Environmentally sound building products and practices are vital to the future of our earth because buildings have extensive direct and indirect impacts on it. These impacts begin with building construction and occupancy and expand with any future renovations, repurposing of the building, demolition, and the waste it creates. Buildings also tend to use high amounts of energy, water, and raw materials that in turn create a significant amount of harmful atmospheric emissions. It was the combination of these very facts that motivated several new and existing agencies to research and enact building standards, certifications, and performance-based rating systems that aim to mitigate the stress and impact buildings have on the environment. This practice is now known as “Sustainable Design”.
Sustainable design standards have taken off dramatically since the 1990’s. In that time, we have seen several programs emerge as “standards” of sustainable, energy saving, and environmentally friendly design such as: