Green vs. Sustainable Building: What’s the Difference?

Working within our tiny house team, communication is key. In order for us to more effectively communicate,  Dr. Skobba has been engaging us in discussions about concepts such as green building and sustainability. The terms ‘green building’ and ‘sustainable building’ get used together so often that the specific meanings can get confused. Knowing the basics of each of these concepts helps to clarify our understanding.

Green Building looks at the overall energy efficiency of the home being built, while focusing on conserving natural resources and increasing indoor air quality.

  • focuses mainly on energy efficiency
  • process of trial and error

Sustainable Building meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

  • focuses on the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
  • protects natural resources
  • eliminates toxins
  • places high value on quality materials

Green building and sustainable building have many areas of overlap. While green building focuses more on energy efficiency and views the home as a system, sustainable building looks at the longevity of the home and the impact of the home for future generations. A home has the potential to encompass aspects of both building methods. However, truly sustainable green homes are rare. For our tiny house, we are attempting to keep both ways of building in mind to create a green and sustainable house.


Sources: Green from the Ground Up – David Johnston and Scott Gibson

Class notes