My brother is getting married in two months and, like many young couples starting a new life together, he and his fiancée are on the hunt for their first home. Despite the current credit crisis, Chris and Kari recently were pre-approved for a home loan. They don’t have the 20 percent down typically required to purchase a home, but they each have impeccable credit and good jobs that seem to be secure in spite of today’s economy. I was flattered when Chris asked me for advice about searching for his first home. Unlike our parents, who bought their house more than 20 years ago, I went through the process in 2007 and still am learning from the experience. I rattled off the mistakes I made, namely to research the developer and find an inspector you trust. Then I remembered something I read when I started home shopping. Water is our planet’s life-support system. Buy near a body of freshwater because as water becomes scarce, your property value will increase. I’m not sure whether Chris and Kari have expanded their search to include the area around Saylorville Lake near their current residence in Des Moines, Iowa, but I know I felt pretty good purchasing my condo in Chicago near Lake Michigan, one of our country’s largest freshwater lakes. Water is the new oil, according to many experts in the green-building industry. Drought has affected much of the country, killing trees in North Carolina, causing San Diego to initiate desalination to provide drinking water and requiring Kansas farmers to seek alternatives for irrigation. Other parts of the world are facing even greater water shortages. This issue of eco-structure examines the burgeoning water crisis, specifically how buildings can conserve and reclaim water. For example, the “greenscene,” article on page 36, highlights two diverse projects in different parts of the U.S. that integrated forward-thinking water-conservation strategies, including air-conditioning- condensation reclamation and composting toilets. From a broader perspective, “eco-tech,” page 58, discusses the latest strategies cities and municipalities have implemented to conserve water. If you’re looking for more examples of buildings saving water, visit for a slideshow of projects that will inspire you to be more water conscious. Laboratories long have been recognized as water and energy gluttons. However, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s new Molecular Foundry, Berkeley, Calif., which is highlighted on page 22, set out to be an international example of smart design. LBNL, which believes in approaching research through integrated teams of scientists with varying expertises, became part of the integrated- design process to achieve energy and water savings for the foundry. Although energy remains a primary focus of the green-building industry, our nation’s water shortages will become a more prominent concern. Perhaps after my brother reads this issue of eco-structure, he’ll consider moving closer to Lake Michigan and his favorite sister!