Utne Blogs > Environment

How Green Is Your Commute?

by Staff


Tags: green building, housing, commuting, commute, energy, Environmental Building News, Hannah Lobel,

In Utne Reader’s latest issue, I tried to convince homeowners, builders, and buyers to get over their fear of the “green premium”—the price-tag hike for taking the eco-friendly path—and plunge into the green housing market. I argued that we could take a tip from corporate America, which has already realized that green buildings aren’t just better for the planet, they’re better for the people in them (happier, healthier employees) and they’re better for the bottom line (energy efficiency = big cost savings).

Then I read Environmental Building News’ latest issue, which points out that our work is far from done when it comes to minimizing the environmental toll of our jobs. The September edition of this newsletter from the hyper-informed folks at BuildingGreen Inc. tallies the eco-footprint of American commuters. “Commuting by office workers accounts for 30 percent more energy than the [average office] building itself uses,” write Alex Wilson and Rachel Navaro. When you look at newer energy-efficient developments, that gap widens to 140 percent. The authors make a compelling case for green building professionals (and their clients) to place a greater emphasis on location and access to public transportation when it comes judging a project’s environmental credentials. Because an office can only be so green if you have to burn an hour’s worth of gas inching through exurbia to get there. —Hannah Lobel