Test Your Eco I.Q.

Jan. 1, 2003


Test Your Eco I.Q.Try your hand at the following questions:

1. According to the EPA, commercial buildings in the U.S. emit what
percentage of greenhouse gases in this country?
a. 5% b. 17% c. 40%

2. In the book, Natural Capitalism, the authors report that how many tons of raw materials are used annually to construct buildings worldwide?
a. 700 million b. 1.5 billion c. 3 billion

3. How many millions of computers are estimated to become obsolete— and thus destined for the landfill—by the year 2004?
a. 100 million b. 225 million c. 315 million

4. How many years does a typical hardwood tree need to grow before it can be harvested for use?
a. 60 years b. 100 years c. 125 years

5. The World Health Organization estimates that what percent of
buildings pose significant health hazards from indoor pollution?
a. 10% b. 40% c. 60%

Whether the answers to these questions came easily to you or not, we hope they underscore a belief that we have advocated for many years: humans are inflicting staggering effects on their natural habitat. Furthermore, we argue that architects and designers hold the key to transforming the world into one that is respectful of and sustaining for the Earth. They are, after all, the ones who most significantly impact the outcome of the built environment.

Our annual EnvironDesign® conference, which is highlighted in this issue starting on page 49, is one of the ways we strive to help design professionals in their efforts to halt the degradation. Now in its seventh year, EnvironDesign explores ways to develop a business case for sustainable design and building practices; it provides practitioners with indisputable evidence—oftentimes interpreted in dollars and cents—to help persuade their clients to go green. It also provides the information necessary for design professionals to make knowledgeable decisions in their selection of a wide variety of eco-friendly products and services.

We hear from many design practitioners who question whether this information is really necessary for the long-term. "Isn't the green building movement just a passing fad?," they ask. Our answer is a resounding, "No!" But don't just take our word for it; consider the following statistics from a recent International Facility Management Association (IFMA) survey:

* 95% of facility managers believe that sustainability will become an important issue for the facility management
* 69% of respondents are implementing green building
* 58% use or plan to add environmental criteria to vendor
and product selection.

Our pie-in-the-sky dream is that, someday, there will be no differentiation between green design and high quality design; the foundation of all truly great design will be built on sustainable design components. Until then, we will continue to push these tenets forward. We know we are on the right track—EnvironDesign has demonstrated significant growth in both 2001 and 2002—enjoying on average a 65 percent increase in attendance during both of the past two consecutive years. If you've not attended, we hope you will give it serious thought. The environmental train is leaving the station and is quickly heading toward the mainstream; we'd hate for you to be left behind.
Answers: 1-b; 2-c; 3-c; 4-b; 5-b
Katie Sosnowchik
Editorial Director
Next, pick up the newspaper and read the headlines that tell about the heartbreaking events happening in the world today—events that cry out for solutions in order to halt the madness.

Finally, ask yourself: What can I do?

"I am only one, but still I am one," said Helen Keller. "I cannot do everything, but still I can do something."

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