History of Green Building

Green Building
History of Green Building
History of Green Building – Historical

Green building is defined by the
Office of the Federal Environmental
Executive as “the practice of: 1) increasing the
efficiency with which buildings and their sites
use energy, water, and materials, and 2)
reducing building impacts of human health
and the environment, through better siting,
design, construction, operation, maintenance,
and removal throughout the complete life
While the green building movement
has gained momentum in the last decade, the
origin can be traced back to the late
nineteenth century.

According to David Gissen, curator of
architecture and design and the National
Building Museum in Washington DC,
structures such as London’s Crystal Palace and
Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II used
methods that decreased the impact of the
structure on the environment. Systems such
as roof ventilators and underground aircooling
chambers were used to regulate
indoor air temperature.2
In the early
twentieth century, several skyscrapers such as
the Flatiron Building and the New York Times
Building in New York utilized deep-set
windows and the Carson Pirie Scott
department store in Chicago had retractable
awnings. Both of these techniques were
effective in controlling interior temperature
while lessoning the buildings’ impact on the

Office of the Federal Environmental Executive,
“The Federal Commitment to Green Building:
Experiences and Expectations,” 18 September
Building Design and Construction, “White Paper
on Sustainability”, page 4, November 2006
Building Design and Construction, “White Paper
on Sustainability”, page 4, November 2006
From the 1930’s through the 1960’s,
the forward thinking cooling methods
mentioned above gave way to some new
building technologies that would change
inner-city building construction dramatically.
The invention of air conditioning, reflective
glass, and structural steel popularized the
enclosed glass and steel buildings that litter
the American city today. These buildings
were able to be heated and cooled with
massive HVAC systems that consumed huge
amounts of cheap and readily available fossil
The massive consumption of energy
required to inhabit these buildings made their
viability tenable and entirely dependent upon
energy availability and cost.
History of Green Building – The
Around the time that the “glass box”
style high rise had become the icon of the
American city (circa 1970), a forward
thinking group of architects,
environmentalists, and ecologists5
inspired by the growing environmental
movement and the higher fuel costs that were
prevalent during the 1970s.6
The genesis of
these two scenarios ultimately resulted in the
modern build green movement.

The first Earth Day, celebrated in
April 1970, gave some credence to this new
building concept, but the OPEC oil embargo
of 1973 gave the burgeoning environmental
movement, and subsequently the green build
effort, the kick start it needed. With gas lines
stretching for blocks, some Americans began
to question the conventional wisdom that we
should be so independently reliant upon fossil
fuels for our energy.7
As a result of the oil embargo,
amongst other energy concerns, the American

Building Design and Construction, “White Paper
on Sustainability”, page 4, November 2006
Building Design and Construction, “White Paper
on Sustainability”, page 4, November 2006
usiness/green_building.shtml 7
Building Design and Construction, “White Paper
on Sustainability”, page 4, November 2006
Institute of Architects (AIA) formed a
Committee on Energy that was broken into
two camps. “One group looked toward
passive, such as reflective roofing materials
and environmentally beneficial siting of
buildings, to achieve energy savings, while the
other concentrated more on technological
solutions, such as the use of triple-glazed

As energy concerns subsided,
momentum for green building and the
environment, in general, slowed down, but a
dedicated core-group of architects continued
to push their green building concept forward.
A couple of notable buildings constructed
during the seventies which utilized concepts of
green design are: The Willis Faber and Dumas
Headquarters in England, which utilized a
grass roof, day-lighted atrium, and mirrored
windows; the Gregory Bateson Building in
California, which used energy-sensitive
photovoltaic (solar cells)9
, under-floor rockstore
cooling systems, and area climatecontrol
Through the late seventies,
throughout the eighties, and into the early
nineties, much research was commissioned on
energy efficient processes. This research
resulted in more effective solar panels, prefabricated
efficient wall systems, waterreclamations
systems, modular construction
units, and direct usage of light through
windows in order to decrease day-time energy
History of Green Building – The
Greening of the White House
When Bill Clinton was elected
President in 1992, the green
build/sustainability communities began to toss
around the idea of “Greening the White
House” as a way to put their ideas on the radar

