Is a green building in the suburbs really 'green'?

Businesses and urban planners are developing computer models to measure the sustainability of a building -- including how much energy is expended to reach it.

Can you be sustainable in a vacuum?

And is it fair to judge a building accordingly?

According to a new report in the Los Angeles Times, businesses and urban planners are pursuing a more complicated view of sustainability that incorporates how much energy it takes people to reach it. To do so, they're developing computer models that go beyond rating a building's various components to measuring how that building fits in its environment, too.

Julie Wernau asks:

Take electric utility Exelon Corp.'s uber-green headquarters in downtown Chicago, with its energy-efficient lighting, intelligent heating, ventilation and cooling systems that power down on command, and lights that shut off automatically when a room is unoccupied. If we could airlift that building to the Illinois suburb of Hoffman Estates, how green would it be?

It makes complete sense, though the process demonstrates how much of a rat hole sustainability can be. Just how many levels in the supply chain can a corporation go? Just how fair is it to consider factors that are outside the immediate grasp of a building owner?

Is the next step considering the energy spent to relocate a LEED-certified office from the suburbs to the city, too?

All good questions. But there's no denying that transportation-related emissions count -- to the tune of 29 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The name of the game: data. Is public transit better than the private car? Let the numbers reveal the truth in commutes.

Green builders find that location matters [Los Angeles Times]

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