Green Building 101



Gristmill has a list of some two dozen green building techniques arranged in a quick-read table with approximate energy and greenhouse-gas savings and more technical references for each. It's an educational list, not a substitute for the systematic thinking that goes into standards like that of the U.S. Green Building Council, nor a for seeing a bunch of ideas together in action like the Sullivans' Rogers Park rehab.

There are not only some materials and practices listed here I've never heard of (geopolymeric cement, anyone?), but some good thoughts -- be cautious about savings on building that end up requiring more energy in operations, because building operations keep on using energy and money for a loooong time.  Top of the list: rehabbing over building new. Reminder: no significant savings to be made on items that are a small part of the structure, such as wiring.

There are also reminders that in this enterprise as in all others, not all good things go together. There are tradeoffs. From a building standpoint, for instance, skyscrapers are very energy-intensive and so need to have operational efficiencies. But from a broader point of view, the alternative to skyscrapers is acres of low-rise sprawl, which consumes energy in transit and other ways.

As the comments suggest, some of these innovations will become more palatable if energy is priced according to its true costs -- but people have to know about them first!

Meanwhile, ENN reports on the American Institute of Architects' list of the ten greenest buildings in the U.S., and the midwest was entirely shut out.

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