More than 76 million residential
buildings and nearly five million commercial buildings exist
in the United States today, says the U.S. Department of Energy.
By 2010, another 38 million buildings are expected to be constructed.
We spend, on average, 90 percent of our time in those very
structures. So what in the world are they doing to us? And
what are they doing to the world around us?
If you ever needed
hard evidence to support the growing green building movement, you
need only look as far as the following facts:
* Buildings consume 37 percent of all energy used in the United
States; 68 percent of all electricity; 12 percent of fresh water
supplies; 88 percent of potable water supplies; and 40 percent of
* These same buildings generate more than one-third of municipal
solid waste streams; 35 percent of total emissions of anthropogenic
carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the primary greenhouse gas associated
with global climate change; 49 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions
(SO2)a precursor to acidic depositionthrough the consumption
of fossil-fuel-fired electricity; 25 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions
(NOx); and 10 percent of fine particulate emissions, all of which
cause air quality problems such as smog and acid rain or present
direct risks to human health.
Not convinced yet? Try these stats on for size:
* A Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study in 2000 found that
building characteristics and indoor environments significantly influence
the occurrence of communicable respiratory illness, allergy and
asthma symptoms, sick building symptoms and worker performance.
For example, indoor air can contain a number of potentially harmful
chemicals and biological agents, including carbon dioxide, volatile
organic compounds (VOCs), molds, various allergens and infectious
agents. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies
indoor air quality as one of the top five environmental health risks
today. Growing evidence indicates that poor indoor air quality affects
the health and performance of the people who work, live and study
in buildings. Why? Because air pollution concentrations indoors
can be two to five times higher than the air we breathe outside,
with some measurements 100 times greater.
The bottom line: we need better buildings. If only 10 percent of
homes in the United States used solar-water heating systems, we
could avoid 8.4 million metric tons of carbon emissions each year.
And, according to the Lawrence Berkeley study, the potential national
savings from health and productivity gains after indoor environmental
quality improvements would fall between $23 and $56 billion.
|Recognizing Contributions To The
Interior Built Environment
|The 2003 Sustainable Design Leadership Awards have been created
to honor sustainable design contributions as recognized by a
jury of prominent designers and business leaders, as well as
in the national media. The International Interior Design Association
(IIDA), the AIA/Interiors Committee and CoreNet Global have
joined together to honor leaders who have integrated design
excellence, sustainable design and best business practices for
the interior built and workplace environment.
For more information and to receive an entry form, call 888-548-5800,
or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Details are also available on the Web: visit www.iida.org
Making the Business Case
To educate congressional members and their staff on green building
trends, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works convened
a Green Building Roundtable in April 2002 in conjunction with the
U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Present on the roundtable were
representatives from the private and public sectors and academia
who participated in a dialogue about the economic and health benefits
of green building, the barriers facing its progress, and the opportunities
available to federal agencies to further promote sustainable spaces.
During the course of the roundtable discussion, Hines Development
and the U.S. Green Building Council were charged with the task of
describing the economic arguments for green buildings. The resulting
pamphlet, Making the Business Case for High-Performance Green Buildings,
produced in partnership with the Urban Land Institute and The Real
Estate Roundtable, details 10 top reasons:
1. In the event that up-front costs are higher, they can be recovered
through lower operating costs.
2. Integrating design features lowers ongoing operating costs.
3. Better buildings equate to better employee productivity.
4. New technologies enhance health and well-being.
5. Healthier buildings can reduce liability.
6. Tenant costs can be reduced significantly.
7. Property value will increase.
8. Many financial incentive programs are available for
9. Communities will notice your efforts.
10. Using best practices yields more predictable results.
The Green Development Services of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)
also offers a list of benefits associated with green building, some
similar to the ones above, as well as some different advantages.
