Raising sustainable building awareness in the U.S.
The green building phenomenon has reached global success and is quickly becoming the norm in the building industry. But despite its popularity and benefits to the environment, adoption of this global movement remains slow in some countries, including the United States.
Although many American architects are in favor of green building, they lack access to green building materials that are recognizable and available.
While the demand for sustainable building materials continues to grow, market awareness in the United States does not. Without knowledge of green options many Americans will turn to popular materials they are already familiar with.
A good example of this is interior flooring. Many Americans are quick to turn to long-time favorites like Ipe when choosing a flooring material, without knowing that there are sustainable alternatives available, like Kebony. Not only are modified woods grown in responsibly sourced forests instead of endangered rainforests, they also take significantly less time to mature and modify than tropical hardwoods.
In order for green materials like Kebony to gain momentum in the U.S., they must first find exposure through industry resources and architectural presentation.
Access to sustainable alternatives is another roadblock for American architects. For the sake of time and budget, many architects seek local materials for new building projects. Since many green materials are not yet available in all locations, they losing out on opportunities to prove their value in the industry.
The small group of architects who chose to adopt the use of green building materials when they first entered the market have recognized their benefits, including durability and a longer lifecycle. However, without regional availability it is difficult for these architects to help raise awareness of these benefits. Greater access to green building materials can be accomplished by investing in more U.S.- based production facilities. However, in order for these facilities to open sales must first increase, an issue that ties back to market awareness.
Although adoption of green building materials has been slow in the U.S., if all industry players recognize their shared responsibility to increase sustainable efforts there is still time for growth in awareness and accessibility.
Photography © Rob Hansen
Project: Landmark Construction built the Martial Cottle Park in San Jose, CA as a Design-Bid-Build project in collaboration with O.C. Jones & Sons Inc. of Berkeley, CA. The green building project was designed by architects Page & Turnbull to qualify as Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certified. Cladding in sustainable Kebony wood.