Building Design and Construction, “White Paper
on Sustainability”, page 4, November 2006
“Photovoltaic Fundamentals”,
10Building Design and Construction, “White
Paper on Sustainability”, page 4, November 2006
11 Building Design and Construction, “White
Paper on Sustainability”, page 4, November 2006
of everyday American society. Twenty-three
years after the initial Earth Day, Bill Clinton
announced a plan to make the White House
the “model for efficiency and waste
The “Greening of the White House”
program was designed to improve “energy
efficiency and environmental performance of
the White House complex by identifying
opportunities to reduce waste, lower energy
use, and make an appropriate use of
renewable resources, all while improving the
indoor air quality and building comfort.”13 In
March 1996, it was reported that through the
first two years of the “Greening” project,
more than $150,000 per year in energy and
water costs, landscaping expenses, and
expenditures associated with solid waste were
saved. Since 1996, $300,000 has been saved
annually due to additional projects. In all,
845 metric tons per year of carbon emissions
were eliminated during Clinton’s
Some of the methods utilized to
“green” the White House are as follows:
1. Building Envelope – decreasing energy
lost through the roof, windows, walls,
2. Lighting – utilizing energy-saving light
bulbs and maximizing use of natural light.
3. Plug Loads – Energy-saving office
equipment was installed. Refrigerators
and coolers were replaced with more
energy-efficient models.
4. Waste – a comprehensive recycling
program was initiated.
5. Vehicles – leased many vehicles that
utilized cleaner burning fuels.

12Building Design and Construction, “White
Paper on Sustainability”, page 5, November 2006
13“The Greening of the White House”,
ngsummary.html 14The Greening of the White House”,
6. Landscaping – reducing unnecessary
water and pesticide usage.15
History of Green Building – Where are
we Now?
With the overwhelming success of the
“Greening of the White House” other
governmental institutions have since been
given a green makeover. The Pentagon, the
Presidio, and the U.S. Department of Energy,
among others have gone green.16
The concepts of building green and,
on a larger scale, sustainability are ideas that
we hear all of the time. These two concepts,
however, are rarely properly understood.
“Sustainability is a systemic concept, relating
to the continuity of economic, social,
institutional and environmental aspects of
human society, as well as the non-human
environment. It is intended to be a means of
configuring civilization and human activity so
that society, its members and its economies
are able to meet their needs and express their
greatest potential in the present, while
preserving biodiversity and natural
ecosystems, and planning and acting for the
ability to maintain these ideals for a very long
time. Sustainability affects every level of
organization, from the local neighborhood to
the entire planet”.17 In short, the concept of
sustainability refers to thinking holistically
about how everything you do affects
everything around you. It is an attempt to
minimize each person’s impact on the world.
Today, green building is one of the
fastest growing building and design concepts.
Every month new magazines are popping up
that report on this growing trend. Architects,
designers, and homeowners are becoming
infatuated with the cost saving possibilities,
energy saving emphasis, modern look, and the

15The Greening of the White House”,
16Building Design and Construction, “White
Paper on Sustainability”, page 5, November 2006
17 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainability
symbiotic relationship with nature that green
buildings possess.
The United States Green Build
Council (USGBC) is the foremost leader and
educator within the world of green building
today. They are the sanctioning body for
LEED, the program with which points are
awarded to various design applications within
a building ultimately resulting in LEED
certification for the building.
USGBC (The United States Green
Build Council) & LEED
(Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design)
The USGBC was created to promote
the design and construction of buildings that
are environmentally responsible, profitable,
and healthy places to live and work. They are
focused on integrating building industry
sectors and leading a market transformation
towards greener construction. The
organization consists of various trade
associations, architects, designers, and
individuals all interested in the greening of the
construction business.18
Between 1990 and 1995, the USGBC
worked feverishly with the American Society
of Testing and Materials in order to create a
rating system for sustainability. ASTM’s
rigorous consensus-based process moved
much too slowly for the USGBC and in 1995
it was determined that they would create their
own rating system to exist under the USGBC
banner. A committee was formed to study
other green building programs currently in
existence and after three years LEED 1.0
unveiled.19 By 2003, LEED was refined down
to its current form that is the talk of the
construction and design communities.

