Is Leed Really the Answer? / by Michelle Linden

There is so much talk these days about our carbon footprint and the ways in which we can reduce our individual footprint. Green building in turn, has come to the forefront of architectural discourse. While I agree that there is an inherent value in green building, I wonder how much of a difference it will actually make.

Living in an urban environment (in Seattle) in the United States, I have always been under the impression that my carbon footprint is fairly small... That is, if you exclude my air travel. Unlike many families in Europe and abroad, US families tend to be spread out over this very large country. For example, I live nearly 3000 miles from my parents on the east coast. If C & I make a few trips a year to see our families (his are also on the east coast) we've already exceeded the average carbon footprint (and far exceeded our goals of a zero carbon footprint). While there are small changes we can make to our living and waste, nearly all of the waste comes from air travel (even our car travel is minimal, as we now both walk to work and rarely take road trips). While I agree that we as architects and designers should aspire to further green building, it seems to me that we should all really be getting after the aerospace industry forcing them to find cleaner ways to complete air travel. Because I for one don't want to give up seeing the world, but I also realize that walking to work isn't having as great an affect as I'd like.

Below is a break down of my household's carbon footprint via BP's calculator.
Household Energy: 6.25
Vehicle Travel: .60
Air Travel: 13.20
Waste: .19
Total: 20.24