There are times when we all overcomplicate a problem, looking for a complex solution when a simple one may be staring us in the face. I think this is the case for many when they think about green building. Just saying the words conjures up visions of passive solar buildings with green roofs and windmill power generation. And, though this approach may be the best answer in some cases, a simpler, green solution for a more urban site may be the reuse/renovation of an existing building.
It is not as glamorous as the gleaming, new, state-of-the-art green building, but a renovated building has some “built-in” advantages. Renovating instead of tearing down keeps large quantities of building materials out of our landfills. It may even help keep our water supply cleaner by not creating an open building site that could contribute silt and pollutants to nearby streams and waterways. Reusing existing buildings revitalizes our cities and may reduce urban sprawl. Depending on the age of the building, the existing materials may be just as green as the new materials that we might specify for a new project.
So look around you. There may be some very green projects underway right before your eyes!