Build It Forward Defined

The concept Build It Forward was coined by Gennaro Brooks-Church, Director of Eco Brooklyn, to describe the driving focus of the company, which is to turn all buildings in Brooklyn green.

The idea of Build It Forward is not new. Certain Native American Tribes have it in their concept of “seven generations”, Buddhists have it in their understanding that we are all connected, and Hindus have it in the concept of Karma.

To Build It Forward for a green builder is to understand that whatever they build has an impact on their current world and on the world of many generations to come. With this understanding the green builder has a moral responsibility to make sure they build forward and not backwards.

Backwards building is what most building has been up to now, especially North American building since the 1950’s. The ecology was harmed, resources were used up or wasted, and the end result was a badly built building that didn’t serve the current or future residents.

Build It Forward is a complete and radical reversal of current building mentality. When a green builder Builds It Forward they literally create more good in the world than harm.

Through salvaging materials they pull more building materials out of the dump than they put into it, literally creating a reversal of trash creation.

Through techniques like garden expansion, habitat restoration, building downsizing, green roofs, and renovation of existing sites only, green builders create more natural habitats than what previously existed.

Once renovated, the green building produces more food, energy and water than it consumes through gray water, rain water, solar/wind power, edible gardens, bees, chickens and composting. Again, the green building returns more to the community than what it takes.

Through high quality building materials and techniques the building is easy to maintain and lasts for over a hundred years. Over those hundred years it is continuously cleaning the air, producing energy, providing food and improving the natural habitat.

Like a farmer planting healthy crops, the green builder turns the house into a healthy living organism.

And in a hundred years the world will be a much better place because the house was built. The house is essentially a gift to generations a hundred years into the future – and that is why it is called Build It Forward.

Build It Forward is the process of creating buildings as healthy organisms that benefit the world on many levels.

For Eco Brooklyn we apply the Build It Forward process to Brooklyn where we hope to drastically improve the cultural geography of Brooklyn by altering the ecology of the buildings. As we green each building to last at least a hundred years we change the future for the better.

Each green Brownstone becomes another lung in Brooklyn’s air, another filter in the water, another source of energy and food until the whole of Brooklyn is a vibrant hub of self sustaining natural life that no global economy or politic can sway for the worse.

The Build It Forward process is empowering on an individual and community level because it reunites us with the most basic power of all – nature. We have been isolated from nature for too long and at our own peril. It is imperative to our own survival that we recognize the power of nature as the central power in our lives above the less important power of humans.

There is no doubt that humans have the power to destroy but it is clear to me that we do not have the power to create. The best we can do is recognize our place and humbly serve nature. Because she creates and destroys a million galaxies before we get up in the morning.

About the author: Gennaro Brooks-Church

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