The Big Picture

Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. License: CC BY 2.0.

OVERVIEW

It’s easy to get caught up in the details—earning one more LEED point or getting that documentation you need for recycled content.

But it’s a lot easier to achieve all the project goals if the owner and the whole project team are in agreement about why you’re putting in all this work in the first place. Stuff like:

  • slowing down climate change

  • dealing with global water shortages

  • avoiding depletion of nonrenewable resources

  • preventing public health problems associated with manufacturing

  • righting social wrongs

Here we set the scene, providing context that can help get—and keep—everyone on the same page about project goals.

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  • Cool Products From Greenbuild 2009: An Expo Floor Tour

    Feature Article

    Alex Wilson provides a tour of 37 innovative products from the U.S. Green Building Council's 2009 Greenbuild conference in Phoenix.

  • Design for Adaptation: Living in a Climate-Changing World

    Feature Article

    Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases tomorrow, rising global temperatures would still bring major changes to the climate system and our way of life. This article offers solutions for designing buildings that not only mitigate our impact on the global climate, but also adapt to the changes that are coming-and those that are already here.

  • The Folly of Building-Integrated Wind

    Feature Article

    Wind turbines on buildings could produce electricity where it's needed and catch high winds above ground level. However, wind turbulence, safety, cost, and poor performance all make building-integrated wind a limited strategy.

  • Integrated Project Delivery: A Platform for Efficient Construction

    Feature Article

    Integrated project delivery, or IPD, is a new contract mechanism for design and construction. Among its benefits for green building, it enshrines integrated design and building information modeling (BIM) into a legally supportive framework.

  • Counting Carbon: Understanding Carbon Footprints of Buildings

    Feature Article

    Everyone seems to be talking about measuring carbon footprints and designing carbon-neutral buildings, but these terms mean different things to different people. Some focus just on operating energy, while others also look at transportation, materials, and other building-related emissions. As with so many things, the results depend on what you count and how you count it.

  • Making Air Barriers that Work: Why and How to Tighten Up Buildings

    Feature Article

    Incorporating a continuous air barrier into a building's design and construction can save energy and improve the indoor environment, among other benefits. The right materials and assemblies can help accomplish that goal, but careful attention during design and close oversight during construction are essential.

  • Is Nano a No-No? Nanotechnology Advances into Buildings

    Feature Article

    Nanotechnology takes advantage of the novel properties that particles can exhibit at a billionth of a meter in size. Those properties are being used in building materials, where they can improve thermal performance and the effectiveness of photovoltaics, among many possibilities. The field has little regulation, however, despite significant health and environmental concerns.

  • Investing in the Environment: The Financial Industry's Approach to Green Building

    Feature Article

    Recent changes in the financial industry are providing new opportunities for financing green buildings. However, lenders and investors have different approaches to documenting the benefits of green, which affect how they use rating systems and other metrics. To navigate effectively in the financial world, green designers and builders need to understand the territory.

  • In the Pipeline: District Energy and Green Building

    Feature Article

    Very common in northern Europe, district energy systems use a network of buried, insulated pipes to distribute centrally produced steam, hot water, or chilled water to heat or cool multiple buildings. These systems can make use of waste heat from power generation (combined heat and power) or renewable fuel sources to help reduce the environmental impacts of buildings and communities.

  • Climate Change Dominates Greenbuild Conference Agenda

    Feature Article

    With several announcements at the 2006 Greenbuild conference in Denver, the U.S. Green Building Council signaled that it would use its LEED Rating System to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, by tightening LEED requirements and by increasing the number of buildings designed to LEED standards.