Sustainability Resources

Groups to Know

  • ASID National Sustainability
  • Architecture 2030
    Non-profit working to change the way buildings and developments are  planned, designed and constructed.
  • International WELL Building Institute
    Administers the WELL Building Standard®, an evidence-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring the performance of building features that impact health and well-being.
  • International Living Building Institute
    The ILBI is a non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to the creation of a truly sustainable built environment in all countries around the world.
  • Transparency
    Encouraging material health in the built environment
  • The Pharos Project
    Evaluates, profiles, and rates building products and components
  • Health Product Declaration® (HPD) Collaborative
    Aa customer-led, member organization committed to the continuous improvement of the building industry’s performance through transparency, openness and innovation in the product supply chain
  • Biomimicry 3.8
    Biomimicry innovation consulting, professional training, and educational program and curricula development
  • AskNature
    This curated online library features free information on more than 1,800 (and growing!) natural phenomena and hundreds of bio-inspired applications
  • The Whole Building Design Guide
    A web-based portal providing government and industry practitioners with one-stop access to up-to-date information on a wide range of building-related guidance, criteria and technology from a ‘whole buildings’ perspective
  • The Healthy Building Network
    Performing independent, foundational research and product evaluations required to provide building products specifiers with unbiased, up-to-date information about chemical hazards, practical product evaluations and comparisons, and recommendations about the healthfulness of widely-used building products
  • Building Green
    A source on healthy and sustainable design and construction strategies available online and in-person through our consulting and training services
  • The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute
    A non-profit organization, administers the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Product Standard
  • Terrapin Bright Green
    Reimagining standard practices to deliver innovative solutions for the emerging challenges that face the built environment
  • US Green Building Council, Nevada and US Green Building Council California 
  • The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and its community are changing the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated

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Sustainable Design FAQ

What are sustainable design’s key issues and common misconceptions?
It is more expensive than other types of design (not necessarily); there are not enough materials to work with (there are plenty, and new ones are launched every week); nobody is interested in green (from people concerned about the environment, to families with sick children, to business worried about lawsuits, more and more potential customers are inquiring about, and requesting, sustainable design), sustainable design doesn’t fit my personal style or desired aesthetic (sustainability does not have a “style” and is based on principles, systems, and material content and sourcing).

What makes a project or a building green?
A sustainable approach to design should create buildings and interiors that 1) are healthier for people and enhance productivity; 2) can be built at market rate and cost much less to operate; 3) use less fossil fuels thus conserving energy, generating less global pollution and saving on operational costs by requiring less maintenance; 4) use less water; 5) manage waste at the highest productive level; reduce impacts on both developed and undeveloped land; 7) minimize the use of materials and use materials with the lowest environmental impacts.

Why become a green designer?
The number of sustainable design projects continues its fast increase, due in part to the phenomenal growth of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) a body comprised of architectural and engineering firms, design firms, contractors and developers; federal, state, and local government agencies; and professional associations like ASID, AIA, ASLA and IIDA. Today’s designers find themselves with a significant professional opportunity: to specify and build healthy buildings and interiors using environmentally friendly products and materials that have a healthy impact on clients and the planet.

How can my company become a green design firm?
Turning Green was developed to assist interiors designers who want to integrate sustainable design principles into their firms’ business principles and practices. It encapsulates the knowledge and insights of the 13 designers and team members at Associates III, a residential and hospitality interior design firm in Denver, Colorado, who decided about five years ago that sustainability needed to be not just a part of their design practice but a guiding philosophy underlying their approach to every design project they undertook. To view the guide, click here. For a quick overview of tips, click here .

For residential applications, check out the REGREEN Guidelines created through a partnership between ASID and the U.S. Green Building Council.  These compilation of best practices, organized by project type, was released in March 2008 and represents the nation’s first comprehensive green residential remodeling guidelines.

What is LEED and why should I know about it?
As with any design specialty, green design needed its own standards. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), launched in 1998, is a voluntary, consensus-based collection of national standards for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings and interiors, administered by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). It has become increasingly recognized by professional designers as a complete framework for assessing building performance and meeting sustainability goals. Developed by USGBC, there are currently four available LEED standards: LEED-NC (version 2.1) for new construction and major renovation projects; LEED-EB for existing building operations and maintenance; LEED-CI for commercial interiors projects; LEED-CS for core and shell projects; LEED-R for retail environments; LEED-HC for healthcare facilities; LEED-SCH for schools; LEED-H for homes or multifamily midrise projects; LEED-ND for neighborhood development projects. USGBC also offers a comprehensive system of professional accreditation, training and practical resources. To learn more about LEED, go to

What is the Living Building Challenge and why should I know about it?
The Living Building Challenge, created in 2001 by the Cascadia Green Building Council & the Living Future Institute (LFI), is the built environment’s most rigorous measurement of sustainability. It calls for the creation of building projects at all scales that operate as cleanly, beautifully and efficiently as nature’s architecture. Just as a flower generates all of its own energy, recycles water within a closed system, and adds beauty to its surroundings, so too should a building. To be certified under the Challenge, projects must meet a series of ambitious performance requirements, including net zero energy, waste and water, containing no materials on the “Red List” and a minimum of 12 months of continuous occupancy before becoming certified. The Challenge is comprised of seven performance areas, or ‘Petals’: Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty. As an advocacy tool, the Challenge offers a framework with the power to change the way entire communities value sustainability, equity and prosperity. To learn more about the Challenge, go to

What is WELL and why should I know about it?
The WELL Building Standard® is an evidence-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring the performance of building features that impact health and well-being. WELL is administered by the International WELL Building Institute™ (IWBI), a public benefit corporation whose mission is to improve human health and well-being through the built environment. WELL is third-party certified by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), which administers LEED certification and LEED professional credentialing. To learn more about the WELL, go to