What is Green Building?

1. Overview of the Topic – Summary:

From Wikipedia: Green building refers to both a structure and the application of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle: from planning to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition.

Green Building may be one of these terms that has the largest spectrum of unknowns. In the past 30 years, the term “green building” has been defined and redefined quite a bit, most of which has been updated since the creation of the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED system in 2000.

While the view of Green Building can have many definitions, a big focus has been on energy reduction and energy efficiency. Over the past several years, the focus of this field has expanded to have more focus on sustainability, and more recently, occupant health.

2. What is the focus of this Topic?:

As commented above, Green Building has historically been focused on Energy Efficiency with considerations for sustainable building and design.

From Wikipedia: Globally, buildings are responsible for a huge share of energy, electricity, water and materials consumption. The building sector has the greatest potential to deliver significant cuts in emissions at little or no cost. Buildings account for 18% of global emissions today, or the equivalent of 9 billion tonnes of CO2 annually.

One of the most popular organizations in the US has been the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and their LEED system.

US Green Building Council (USGBC)

US Green Building Council (USGBC)

This organization has arguably had one of the biggest impacts in positive development to change the architecture and building fields towards a more energy efficient and ecologically aware approach to building.

USGBC is best known for its development of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating systems.

The LEED Green Building Rating System (LEED) is a program that provides third-party verification of green buildings. The LEED rating systems address both a wide variety of buildings types, including commercial buildings, homes, neighborhoods, retail, healthcare and schools; as well as every phase of the building lifecycle; including design, construction, operations and maintenance. Projects may earn one of four levels of LEED certification (Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum) by achieving a given number of point-based credits within the rating system.

3. Why it’s listed here – What is the relevance to Architectural Medicine?

Architectural Medicine has an integrated focus on providing a cohesive solution to Health and Wellness in the Built Environment, including the health of the ecology and biological life on this planet. Therefore, the reduction of energy and the focus on energy efficiency can help to support these goals.

The topic of Green Building has informed and brought great awareness to both the public and professionals in architecture, and in many ways has supported these next steps in architecture to focus on health. The focus on materials and methods to achieve these goals has set a standard to strive for in both previous and new building designs.

By considering the entire building process, from Cradle to Cradle or Regenerative Design, the Life Cycle Assessment of a building can be designed and built to have less negative impact on the environment, as well as the health of the inhabitants in the building.

4. Common groups and individuals involved with this topic:

From Wikipedia: The concept of sustainable development can be traced to the energy (especially fossil oil) crisis and environmental pollution concerns of the 1960s and 1970s. The Rachel Carson book, “Silent Spring”, published in 1962, is considered to be one of the first initial efforts to describe sustainable development as related to green building. The green building movement in the U.S. originated from the need and desire for more energy efficient and environmentally friendly construction practices.

The focus on alternatives to building in the late 60’s and the 1970’s in the US to be more energy efficient were driven by many individuals and professionals. Groups such as the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) led by Amory Lovins, Solar Energy International (SEI) and a large list of architects and builders in the US, such as Alex Wilson of Building Green, as well as many others around the world that have provided pathways to modern day green building solutions.

One of the most popular organizations in the US has been the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and their LEED system. One of the most brilliant concepts, and perhaps a big reason why the USGBC has been so successful in creating changes in the building industry, has been to highlight buildings with praise and provide awards for doing good, as opposed to highlighting and reprimanding buildings that perform poorly.

5. Resources: