NYTimes – 2 articles on why Europe’s architecture is so much greener

today’s yesterday’s NY Times has 2 articles that springboarded me back to thinking more about sustainable / green architecture.

The first article talks about how European green architecture is already maturing while American architecture has hardly taken off. The EU and national governments drove new regulations by the 1990s requiring all buildings to meet basic energy consumption requirements. Meanwhile in the US, other than having developed the LEED certification (which is entirely voluntary), the government has fallen far behind in encouraging green construction. As a result of Europe’s head start, sustainable architecture is going through a second more mature phase – where architects are willing to subtly incorporate sustainable design into buildings that aren’t obviously “green”. My take: this is one of many examples of how government regulations can kickstart innovation and design that benefit many people.

The second was a quick interview with William McDonough. This guy is just totally inspiring. A lead American green architect, he has also influenced the use of totally sustainable processes (i.e., not just using recylabe end products, but making sure all materials used in fabrication are recylable). Basically it quickly churns through his thoughts on materials, sustainable architecture – e.g., publishing Cradle to Cradle on entirely recylable plastic (polyethylene terephthalate, or PET). What it doesn’t address are his thoughts – per the first article – on America’s lag in green architecture overall.

next to explore (as I’m about to fly to Dallas)…

– a fact base – what is the penetration of green architecture into (a) all buildings, (b) new construction, in the US and elswhere?

– what is the average efficiency of (a) all buildings, (b) new ones?

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