For more than a decade West Michigan, specifically Grand Rapids has been in a leadership role in the green building movement that has swept the world. Leaders in the office furniture industry as well as the design and construction industry paved the way which lead to many of the first green buildings in the world. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a 3rd party green building standard that is transforming the way the built environment designs, constructs and maintains all buildings and communities. LEED is a green building tool that addresses the entire building lifecycle recognizing best-in-class building strategies. More information on LEED can be obtained on the U.S. Green Building website.
One of the major oppositions I heard about LEED is the cost to obtain. Comments like that typically come from those that don’t understand LEED, those that have little or no experience with it, or those that are not looking at the total cost of ownership of a building and only concerned with getting a building constructed or renovated at the lowest possible cost without concern for the people that will live and work in the building or the environment.
Time and time again I hear the successes of improved productivity, improved health, reduced energy usage expectations, lower water usage than traditional buildings and landscapes and there are many of those stories documented for others to read.
Many communities in Michigan have received grant money to address storm water run off in their communities. We continue to pour money into addressing this issue on the back end – why do most of the design and construction teams along the lakeshore of Lake Michigan choose to ignore that issue and avoid even exploring new technologies?
We are very fortunate to have Grand Rapids leading in this way and a Mayor (Mayor George Heartwell) who understands it, promotes it, works to change zoning ordinances in his city and implements plans for a brighter future where green building is the standard and not the exception. Health is directly related to the built environment and we must stop building buildings that are toxic and harmful to people and the environment. It is all related. A good read : Public Health and the Built Environment How Architects Can Design for Better Public Health
My hope is that the rest of West Michigan will someday realize that public health is directly related to the way we design and construct our communities and buildings and that money will no longer take precedence over health and the environment. Short sided thinking will not make an attractive community for a younger generation either.