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Procure Products

in the Green Procurement Compilation

Learn & Plan Topics

  • What is Sustainability

    Sustainability is best thought of as a process, rather than an end state. Sustainability means to create and maintain conditions that balance the ec...
  • Keys to Success

    Sustainable design, construction, operation, and renovation are best thought of as an integrated process, rather than a collection of things. The pr...
  • Integrative Design Process

    Integrative thinking looks for synergies among strategies - strategies that enhance one another. It also looks for strategies that, taken together, ...
  • Project Guidance

    For each project there is a selection of issues and questions you should consider before selecting specific materials or products. This will help...

  • Best Practices & Case Studies

    One of the best ways to learn and make the case for high-performance building innovations is to point to others’ experience in implementing th...

Whole Building Systems Thinking

Unlike conventional design processes, where components and disciplines are treated separately, sustainable design requires an evaluation of whole systems. When retrofitting an office, consider the space as a whole. This means thinking not only about the lighting, the flooring, the windows, the HVAC system, and the furniture as separate components, but also thinking about the relationship between each of these components and the ways that those relationships create the space, and how that fits with sustainability goals.

Check out the Whole Building Systems section in Explore for information on building systems, their relationship to one another, and the integrated design team necessary to reach sustainability goals.

For example, if a project’s goal is to save energy from lighting and improve occupant comfort, it should think not only about the type of lighting fixtures needed, but also how the space will be used by the occupants, the amount of sunlight streaming through the windows at different times of year, how that light gets bounced into the space, how the light levels are controlled, and even the colors of the walls. By thinking holistically about the lighting system, rather than simply about the lighting components, a more comfortable, efficient, healthy and productive space can be created. In addition, the project “system” is nested within larger systems, such as a watershed, an air shed, a forest, a neighborhood and city, and so forth; these larger systems should also be considered. 

Whole Building Systems


  • Metal Systems

    Metal ceilings are not often used in office spaces as it tends to be a high-end finish and does not offer the same acoustical properties as acoust...
  • Systems Furniture

    Systems furniture is frequently used in open office areas because of its flexibility in being reconfigured and rearranged. It is generally comprised...
  • Entrance Mats

    Entrance Mats located at the main doors of the building, either on the exterior or interior, trap the contaminants from foot traffic. Dust, dirt ...