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.

  • UL Environment Buys Greenguard

    News Analysis

    For the second time in five months, UL Environment, a division of Underwriters Laboratories (UL), has acquired a major brand in the green building products certification field.

  • SPI Green Firm Certification Goes National

    News Analysis

    The new SPI "green" certification for design and construction firms-now available nationally-recognizes companies that have the institutional capacity to deliver consistent, high-quality sustainability services and projects.

  • The Water-Energy Connection


    The production of electricity is highly water intense, just as the transport, heating, and cooling of water is energy intense. So saving energy saves water and saving water saves energy.

  • Nanosilver Particles Raise New Concerns

    News Analysis

    Silver nanoparticles have been incorporated into many building products for their antimicrobial benefits, but two new studies suggest that once released into the environment these particles may be harmful.

  • Making Green Buildings Safe for Firefighters

    News Analysis

    State fire marshals are getting concerned about fire safety issues in green buildings, and have developed a new website for collecting and sharing information.

  • UL Environment Teams Up with EcoLogo

    News Analysis

    In a major consolidation among the crowded field of green product labels, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has acquired Terrachoice, the manager of the EcoLogo Program.

  • The Precautionary Principle


    The precautionary principle employs "guilty until proven innocent" methodology, and suggests that we should avoid using questionable chemicals and materials until we know they're safe.

  • Transit-Oriented Development Threatened by Air Quality Rules

    News Analysis

    New guidelines may expose urban infill developments in California's Bay area to more regulations due to their proximity to air pollution sources.

  • Norway First in Zero Carbon Initiatives, Again

    News Analysis

    According to a recent U.K. report, Norway's renewable energy usage puts it first in a ranking of countries' zero carbon initiatives. The U.S. ranks 25th.

  • 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?