Understanding the Green Building Toolkit: Picking the Right Tool for the Job

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The green building scene is characterized by clutter and confusion. Databases, tools, ecoorganizations and eco-events vie for attention, while well-meaning advice and rules of thumb may or may not help to manage a generally complicated, difficult to understand scene. This paper aims to help bring some order to the chaos by introducing a simple tools classification system and establishing how tools, including LEED, interrelate and where they fit in the green design process.

The paper then focuses on the materials selection aspect of designing, constructing and operating environmentally friendly buildings, a task that is especially complex, with few simple measures or rules of thumb to make the selection process easy. We are usually in the position of having to trade off desirable with not-so-desirable outcomes. Two complementary tools, BEES (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability) and the Athena Environmental Impact Estimator (EIE) have been designed to help with that process, providing the building community with ready access to the essential data and measures.

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