Regardless of the TruthPosted: May 25, 2014
There is no agreement on what causes a climate to change, there is not even agreement as to whether such change would be beneficial or destructive. I know what I believe about it but that is NOT the point of this blog. Another topic with little agreement nor with even obvious confirmation regards the finite quantity of “fossil” fuel on the planet. There is a fixed amount and while technology is extracting fuel in ways and from places not previously believed possible, the ultimate reality of a finite quantity remains. Environmentalists act as if, even in the absence of proof, because there is no harm to the viability of the planet for human habitation by behaving as though.
Without a doubt, the built environment has a role to play in the future qualities of whatever environment human kind will inhabit. In recent years, the building industry is hugely dependent on cheap oil, from the manufacture and transportation of its materials, to the machinery and tools used in demolition and construction. This is primarily true in the more “developed” economies of the planet. The use of fossil fuels contributes to carbon emissions. That is the simple truth. The built environment is also responsible for significant amounts of pollution, whether of air, soil or water, and tons of landfill waste.
Because the finite nature of all fossil fuels means that they will someday be depleted, reducing consumption is one obvious strategy for extending survival. At the moment, it is difficult to imagine a world, so far different than the one we now inhabit, that the availability of, or lack of, fossil fuel energy resources could not help but change our quality of life radically. And it is again, uncertain what kind of radical change that might be – beneficial or destructive.
Choosing to build “green” is one way to save energy resources. The low embodied energy of green products ensures that very little energy goes into their manufacture and production, resulting in a direct reduction of carbon emissions. Eco friendly design methodology can reduce energy consumption by significantly reducing the energy inputs for heating, cooling and light, including the usage of energy efficient appliances. By saving energy, the building occupant also saves money – and that issue will become more significant, if the cost of fossil fuels rises higher, due to scarcity or higher costs of extraction, in the future.
Many design professionals and their clients are increasingly aware of indoor air quality. Many of our modern industrial conveniences and components of the built environment include chemical pollutants (paints, solvents, plastics and composite timbers) and require new thinking about the potential for biological pollutants (dust mites and molds, which are known to cause symptoms such as asthma, headaches, depression, eczema, palpitations and chronic fatigue syndrome). Building “green” with thoughtful considerations can eliminate these problems – by incorporating good ventilation, breathable walls, and the use of natural, non-toxic (including recycled) products and materials.
Green building is not only a wise choice for our future; it is also a necessary choice. The construction industry must adopt eco-friendly practices and materials that reduce its impacts, before we reach a point of irreversible damage to our life supporting systems. Thankfully, we see the industry, through the US Green Building Council and their LEED program, taking the initiative to find alternative ways to build, using renewable energy resources, and adopting non-polluting practices and materials that reduce, recycle and reuse, already TODAY – without governmental policy or more urgent motivations.
I am deeply indebted with this blog, to the thoughts expressed by Jennifer Gray, in an article titled “Eco Friendly Construction Methods and Materials“, published April 8, 2014 at Sustainable Build – for the perspectives of United Kingdom environmentalists. Her thinking so closely matches my own thoughts, I found myself in thorough agreement with the perspectives she expressed. Concerns for the future viability of our environment truly know NO borders.
Yemm & Hart is committed in our business and in our personal lives to doing our part to extend the survive-ability of human life on this planet. More than that, upholding a “good” quality of life for all people.
Blog author ~ Deborah Hart Yemm is co-founder of
Yemm & Hart, a green materials producer