Green design is not merely the use of energy-efficient materials. It also involves the creation of products and systems that leave a light footprint on the environment over the full life-cycle—from production to transportation, installation, use and renewal. As such, sustainable green design should be thought of as a process, not just a goal—allowing for a broader evaluation of the environmental, economical and societal impacts of a product, as single units and as part of their environment. When considering environmental issues in construction and life cycle, some focus on an evaluation of manufactured products in terms of waste disposal. Instead, a host of factors and influences of a product’s impact on society should be evaluated and contrasted to the product’s performance.
A systems approach allows for a determination of the environmental impact of a product in terms of energy consumption at each stage of a product’s life cycle, beginning at the point of raw materials extraction from the earth and proceeding through processing, manufacturing, fabrication, end-use and disposal.