Green Myth No. 5: I Don't Know Enough About Green; It Is Way Too Complicated

This is the final of a five-part series of columns debunking the top green-building myths. In the March issue, page 16, I discussed the fallacy that green costs more. In May’s issue, page 20, I discredited the belief green doesn’t improve comfort or really perform. In the August issue, page 13, the myth that you can’t sell green was debunked. In October, page 20, I addressed the position that as only one person you cannot possibly make a difference. In this issue, we will explore the concerns that “you don’t know enough about green; it is way too complicated.”

When you first crack open the door to the world of green design and remodeling you might find yourself to be both comforted and concerned. Comforted in that you recognize some of the concepts, techniques, approaches and that recommended materials are very familiar to you. Concerned that as you look at it more closely, it can seem almost overwhelming in its complexity and depth. Both are true.

You may have a grasp of some of the concepts, techniques, approaches and materials, but to get to the level of expert, or even near expert, is another matter. I am afraid the world of green in the construction industry is almost overwhelming in its complexity and depth. I am also afraid I must reveal to you that the fifth myth in my series is not a myth at all; it is in fact a truth. You very likely don’t know enough about green; it is very complicated. But the good news is there are myriad ways available to change this situation.

First and foremost is the formal education offered by industry organizations. The National Association of Home Builders offers a two-day training course titled Green Building for Building Professionals. It provides an overview of green building and presents a step-by-step process taken from the ANSI-approved NAHB National Green Building Standard program. This course is the first step to their Certified Green Professional designation. From there, you can progress to Master Certified Green Professional.

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry offers the High Performance Remodeling Program. This educational series covers a different topic each week of the 12-week course. Completing it serves as preparation to sit for examination to earn accreditation as a NARI Green Certified Professional.

The U.S. Green Building Council also offers green education programs leading to accreditation such as a LEED Green Associate. Although with slight bias toward new construction, these programs are very good and the information can be applied to what we do in remodeling. The USGBC also has the REGREEN program developed in conjunction with the ASID. This program provides a Green Guidelines booklet with recommended sustainability best practice guidelines for remodeling.

Lastly, your local building organization may have its own green design and building committee and offer informal educational programs. In southeast Michigan, we have established a pan-building organization program called NEXTbuilding Forum, which seeks to educate and raise awareness of all things high-performance, sustainable and green in design and building. Although not leading to any specific accreditation, these local educational opportunities often are free and can be very helpful.

In closing, yes, you may have a basic familiarity with what is going on in the green design and building arena, but you must do some work to raise your level of education and awareness. But, don’t look at it as work … look at it as expanding your knowledge and abilities. No business was ever harmed by doing that!

Michael Klement is principal of Architectural Resource LLC, Ann Arbor, Mich.