AI and Green Building

Will Artificial Intelligence play a role in green building?

The current controversy about new software tools that are using AI (artificial intelligence)—programs such as ChatGPT, Midjourney, Dall-E, and others—is creating quite a stir in many segments of society, the professions, and especially in education. I’ve tried them out to evaluate how they might help green building for the building industry.

What Are AI Programs?

Today, programs that are currently being developed for wide use can be used from the convenience of your laptop for free (at the moment)—programs such as ChatGPT or Midjourney.

ChatGPT is the type of program that functions as users input words as sentences to ask a question or “give an assignment.” ChatGPT responds with a text answer.


Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) programs such as ChatGPT are currently being developed for use as a question-and-answer tool that builders can use to meet homebuyers' needs.

Midjourney represents another type of AI program. In Midjourney, the user enters a text description of what they would like to see, and the program creates four images for them to consider.

What does all this mean for green building? It’s early. Savvy homeowners and building owners are going to try out these tools for various reasons. They may approach you with the results of these AI products. It is my goal at this time to provide you with enough information so that you can at least say, “Oh, yes, I know about those tools.”  

Here’s exactly what I typed into ChatGPT: I am a homeowner planning a new home. What questions should I ask a builder about my home being a green building project?

In just a few minutes, ChatCPT responded(This is unedited, directly from ChatGPT, including the numbered format.):

As a homeowner, it is important to ask the right questions to ensure that your new home meets your expectations and is environmentally friendly. Here are some questions to ask the builder regarding a green building project:

  1. What is the builder’s experience with green building techniques and technologies?
  2. What certifications, such as LEED or ENERGY STAR, does the builder have?
  3. What is the builder’s approach to sustainability and reducing the home’s carbon footprint?
  4. What materials will be used in construction and what steps will be taken to ensure they are eco-friendly and sustainable?
  5. How will the home be designed to optimize energy efficiency, including the use of insulation, efficient HVAC systems, and low-e windows?
  6. What steps will be taken to conserve water, such as low-flow fixtures and drought-tolerant landscaping?
  7. What renewable energy sources will be incorporated, such as solar panels or geothermal systems?
  8. How will waste be managed during the construction process and what steps will be taken to minimize the amount of waste generated?
  9. What is the expected air quality and ventilation in the home, and how will it be maintained?
  10. How will indoor air quality be monitored, and what steps will be taken to ensure it remains healthy and safe?

These are just a few questions you can ask a builder to ensure that your new home is a green building project. These questions will give you a clearer understanding of the builder’s approach to sustainability and what steps will be taken to make your home as environmentally friendly as possible.

What About AI for Graphics?

The illustrations produced by programs like Midjourney, at this point in time, can be used for some very loose creative design ideas to stimulate more creativity, but nothing I would show to a client as their architect for a project—unless they were looking for some dreamy, pre-concept ideas. 

As the reality of the 3D internet (the Metaverse) approaches, and as these tools and applications are developing, I can already see some very creative uses across the greater building industry.

Cosmopolitan magazine just published an issue with a cover generated by an AI program—and put the illustration world on edge by including the headline, “Meet the World’s First Artificially Intelligent Magazine cover,” and then lower on the cover they printed the chilling words, “and it only took 20 seconds to make.”

The illustration accompanying my article was generated by me in Midjourney. It took about 20 seconds to create from a sentence I typed into the program.

Green_Building_contractors_considering_sustainab 300

This illustration was generated by the author on Midjourney

How Popular Are These Tools?

All of the AI functions—text-to-text, text-to-images and image-to-images—are quite amazing. So amazing that, while many new computer programs take months or years to reach the milestone of 1 million users, ChatGPT reached that milestone five days after it was announced. That’s very popular.

Are these AI tools “ready for prime time” for use in green building? As far as being used by designers and builders of green buildings, yes and no. Not everything is ready right now, but maybe soon, so awareness of these tools can be important.

Improvement of AI tools like these clearly indicates that in the near future, they WILL become useful to us in the professions, and that future may not be very far away. I know of companies that are already showing interest in developing AI-enabled tools for use in the building industry.

What Does It Mean for the Greater Building Industry?

ChatGPT is already great for anyone in the AEC looking to fine tune and supplement their own work at this time—from some contract verbiage (along with consulting your attorney), to specifications and client information.

A writer who knows about a subject and knows what questions to ask can get some good information out of ChatGPT already. Then, by knowledgeably editing the ChatGPT text into a form of value to your business, you can benefit from the speed, completeness and content that it provided.  

Try it out yourself at: (This is moving at the speed of the internet, so one may experience delays or changes at this URL.)

Just the Beginning of AI and Green Building

My time in Silicon Valley includes watching and testing developments that can help architects, builders and the building industry. Integrating the developments into my own work is an interesting part of remaining a viable professional.

Over the years, I’ve beta-tested new products from Apple and Adobe and other companies for their use in the world of AEC and beyond: From the introduction of CD-ROMs to websites and the internet in the 1990s, and from virtual reality to AI in the 2000s and 2023.

I’ll keep us up to date on AI and other developments that can specifically help us with green building, as things progress.