At Joseph David Roofing, we love to read about new roofing technologies and the growing shift toward green and sustainable buildings. Many people use the words “green” and “sustainable” interchangeably, but there are important differences between the two categories. A building is green when it helps reduce the footprint it leaves on the natural environment and on the health of its inhabitants. The use of recycled materials and renewable resources that produce a minimal environmental impact is a key element in green construction. Additionally, minimizing the use of energy to reduce both carbon emissions and financial costs of heating and cooling buildings is a chief concern, as is the efficient use of water by appliances, faucets and shower heads and the reuse of rain water for landscaping and other non-potable purposes.
While the definition of green is relatively simple, sustainability has a more precise meaning taken from the term “sustainable agriculture,” which is the production of any plant or animal products using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare without compromising future generations’ ability to do the same. The importance of sustainability lies in the “future” factors, which set a higher standard than those used to define green building.
A simple illustration of the difference between the two can be the wood used to build a house. While wood is generally considered an eco-friendly or green product because it is natural and durable, it is not always sustainable. Wood is sustainable if the company that cuts down the trees does not permanently deplete the forest. If it is harvested in an environmentally irresponsible way, it is not sustainable at all. If the wood is taken from a remote forest and then has to be transported by ships and trucks around the world, the fuel usage and resulting air pollution makes it unsustainable since it ultimately contributes to global warming.
Green Versus Sustainable is not a competition; they are both worthy goals!