How You Can Build a Green Community

By Cheryl Conklin

Are you interested in improving your community? Do you understand the importance of building sustainable neighborhoods? If so, you may consider advocating for green buildings in your city.

What Is Green Building?

Building “green” means considering environmental impacts when designing structures. It also means finding ways to reduce adverse effects while creating positive ones. Green buildings emphasize sustainability while preserving natural resources.

Green buildings can include:

  • Waste-reduction measures such as recycling and reusing materials
  • Efficient use of resources such as water and electricity
  • Non-toxic, renewable building materials
  • Healthy indoor air quality

A green building also considers its occupants’ quality of life. It pays respect to local customs and the needs of its users. It also factors in local climate and environmental situations.

According to statistics, green building uses 25% less energy and 11% less water than conventional construction methods.

Green Building Benefits

Green buildings reduce waste, use fewer resources, and lower environmental impact. They help reduce energy bills, making them less costly to operate and maintain. They are designed with user satisfaction in mind — large windows and open floor plans are appealing and maximize natural daylight. Ideally, they offer comfortable environments and have a high resale value.

Green Building Feature 1: Eco-Friendly Lighting

Energy-efficient lighting is an excellent addition to green buildings; you can install it without compromising safety. It’s vital to install lighting in areas that need to be well-lit, especially walkways, stairwells, and vestibules. Good lighting is essential in parking garages.

Pedestrians and drivers depend on the increased visibility good lighting provides. It adds a layer of safety so that people can easily see where they’re headed. It also deters criminals.

An ideal eco-friendly lighting system automatically senses and adjusts light levels to increase energy savings without squandering safety.

Green Building Feature 2: Green Materials

Building green means using natural and renewable materials when possible. Recycled content, prefabricated products, moisture-resistant materials, and low-VOC products all fit the description.

It’s ideal to buy materials locally to reduce the carbon footprint of transportation.

Green Building Feature 3: Water Reduction

Green buildings focus on the need to reduce water consumption. This feature is a vital consideration in drought-prone areas.

Water-reducing features include:

Artificial groundwater recharge is another green-building feature that’s becoming more significant. It involves redirecting water to replenish groundwater levels by:

  • Using sprinkler systems or irrigation furrows
  • Injecting water into ground subsurface
  • Creating ponds, infiltration surfaces, or canals

How To Influence Sustainability in Your Community

Creating a green community is a task that requires all hands on deck. You may be wondering how you and your cohorts can make an impact. The answer lies in getting local businesses and lawmakers on board.

  1. Define your outcome: Clarify your message — building a green community — in a brief statement. Next, create a well-defined, measurable goal.
  2. Target your database: Find the people in your area who can help you reach a broader audience and support your message. You can boost your success by pointing out how they can benefit.
  3. Execute your plan: Once you have assembled a team, you can begin an email campaign, circulate petitions, raise funds, lobby politicians, and carry out other aspects of your campaign.
  4. Refer to examples: Look to Forest Unlimited for guidance from other successful campaigns if you’re unsure where to begin.

Advocating for green building can be challenging, but it is possible. Creating changes in your community, such as energy-efficient lighting, is real progress. It’s also very satisfying for the people who work so hard to make an impact.

Bikeable Santa Rosa


If you live in Santa Rosa California, you know that biking is not safe nor convenient yet.  Bikeable Santa Rosa is working to change that.  They are organizing “slow rides” to make biking more visible, advocating for protected bike lanes and pathways and having fun in the process.  They are pushing the Santa Rosa City Council to lower speed limits in town, fix dangerous intersections and build better safe bike infrastructure.

If you live in Santa Rosa, consider joining Bikeable Santa Rosa and participate in their slow rides.

Support California Asembly Bill 1789

A new bill in the California Assembly would make wise, dedicated investments in the state’s recreational trails and help meet the growing demand for trails and outdoor spaces in the Golden State—but your legislator needs to hear from you to make it happen.

Write your Assemblymember now in support of dedicating millions of dollars for California’s natural surface trails.


Some Simple Ideas For Improving Urban Transportation: These fixes won’t take years and millions of dollars to implement.

Author  Benno Martens

I could watch that video of Copenhagen on a loop for hours. It’s like witnessing an urban ballet. But there isn’t a city in the United States that is on a par with Copenhagen when it comes to transportation.

In researching this piece, it was infuriating how awful mass transit in the United States compared to the rest of the world. It’s embarrassing to try to put even our best transit cities in the same league as mediocre ones in Europe and Asia.

Before any American city becomes the next Copenhagen, there’s a ton of work to be done and a host of countervailing forces working against progress.

Read more