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    Fundamentals of Constructing Sustainably

    by Edward Allen and Joseph Iano

    In the new fifth edition of Fundamentals of Building Construction, Allen and Iano set a new benchmark by incorporating sustainability issues into a mainstream construction textbook, section by section, as in this concise overview from the first chapter. We also look forward to a future edition of their outstanding book in which appropriate sustainability considerations have penetrated every topic and page. — the Editors

    In constructing and occupying buildings, we expend vast quantities of the earth's resources and generate a significant portion of the earth's environmental pollution.

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    The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) reported in 2008 that buildings account for 30 to 40 percent of the world's energy use and associated greenhouse gas emissions. Construction and operation of buildings in the United States accounted for more than one-third of this country's total energy use and the consumption of more than two-thirds of its electricity, 30 percent of its raw materials, a quarter of its harvested wood, and 12 percent of its fresh water.

    Building construction and operation is responsible for nearly half of this country's total greenhouse gas emissions and close to a third of its solid waste stream. Buildings are also significant emitters of particulates and other air pollutants.

    In short, building construction and operation cause many forms of environmental degradation that place an increasing burden on the earth's resources and jeopardize the future of the building industry and societal health and welfare.

    Fundamentals of Sustainable Building

    Sustainability may be defined as meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

    By consuming irreplaceable fossil fuels and other nonrenewable resources, by building in sprawling urban patterns that cover extensive areas of prime agricultural land, by using destructive forestry practices that degrade natural ecosystems, by allowing topsoil to be eroded by wind and water, and by generating substances that pollute water, soil, and air, we have been building in a manner that will make it increasingly difficult for our children and grandchildren to meet their needs for communities, buildings, and healthy lives.   >>>

    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...

    This article is excerpted from Fundamentals of Building Construction, 5th edition, by Edward Allen and Joseph Iano, copyright © 2008, with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons.

     

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    Planted roofs, like the one on this house designed by John Senhauser Architect, can minimize stormwater runoff from buildings.
    Photo: Steve Grim/ Courtesy John Wiley & Sons Extra Large Image

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    Material sourcing is a key consideration in sustainable design. Each dwelling in the first phase of Sea Ranch, in northern California, was framed from unplaned timber harvested elsewhere on the building site.
    Photo: Edward Allen/ Courtesy Wiley Extra Large Image

     

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