What makes a Building Green?


Let’s start by thinking about three NYC buildings often used as examples of green building:

Let’s discuss, based on these articles, what green building means to you.

What Green Building means to me

Like Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, I became conscious of climate change when I was in college. His slide show remains a standard in explaining the connection between dirty energy and extreme weather. Our city has joined many other in divesting from dirty energy.

Protecting our city from storm surge is a relevant example of green building, and the careers it will sustain for a generation. I mentioned the East River Park, and there are many more in our city.

  1. If there is one number associated with green building it is this: how many parts per million of carbon dioxide are in our atmosphere?
  2. The second number has to do with the LEED checklist. Now located across the street from Fearless Girl, the US Green Building Council created the most used green building tally system.  133,968 green buildings, from Afghanistan to Zambia are currently LEED certified on their website.
    More checks, more green!
  3. There are, of course, many other numbers that feed into the LEED checklist, and we will examine them in the Trades Math class.

Breakout Groups

you must claim! your green building

Your group will claim(!) 3 green building online profiles, exclusive from any other group. If 2 groups claim the same building, only the group higher up on the table will get credit. Your group will open a LEED scorecard, and check and tally.

Most groups assign roles:

  • Recorder
  • Presenter
  • Researcher
  • and so on

After the Breakout ends, each group will be called upon to Shareout their answers to the following questions:

  1. Which building was the greenest (based on checklist)
  2. Which check was the most interesting
  3. Why the building is green

Remember, during the subsequent Shareout, your group will be asked answer these 3 questions, for everyone to learn about.
The more interesting, the more noteworthy. Which for the GCP class, means more likely to be on the Midterm.

To help you get started with your research, what follows are links to lists of green buildings.


Academic institutions are leading the way, and many of them have published their checklists online.

Sample Answers Example:

  1. Colorado State’s Laurel Village Piñon Hall received 12 points for Energy Efficiency, specifically Renewable Power,
  2. Colorado State’s Durrell Hall due to its construction of solar tubes, solar roofs, and dining deck that faces Moby Arena to take advantage of the Colorado sunshine year-round.
  3. Piñon Hall is central to multiple alternative transportation stops, and includes bicycle parking and changing rooms (6/6).  The more we travel without burning fossil fuels, the greener our lifestyle will be.

Academic Building Lists with checklist

no checklist, but very detailed descriptions

New York City has already invested significantly in green buildings. Here are some lists of them in the city.

And some videos
Groundbreakers Green Architecture
Rooftop Gardens (ad required)
Swaleing