The Big Picture

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

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.

The Big Picture

Deep Dives

Get up to speed on complex topics. You can also earn CEUs and download PDF Spotlight Reports.

Quick Takes

Jump straight to the essentials with these short explanations of green building concepts.

  • Synthetic Gypsum


    Synthetic gypsum, used in drywall, is chemically the same as virgin gypsum but is created from a byproduct of coal-fired power plants. Are designer and contractor concerns about heavy metal contamination justified?

  • Permaculture for Urban Design


    Permaculture promotes food production and nurtures ecological systems in both rural and urban environments.

  • Using Fly Ash in Concrete


    Fly ash lowers the environmental footprint of concrete and improves durability. Pouring and curing concrete with high levels of fly ash requires special treatment.

  • Weighting Environmental Impact Categories


    Life-cycle assessments (LCAs) score products or design options across a series of environmental impact categories. To compare two products with different impact profiles, it becomes necessary to weight those categories, a difficult process.

Product Guidance

Unbiased information from our product experts helps you separate green from greenwash.

  • Hands-Free Parking

    Product Review

    The AutoMotion Parking System creates an automated parking garage, offering advantages including indoor environmental quality benefits.

In The News

We break news down to the essentials and provide expert analysis.

  • The Future of Designing with Future Weather Data

    News Analysis

    Energy models that use future weather files instead of historical ones could become the norm as industry standards fall into place.

  • Biden Orders Carbon-Neutral Federal Government by 2050

    News Analysis

    New policies from Biden's executive order will require carbon-free electricity and embodied carbon disclosure for building materials, and could limit procurement of products with PFAS.

  • COP26 Helps Keep 1.5 Alive

    News Analysis

    COP26 protesters accused politicians of spouting empty words, but some see real reason for hope out of the UN Climate Change Conference.

  • Winning the Race to Zero

    News Brief

    The UN Race to Zero campaign enlists businesses in achieving net-zero operational emissions by 2050. How does it fit in with other commitments?


Thought-provoking opinions from the most trusted minds in sustainability.

Learning Resources

Syllabus supplements and CEU content, with automatic reporting for AIA and GBCI.

Just For Fun

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