Sustainability: Why Buildings Matter

Historic Buildings

in the Lowcountry can teach us valuable lessons about how to respond architecturally to our local climate. In Charleston, buildings and related energy use account for over half (58%) of our energy consumption and the resultant greenhouse gas emissions annually. We can make better use of our limited resources by applying historic principles to new construction and making historic buildings systems fully operational.

Construction of new buildings accounts for 40% of raw material consumption in the global economy each year. The rehabilitation of historic buildings takes advantage of existing historic material that is generally superior in quality than what is available today.

Preservation is a means of mitigating resource overconsumption, reducing our use of raw materials, and limiting greenhouse gas emissions by operating these building as they were originally intended to function.

Green Rating Systems

In an effort to conserve our natural resources, the world is recognizing the need to re-introduce 'green' architectural strategies. The green movement seeks to take us back to good design, respecting the environment and the specifics of location and climate. By harmonizing buildings with their sites, architecture is capable of lessening our reliance on non-renewable resources and taking advantage of passive energy sources such as the sun, wind and earth.

Foundations of Green Standards

Does the building use less (or any) non-renewable energy to operate?

Does it use fewer resources to build?

Will it last as long as it can be used without undo effort to extend its life?

Will it produce less pollution and damage natural systems less?

How do we harmonize buildings with ecological integrity?

While green movement has also inspired impressive progress in terms of products and technologies, we must not overlook the foundations of this movement. Beware of 'Green-washing!'!