March 2004
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More information about sustainability

More information about sustainability

The building industry

Following is a summary of some information sources available about sustainability in the building industry.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a private, nonprofit organization representing a coalition of members from throughout the United States. It promotes environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy buildings. Visit www.usgbc.org for more information, or e-mail info@usgbc.org.

USGBC has created a rating system for new construction, the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System,™ for evaluating everything "green" about a building product and system.

The Building Design and Construction White Paper on Sustainability, sponsored in part by the North American Insulation Manufacturer's Association Wood Promotion Network and issued in November 2003, offers a brief history of green building; presents the results of a specially commissioned survey by those that sponsored it; analyzes chief trends, issues and published research contained in the report; and contains interviews with experts in green building technology. The paper concludes with an "action play" and a set of recommendations with the goal of encouraging further dialogue. The paper can be obtained at www.bdcmag.com.

Agenda 21 for Sustainable Construction in Developing Countries, the first document for the construction sector, was developed by CIB (International Council for Research and Innovation in Building Construction) and UNEP-IETC (United Nations Environment Programme International Environmental Technology Centre). Its main objective is to create a global framework technology that would add value to all national or regional agendas. The document provides a detailed overview of the concepts, issues and challenges of sustainable development and sustainable construction and poses challenges to the construction industry. The document can be downloaded at www.cibworld.nl.

As the issues of environmental concerns rise, the building and research communities have responded. Although the issue of sustainability is holistic, a number of organizations, such as the Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC), have been formed around a single issue—cool white roofing—under the umbrella of sustainability or environmental consciousness. Information about CRRC can be found at www.coolroofs.org.

ASTM International Inc. has two standards that address sustainability: E2114-01, "Standard Terminology for Sustainability Relative to the Performance of Buildings," and E2129-01, "Standard Practice for Data Collection for Sustainability Assessment of Building Products." Visit www.astm.org for more information.

BEES 3.0® is a Microsoft Windows-based program developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology Building and Fire Research Laboratory with support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Program. BEES (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability) 3.0 calculates the following separate environmental effects for a selected product or products:

  • Acidification (acid rain)
  • Criteria air pollution (primarily a measure of particulates)
  • Ecological toxicity
  • Eutrophication (unwanted mineral nutrients added to soil and water)
  • Fossil fuel depletion
  • Global warming
  • Habitat alteration
  • Human health (cancer and non-cancer)
  • Indoor air quality
  • Ozone depletion
  • Smog
  • Water intake (amount used from cradle to grave)

BEES 3.0 measures the economic performance of a product using ASTM E917-99, "Standard Practice for Measuring Life-cycle Costs of Buildings and Building Systems." BEES 3.0 blends life-cycle costing and environmental assessment data to provide an aggregated performance score for various materials used in construction; this is something LEED does not do. Further information can be obtained at www.bfrl.nist.gov/oae/software/bees.html.

Professional Roofing articles pertaining to the topics discussed in the sustainability article include the following:


This Web exclusive information is a supplement to Sustainability and roofing: its time has arrived.

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