Green building is an environmentally responsible approach to designing and constructing homes, office buildings or other structures. Whether towering landmarks or tiny cottages, these buildings are designed to use resources efficiently.

 

Green building is an environmentally responsible approach to designing and constructing homes, office buildings or other structures. Whether towering landmarks or tiny cottages, these buildings are designed to use resources efficiently.

The U.S. Green Building Council has developed a rating system to certify buildings with varying degrees of sustainability. Standards vary among types of buildings, but the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) levels start at certified and go up through silver, gold and platinum designations.

Modest measures such as designing a space with ample natural light, locating a building close to transit and landscaping with low-water plants can have a major effect. However, some buildings are going to greater lengths to reduce their carbon footprints.

Brooklyn Bowl
Brooklyn, N.Y.
LEED: Certified

This cavernous music venue and bowling alley — the only one in the country with a LEED certification — runs on 100 percent wind power. The stage floor is made from 100 percent recycled truck tires, and pins are reset by a special device that uses 75 percent less energy. No bottles or cans here — drinks are only available on tap.

Nationals Park
Washington, D.C.
LEED: Silver

Built on a former Brownfield site, this 42,000-seat stadium has large underground filters that treat runoff before sending it into nearby sanitary and storm systems. This means clean water runs into the nearby Anacostia River.

Heifer International Headquarters
Little Rock, Ark.
LEED: Platinum

A restored wetland surrounds most of the building, collecting storm runoff to reuse for irrigation. A five-story water tower collects rainwater, which combines with greywater from sinks and drinking fountains for reuse in cooling towers and low-flow toilets.
The design is a set of concentric rings around a central commons, reflecting the organization’s philosophy that an animal’s impact can ripple through a village. The building was designed to use 55 percent less energy than conventional office buildings.

California Academy of Sciences
San Francisco
LEED: Platinum

Famed architect Renzo Piano created a living roof of seven small hilltops covered in soil and native plants. This rooftop keeps the building approximately 10 degrees cooler than a conventional rooftop. A decorative band of 60,000 photovoltaic cells generates about 10 percent of the academy’s electricity. A layer of insulation made from recycled blue jeans, rather than traditional materials that contain formaldehyde, retains heat and absorbs sound.

Hayes Residence
Eagle, Idaho
LEED: Platinum

Solar panels on the roof’s south side collect enough energy to power the energy-efficient home, while concrete floors absorb warmth from the winter sun, helping to heat the home during cold months. Columns and rafters made from reclaimed wood and an 80 percent recycled metal roof are sustainable and attractive. Energy Star appliances and low-flow toilets and faucets keep things efficient.