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Greenest Office Building in the Nation, What’s Beyond the Walls?

Mar 10 2011
Whitney's picture

National Renewable Energy Research LabYou may have seen a recent article in the Wall Street Journal touting the lessons learned from the builders and inhabitants of the nation’s ‘greenest building,’ the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.  This innovative building is very cool - equipped with a transpired solar collector, narrow 60 foot wide wings with emphasis on natural light and cubicles with a stringent energy budget of 55 watts.

Yet, the article doesn't explore what’s happening outside the walls. When thinking green building, it’s important to take a holistic approach that takes into consideration every aspect of a property. Sustainability should not stop at the exit door. The Sustainable Sites Initiative defines sustainability as “as design, construction, operations, and maintenance practices that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

It would be great to hear what the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has in terms of sustainable site design. Have they incorporated the use of non-toxic, bio-based pesticides or strictly indigenous plant species into their landscape design?  Or perhaps the integration of low-maintenance grass on the property that requires less mowing and irrigation?  Next time you see or read about the newest green building, ask yourself, how ‘green’ is the grass?