Sustainable Buildings

Advancing Health and Economic Growth in the Built Environment

Green building is among the fastest growing industries in the world, representing a $260 billion market in the United States. But while sustainable building comprises 20 percent of new construction, these practices lack adoption in certain markets and face the challenge of including low-income communities. In 2015, attendees in the Sustainable Buildings Working Group will workshop ideas that incorporate innovative efficiency and design techniques, new building materials, housing affordability, and sustainability in schools.

2015 Subtopics

Green Schools

Green schools incur lower maintenance costs, boost occupant wellness, and foster environmentalism. Attendees will develop initiatives that improve and expand green schools using energy efficient methods, retrofitting, and the green school model as a teaching tool for students.

Deep Green

While energy efficiency is a green building objective, new and innovative approaches are necessary for achieving a sustainable future. Attendees will develop strategies that explore next generation energy water efficiency, and net positive methods.

Green Affordable Housing

Building resource-efficient homes reduces costs and improves health for low-income families. Attendees will examine how to advance efficiency in existing green affordable housing and expand programs nationwide.

Building Health and Materials

Design and construction of the built environment greatly influence public health. Attendees will discuss ways to support occupant wellness through product life cycle analysis, as well as transparent material sourcing and assessment.

Innovative Commitments

Driving Demand for Energy Efficiency Through Employers

By: Michigan Saves
Partners: Dr. Energy Saver; West Michigan Environmental Action Council
In 2013, Michigan Saves and its partners committed to develop an outreach program at two large employer organizations to drive demand for home energy efficiency improvements. The employers offered whole-home energy assessments at a reduced fee and affordable loans to employees, both as a benefit and as part of the organization’s overall corporate sustainability efforts. Within the first six months, over 350 homeowners took advantage of the assessments.

Designing Recovery: Envision the Future by Building it Now

By: St. Bernard Project
Partners: The American Institute of Architects; Architecture for Humanity; The Dow Chemical Company; Make It Right Foundation
In 2012, St. Bernard Project and its partners committed to create an open-source house design competition that focuses on three communities still recovering from disaster: Joplin, Missouri; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Queens, New York. An expert panel judged submissions based on a holistic set of criteria, including: speed of implementation, cost of supplies, energy efficiency, volunteer friendliness, resiliency (built to withstand future disasters), and replicability.

Empowering Collegeville through Neighborhood Renewal

By: City of Birmingham
Partners: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham; University of Alabama, Birmingham; State of Alabama
In 2014, the City of Birmingham and its partners committed to empower and renew the community of Collegeville through sustainable, resilient development. The partners will remediate soil and revitalize the EPA Superfund site, develop land around historic Bethel Baptist Church into green space, construct a vehicular/pedestrian bridge for residents, renovate Maclin Park, resolve significant floodplain issues, and develop the vacant Carver High School site into affordable housing.

ASID Protocols for Health and Wellness in Design

By: American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)
Partners: CertainTeed; Saint-Gobain Corporation; National Institutes of Health; Delos Living; The WELL Building Standard; Gensler; Steelcase, Inc.; Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute; The Vitality Group; Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society; AkzoNobel; Meyer Scherer Rockcastle, ltd; Wolf-Gordon, Inc.
In 2014, American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and its partners committed to the development of health and wellness protocols for the design, products, and healthcare community. The protocols will be used by architects and interior designers to create spaces that promote occupant health and wellness across multiple building types, and specify the use of healthier products and materials.

Voices from the Meeting

William Parker
District 4 Representative
Birmingham City Council

William Parker, a participant in the 2014 Sustainable Buildings Working Group, shares a collaborative, six-point plan for ongoing community revitalization and the creation of hundreds of jobs in North Birmingham. Read his story.

Featured Past Participants

Airbnb, Inc. 
City of Austin
Duke Energy
Farmers Insurance Group
Gerding Edlen
Green and Healthy Homes Initiative
Johnson Controls, Inc.
Lend Lease Group
Lighting Science Group Corporation
Starwood Waypoint Residential Trust
U.S. Department of Energy
U.S. Green Building Council