10 Sustainable Buildings

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by: Jane McGrath
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One way we can help sustain our planet is by changing how we get power.
Robb Williamson

Green building. You've heard the words, but what do­ they mean? Green building is a trend in the architecture field to build structures that are water and energy efficient out ­of environmentally friendly materials. Manuel Cadrecha, a design director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention building, a structure we'll learn more about later in this article, believes that the green building process not only benefits the community at large but will soon become the norm [source: AIA].

We picked ten sustainable buildings that stand out as inspirational examples of green building methods -- buildings that just may thrust green building into the realm of standard construction methods. By striving to keep these buildings sustainable in new and creative ways, architects and designers have successfully erected structures that reflect a growing sense of stewardship for the environment. They have found solutions to problems such as water runoff, heating and cooling energy consumption, construction waste and water waste, among other issues. These buildings span different climates (in states such as California, Ohio, and Georgia) and different functions (homes, courthouses, offices), displaying just how versatile green building can be.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has distinguished many of these buildings with places in their annual top ten lists of Green Projects, and the U.S. Green Building Council has bestowed high LEED ratings on most as well. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, uses a rating point system to measure sustainability and awards silver, gold, and platinum status to a completed project.

Among the other advantages of sustainable building, it turns out that going green might actually save you green -- dollar bills, that is. Although green building construction can be pricey up front, the money you spend initially could come trickling back in the form of lower water and energy bills. So whether you want to reduce your ecological footprint, you are interested in architectural trends or you just want to save some cash, read on to learn about some truly inspirational sustainable projects.

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