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"Going Green" May Prompt Next WA Construction Boom

November 7, 2007

Chicago, IL – Washington's architects, builders and city planners are converging on Chicago this week for the biggest-ever conference on "green building." About 20,000 people are there, to network and learn how to make houses, schools and businesses more environmentally friendly. Seattle architect Peter Locke says two years ago, his company couldn't find clients interested in eco-friendly building -- but today, they're swamped. He says energy prices are one big reason for the change, although he adds, there are plenty of others.

"It's not just about the environment. It's about the people that live in the building, the communities and the economic viability. We like to call it a triple top-line: the people, the planet, and prosperity."

Locke explains one reason the Pacific Northwest is a leader in green building is because Washington was the first state in the country to require many large, state-funded construction projects, such as schools, to be built "green."
Critics argue green building costs more but supporters explain the payoff comes from long-term savings and safer buildings. Locke says today, designing a "green" building is about more than just saving energy and water.

"We look at indoor environmental air quality, so that the materials you use and the air that you breathe inside of a building are good for you. We examine the materials' recycled content, and how they are disposed of. So it's a wide-ranging set of issues that we address."

For more information about this week's "Greenbuild Expo," visit the U.S. Green Building Council on the Web at www.usgbc.org.

Chris Thomas/Eric Mack, Public News Service - WA