What Does It Mean To Go ‘Beyond Efficiency’?

Isn’t Efficiency The Ultimate Goal In Green Building?

A truly successful building--one that is loved and stands the test of time--transcends efficiency. It’s healthy, comfortable and filled with natural light; it feels good and improves people’s well-being. It has thoughtfully and well-designed spaces that are smart and functional. It considers and connects to the community. I own a small condominium that was built in the 1950’s and has zero insulation and an entire wall of louvered single-pane windows. It’s also surrounded by leafy live oaks, filled with beautiful light and just a mile walk from my office. It’s a happy place. If I had to choose between my home and something new and energy-efficient, but that's in a dead-end subdivision miles from a market, I would stay right here.

Efficiency is vital, but without these other intangible and "beyond the lot line" elements a building will not endure. And when focusing only on the concept of efficiency, it's easy to get blinded by isolated components and neglect the ultimate goal of optimizing the entire system--from the building to the site, community and beyond. Elements of a building are only as efficient as the larger systems they are part of. So go forth and be efficient, but remember not to lose site of the big picture!