Every now and then I get a question on green building, or I’ll ask someone a question on green building, and almost every time, the reaction I receive is bitter beer face. What’s the problem? It’s like by saying the word "green building," I’m a hippie, a crazed environmentalist, or worse: "a tree-hugger." I don’t know about hippie, but words like "environmentalist," "tree-hugger," and "sustainability," are losing that subtle, pejorative connotation in a quick way. In fact, the real smart cities (i.e., San Francisco, Austin, Portland, Honolulu, and San Diego) are often the greenest. Catch my drift? Green = Smart; Green = Opportunity. Intelligent people are rethinking antiquated notions about the environment and are moving in a green direction.
That said, I want to clarify and delineate the two main categories of green building that you might be interested in: (1) Building and (2) Maintenance. Lets explore the myriad of sustainable opportunities to be found in each category.
- Building – this includes new construction, renovation, and rehabilitation. Opportunities to save money + energy, pollute less, create less waste, and discover new uses for old materials abound. There are hundreds of entrepreneurial opportunities along the building spectrum from design to build, from deconstruction to renovation. We’re talking xeriscaping, getting solar panels, incorporating passive solar design, insulating correctly, using the right windows, and finding the right mixture of water, electricity, and gas-guzzling appliances.
- Maintenance – this includes everything related to using and abusing a structure on a going forward basis. You will find money + energy saving opportunities in energy efficient appliances, light bulb choices, decorative decisions, and lifestyle choices. Here, we’re talking about choosing the right TV, light bulbs, lamps, blinds + shades, decorative paints, and furniture. We’re also talking about cutting out waste in your lifestyle, like running the water while you brush your teeth for 8 minutes every day.
Think big, think innovative, and think independent. Going green requires taking proactive choices about how you interact with the world we live in. I like to think of all these green opportunities as web widgets that you can pull out of the sky and place them in your home. I’ll take the Energy Star appliance widget, the plug-in hybrid vehicle widget, the CFL light bulb widget, the zero-VOC paint widget, the dual-flush toilet widget, etc.! For motivation.