Green Building Takes Root in Indian Country

Five months ago, I wrote a piece for Environmental Health Perspectives on the implications of green-building on tribal lands for indoor air quality and human health. Indoor air quality is a huge issue across many reservations due to the quality and condition of a significant portion of the housing stock (and, for that matter, a major housing shortage that results in many homes being over capacity). Other complicating factors are extreme climates; remote, rural locations; and low per-capita incomes at many reservations. Green, clean, climate-appropriate housing can go a long way toward improving indoor air quality and public health in Indian country, as I explain in the EHP piece.

However, that's just one part of the green-building story on many reservations. Healthy and efficient homes designed for the tribe and its climate can also pay dividends culturally and economically, as I address in this story for Indian Country Today, published today. The story explains how green-building projects can actually meet a wide range of needs, and how many tribes are charging forward with highly innovative and culturally relevant projects.

Here's an excerpt: "Contemporary green-building gets to the heart of Native culture writ large ... as tribes transition toward permanent housing, return their attention to the Earth, reconnect with the past, insist upon defining themselves and their future, and improve their economic situation through affordable homeownership and reduced energy costs. In this sense, green-building is not an end in itself, but rather a means to revitalization."

Read the full story here. I'm hoping to do more on this topic in the future, so stay tuned.