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Sustainable Building Indicators, based on National Sustainable Building Workshop


The Center for Sustainable Systems CSS (formerly the National Pollution Prevention Center for Higher Education, established by the U.S. EPA in 1991) works towards educating college students, faculty, and professionals about Sustainable Development in order to integrate such ideas into all branches of higher education.One of NPPC's main activities was the development of Pollution Prevention curricula in a variety of disciplines. Since fall 1994, NPPC has published 14 such curricula in engineering, science and business. The compendium on Sustainable Architecture, developed under the leadership of Jong-Jin Kim at the University of Michigan's School of Architecture and Urban Planning, is available online. CSS is beginning the next phase of its Sustainable Development education program in 1999 with a series of workshops based on the completed compendia. The Sustainable Buildings Workshop to take place in October 1999 is the second in this series. The CSS workshops will bring together key stakeholders to discuss critical issues facing Sustainable Development in each field. Each workshop will be a forum to develop life cycle indicators to measure progress towards Sustainability, and to also develop strategies to overcome systemic barriers to sustainable practices, while helping to establish an environment enriched with effective incentives and tools for such practices.

Objectives: In a small-group workshop setting, the Sustainable Buildings workshop will:     

- Identify indicators of sustainable building design, construction, operation and retirement practices     

- Identify technical, organizational, financial, educational and code barriers to sustainability in conventional practices   

- Develop strategies for overcoming these barriers, and for establishing an environment that promotes sustainable building practices


In order to adequately address the complex workshop objectives, representatives of diverse stakeholder groups are invited. It is essential for the success of the effort to draw on the collective expertise and experience of architects and other designers, building owners and users, code officials, bankers, educators, policy makers, and non-governmental organizations and independent research organizations.

Rationale and Focus

The construction and operation of buildings consumes a major portion of the world's natural resources and energy, and generates a significant quantity of landfill waste. The World Watch Institute estimates that construction and maintenance accounts for 40% of the world's resources and energy use. Institutional buildings are a major contributor. Office buildings in the United States, for instance, consumed in 1993 about 27% of the national electricity supply (DOE, 1993). Building construction and renovation is also a major economic sector in the U.S., which contributes about $800 billion annually (National Science and Technology Council, 1994) annually to the GDP. Based on similarities in occupancy patterns, building types, operation/maintenance issues, and financing, the workshop will focus on buildings of colleges/universities, and on large institutional office buildings. Both, new construction and renovation will be addressed. Rather than dealing with the specific technical approaches used in "sustainable buildings", which already receive substantial attention among the "green building community," this workshop concerns the broader environment in which such activities are nested. For the purpose of concentrating our efforts, the following focus areas have been established:     

- Sustainability indicators of buildings (environmental performance assessment)     

- Economics of environmentally responsible projects     

- Local, state and federal code issues

- Organizational conditions, and     

- Education of stakeholders and the public.

American Institute of Architects - Huron Valley Chapter
United States Green Building Council
United States Environmental Protection Agency - Region 5
University of Michigan - School of Natural Resources & Environment
Research Areas
Urban Systems and Built Environment