Posted in From the Editor on February 26, 2014 12:52 pm EST

The Full Impact of Sustainable Building

A recap of the Faith-Based Communities initiative meeting at GreenBuild 2013 in Philadelphia









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TAGS: business, green, sustainability,


By Carol Badaracco Padgett

This was the message in the Faith-Based Communities inaugural meeting at the U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild 2013 conference and exposition in Philadelphia, Nov. 20-21, 2013. Designer staff attended the meeting and came away with creative insight into how companies that offer sustainable products are looking beyond their individual offerings and to the larger picture of a more thoughtful—more intentionally sustainable—future. In fact, they are planning for it by encouraging faith-based communities to model Creation Care principles and practices to communities at large.

Such a future promises to benefit building inhabitants and entire communities in a number of ways. If the air in a building is cleaner and therefore better for a person to breath, for example, then the true goal of sustainability has been reached. Byproducts of the end goal can include ROI for the materials, technological systems, fixtures and finishes associated with green building. In many cases, green building products and systems prices are coming down—and sustainable product and service options are paying for themselves in a condensed window of time.

If the air in a building is cleaner and therefore better for a person to breath ... then the true goal of sustainability has been reached.

A ready example is found in LED lighting, where energy savings are quickly apparent and price is no longer a barrier to entry. Companies as large and far-reaching as Kohler (visit link) are standing behind the premise that sustainable product options should not cost more than their everyday counterparts.

But again, the real benefit of sustainable choices is a healthier populace. With this large-scale viewpoint, when less of a building’s materials sit idly in a landfill following construction or renovation—but are instead recycled or repurposed for other uses—we as a society lighten our environmental baggage and draw nearer to a holistic health and well-being overall … closer to our Creator, perhaps. And the power of the smart choice is felt and experienced over and over again in concrete, everyday business ways, as money savings can be reinvested back into ministry and community—and even to fund further sustainable building choices.

Meeting facilitator and attendee sentiment at the Faith-Based Communities meeting echoed time and again the notion that churches and other faith-based structures are natural leaders in communities and can oftentimes be a trusted resource and example of healthy living. In other words, faith-based enterprises are a natural when it comes to modeling Creation Care-minded principles and processes. As Marketing Director Rhonda Mitchell with LaGrange, Ga.-based Interface (visit link) noted at my discussion table at the inaugural meeting, “Interfaith cooperation is so important. Sustainability and the discussion of it provide a framework to talk … and bring everyone together on the same page, regardless of faith perspective.”

What does the burgeoning focus on holistic, sustainable practices mean for Designer readers? Architects, engineers, consultants, AVL designers, and integrators—your unique contributions at the earliest phases of design and collaboration are critical in helping faith-based structures intermingle with their communities and lead the way in Creation Care.



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