Green by Design

Sustainability, green, high-performance — different words, similar meaning. In the ‘60s, it was about the environment. In the ‘70s, it was about gasoline shortages and energy efficiency. Today’s green building movement grew out of the need and desire for both — energy efficiency and environmental protection.

Ten years ago, many thought that the green buildings movement would be a passing phase. History will show that it is not. This is one movement that has the buy-in of all age groups, from the flower children of the ‘60s to the young children of today. We have the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment, the USGBC's Center for Green Schools, the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) and many other organizations leading the way.

A great deal of effort is going into educating people on the importance and benefits of green, and the message is not going unheard. On many college campuses, the green movement is student-driven. In K-12 schools, new buildings are being built as teaching tools, informing students about energy and the environment. The message is even reaching children who are not even old enough to go to school, just by watching TV.

Last year, Disney launched their Friends for Change: Project Green program. The aim of their program is to empower children to take charge when it comes to the environment, whether it's their own piece of the planet or a big picture approach. In 12 months, young children have made nearly two million personal promises to change their daily routines, from unplugging electrical devices when not in use, to taking shorter showers. With nearly two million promises, kids have pledged to annually cut 70,000 tons of carbon emissions, reduce/recycle 2.4 million pounds of trash and save 120 million gallons of water per month. With programs like this, we are ensuring that the green movement will continue to grow.

Going green is still a relatively new concept for most. To do our part, we have included a special section in this issue of the magazine that showcases good ideas in planning and design. If you turn to page 40, you will find the winners of our 2010 Sustainability & Innovation Awards. The objective is to recognize innovation, share best practice, provide schools and colleges access to inspirational ideas in green design and make our educational facilities better places to teach and to learn.