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.

  • 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?

  • Permaculture for Urban Design


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

  • SAGE Electrochromics to Scale Up With $72 Million DOE Loan Guarantee

    News Analysis

    The makers of SageGlass electrochromic glazing will expand production with the help of a $72 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.

  • Energy Simulation Packages Updated

    News Analysis

    Leading BIM providers Autodesk and Bentley Systems have released new software bundles to solidify their energy modeling offerings: Autodesk providing feedback early in the design process and Bentley offering high-power tools for later analyses.

  • LEED Projects Doubled in 2008

    News Analysis

    LEED numbers doubled in 2008 and the U.S. Green Building Council sees reason for optimism despite the economic downturn.

  • U.S. On Track with HCFC Phaseout

    News Analysis

    U.S. industries are looking for alternative foam blowing agents and refrigerants as they comply with the HCFC phaseout mandated by the Montreal Protocol.

  • 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.

  • More Window Manufacturing Acquisitions by Serious Materials

    News Analysis