By Sun Kim
Posting in Design
Is green building always sustainable building?
According to Green Versus Sustainability: From Semantics to Enlightenment by Yanarella, Levine and Lancaster, ‘green’ refers to individual products and processes. Instead of addressing the overall system in a product’s (or building’s) life, ‘green’ describes single, separate aspects. Sustainable, on the other hand, relates to the whole system encompassed by design, manufacture, and purchase, from concept through disposal.
If something is sustainable it is meant to meet the needs, enhance the quality, and prolong the cycle of life, human or non. Sustainable decisions and actions are those that cause no harm and consider the long term effects.
So depending on the entire scope of a project’s conception and construction, a building with green parts isn't necessarily sustainable. Building sustainably takes more time and effort than a split second decision to specify materials with recycled or recyclable content. A truly sustainable strategy tries to understand the impact of building, or of not building, and to address the environmental, ecological, cultural, economic, and financial issues of a place.
Even after differentiating the terms, using ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ interchangeably isn't necessarily a bad thing. Making a commitment to sustainability as big picture strategy for conscious design and building and living is the important takeaway.
Image: Lineal Inc.
Aug 24, 2011
In my personal (non-scientific) experience the new energy efficient appliances have a much shorter life expectancy than the old non-energy efficient appliances. Which leads me to believe that the new appliances are actually less environmentally friendly (sustainable) than the old appliances when the manufacturing costs (Both carbon and $) are included.
The cheaper, mechanically simple model I chose uses $12/year more in water & energy than the more expensive "green" model. Considering that the "green" model is far more mechanically complex than the model I bought, there's every expectation that it will either not last as long or will require more repairs over its lifetime. Considering the present value of the cost difference and an expected lifetime of about a dozen years, there was no justification either cost wise or ecologically to buy the more "green" model.