18 “An Introduction to the USGBC and LEED
Green Building Rating System”, http://www.usgbc.org 19Building Design and Construction, “White
Paper on Sustainability”, page 7, November 2006
In short, LEED is a system for
designing, constructing, and certifying green
buildings. Buildings are classified as Certified,
Silver, Gold, or Platinum depending upon the
number of points they acquire within 6
building components20:
1. Sustainable Sites
2. Water Efficiency
3. Energy and Atmosphere
4. Materials and Resources
5. Indoor Environmental Quality
6. Innovation and Design Process
Within each of these categories, there are a
specific number of credits available via many
subcategories. LEED ratings are rapidly
becoming boasting points for property owners
with property values of LEED certified
buildings skyrocketing.
LEED has been assisted in its success
by the early adoption of many government
agencies. Today, however, it is mostly a
market driven engine with the number of
LEED registered projects growing each year.
Characteristics of LEED Building
Site Design and Planning
• Site a building within close proximity of
commuter rail or bus lines, to reduce
pollution and any land-development
impacts associated with increased
automobile usage.
• Establish building specifications that
maintain the current level of storm-water
runoff, or decrease the amount of
imperviousness already existing onsite.
• Develop a site with a minimum density of
60,000 square feet per acre. Channeling
development to urban areas with existing

20Building Design and Construction, “White
Paper on Sustainability”, page 7, November 2006
infrastructure protects green spaces and
preserves natural habitats and resources.
Material and Product Selection
• Use building materials and products that
contain post-consumer recycled content.
• Support the regional economy by using
materials and products manufactured
• Encourage environmentally responsible
forestry through the use of wood or
wood-based material that meets Forest
Stewardship Council’s Principles and
Criteria for wood building components.
• Utilize rapidly renewable materials, such
as bamboo flooring, wool carpets,
strawboard, cotton ball insulation (made
from denim scrap), genuine linoleum
flooring, or poplar oriented-strand board
(OSB). Using rapid renewables helps
reduce the use and depletion of finite raw
Construction and Demolition Waste
• Develop and implement a waste
management plan that diverts a substantial
amount of construction, demolition, and
land-clearing debris from landfills to
recycling or salvage facilities.
• Reuse a percentage of salvage or
refurbished materials from construction,
demolition, or land clearing as new
building material. For more information
on the benefits of salvaging materials from
existing sites, go to
Energy and Atmosphere
• Generate building electricity on site, from
renewable resources like geothermal,
solar, or biogas sources.
• Eliminate the use of CFCs
(chlorofluorocarbons) in new heating,
ventilation, air-conditioning, and
refrigeration (HVAC & R) systems.
Eliminating the use of CFCs reduces
ozone depletion.
• Contract with a green power provider to
purchase building electricity generated
from renewable resources, such as solar,
wind, geothermal, biomass, or lowimpact
hydro sources.
• Optimize energy performance.
Water Management
• Install water-efficient or low-flow
equipment and appliances in kitchens and
bathrooms to reduce water consumption.
• Use water-efficient irrigation, captured
rain, or site-recycled water for onsite
• Utilize innovative wastewater
technologies, such as treating waste water
on site or significantly decreasing the
amount of potable water used for sewage
Indoor Environment
• Design the HVAC system and building
envelope to provide for the most optimal
delivery and mixing of fresh air. Effective
air exchange supports the safety, comfort,
and well-being of building occupants.
• Reduce the number of indoor air
contaminants by selecting paints and
coatings, adhesives, carpets, and
composite woods that emit low VOCs
(volatile organic compounds) or none at
all. Examples of low VOC emitting
products are carpets made of wool,
carpets made of recycled plastic bottles,
and low VOC paint.
• Establish segregated areas for chemicalusing
operations (such as copy/printing
rooms and housekeeping); these areas
should have separate outside exhaust and
no air recirculation.
• Maximize day lighting and view
opportunities. Day lighting and increased
view opportunities can save energy costs
and enhance worker productivity. 21
Stone in Green Building
What is Stone’s Current Perception
With the growing influence of green building,
it is imperative that the natural stone industry
does everything it can to position its product
as being green friendly. Despite what many of
us in the industry may think (natural stone is
about as green as something can get), that
perception is at odds with the prevailing
thought among the architecture and design
communities. Much of these misconceptions
arise from the inaccurate idea that mining
natural stone is somehow on par with strip
mining, an environmentally devastating
One facet of LEED certification
where natural stone stands out is in product
origin. A major tenant within the green
community is that of supporting local
products and business. LEED points are
available for products whose origin or
manufacturing is within 500 miles of the
building site. Regionally manufactured and
extracted materials reduce environmental
impact by lowering emittance of greenhouse
gasses during transportation while supporting
local economies. Fortunately for the stone
industry, there is a quarry site within 500
miles of nearly everywhere in the United
States and Canada.

