Realizing The Importance of Sustainable Design & Our Responsibilities As Designers

It seems like everywhere you turn, people are talking about the environment, global warming, sustainable design, green this…green that. What’s the big deal? Well, the big deal is, if we don’t start taking responsibility for the earth we’ve been given, future generations will not be able to live with the comforts we enjoy everyday.

In an effort to become better educated and share their passion with others, a team of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Accredited Professionals from GBBN attended Greenbuild, this year held in Chicago which bills itself as the greenest city in the US. Greenbuild is the largest, fastest growing and most significant international conference on Sustainable practices in the world. There were over 22,000 other concerned individuals in attendance. Obviously the concept of ‘green living’ has caught on and people are interested in learning more and on doing their part. Greenbuild is open to anyone interested in the design, construction and operations of buildings, and its relationship to the environment. 

“It was an amazing experience,” said GBBNer Andrew Plogsted, LEED AP, and one of 18 LEED accredited professionals that make up GBBN’s Sustainable Design Team. “We can’t afford to not see past the upfront cost to build green buildings, it’s too important to the future.” Guest speakers included former President Bill Clinton, and Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest. Clinton spoke about his Clinton Climate Initiative dedicated to helping leaders at all levels reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Hawken, a well-known environmentalist and leading proponent of reform with respect to ecological practices, gave the thousands in attendance a great deal of thought-provoking information.

Over a three-day period, 94 events were held and nearly 900 booths filled the exhibit hall providing information on green products such as wood alternatives, green roof technologies, and recycled content products.

“Overwhelming is the best word I can use to describe the atmosphere,” said Plogsted. “The information available and the people wanting to share their ideas were very inspiring.”

Did You Know…

That Buildings Consume:

  • 12% of potable water
  • 39% of primary energy
  • 40% of raw materials
  • 48% of US carbon emissions
  • 70% of US electricity

Green Buildings Save:

  • 30-50% of energy
  • 35% of carbon emissions
  • 40% of water
  • 70% of solid waste

Plogsted added, “As designers of buildings of the future, we need to realize the magnitude of our responsibility and translate that into sustainable, environmentally conscious structures that will not only last, but also conserve our limited resources."

According to Alan Warner, AIA, LEED AP, and firm principal, there are three key objectives of Greenbuild: networking, education and the introduction of new environmentally safe products. "The issues surrounding sustainability and global climate change are the greatest challenges ever facing designers historically," said Warner. "This is the great moral imperative of the age and because of this, there has never been a more exciting time for us to engage the present and create the future."

For more information, go to www.greenbuild365.org/