Engstrom encourages environmentally friendly buildings

April West

Nathan Engstrom, the program director of Green Built Homes, gave the first lecture in a three-part environmental
studies lecture series on “green” architecture Jan. 19. The series is sponsored by the Spoerl Lectureship in Science and Society. The lecture series hopes to foster dialogue about how science can be applied to environmental
issues. Engstrom’s speech, entitled “Better Building … Better Living … Better World!” discussed the emerging
field of “green” building.
Green Building is also the name of a partnership program with the Madison Area Builders Association, and works to promote green building practices by certifying new homes and remodeling projects to meet sustainable building and energy standards. It is a way for people to be informed on how to build healthy and environmentally friendly homes. Issues covered in green building
are land use, landscape conservation,
materials selection, indoor air quality, waste reduction, recycling and efficient use of space.
Green Building came about because of the energy crisis during the 1970s and the “sick home” crisis of the 80s and 90s when people became ill because of certain materials used in homes.
“Green building does not have to be complicated, time consuming or expensive; green building is about common
sense and doing things well,” stated Engstrom. “There is a perception
that green costs more, but it is completely up to the individual how much money is spent … green building
is what you make it.” He added, “In the long run, money will be saved in reduced energy and maintenance costs.” Recycling – although small in scale – can benefit the environment in many ways and, according to Engstrom, “It does not cost more to put things in different bins.”
In the United States, buildings account for 64 percent of total energy use and 65 percent of electrical consumption.
They are also responsible for 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions,
30 percent of raw materials and 30 percent of waste output – 136 million
tons per year. The average home consumes 1.5 acres of forest, which then has to be multiplied by the 1.8 million
houses built each year. Engstrom presented these figures is his lecture, stressing the importance of green building.
Lawrence’s new campus center is planned to qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design “silver”
certification. This is very similar to Green Building, but specified for larger commercial buildings. Nathan Engstrom stated that “if the LEED standards
are followed, then you should get a very high-performance building. The key will be to make sure that they follow through on this commitment.”
For more information on Green Building, Nathan Engstrom can be contacted
at nengstrom@greenbuilthome.org or through the company website at http://www.greenbuilthome.org/.
The next installment of the lecture
series will be given Thursday by John Weyenberg, director of the Fox Cities chapter of Habitat for Humanity. The speech is entitled “The ReStore Recycled Building Materials Project.”
On March 2 Judy Corbet, co-founder
of Village Homes, will be giving the third and final speech, “Beyond Green Buildings: Planning for Sustainable Neighborhoods and Regions.” All speeches are free and open to the public.