In an article that appeared in the August 2009 issue of Buildings, John Kouletsis, executive director at Kaiser Permanente, set forth a list of eight things to do to develop sustainable buildings. These elements can be applied in the context of new construction or substantial renovations, but the key is to start doing something now. Here’s the list (with our own ad lib descriptions):

  1. Borrow from Industry Leaders – no reason to recreate the wheel unless there’s innovation to be had. Get in touch with leaders and pick their brains for strategies and assistance. 
  2. Look to the Past – at some point, the industry may have strayed from effective strategies, such as building small or building near community resources. See if history has any valuable lessons. 
  3. Use Sustainable Products – the next generation of products has been designed to do two or three things at the same time. They’ll save you money, time, and help the environment. 
  4. Location Makes a Difference – every site is different and the available options can vary. Understand the pluses of your site to take advantage of wind, rain, water, sun, etc. 
  5. Water Conservation – no matter how much rainfall you receive, it’s important to minimize water use wherever it’s used, whether through your landscaping, facilities, equipment, or otherwise. 
  6. Build Universally – adopt strategies with the future in mind and expect to be able to adapt to advances that come in the future.
  7.  Use Technology Advances – advances in technology could save vast resources, whether paper, water, or materials. Adopt new strategies to use less and reduce your carbon footprint. 
  8. Join Others – get together with like minded individuals and organizations and commingle in an effort to exchange information and strategies. Combine to advance environmental sustainability.

You can read the entire article on Buildings at “Small Ways to Build Green.” After reading it, let us know what you think and whether any other elements should be added to the list.

Photo credit: Wetland Discovery Point, AJC Architects.