061509BookCoverLT.jpg(300)Green building doesn’t have to cost more than other building approaches, and green buildings can, in fact, achieve significant cost savings by making their inhabitants more healthy and productive. These and other “truths” about sustainable business practices are explored in The Truth About Green Business, a new book by Gil Friend, founder, president, and CEO of Natural Logic, which offers sustainability consulting to corporate clients such as Coca-Cola, General Mills, and Hewlett-Packard.

The book is listed at $18.99 and is available from Amazon.com and other booksellers. The publisher is FT Press.

From accounting to information technology to “green procurement,” Friend’s book explores 52 “truths” in all. In the realm of green building, it explores the LEED rating system and argues that integrative design -- essentially, a well thought-out team approach -- is essential to creating truly green, high-performance buildings. While this approach is most relevant to large developments, residential remodelers might find it enlightening as well.

Five tips for putting integrative design into action:

  1. Kick off the integrative design process with a "design charette," an intensive, collaborative design session involving various stakeholders and every aspect of the project. See the charette as an opportunity to communicate and clarify green goals for the project and transform a group of specialists into a team with common goals. The charette should generate a compelling, shared story to guide the design team and client.

  2. Assess the site and the needs of the building and the people who will occupy it. How will you use water, energy, living systems, and materials to meet those needs?

  3. Set initial goals for the green building -- not just a shopping list of features and technologies, but also performance goals, including energy and water benchmarks. Let the list follow the process, not drive it. Research other green building case studies for inspiration. Strive to go beyond "doing less harm" to building a structure that enhances natural capital.

  4. After the charette and buy-in from decision makers, have the design team discuss how to approach the actual building process. Provide continual, active communication to ensure that the building is properly calibrated for all systems.

  5. Schedule frequent team workshops.

The book does not come with worksheets or checklists to help with items such as tip 2 (needs assessments); the author, in fact, is “very wary of a checklist-driven approach to design,” as it often “results in a sub-optimal design,” according to a publicist. “That said, the LEED rating system provides one level of checklist,” and many more guidelines are widely available. --Leah Thayer, senior editor, REMODELING.