Getting Started

Getting started is simple! Start by sitting down and taking time to think about what you are about to build. Then ask questions. All of us fall into the trap of doing business as usual because the world’s in a hurry and that’s the way it’s always been done. Green building is not business as usual. Green building is doing things not as usual.

Stop thinking of building costs in only the initial terms of labor and materials. Start thinking about building costs in the long term such as operating and lifespan costs.

Stop thinking of building costs only in terms of $$$ directly from you. Start thinking about building costs in terms of the environmental costs for you, your children and your neighbors - those next door, in the next state and in another country.

The environmental costs of a project refer to the impact that your building project has on the natural world, and on the communities that are involved in producing and disposing of your building materials.

Think & Ask
By asking questions, you’re getting others to stop and think. This raises the awareness and accountability of everyone involved, both for your project and future projects.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions - by asking, you send your designer and builder the message that you understand the concept of environmental costs, and that you want to minimize your building’s negative impacts on the earth.

Some things to think and ask are:
  • Think and ask about the origin of products and materials.
    • Is this material harvested, quarried or extracted in a way that is sustainable?
    • Is it healthy or harmful to the local environment, workers, the local population?
  • Think and ask about the manufacture of products.
    • Does the manufacturing process create pollution or health risks?
    • What kind of waste is created and is it toxic?
    • How and where is the waste disposed?
  • Think, ask, and compare building products and materials.
    • Are there other materials that will work with lower environmental impacts?
    • Will the product’s use improve or worsen your building's impact on the people who will use it?
    • Will its use reduce your building's impact on your community?
    • Will its use improve or worsen your building's global warming impact?
  • Think and ask about the probable lifespan of products and materials.
    • Some green materials or products may reduce your energy costs but will they last for a long time?
    • Products with long life spans help reduce your building’s environmental impact because additional raw material and energy will not be required for replacement purposes.
  • Think and ask about the disposal of products and materials.
    • When these materials do reach the end of their useful lives, can they be recycled or disposed of without negative environment impact?
    • How toxic might that disposal be?