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  • Writer's pictureCassidy Drew

Key Principles for Understanding Green Building and Sustainability

The world of sustainability has become such a buzzy topic. From greenwashing to ecofriendly, the terms are all over the place and many are being stretched to imply that they are better than they are. So what is green building?


Green building practices are the collection of strategies and materials that help to make the built environment more energy and water-efficient, healthier for both the occupants and the planet, improve embodied carbon, and work with nature. So it's pretty vague. Green building practices are working towards the goal of being more sustainable long term. All of our resources are finite. Clean air, water, and even "renewable" resources like trees. The reality is, that we need to be treating every single component as if it is as valuable as gold. Slow-growing trees are stronger, slower burning, and of much higher quality than a faster-growing tree. Clean natural water has more natural electrolytes than treated and polluted water. Green building techniques and practices are working towards optimizing the usage of these finite resources to receive the same output.


The best way I have come to understand green building practices is by thinking about what is truly necessary and turning our common practices into questions. Instead of using clean water to flush the toilet, it becomes why do we use clean potable water to flush the toilet? We can still live a quality life even with more sustainable practices. While most Americans would hate to use a simple composting toilet every day, there are more advanced versions now that help to eliminate the smell all while still being compostable. Instead of automatically having a consistently set heat and cooling temperature, it becomes, why do we set the inside temperature consistently at 72F all year long? There are ways we can help keep individuals cooler or warmer in their own spaces without having to temperature control the entire space.


What are some other common practices that can be turned into questions?






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