Most people in the built environment community are aware that using and specifying sustainable and resilient materials and designs is “the right thing to do.” There has been and continues to be industry discussions about the environment and climate change; sustainability and resilience are sometimes just assumed to address environmental and climate change concerns in ways that are “good.” But sometimes, these words are used without really appreciating whether or not they are essentially the same, different, or in some way linked.
The built environment represents a large consumer of resources, both in terms of materials and energy. The U.S. Energy Information Agency estimates that residential and commercial/industrial buildings consume 40 percent of the energy used in the U.S. Of that, the majority is used for heating, air conditioning, ventilation and lighting. Non-energy resource use, including material use, construction waste, operating resources such as water, and end of life demolition waste is far harder to estimate, but is significant. However, the construction market is estimated to be $1.231 trillion for 2018, versus a total gross domestic product of $20.412 trillion. This means the construction market represents around 6 percent of the U.S. economy.