It acknowledges that green development is not an altruistic pursuit
carried out by developers willing to forego profit to protect the
environment. Rather, it is a way to achieve multiple benefitsfor
the developer, investors, occupants and the environmentyielding
better market, financial, human and environmental performance. RMIs
top 10 benefits include:
1. Reduced capital costs.
2. Reduced operating costs.
3. Marketing benefits: free press and product differentiation.
4. Valuation premiums and enhanced absorption rates.
5. Possibility of streamlined approvals.
6. Reduced liability risk.
7. Health and productivity gains.
8. Staying ahead of regulations.
9. New business opportunities.
10. Satisfaction from doing the right thing.
The good news is that both the private and public sectors have taken
note. National and local programs encouraging green building have
increased dramatically over the past few years, with hundreds of
demonstration projects and private buildings that provide tangible
examples of what green buildings can accomplish. And, clearly, the
tremendous growth of the USGBCs LEED Green Building
Rating System, a national, voluntary standard for green building,
underscores the trend: in the last three years, the number of square
feet registered to certify as green by USGBC has doubled to over
100 million square feet.
According to the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council, the better
buildings we need are really high-performance buildings, yet the
term performance takes place on many stages. The idea,
it says, is to look at the building as an integrated whole, and
to consider its performanceand the improved productivity of
its occupantsover time. Only then, says the SBIC, do you begin
to get a true sense of what the sustainable workplace
can mean to a companys bottom line, regardless of whether
its measured in economic or human terms. More and more, people
are realizing that one neednt be sacrificed at the expense
of the other and, in fact, physical and economic well-being are
A Sustainable Workplace
The U.S. federal government is actually one of the lead players
in the sustainable building movement. The General Services Administrations
(GSA) Public Buildings Service (PBS) is a leader in building green
not only because of its place in the U.S. real estate marketowning,
leasing and managing over 334 million square feetbut because
of its level of commitment to incorporating principles of sustainable
design and energy efficiency into all of its building projects.
It advocates what Bill McDonough, FAIA, espoused in his Design,
Ecology and the Making of Things: A Centennial Sermon, delivered
at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, NY, more than
10 years ago. If we think of providing sustainable workplaces
as a service, rather than as a commodity, we will build what is
most economical for us to maintain and operate, and easiest for
occupants to comfortably and productively use, McDonough said.
The GSA also champions a sustainable workplace, which
is the result of a comprehensive, multidisciplinary process that
results in more productive and responsive facilities. Sustainable
products and methods are an essential part of creating better work
environments. As discussed in The Integrated Workplace: A Comprehensive
Approach to Developing Workspace, published by the GSA Office of
Governmentwide Policy, Office of Real Property, productivity and
health-related problems are greatly influenced by the workplace.
This strategic approach unifies the workplace with an organizations
strategic plan and provides space that best supports the work practices
of those using it. Both work best when they are considered sustainably.
How the workplace is developed greatly influences the well-being
and performance of employees and the organization. The GSA notes
that a sustainable approach considers many workplace aspects:
w How we work: including paperless offices, using remanufactured,
recycled and energy-efficient products.
w Where we work: including conventional or alternative office settings,
like teleworking from home, at a telecommuting center or customers
office or from anywhere.
w How we get to work: including the use of mass transit and transit
subsidies, alternative-fuel vehicles, bicycles and even walking
from nearby housing.
w How we build, lease, furnish and, ultimately, dispose of our buildings:
funding projects on the basis of lowest life cycle rather than first
cost, adapting and re-using historic structures, re-populating urban
centers, using recycled-content construction materials, minimizing
construction waste, and installing energy management control systems
with energy-efficient equipment.
w How we operate and maintain our buildings: including use of reformulated
chemical products, native landscaping materials, regular maintenance
and tune-up of systems, minimizing operation hours and
using smaller building zones that facilitate controlled use of equipment
The Guidelines for Creating High-performance Green Buildings,
produced by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection,
explains it this way: The sustainable workplace is an excellent
tool for promoting an organization to its customers. Most importantly,
it can attract and retain talented workers, instilling dedication
and pride-of-ownership when employees can relate to working in a
place, and for an organization, that is committed to protecting
the earth and demonstrates that commitment through its actions.
Finally, when a workplace is designed and built for sustainability,
less money needs to be spent on replacements and retrofits as work
practices and organizations change, and less productivity is lost
in the process of making changes.
