Feature Article

Reexamining Priorities in Green Building

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?

Kroon Hall at Yale University embodies many green building priorities, including 60% energy savings, harvested rainwater for toilets, infill development of a brownfield site, and use of FSC-certified wood.

Photo: Alex Wilson

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?

We last took a comprehensive look at these questions in Environmental Building News way back in September 1995. A lot has changed in 15 years: global climate change has gained greater recognition as a concern; phthalate plasticizers, halogenated flame retardants, bisphenol-A, and other chemicals have emerged as health concerns; the U.S. Green Building Council emerged as a major player and launched the LEED Rating System; and green building has edged its way into the mainstream vocabulary.

This article takes a new look at how we should choose green building priorities. We’ll look at priorities from a few different angles, including:

  • priorities for the design and construction process;
  • priority outcomes determined during design and construction;
  • priorities relating to operation;
  • and priorities for the green building movement, detailing what we need to do to make our efforts more successful.

Published October 29, 2010