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6 myths holding back green building

Sustainable design has proven benefits, so why isn’t it more widely adopted?

March 22, 2015 |
6 myths holding back green building

1225 Connecticut Avenue NW is an office building in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Built in 1968, with a $32 million renovation in 2009 by Brookfield Properties and RTKL Associates. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Green building has not gotten as much traction as it should, given its many benefits, writes Lance Hosey, Chief Sustainability Officer with RTKL.

Despite reports that LEED-certified buildings can cut greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption by half, while costing 25% less to operate, only about 1% of the U.S. building stock is green. Hosey attributes this situation to six misperceptions about sustainable design:

1. Myth: Sustainability Equals Environmentalism. Reality: Green design is not just for tree huggers. It also produces economic value.

2. Myth: Sustainability Equals Technology. Reality: Sustainability is not just about solar panels and wind turbines.

3. Myth: Sustainable Design Costs Too Much. Reality: Today, LEED-certified buildings can be built at the same cost or even lower cost than conventional construction.

4. Myth: Sustainable Design Takes More Time. Reality: Integrated design, which brings together a project's key stakeholders, designers, consultants and contractors early to get consensus on goals, can save time by ensuring more thorough coordination and avoiding costly changes later.

5. Myth: Sustainability Isn't About Design. Reality: Green design is not just about specifications in a technical manual. For instance, decisions about a building’s shape have a significant impact on the resources needed.

6. Myth: Sustainable Design Isn't Beautiful. Reality: The look and feel of design are essential to sustainability. “Following the lessons of sustainability to their logical conclusion will inspire more designers to reconsider the impact of every decision, including form and image,” Hosey says.

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