Clearly, the message is being accepted. Recently the International
Facility Management Association (IFMA), the professional association
for facility managers, turned its attention to the green actions
of its 18,000 members worldwide, whose combined purchasing power
in North American alone is $64 billion annually. A survey conducted
by IFMA shows that 95 percent of facility professionals envision
sustainability will become an important issue for their profession,
and most are already taking proactive steps to ensure a greener
One of the top reasons cited for greening facilities was improved
employee health and productivity (76 percent). Additional reasons
included: cost savings (72 percent); environmental responsibility
(65 percent); and product life cycle analysis (41 percent).
The survey also addressed actions facilities managers have implemented
or plan to implement in the next two years in the area of product
specification and purchasing. For example, in the area of recycling,
88 percent of respondents said they are already recycling solid
waste; 49 percent are re-using materials; 36 percent said they are
reducing the production of solid waste and 12 percent are recycling
water. Another 67 percent said they are purchasing recycled office
In addition, 78 percent said that they use natural daylight in the
facilities they manage, and 67 percent said they have lighting fixture
retrofits in place. More than half have instituted an employee education
Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum, Inc. (HOK), a leading architecture,
engineering, interiors and planning firm, has adopted these key
elements of sustainable design:
* strategic facility planning and programmingDetermining
whether to renovate or build new, sell existing facilities or lease,
consolidate or decentralize, is critical to ensuring long-term viability,
resource conservation and life cycle cost benefits.
* site work and planningEnvironmentally sensitive planning
looks beyond the project site. It evaluates linkages to transportation,
infrastructure and ecosystems, and considers solar and wind orientation,
local microclimate, drainage patterns, utilities and existing site
features to develop optimal building siting with appropriate low
* energyBuilding orientation and massing, natural ventilation,
daylighting and other passive strategies, can all lower a buildings
energy demand while increasing the quality of the interior environment
and comfort of the occupants. The efficiency of required systems
is maximized through use of advanced computer modeling and life
cycle cost analysis.
* building materialsEnvironmentally preferable building
materials are (appropriately) durable and low maintenance. Careful
selection and specification can limit impacts on the environment
and occupant health, while remaining within the parameters of performance,
cost, aesthetics and availability.
* indoor air qualityIndoor air quality (IAQ) is most effectively
controlled through close coordination of architecture, interior
design and mechanical, electrical and plumbing design strategies
that limit sources of contamination before they enter the building.
Construction procedures for IAQ and post-occupancy user guides also
contribute to good long-term IAQ.
* waterSite design strategies that keep rainwater on the
site and, where feasible, consider on-site treatment and reuse of
building gray water and wastewater. Low flow plumbing fixtures,
appropriate landscaping and HVAC and plumbing system design also
* recycling and waste managementWaste and inefficiency
can be limited during construction by recycling demolition and construction
waste, reuse of on-site materials, and monitoring of material use
and packaging. Accommodating recycling into building design reduces
waste while generating revenues.
* building commissioning, operations and managementEffective
building commissioning is essential to ensure proper and efficient
functioning of systems. Facilities operations benefit from indoor
air quality and energy monitoring, and from policies for water saving,
waste reduction and environmentally sensitive maintenance.
* strategic environmental managementBy integrating long-range
environmental considerations into their proactive planning process,
manufacturing-based companies can eliminate emitted or discharged
pollutants. Strategic environmental management helps corporations
understand and assess environmental risks and opportunities, so
they can make informed decisions about their facilities and processes.
For More Information
The USGBC recently released the results of the Green Building Roundtable
in a publication entitled, Building Momentum: National Trends and
Prospects for High-Performance Green Buildings. The report highlights
components of green building in four categories: environmental,
economic, health and productivity. It can be accessed on-line at
Other organizations that can provide information, or which were
cited above, include:
* Rocky Mountain Institute: www.rmi.org
* U.S. Department of Energy: www.sustainable.doe.gov/ builindgs/gbprinc.shtml
* U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: www.epa.gov
* U.S. General Services Administration: www.gsa.gov
* Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum: www.hok.com
* Sustainable Building Industry Council: www.sbicouncil.org
* International Facility Management Association (IFMA): www.ifma.org
* Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: www.lbl.gov