Future Areas of Emphasis
There are some areas where natural stone
should be an obvious choice for green
builders, but in which further research is
needed to prove the hypothesis:
• The enduring life cycle of natural stone
makes it a great green build option.
Because stone has proven that over the

centuries it holds up to weathering and
time better than any other building
material; one would think that less energy
would be consumed by the initial
fabrication and installation than in
manufacturing and replacing another
• The ease of care and maintenance
involved with maintaining natural stone
applications should be very attractive to
those in the green community. Harsh
chemicals are not needed to either clean
or finish stone.
• The recyclability of natural stone is
unequaled. Nearly 100% of stone from
old projects and scrap stone are
These components of natural stone use need
to be studied and reported on adequately
before the natural stone industry can go to the
USGBC and request LEED certification
In the past 15-20 years, the business
of quarrying has been vastly cleaned up from
an environmental perspective. Quarries today
are required to comply with a strict code of
practice and are monitored by OSHA, the
Bureau of Mines of the US Department of the
Interior, EPA, the Department of Resources
and Economic Development, and the Mine
Safety and Health Administration among
others. This message needs to be spread
throughout the entire construction industry.
Quarrying is not what it was 20 years ago and
certainly not what it was 50 or 100 years ago.
Quarry reclamation projects have
added to the ability of quarries to limit their
long term impact on the environment.
Today, many old quarries are being turned
into golf courses, lakes, recreations areas, and
state parks. A list of quarry reclamation
projects appears at the end of this chapter as
examples of how old quarry sites can be
successfully utilized for the public good.
As technology moves forward, the
greening of quarrying will continue and this
will, in turn, continue to further enhances
natural stone’s position among the green
The Committee on Sustainability
In order to properly position natural
stone, to research elements of building with
natural stone that would qualify for LEED
points, and to market the use of natural stone
as a green product; the Natural Stone Council
has commissioned a Committee on
Sustainability. The NSC’s Committee on
Sustainability will take the lead for the
industry in ensuring that stone becomes a
viable green building option. A couple of
early initiatives for the committee are
establishing a set of green best practices for
quarrying and fabrication. The committee is
also pursuing the commissioning of studies to
research Life Cycle Assessment, Life Cycle
Cost, Water Use Reduction, Construction
Waste Management, and Material Reuse for
the Natural Stone Industry. While the
initiatives being undertaken by the Committee
on Sustainability are aggressive, they are
greatly needed in order to ensure that stone
becomes a viable option for green building.
Quarry Reclamation Site List
Quarry Park and Nature Preserve
County of Stearns, MN
Halibut Point State Park
Gloucester, MA
The Quarry Golf Club
San Antonio, TX
Oak Quarry Golf Club
Riverside, CA
Crystal Springs Quarry Golf Club
Maryland Heights, MO
Old Quarry Nature Center
Danbury, CT
Quarry Lakes Regional Recreational Area
Fremont, CA
Quarry Oaks Golf Club
Ashland, NE
Bomoseen State Park
Fair Haven, VT
Natural Bridge State Park
North Adams, MA
Elephant Rocks State Park
Belleview, MO
Canoe Creek State Park
Hollidaysburg, PA
Banning State Park
Sandstone, MN
Sleeping Giant State Park
Hamden, CT
Knightdale Environmental Education Park
Knightdale, NC
Emerald Lake State Park
East Dorset, VT

Source: https://www.naturalstoneinstitute.org/default/assets/File/consumers/historystoneingreenbuilding.pdf

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s