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.

  • Choosing Windows: Looking Through the Options
    January 27, 2011

    Feature Article

    We ask a lot from windows: energy efficiency, aesthetics, durability, affordability, and more. Which window frame materials and low-e glazing options balance these choices best? This article explores all the options and decodes the performance labels we see when buying windows.

  • A Green Building Wish List: Policies, Trends, and Products for 2011 and Beyond
    December 30, 2010

    Feature Article

    Guaranteed energy performance of homes. Rapidly renewable materials that don't compete with food production. These are just a couple of the new developments we explore that would help the building industry clean up its act.

  • Reexamining Priorities in Green Building
    October 29, 2010

    Feature Article

    Rarely can we do everything we want with a green building project-particularly in today's constrained economy. When we are forced to choose, where will our efforts make the most difference in improving the environmental and health performance of our built environments?

  • Reducing Environmental Impacts of Cement and Concrete
    August 30, 2010

    Feature Article

     This article explores the environmental footprint of portland cement production and future emissions regulations and looks at the issues surrounding its most common replacement, fly ash.

  • The Problem with Net-Zero Buildings (and the Case for Net-Zero Neighborhoods)
    July 30, 2010

    Feature Article

    It can be tough to make an individual building into a zero energy building, while working at the community scale can offer up opportunities for energy efficiency and cost-effective renewable energy generation.

  • Avoiding the Global Warming Impact of Insulation
    June 1, 2010

    Feature Article

    Insulation is key to reducing carbon emissions from buildings. But the blowing agent in extruded polystyrene and spray polyurethane foam offsets much of that benefit.

  • Our Economy is Broken (and We Can Fix It)
    April 4, 2017

    Op-Ed

    Green building practitioners must take on the challenge of our broken economy, in our work and in our lives.

  • Cool Products From Greenbuild 2009: An Expo Floor Tour
    January 1, 2010

    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
    August 28, 2009

    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
    April 29, 2009

    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.