A variety of terms are used to mean “green” in the construction industry, including green building, sustainable design, high performance building, whole building design, sustainable building and integrated design. Theoretically, this collection of industry terms represents a movement taking place over the last 40 years to change the way we understand building architecture, design, construction, use, and decommission. As Kibert (2005) stated, “buildings are predominant artifacts of modern society…important cultural symbols” that impact vast populations based on their “design, materials, color, location, and function.” With the environmental progress of the ‘70s and the green building movement of the ‘90s, sustainable building practices can be characterized as a broad and far-reaching cultural evolution of society's relationship to the built environment.
There is no single, widely accepted definition for green building, but a survey of definitions reveals many common threads. Table 1 presents an abbreviated comparison of green building definitions from a variety of sources.
Table 1. Green Building Defined
|Sustainable Design||A design philosophy that seeks to maximize the quality of the built environment, while minimizing or eliminating negative impacts to the natural environment.||McLennan (2004), The Philosophy of Sustainable Design|
|Green Buildings||Buildings that are designed, constructed, and operated to boost environmental, economic, health, and productivity performance over conventional building.||U.S. Green Building Council (2002), Building Momentum|
|Green Building||The careful design, construction, operation, and reuse or removal of the built environment in an environmentally, energy-efficient, and sustainable manner; may be used interchangeably with high performance building, green construction, whole building design, sustainable building, and sustainable design.||McGraw Hill Construction (2006), Green Building SmartMarket Report|
|Green Building||The practice of 1) increasing the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use energy, water, and materials, and 2) reducing impacts on human health and the environment through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal—the complete building life cycle.||Building Design & Construction (2003), quoting the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive White Paper on Sustainability|
|Green Building||The process of building that incorporates environmental considerations into every phase of the homebuilding process. That means that during the design, construction, and operation of a home, energy and water efficiency, lot development, resource-efficient building design and materials, indoor environmental quality, homeowner maintenance, and the home's overall impact on the environment are all taken into account.||National Association of Homebuilders (2006), Model Green Homebuilding Guidelines|
|Sustainable Construction||The goal of sustainable construction is to create and operate a healthy built environment based on resource efficiency and ecological design with an emphasis on 7 core principles across the building's life cycle: reducing resource consumption, reusing resources, using recyclable resources, protecting nature, eliminating toxics, applying life-cycle costing, and focusing on quality.||Kibert (2005), quoting the Conseil International du Batiment (CIB), Sustainable Construction: Green Building Delivery & Design|
Using the culmination of these resources, we define green building (also referred to as sustainable design, sustainable construction, and other terms previously listed) as a philosophy and associated project and construction management practices that seek to (1) minimize or eliminate impacts on the environment, natural resources, and non-renewable energy sources to promote the sustainability of the built environment; (2) enhance the health, wellbeing and productivity of occupants and whole communities; (3) cultivate economic development and financial returns for developers and whole communities, and; (4) apply life-cycle approaches to community planning and development.
* Excerpt from the PMI article The greening of project management