Someday in the future, the phrase "green building" will be obsolete. Eventually, the ecologically sound design and construction practices we now label as green will be incorporated into those processes in the same way that running water is automatically expected in today's American homes.
This doesn't mean that all American homes have running water, just that it's expected. But I digress. Read this story or watch this film about Navajo "water haulers" if you'd like to digress with me. After digressing, it's interesting to take a moment to think about how different your life is from these Native Americans who live with minimal possessions and no running water. Provides a little perspective, doesn't it?
But back to the original topic: let's consider one tiny aspect of green building currently available and being well applied in old and new construction: green roofs, i.e., using living plants that cool the building below while also providing beautiful natural environments.
Here are just a few interesting links featuring lovely green roofs:
Take a look at the spectacular green roof in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park at the California Academy of Sciences. The structure uses two million native plants.
Check out Chicago's Green Roofs project. Over two hundred green roofs are scattered across the city, more than any other city in the United States.
Here's a truly fabulous photo gallery of green roofs across the world.
If the green roofs idea excites you, you can find out much more at EcoGeek (good photos, including one of goats grazing on a roof!), the International Green Roof Association and GreenRoofs.
If you know of examples of green roofs in your area, please share them in a comment. Or, if you digressed and now would like to express your thoughts about the value of having running water in your life, please feel free to do that, too.
Then, if you really want to test your thoughtful consumer skills, ponder awhile the odd contradiction of using water to grow plants on the tops of buildings (a worthy idea, I believe) with the simultaneous failure to provide the most basic of needs (an accessible clean water supply) to many thousands of citizens.
No one said being a thoughtful consumer was going to be easy.
© 2008 Cynthia Friedlob