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

    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

    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

    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)

    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

    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.

  • 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.