Green building means different things to different people. On one hand is the purist with a desire to live closer to the land and build with all natural materials. On the other hand is the opportunist with only a green-washed marketing scheme. For most of us green building means the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, a concern for the planet we share, less dependency on a foreign source of energy, and a vision for what we pass on to future generations.
Sustainability is the word that I think best describes the green movement and covers all aspects of building green. Sustainability, simply put, means the capacity to endure – it is whatever moves us to better serve your long term needs as well as the eco-system we are part of. It is our commitment to a quality of life that extends to the inheritance of future generations.
Designing for energy efficiency and resource conservation is the foundation from which green building has been built. After more than 30 years of maturing, efficiency in all aspects of design is an integral factor to building green. At it’s core, green building includes simple and efficient use of space, planning for sustainable energy usage and flow, local sourcing of materials whenever possible, and quality that passes the test of time.
Another primary consideration uncovered in the evolution of green building, is providing a healthy home or work environment. Our quality of life is considerably affected by the quality of food we eat, water we drink, and air we breathe – and the air we breathe is considerably affected by the materials we build with.
One of my favorite books on green building is Green From the Ground Up by David Johnston. He has been building green since the 70’s, helped start the first green building association in the country, and has developed training curriculum for certifying green builders. David’s book, as the title suggests, starts with site planning and considers the options for energy efficiency, resource conservation, and healthy materials at every step in the conventional building process.