It's one thing to talk about sustainability and green building; it's something else to actually do something about it. And that's where Holcim is stepping up. The company's Envirocore Web site, www.envirocore.us, provides a wealth of information on concrete as a sustainable material.

Launched last fall, the site includes a variety of reference material including its Green vs. Traditional Building comparison. The comparison shows the cost of energy for heating and cooling over a 60-year period. But a slider also shows the difference in periodic maintenance and replacement needs between the two—specifically in roofing, siding, and driveways.

The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) section includes an overview of the various LEED rating systems, as well as comprehensive explanations. For example, you might be surprised to learn that there are now LEED systems for new construction, existing buildings, commercial interiors, core and shell, homes, and neighborhood development. Although some categories are still under development, the information provided gives insights into what to expect.

For example, the section reports that unlike most LEED systems that focus primarily on green building practices, “LEED for Neighborhood Development will emphasize smart growth aspects and neighborhood design of development.” The hyperlinks allow you to download the preliminary draft documents on this and other programs under development.

Another interesting feature is the LEED calculator. This tool first has you choose one of the six programs, then walks you through the categories applicable to that program. Selecting Commercial Interiors yields six categories to explore. Looking at Materials & Resources, with a potential of 14 points, shows that Storage and Collection of Recyclables is a required feature. The site also includes an explanation of its intent, the specific requirements, required submittals, and tips on potential technologies and strategies for earning each credit.

If you meet the criteria, you can select that you expect to qualify for that point. Checking the summary shows you how many points you've checked off and where you stand against the rating system.