Jane Turville

Join us at the Greenbuild Film Festival to view “The Greenest Building.”

While not always recognized as a consumer product, buildings are in fact one of our most significant manufactured goods. And, like all manufacturing, construction of buildings requires a complex combination of natural resources and energy in order to produce a finished product. Everyday, all across America, decisions are made on how to build them, where to build them and when to throw them away.

At current rates, Americans will “throw away” one third of our existing building stock - approximately 82 billion square feet, over the next 20 years. Many of these buildings will be demolished and replaced with energy efficient “green” buildings. And, indeed, changes in the building industry such as energy efficient technology and “healthy buildings” have played pivotal roles in mainstream American’s rise in consciousness around sustainability in general. Yet these changes have traditionally focused on new construction as a primary strategy for reaching a sustainable built environment.

Is demolition in the name of sustainability really the best use of natural, social, and economic resources? Or, like the urban renewal programs of the 1960s, is this well-intentioned planning with devastating environmental and cultural consequences?

”The Greenest Building” presents a compelling overview of the important role building reuse plays in creating sustainable communities. Narrated by David Ogden Stiers, the film explores the myth that a “green building” is a new building and demonstrates how renovation and adaptive reuse of existing structures can fully achieve the sustainability movement’s “triple bottom line” - economic, social, and ecological balance.

Using five prototype projects, ranging in scope from a tenant improvement to a Main Street America project to a highly successful renovation of one of Boston’s (and America’s) finest Richardsonian Romanesque churches, “The Greenest Building” reveals: (a) how reuse and reinvestment in the existing built environment leads to stronger local economies that can compete on a global scale, (b) that sense of place and collective memory, while intangible, are critical components of strong sustainable communities, and (c) the direct correlation between reuse of existing buildings and a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, degradation of the natural environment and overuse of precious natural resources.

I hope you’ll join us at Greenbuild as we build the case for existing buildings.