An Evolving Green Building Community

The idea of ‘Green Building’ has become an area of interest that is local, national and international in scope. Here’s why.

If you are reading this article, you are already part of the green builder community. This is an unofficial group of people united by a belief in the mission and purpose of green building. Green Builder Media has been at the center of this movement since Ron Jones and Sara Gutterman founded Green Builder Media in 2005.

The company has persisted, prevailed and accomplished much, operating with continued optimism that there is “more to accomplish!”

I recently talked with company president Ron Jones about the current state of Green Builder Media and its future. Ron discussed how the company is building on its past, but not resting on its laurels.

Ron’s philosophy, which he presents in his editorials in the magazine, is one of being a “provocateur”—someone who challenges people and companies to think about how each person and company can contribute to and benefit from Green Builder—both how and why.

He also adds an additional element to his approach: humility. This combination of factors keeps Green Builder Media  as a leading proponent of green building.

Practicing What They Preach

A recent project in Colorado clearly shows that the company “practices what it preaches” and sets an example of how to feature the “green” aspects of projects. (See “VISION House at Mariposa Meadows: Elevated Elegance” in the September/October 2022 issue.)

Many of the ideas, concepts and products that Green Builder articles feature are included in this project. This also shows how each of us can be more proactive in encouraging more sustainable, green ideas and products in our building projects and feature them prominently in an article or a page on your own website. 

Green Builder set up the VISION House Mariposa Meadows website as a good example of how you can post your ongoing and completed projects as a way to highlight your work with existing and potential clients. We can use our own websites to showcase our work and explain our commitment to green building, and also feature the green aspects of your projects.

Mariposa Deck 300

The Mariposa Meadows website is an example of how builders can post information about ongoing and completed projects, as they work with existing and potential clients. Credit: Green Builder Media/Samantha Carlin

How We Can Leverage Green Builder for Our Benefit

Green Builder Sept-Oct 2023 digital issueI mention this because I recently asked a fellow architect friend how often his homeowner/clients request their homes to be “green buildings.” He replied, “rarely.” He also mentioned that he didn’t post information about green building on his website.

I encouraged him to reconsider that thought. I told him that this is an opportunity for us to provide more information to our clients about the benefits of green building. We can send our clients and potential clients a URL of an article in the online version of Green Builder that is appropriate to that client’s project interests.

This is a simple example of how each of us can be more proactive and provocative in our own practices, using the resources that Green Builder Media provides. (Here is another example of an article from the Green Builder website that a client may find of interest: “Colorado Home is a Lesson in Humanity.”)

GB Webinars: Free Advice

Webinars 300Another great example of how Green Builder Media provides value to us, beyond reading the magazine, is through its webinars. These online mini-conferences have become “a business imperative to minimize risk, enhance long-term performance, and improve resiliency against market volatility and idiosyncratic events.”

Past seminar topics include addressing the interests of the different generations now in the market for green buildings—from baby boomers, to Generation X, millennials and Gen Z; and successful environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) strategies. The webinars are posted on Green Builder Media's website for readers to view at their convenience.

Housing 2.0

Another area of benefit to readers of GB is the Housing 2.0 program. This program is now free to participants. In the past, I attended a seminar given by Sam Rashkin in Portola Valley, Calif., when he was chief architect at the U.S. Department of Energy. I found Sam to be one of the most informed and knowledgeable professionals in the building industry.

I still remember the comments and recommendations that Sam made during his presentation. His awareness, organization and presentation of information is of great value to builders and architects with an interest in green building.

In addition to national issues, Sam is well versed in local issues. If everyone in California had implemented his recommendations when he was observing and commenting on existing site conditions, the recent wildfires in that state and others would have resulted in far less devastation than was experienced.

Sometimes, it takes an outside perspective to be objective. Sometimes, it gives local practitioners the perspective of professionals such as Sam to help us present information of benefit to our clients and be viewed as credible, additional, valuable sources of information.

Green Builder Media has joined forces with Sam to offer Housing 2.0, a pioneering training and education program focused on improvements in the housing industry for each of us to consider and share with our clients.

The curriculum has also been “designed to teach building professionals how to implement 30 to 70 percent cost savings for every new home built, and how to navigate the intense challenges that are plaguing our sector (including labor shortages, material shortages, and skyrocketing material costs).” These are issues of significant value to all Green Builder readers and our clients.

Environmental/Sustainability in Academia

Colleges and universities are also becoming more aware of the scope of the green building industry. One example is the new Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, an academic community placing greater emphasis on the combined efforts of many related academic majors, recipients of which go on to participate in the building industry. This is encouraging students to work together to increase awareness and foster interdisciplinary collaboration about environmental/sustainability during education.


Stanford University’s Doerr School of Sustainability encourages its students to work together to increase awareness and interest in green construction and design. Credit: iStock/spVVK

There are even classes within the school that collaborate with Stanford’s business and real estate programs. Many other schools have and will be addressing the academic benefits of pursuing careers in the AEC and connecting with students pursuing careers in other areas of the greater building industry, including environmental sciences, and the Center for Integrated Facilities Engineering (CIFE).

This increases the opportunities for improving interaction and interoperability among professionals across the building industry. Doing so under the banner of the “Sustainability of People and the Planet” makes it even more in line with green building.

“Green and Sustainable” is a Global Issue

“Green” and “sustainable” are two words related to the same general concept. Internationally, the United Nations identifies the building and construction sector as “one of the most important areas of intervention,” and provides opportunities to limit negative environmental impact, as well as contribute to the achievement of the UN’s sustainable development goals.

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) launched the Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative (SBCI) to address this. The UNEP promotes and supports sustainable building practices on a global scale with a focus on energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emission reduction.

Let’s each do our part in representing and promoting green building, and benefiting from the resources of Green Builder Media. Let’s follow Ron Jones’ example of “being provocative while being humble” about how this is for the “greater good of People and the Planet,” one project at a time, for all building types, in all locations.

We can—and should—continue to be humble about our work, but should also be a little more “provocateur” in helping others, including our clients, to think about their own role in sustainable, green building in America.