Green Building Ethics

Green building is all about energy efficiency, saving precious resources, green roofs and recycled cellulose insulation, right?

I would actually say that those things are secondary and that there is a larger philosophy behind green building. Those things are some of the focused methods we carry out the philosophy perhaps but the overall philosophy is much more encompassing.

In fact the philosophy could be carried out in many fields. It just so happens that green building is a great synergy of money and ethics where it is very easy to carry out the philosophy.

Here is my philosophy of green building: helping the world.

Simple enough. But the implications are huge because it completely changes the ethics of a green building business. Ethically you are no longer simply bound by the very lax laws of what are legal or not. You can cause all sorts of harm to the world and yet still act legally.

Green building and the philosophy behind it requires a much more stringent code of ethics. Each action throughout the day has to have a resounding yes in answer to the question, “Does this help the world.”

Along with this come all sorts of subtleties such as complete transparency, honesty, and goodwill, EVEN sometimes at the expense of other things such as money, efficiency. Obviously these two juxtapositions do not need to be an either or but sometimes they are in this complex world and up until now we have usually chosen money and efficiency over other options that may benefit the world more (and you less in the short term).

I bring this up because a solar panel installer came by the other day to look at our roof and discuss a business partnership with Eco Brooklyn. He noticed that I had great workers and casually got one of their cards.

Lo and behold I find out that he is calling this worker and trying to entice him to go work for the solar company. Is this illegal? No. It happens all the time.

Does it cause stress to my company? Is it the most ethical thing? Maybe, maybe not.

Here is the big question, though: Is it the best thing for the world?

That’s maybe hard to answer at first but the easy way to see is to ask, “What if everyone acted this way?” From this perspective the answer is clear and it shows his actions were not in the worlds best interest.

Is he a green builder? I don’t think so. A green builder would not have done that. It is a small point but it is the small points that cause a revolution. I think it is so important we raise our standards in business.

The triple bottom line is probably the easiest guide. It is hard to screw up too badly following that metric.

About the author: Gennaro Brooks-Church

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