Modern Building Design – Is it Green Yet?

What makes a building design green? Sustainable materials, especially those available locally, or can it be recycled. Other choices include reusable, renewable and nontoxic materials. Building designers may also choose the orientation of the building on the site to take advantage of the sun or a breeze, or to minimize unfavorable weather conditions.

Construction methods and techniques are chosen to minimize environmental disruption of the building site and reduce construction waste. Renewable energy sources such as active or passive solar or wind power may be included in the building design. High efficiency water, energy and waste systems are often included to reduce the long-term operating costs.

In spite of the recent global economic problems, sustainable building projected to increase. In part the growth is fueled by a growing number of government initiatives and by increasing public demand for green products and services. More and more often the public expects and even prefers to do business with “green companies.

The US is not alone in implementing governmental building design initiatives. Canada, France, Germany, India, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom have gotten involved. All have explored, recommended or implemented some form of sustainable building design initiatives or standards.

The unprecedented public demand for all things “green” has spurred a bevy of competing green building standards. The best known is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System created by the US Green Building Council. Dozens of others exist, yet there is no national green building standard.

The lack of a national standard combined with increasing public demand has led some companies to falsely claim their buildings are green. In some cases the building designer has not considered sustainability at all. These companies may believe they cannot adequately compete in the marketplace without some claim to one green building standard or another.

Green building design is now an important world wide trend in construction. Its rise to importance, has taken decades.  Many experts believe that in the future all building design will be green. It won’t be discretionary and it won’t be a novelty. It will be the standard way buildings are designed. We’re not there yet, but we’re moving in the right direction and moving quickly.