No News Is Good News for Green Buildings

No News Is Good News for Green Buildings

After a decade of fits and starts, the green-building movement is finally nearing its tipping point. One sure indicator, from this journalist’s perspective: Greener buildings are no longer news.

Journalists are taught very early on to distinguish between a “dog bites man” story and a “man bites dog” story. The former happens every day; it’s not news. The latter represents the out-of-the-ordinary occurrence that warrants coverage.

And so it goes with green buildings. We rarely take a second look these days at a press release announcing LEED certification of a new building. It’s become the all-too-common “dog bites man” story. That may be frustrating for developers, architects, and landlords seeking some press attention for their green-building efforts -- but it’s great news for the green-building movement.

Not that there isn’t anything worth writing about. The business case for sustainable building practices is now clear and very compelling. The number of government agencies, universities, companies, and other large institutions making green-building commitments grows every month. The line-up of environmentally preferable building products available to architects, specifiers, and builders is growing at a steady pace -- in lockstep with these products' quality, availability, and competitive pricing.

The good news about green buildings is that there is so much good news. In fact, there’s so much of just about everything.

Consider, for a moment, the vast lode of information on green buildings found via a series of simple Google searches. For example, Googling the term “green building” (quotation marks included) yields well over a half-million search results. Included among these is a grab bag of news articles, organizations, Web sites, research reports, book reviews, event announcements, case studies, government programs, publications, rants, raves, and more.

The problem of information overload doesn’t get any easier when you drill down to any of green building’s many sub-topics. A Google search for “energy-efficient lighting” gets you 55,000 results . . . “sustainable land use” links to more than 44,000 pages . . . and “indoor air quality” will net you a mind-boggling 700,000 possible destinations.

There’s more. “Sustainable design” leads to 124,000 results . . . “green architecture” gets you more than 58,000 . . . and “green building materials” links brings up 11,000. Even “C&D debris” (for construction and demolition debris) links to more than 5,000 pages. And so it goes.

Making sense of all this information is a significant challenge even for the most committed of companies. For the uncommitted -- and especially for smaller and midsized firms with limited time, money, and human resources -- it is nearly impossible to get a handle on the topic, let alone transform information into knowledge, action, and results.

That’s where we come in.

GreenerBuildings.com attempts to do one thing, and do it well. We’ve gathered hundreds of the leading organizations, agencies, tools, resources, case studies, and other resources; organized them by topic; distilled them to their essence; and linked them back to their original sources. If you want, you can have the whole shebang organized by LEED credit.

And it’s all free.

One key role played by GreenerBuildings is to cross organization and sector boundaries. While there are hundreds of organizations and agencies dealing with green-building issues, most such organizations -- and their Web sites -- operate under a tacit “not-invented here” policy. For example, few nonprofits promote information or resources created by other nonprofits. Similarly, government agencies -- federal, state, and local -- tend to focus only on information available from within their organizational walls, frequently omitting valuable resources available from others. The same phenomenon can hold true for academic institutions, think tanks, trade associations, companies, and others. We've tried to bridge those chasms.

We’re proud of what we’ve built, but we’ve only just begun. In the coming weeks and months, you’ll see a steady stream of news, new resources, and site enhancements added to GreenerBuildings.

And we need your help. Please tell us about resources we’ve yet to add. Send us your news stories and announcements. Advertise your product or service. Tell us what we got wrong (and what we got right). Help us make GreenerBuildings a useful tool in your work. Please address your comments and feedback to [email protected].

Together, we can build something truly great.

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Joel Makower is editor of The Green Business Letter and founder of Green Business Network, creator of GreenerBuildings.com, GreenBiz.com, and other sites. Green Business Network is a program of the National Environmental Education & Training Foundation.