Sustainable Design and Development

Sustainable Development has been defined in many ways, but the most frequently quoted definition is from Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report.

"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of     the present without compromising the ability of future generations   to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:

  the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the             world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and

  the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and           social organization on the environment's ability to meet present         and future needs."


All definitions of sustainable development require that we see the world as a system-a system that connects space; and a system that connects time.


"Sustainable means using methods, systems and materials            

  that won't deplete resources or harm natural cycles" (Rosenbaum,


"Sustainability identifies a concept and attitude in development       that looks at a site's natural land, water, and energy resources as     integral aspects of the development" (Vieira,1993)

"Sustainability integrates natural systems with human patterns and   celebrates continuity, uniqueness and place-making" (Early, 1993)


Our industry is in a unique position to make a huge impact on our generation and future generations in either a negative or positive way. Lets work together to make it the latter.

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Why Build Green?

The overall green building market (both non-residential and residential) is likely to more than double from today's $36-49 billion to $96-140 billion by 2013 (1).

The value of green building construction is projected to increase to $60 billion by 2010 (2).

The construction market accounts for 13.4% of the $13.2 trillion U.S. GDP (3).


Market Impact

  • The green market was 2% of non-residential construction starts in 2005; 10-12% in 2008; and will grow to 20-25% by 2013 (4).
  • Comprises 13.4% of the $13.2 trillion U.S. GDP. This includes all commercial, residential, industrial and infrastructure construction. New commercial and residential building construction constitutes 6.1% of the GDP (5).
  • Green building will support 7.9 million U.S. jobs and pump $554 million into the American economy over the next four years (2009-2013) (6).


  • Buildings represent 38.9% of U.S. primary energy use (includes fuel input for production) (7).
  • Buildings are one of the heaviest consumers of natural resources and account for a significant portion of the greenhouse gas emissions that affect climate change. In the U.S., buildings account for 38% of all CO2 emissions (8).
  • Buildings represent 72% of U.S electricity consumption (9).


  • Buildings use 13.6% of all potable water, or 15 trillion gallons per year (10).


  • Buildings use 40% of raw materials globally (3B tons annually) (11).
  • The EPA estimates that 170 Million tons of building-related construction and demolition (C&D) debris was generated in the U.S. in 2003, with 61% coming from nonresidential and 39% from residential sources (12).
  • The EPA estimates that 209.7 million tons of municipal solid waste was generated in the U.S. in a single year (13).

Source: U.S. Green Building Council - Green Building Facts

Why Build Green?

Why Build Green? Building green saves money

  • The cost per square foot for buildings seeking LEED certification falls into the existing range of costs for buildings not seeking LEED certification (16).
  • An upfront investment of 2% in green building design, on average, results in life cycle savings of 20% of the total construction costs - more than ten times the initial investment (17).
  • Building sale prices for energy efficient buildings are as much as 10% higher per square foot than conventional buildings (18).
  • Estimated Value of green construction starts (19):

                2000: $792 million
                2001: $3.24 billion
                2002: $3.81 billion
                2003: $5.76 billion
                2004: $4.51 billion
                2010 (projected): $60 billion (10% construction starts)

  • Real estate and construction professionals overestimate the costs of green building by 300% (20).
  • Perceived cost benefits of green building (21):

                Operating costs decrease 8-9%
                Building value increases 7.5%
                Return on investment improves 6.6%
                Occupancy ration increases 3.5%
                Rent ratio increases 3%


Why Build Green? Green buildings consume less energy and fewer resources

  • In comparison to the average commercial building (22):

                Green buildings consume 26% less energy
                Green buildings have 13% lower maintenance costs
                Green buildings have 27% higher occupant satisfaction
                Green buildings have 33% less greenhouse gas emissions


Why Build Green? Green building occupants are more productive

  • An experiment identifies a link between improved lighting design and a 27% reduction in the incidence of headaches, which accounts for 0.7% of overall employee health insurance cost at approximately $35 per employee annually (23).
  • Sales in stores with skylights were up to 40% higher compared to similar stores without skylights (24).
  • Students with the most daylighting in their classrooms progressed 20% faster on math tests and 26% faster on reading tests in one year than those with less daylighting (25).
  • Corporate perception of whether green fosters innovation: 57% agree; 28% neutral and 15% disagree (26).
  • Improvements in indoor environments are estimated to save $17-48 billion in total health gains and $20-160 billion in worker performance (27).

Why Build Green? Green building occupants are healthier

  • People in the U.S. spend about 90% of their time indoors (28).
  • EPA studies indicate indoor levels of pollutants may be up to ten times higher than outdoor levels (29).
  • Significant associations exist between low ventilation levels and higher carbon dioxide concentrations - a common symptom in facilities with sick building syndrome (30).

Source: U.S. Green Building Council - Green Building Facts

Price of Green Homes:

  • Research shows that 52% of new home buyers are paying about the same to build their green home, compared to non-green homes. 28% are paying more, while 20% are paying less.

Reduction in Energy Bills:

  • On average green home owners are seeing an 18% reduction in operational costs. 34% are seeing savings of over 36%, with 14% seeing more than 50%.

Satisfaction of Green Home Owners:

  • 87% of green home owners are more satisfied with their new home, with only 1% being less satisfied.

Premium Paid for Green Homes:

  • One-third of home buyers are willing to pay a premium of $20-30,000 or more for existing green homes.

Source: McGraw Hill Smart Market Report