Green has become the favorite buzzword. But what does it really mean? There are no right answers, but many ways of measuring green. Let’s try and get a sense of the big picture.
The overarching bottom line is that the balance between resource consumption to meet people’s needs and the ability of the planet to provide is getting out of kilter. We are exhausting the natural resources and creating an environment that is becoming hostile to our own well-being.
The first step is to ‘do less harm,’ which might apply to building construction in the following way:
- use the fewest resources possible,
- with the maximum usage out of each material,
- for the longest possible service life,
- and the least impact on the environment and humanity.
Considering the big elephant in the room is fossil fuel and resulting carbon emissions, the primary focus is on reducing energy consumption.
The Passive House and Net-Zero approach is to design to site to take advantage of passive solar design then insulate the house to a point of diminishing return. The remaining heating and cooling demand can be provided with small, highly efficiency mechanical equipment.
The future of green is to move beyond the ‘less harm’ concept and adopt a regenerative design approach to build up the resources and work back towards a better planetary balance. This redefines sustainability as the choices and actions that satisfy our needs, while making the world an even better place for our children.
How does regenerative sustainability apply to building construction? Consider this:
- create more resources than you use (gather water, grow vegetation, generate electricity)
- provide for a cradle to cradle use for all materials,
- that allows for continuous service life as the materials are re-used or recycled,
- and will improve the environment and humanity.
This visionary approach moves our thoughts into a pro-active mode of green, sustainability living systems. It’s our future. Let’s define it.