When I was in college I often absorbed myself in my classes by trying to find examples of the subject matter in my everyday life. For example, while taking a geology class I pointed out types of rocks to my friends when walking through campus. Yes, they teased me, but I got an A in the class. I went through college believing that making my classes part of my life was the secret to my success.
When I became part of the green-building industry, I discovered its members follow the same principle. This isn’t a 9-to-5 job; green building and environmentalism are a way of life. The things we learn as part of the industry influence our daily decisions, as well as those of our family and friends. By designing and building green, we also influence the people who live, work, learn and play in our buildings. Museums, for example, attract visitors already open to learning. When these visitors can leave the museum having learned not only about a specific exhibit, but also about green-building techniques, the designers and builders of that structure have paid their knowledge forward. In this issue of eco-structure, you’ll get the opportunity to visit several museums that have made green building a permanent exhibit. The Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine, satisfies the college’s desire for a green building while protecting its valuable art collection in “ecommercial,” page 42. The “feature,” page 24, not only focuses on sustainable museums, but also demonstrates the vital connection between water and life. The Western Center for Archaeology and Paleontology and The Center for Water Education showcase the artifacts unearthed while digging Diamond Valley Lake in Hemet, Calif., and provide a 10,000-year history of water and its ability to sustain life, respectively. As the western states of the U.S. experience their driest years in history, we are reminded that monitoring the water sources we have is of extreme importance. “Perspectives,” page 60, discusses the accomplishments and goals of the Waterkeeper Alliance, Irvington, N.Y. Steve Fleischli, the organization’s president, explains that Waterkeepers are individuals who are personally responsible for keeping their local waterways clean. I’m a huge believer in our individual abilities to affect change. When you work on a green-building project or make the decision to manually turn off your office light rather than wait for the sensor to do so, you are setting an example for others. However, we also need organizations to keep us informed and focused on a common goal. For example, the Commercial Buildings Initiative is a newly established consortium seeking to make all commercial buildings zero-net energy by 2050. Learn more about this ambitious organization in “eco-tech,” page 64, or by visiting its Web site, buildings.lbl.gov/cbi. As we continue marching toward the common goal of reducing our impacts on the environment, be sure to share your green-building experiences and lessons learned with others, including eco-structure. Sharing our knowledge certainly will aid our industry’s success.