Defining Sustainability

Sustainability has multiple meanings. For people interested in commercial buildings, it tends to mean LEED and its standards and energy conservation, whether in energy use or building operations. I used to work for Honeywell’s commercial building business, so I can understand that point of view.

But I like to think of it as more than that. It’s about all the ways the buildings and their components can be reused, recycled and repurposed. Since leaving Honeywell, I’ve been looking at and writing about historic buildings, including Victorian mansions, homey 1920s commercial buildings, mid-century modern houses and offices, and recycled buildings of all kinds—warehouses, factories, and firehouses. I’ve come to feel that preservation is closely intertwined with sustainability.

But I like the new stuff, too. I’m fascinated by new ways to make buildings more energy efficient and sustainable, whether it’s in new ways of heating and cooling, in new materials for building, or in new practices to help a big building sit more lightly on its site. I’m grateful to the people who have created standards for construction and for building operation. I care about best practices, and LEED and GreenSeal are good roadmaps. And I have my eye on alternative energy sources—solar, wind, and geothermal.

So I’ll move around. I’ll write about LEED and HVAC; I’ll write about old buildings that have survived and are still beautiful as well as useful, and I’ll write about the newest in “green gizmos,” too, because they’re part of what makes a commercial building a sustainable one.

I look forward to hearing from my readers. Let me know about projects, or people, or products that have to do with commercial sustainability. A blog is a voracious animal and needs constant feeding to stay healthy.

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