My wife recently started producing a newsletter about sustainability, we've just released the second issue and I wrote my first article for it.
The topic of the article is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which is a framework for verifying and certifying the 'greenness' and sustainability of buildings.
I am by no means an expert on LEED or architecture in general, in fact my knowledge of it was pretty specific to datacentres up till now, so I had to do a bit of research. One of the interesting things that I discovered was that one of the criteria that LEED is judged against is 'indoor environmental quality', which makes a massive amount of sense but is outside of most peoples definition of sustainability.
Another of the criteria is ‘Awareness and Education’. The logic is that it isn’t enough to build green buildings if nobody is going to use them in the right way. So, as a simple example, a LEED certified house will be awarded points if the builder leaves detailed instructions on how the rainwater recycling system works and how the new homeowner can reduce their water consumption.
The really great thing about LEED is that it isn't restricted to new buildings, it can be applied to refurbished and renovated ones too, but the question that I'm wondering about now is who cares and who is actually applying these standards.
For big companies having sustainable buildings is a great PR move, whether it is because of actually caring or whether it's just greenwashing, but are smaller companies really bothered about, do we make decisions about the property we rent or buy based on these kind of things or just on price and location?
Is the place where you work (and/or live) sustainable, could it be more so, and do you care either way?
Does it make you feel better about yourself and the space you are in if your toilets use grey water or if your lighting is ultra low energy, or is it just a space that you have to be in regardless and you don't even notice it anymore?
Oh, and if you fancy taking a look at the newsletter and reading the rest of my (really very brief) thoughts on LEED, here's a linky: