J.Schwartz,llc Construction Blog (PAHIC#861)

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What does “Green” even mean?

The term “green” is a bit amorphous and does not really have a set definition; and this causes a problem with the idea of being green (in my opinion, anyway). The Green concept is based on things like using fast-growth materials so that we are not laying the land bare, using materials that are bio and photo-degradable so that we are not filling landfills, using recycled materials (for obvious reasons), using highly efficient materials in order to save energy, use locally grown materials to reduce the carbon footprint, using adhesives and chemicals that are not bad for the environment (formaldehyde, etc), using things like solar, thermal and wind energy, using materials in new ways that would have otherwise been thrown away (engineered lumber uses scrap wood), and this list goes on and on.
The problem comes in when you take a myopic look at something and are tempted to call it “green” based on only one of the criteria listed above. For example, one of the commonly used green materials is bamboo – but as far as I have been able to tell, a huge majority of the bamboo used in the U.S. is imported and importing creates a huge carbon foot -print. Maybe this should negate this from being a green product? Well, the truth is, I do not know…because I guess it is all relative.
Together, let’s take a challenge, and do a comparison and contrast of materials / methods that are being called green… Over the next months, I will try to come up with a “green grading system” that can be used to compare and contrast materials and methods that will give an easy to read “green score” so that we can decipher what is and what is not actually green. If anyone can help with methodology for figuring out carbon footprints, that would be very helpful, and any suggestions of items to be included in the list would be great too. Keep in touch and explore this with me in the weeks and months to come…

posted by Joe Schwartz - J. Schwartz,llc at 9:01 am  

1 Comment »

  1. My instructor at UNT (University of North Texas, Denton, TX- prev. major Construction Engineering/Emergency Management dual degree plan)- Had us do our own personal carbon footprints. I’m sure he would be interested in an architectural/construction firm’s question and may have an answer or ‘program’ to determine your ‘carbon footprints’ re. your building/materials et al …

    ch- Now in PA

    Comment by Cary Holladay — December 7, 2009 @ 4:35 pm

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