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Introduction and Overview

Figure 1.1

The oil rollover point is the

year in which the worldwide production rate of oil peaks. Although there are varying points of view as to when this will occur, the probability is that it has already occurred or

that it will occur in just a few years. (Draw- ing by Bilge Çelik.)

needed to extract it. Experts predict that between 2010 and 2020, oil prices will sky- rocket as production falls and demand begins to exceed supply, sending shock waves through a world economy predicated on growth subsidized by cheap energy. The Chi- nese economy officially grew 9.3 percent in 2005 with some estimates that it will continue at this rate and others stating that it will grow 9.5 percent in 2007. China produced about 2 million automobiles in 2000, tripling to about 6 million in 2005. China’s burgeoning industries are in heavy competition with the United States and other major economies for oil and other key resources such as steel and cement. The combination of increasingly scarce supplies of oil, rapid economic growth in China and India, and concerns over the contribution of fossil fuel consumption to climate change will inevitably force the price of gasoline and other fossil-fuel-derived energy sources to increase rapidly in the coming decades. At present, there are no foresee- able technological substitutes for the world’s rapidly depleting oil supplies. Alterna- tives such as hydrogen or fuels derived from coal and tar sands threaten to be prohibitively expensive. The expense of operating buildings that are heated and cooled using fuel oil and natural gas will likely increase, along with the cost of fossil-fuel-dependent industrial, commercial, and personal transportation. A shift toward hyperefficient buildings and transportation cannot begin soon enough.

A unique vocabulary is emerging to describe concepts related to sustainability and global environmental changes. Terms such as Factor 4 and Factor 10, ecological footprint, ecological rucksack, biomimicry, Natural Step, eco-efficiency, ecological economics, biophilia, and the Precautionary Principle describe the overarching philosophical and scientific concepts that apply to a paradigm shift toward sustain- ability. Complementary terms such as green building, building assessment, ecologi- cal design, life-cycle assessment, life-cycle costing, high-performance building, and charrette articulate specific techniques in the assessment and application of princi- ples of sustainability to the built environment.

The sustainable development movement has been evolving worldwide for almost two decades, causing significant changes in building delivery systems in a relatively short period of time. A subset of sustainable development, sustainable con- struction, addresses the role of the built environment in contributing to the overarch- ing vision of sustainability. In the United States, the founding of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 1993 heralded government and industry’s newfound commitment to high-performance green building practices. From 1993 to 1998, a

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