Build Green or Sustainable?

Build Green or Sustainable?

The terms Green and Sustainable have become major buzzwords in agriculture, manufacturing, building and architectural industries and are often used interchangeably. But, are they the same thing? And if not, what are the differences?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of green is, concerned with or supporting environmentalism, and tending to preserve environmental quality (as being recyclable, biodegradable or nonpolluting). The definition of sustainable is, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged. Because sustainability consists of three pillars: Economic, Environmental and Social, also referred to as Profit, Planet and People, it supports a balance of each and how they impact our world whereas green focuses on environmental quality.

Ecovillage at Ithaca (Photo: The Soup Guy/Flickr)

“If your Building lacks Economic, Environmental and Social integrity, it is not sustainable.”

In construction/building, whether designing a new building or retrofitting an existing one, it includes finding ways to reduce energy, increase efficiency through implementing sustainable materials, solar panels, air-source heat pumps, rainwater harvesting, and improving the indoor air quality with proper ventilation and moisture control. But, how are Economic and Social factored in? Economic sustainability refers to the cost effectiveness of the building. Will the maintenance of sustainable materials lead to long term cost efficiency? Social sustainability refers to living in a healthy social community where values, lifestyles, transportation and interaction are included. According to Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, social sustainability has 5 dimensions: Equity, Diversity, Democracy & Governance, Quality of Life, and Inter-connectedness.

Equity – How can we provide assistance so that people have more control over the lives without bias, disadvantage or inequality?

Diversity – How can we meet the needs of the different cultures, ethnic and racial groups and allow for their viewpoints and beliefs to be taken into consideration?

Democracy & Governance – How do we allow a diverse range of people to participate and help them participate in the decision-making processes?

Quality of Life – How can we best meet everyone’s basic needs such as affordable and appropriate housing, physical and mental health, education and training, employment opportunities, safety/security, access to transportation, and communication amenities?

Inter-connectedness – How do we create a sense of belonging in the community and increase participation in social activities inside and outside the community.

In answer to the question, build green or sustainable, a green building is part of a sustainable community that enriches an individuals’ quality of life now and in future generations. It really is creating a long-lasting, self-sustaining community within a community where there is a sense of goals, fellowship, good health and collaboration. And, isn’t that the type of environment everyone one of us would like to live in?


Whitelaw Rigging & Fabrication is a manufacturer for construction bent and straight anchor bolts, all-thread studs, sag rods and j-hooks, located in Valders, WI.



Previous article How to Use “J” Hooks Properly
Next article How to use "Build-a-Bolt" for Estimates