Not a good day for Green Building

Not a good day for Green Building in the USA.

Lloyd Alter on TreeHugger reports that the Green Building Initiative, which runs the Green Globes building certification system has been recognised as a LEED alternative by the federal General Services Administration

I feel sad for friends, colleagues, advocates in the US who are passionate in defending real green building and real building product transparency that will restore the damage done by the built environment.

Lloyd writes: The lobby organization formed last year to kill LEED and counting among its members just about every toxic chemical manufacturer in the USA, is ecstatic, but pushing for more …

The US Green Building Council that runs the LEED program put on a brave face in a press release, saying “At this point, it is unassailable, LEED works. It has played a significant role in GSA’s achievement of its energy and sustainability goals.”

Dream on. Green Globes is now recognized as legit and will eat your lunch; it’s cheaper, it lets builders use all that plastic, and doesn’t give points for FSC certified lumber. In state after state, the politicians paid for by the plastics industry will insist upon it.

Unfortunately I see this as a discussion, then argument and battle waiting to happen here in the UK and Europe. As we push for deeper green standards such as the Living Building Challenge, for deeper product transparency, as Google and other clients will undoubtedly push for non toxic red list materials in their buildings, we will see the push from the power of the petro-chemical, plastics  and big lumber organisations, resisting change for healthy products.

And unfortunately I see our UK Greenest Government Ever likely to side with these giants, removing as they already are in numerous areas, environmental protection so as not to damage industry and growth, headed by an Environmental Minister who is taking  green policy back to the 70s

The UK green build fraternity, advocates, green build councils and accreditation organisations needs to hold strong in the coming years.

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We have no business applying the word sustainable to business activity until …

Much has been written and discussed around the use of the word ‘sustainability’ and indeed, within the built environment has become over an used term, we are seemingly littered with sustainable construction, design and fm, with sustainable products, techniques and technologies. It is as though the pre-fix ‘sustainable’ has become to mean little more than the way we now do things. Business as usual?

And yet in a world of transparency we increasingly run the risk of greenwash if we claim ‘sustainability status’ (or indeed ‘zero carbon’) for our activities and are really called to account.

I was reminded of this debate on reading the excellent The Responsible Business by Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley

“A word about a word we have chosen to use as little as possible: Sustainability.  Its a legitimate term that calls us not to take more from nature than we can give back. But we do take more than we give, we do harm nature more than we help it.

We have no business applying the the word sustainable to business activity until we learn to house, feed, clothe and entertain ourselves – and fuel the effort – without interfering with natures capacity to regenerate itself and support a rich variety of life.

We are a long long way from doing business … and no human economic activity is yet sustainable”

What do you think? Let us know if you think the word sustainability has become over used and hence lost its meaning

Related Links:

Construction CSR Makeover: can construction learn from Patagonia?

Constructing CSR iTransparency

… on what makes a building green