind has become increasingly sophisticated.
Detailed site modeling and growth planning are possible. Building technologies can increasingly integrate with each other both to reduce energy costs and improve operational efficiencies. More and more building products are made from recycled products and can be recycled when their function in the facility ends.
The Green Building Initiative summarizes the use of green building on its website (www.thegbi.org): “High-performance, commercial buildings are energy-efficient, minimize pollution, and reduce overall environmental impact. They require less maintenance, reduce short- and long-term costs, promote health among occupants, and improve worker satisfaction. Many also include visual or cultural aspects designed to further enrich their communities.”
But green buildings do even more than that: They tie design team members to each other. They tie building products and systems together. They tie occupants to buildings and those who design and construct them.
ARCHI-TECH often contains stories about green design. New Products Editor Chelsea Houy wrote one for this issue (Sustainable Design Reaches a Highmark). It’s the first full-length feature she’s ever written, and I’m proud to say it doesn’t read like it. Chelsea’s talent seeps through the pages. When researching the piece, Chelsea was impressed with the level of interaction the design team members had from the get-go. While all buildings require a team effort, this team’s focused goal of integrating sustainability into the design united them, allowing efficiencies from product specification through construction. The result is an attractive, architecturally interesting facility that designers can be proud to have worked on and occupants can be proud to work in.
Have you looked at green buildings lately? They’re fabulous. My pulse picks up every time I see one. While there’s much to love about the efficient technology behind the walls, architects have pushed the profession to a new level in integrating great aesthetics into these innovative structures as well.
There’s another issue here that often goes unnoticed: the “feel good” factor. Green buildings make occupants happier and more productive. They promote a better quality of life. In so doing, they also connect occupants with their spaces and to the people who designed them. In other words, they love you for this.
Green building is not just the wave of the future; it’s the wave of the present. In a world that could use some good news, green building is great for all.