In the last hundred years, the environmental devastation from our way of life has been enormous. Due to the human industrial revolution, we have lost 50% of our wetlands, 50% of our forests, and 70% of our marine fisheries. These natural systems balance our life support system by cleaning our water, producing our air, and providing our food. This impact is severe, and it’s getting worse.
As the global population soars to a projected 10 billion people by 2050, the resources of the planet will not be able to support all our needs. If we continue to consume at the current rate, you will see drastic changes in your lifetime. The way you get your food and water, as well as how you travel, will change as these resources become scarcer.
Although the effect to the natural environment has been destructive, it’s only part of the full story. After all, you’re probably thinking, “This is terrible news, but what does it have to do with building or remodeling my home?” Well, quite a bit, actually. Many people think that the automobile is to blame for the majority of the damage to the environment. Although dependence on cars does have a negative effect, the biggest impact on the environment, the greatest source for pollution, and the leading demand for the consumption of resources are buildings.
Buildings consume 40% of the world’s energy and materials. If you factor building construction into that, the number jumps to 48%. Building use represents 70% of total human consumption (that includes everything: energy, water, and materials combined). A whopping 17% of all manufactured wood and 25% of all the water supply go into the operation of buildings. Nearly half (45%) of carbon emissions, the pollution causing global warming, comes from buildings. Cars are only responsible for a third of all emissions.
Once only of interest to hard-core environmentalists, the rise in energy prices, dependence on fossil fuels, and growing concerns over the damage done to the planet has boosted green building into the spotlight of mainstream interest. Today, those in the business of designing and constructing buildings are faced with the new challenge of environmental responsibility. The rise in energy costs, shortage of building materials, and growing consumer demands are driving this market to seek out better and more efficient ways to construct buildings. In addition, new legislation, stricter building codes, and rising health-care costs are forcing builders to build green — whether they want to or not.
Research has shown that, although an overwhelming majority of designers feel a responsibility to offer green building solutions, only a fraction of them do so. They blame this discrepancy on a “lack of information.”
More important than any statistic, however, is the good feeling you have when you know you’ve done what’s right for both your family and your community. Promoting continued health, financial savings, and social responsibility, green building is the construction standard for the future — and the smart solution for today.
More than any other industry, buildings are responsible for most of the damage done to the environment. Anyone building or remodeling a home is in a position to effect great change on the planet. So far, most of it has been negative — but you can change that by making better choices.