(Descriptions drawn from language on each organization's web site as of 2009)
- USGBC- U.S. Green Building Council founded in 1993, has more than 15,000 members. Non-profit
organization of building professionals that promotes sustainability, how buildings are designed, built and
operated, encouraging environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to work and live. USGBC has
developed programs and services, working closely with industry and research organizations, and federal, state
and local government. The USGBC developed the LEED rating system (see below) and Greenbuild, a green conference
that promotes the green building industry, and supports environmentally responsible materials, and sustainable
architecture and public policy. For info USGBC
- LEED — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design developed in 1998 by the U.S. Green Building Council,
LEED provides standards for environmentally sustainable construction known as the LEED rating system. LEED
has defined a national standard for green building design. The LEED rating system is based on achieving a certain
number of points, which are allocated for design choices defined within the LEED standard. LEED’s
design criteria include: site selection; efficient use of water, energy and atmosphere; materials and resources;
indoor environmental air quality; and innovative design. The intent of the LEED standard is to provide a design
guideline and third-party certification tool for green buildings. Products cannot be LEED certified — only buildings.
LEED-certified buildings have higher initial costs but these can be mitigated by savings incurred over time due to
lower operational costs. Additional payback is a healthier environment. Studies show an initial investment
averaging 2 percent will yield 10 times that in savings over the structure's lifecycle. Program incentives
include tax credits, reduced permit fees and low-interest loans. For info on
- FSC — Certified-Forest Stewardship Council an independent non-profit organization established to
promote responsible management of the world’s forests. FSC certification verifies wood products originating from
a well-managed forest therefore making it sustainable. Recognized as the most rigorous and only certification system,
with an established chain of custody certification, ensuring the wood is harvested from a certified forest.
For info Certified-Forest Stewardship Council
- Build it Green a non-profit membership organization whose mission is to promote healthy,
energy-and resource-efficient building practices in California. It works with mainstream stakeholders in the
housing industry to accelerate adoption of green building practices. Build it Green offers trusted green-building
training, tools, technical expertise and partnership opportunities for public agencies, builders, developers,
architects, contractors, affordable housing advocates, real estate suppliers and homeowners. For info
Build It Green
- BuildingGreen.com The online GreenSpec® Directory lists product descriptions for over 2,000
environmentally preferable products. They provide independent research to ensure that product descriptions
contain unbiased, high-quality information. Unlike other directories, they do not charge for listings or
sell ads, but they do charge for a yearly subscription. A great source for the trades and for consumers who
plan to build or remodel. For info BuildingGreen
- GreenPoint Program provided by Build It Green is a rated program that provides an objective,
third-party verification system that equips consumers to find green homes, understand green benefits and recognize
green features. Trained and certified raters evaluate whether new and existing homes meet program standards.
Conservation of natural resources, increased energy efficiency and improved indoor air quality are a few of the benchmarks
a new home must reach to qualify. For info Build It Green
- Greenguard The Greenguard™ Environmental Institute, a nonprofit certifier of products with low
emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), has created the Greenguard Standard for Children & Schools™, which
sets emissions criteria for building materials, furnishings, finishes and cleaning products to be used in schools
and day care facilities. For research on healthier products for your home
- Energy Star an international standard for energy efficient consumer products. First created as a
United States government program in 1992. Since then Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan and Europe have
also adopted the program. The Energy Star logo appears on computers and many appliances that can save up to
30 percent in energy consumption. For info Energy Star
"The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, or at least not try to defy them." Paul Hawken
Renew, reuse, rethink, respect, recycle . . . each step moves us toward a sustainable future
For humans to live sustainably, the earth’s resources must be used at a rate at which they can be replenished. We must meet
the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. In order to achieve
true sustainability, we must also consider many levels of biological organizations: wetlands, prairies and forests.
Our expression of similar organization in human design is seen in living and work spaces such as eco-villages, sustainable
cities, sustainable agriculture, sustainable building and renewable energy. Awareness is the beginning of change.
We must all do our part. Reading this guide may be your first step toward better choices for your family and for our
environment. Let’s get started!
Greenhouse Gas and Global Warming
The term "greenhouse gas" can be misleading. Greenhouse gas
is a gaseous ring that encloses the mass of the earth. Greenhouse gas is essential to regulate Earth’s temperature;
without it, our planet would be cold and uninhabitable. Since 1750 there has been an increase in consumption
of fossil fuels, new forms of land use and agriculture, which has caused an increase in atmospheric levels of
carbon dioxide. These levels are rising at such an alarming rate that it has negatively impacted the levels
of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere; the result is global warming. Scientists believe the last half of the
20th century has been the hottest period in the northern hemisphere in the last 500 years. For info
This is a method of tracking human demand on nature or specifically how much
land is needed to produce resources used, and absorb the waste generated. This measure is used for both human
consumption and buildings. During your remodeling you can make a difference by making smart choices for your home.
Lowering your consumption of energy and water, and thoughtful product selection, all contribute to lessening your
ecological footprint. For info Ecological footprint
- The chart shows calculations reflecting average consumption of one person from various nations of the world,
as published in WWF’s Living Planet Report. The global average used by each human is 5.6 acres.
Ecological footprint: land needed per person
- VOCs also known as volatile organic compounds, are among the most complex and troubling indoor
air pollutants, as their health effects are difficult to pinpoint. VOCs can be found in manufactured and synthesized
products, especially paint, stains and adhesives that are applied wet.
- Formaldehyde an organic compound consisting of oxygen, carbon and hydrogen. It emits a colorless gas
that has a distinctive pungent odor. It is used in many building supplies such as countertops, paint, adhesives
and even cosmetics. Although useful, formaldehyde has been found harmful to humans.
- Off-Gassing that unmistakable “new rug smell” or “new car smell” that makes you woozy. The smell
is caused by a release of a gas or vapor into the air during the process of aging, evaporating or decomposing.
Many building materials, flooring, plastics, furnishings, paints and fabric finishes off-gas in your home,
releasing potentially hazardous chemicals include VOCs (volatile organic compounds). This evaporation can
continue for years after installation, which means you continue to breathe these chemicals while you work,
sleep and relax in your home or office. Health risks range from temporary eye irritation to organ damage. Off-gassing
abates over time, and you can minimize your exposure to off-gassing chemicals by purchasing products marked no-VOC,
and by airing out newly painted or carpeted (untreated wool or cotton excluded) rooms for a few days before
settling in. The best approach is to select products low in VOCs. For info