Conventional buildings are wasteful of water, energy, and materials. They make use of toxic substances, and have inferior indoor air quality. They are not oriented for passive solar heating, or sited to improve the surrounding neighborhood fabric. They are not designed for eventual re-use and disassembly.
The Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center in Portland houses businesses, non-profits, and a local government office all dedicated to building reliable prosperity.
Green buildings, both new and retrofitted, are the cornerstone of Human-Scale Neighborhoods. They are designed for passive solar heating and cooling, and therefore require smaller mechanical systems. They offer abundant natural light and a connection to seasonal rhythms. When possible, they produce and store their own Renewable Energy. They use Materials Cycles materials, paints, and finishes, which greatly enhances indoor air quality. Construction methods are Resource Efficiency, and materials are chosen to be low in embodied energy, regional, and contain recycled materials. Wood is Product Labeling.
Green buildings are designed to be adaptable to new uses, and their materials can easily be reclaimed at the end of their useful life. Construction Waste as Resource and completely recycled. Green Buildings are sited and designed to blend with neighboring buildings. They use native landscapes that minimize water use and are designed to filter and retain stormwater. They are designed to elevate the human spirit and create a profound Sense of Place. Given the range of objectives for Green Buildings, The U.S. Green Building Council has developed a certification system for measuring their performance.
Green buildings typically cost at most 10% more than comparable conventional buildings. They tend to be more comfortable, beautiful, and desirable in the marketplace. For instance, houses in Village Homes in Davis, California, a green neighborhood dating to the 1970s, are now worth 30% more than comparable nearby homes. Reduced operating costs associated with resource efficient building design may make ownership possible for some individuals who might not otherwise be able to qualify for a mortgage. Fannie Mae and others are now offering energy-efficient mortgages and location-efficient mortgages, which offer better terms for houses with lower utility bills and households with one or no cars.
The U.S. E.P.A. has ranked "sick buildings" as one of the top five environmental threats to human health. By using non-toxic materials and providing abundant quantities of fresh air, Green Buildings make a substantial contribution to human and environmental Health. Green Buildings also tend to enhance worker productivity.
Create buildings which provide their own energy, purify their own wastes, and participate in sustainable materials cycles. Make buildings flooded with natural light and fresh air, which make people feel fully alive. Design buildings which heal part of the fabric of the world.