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Human Ecology's Ying Hua examines how the U.S. and Japan build green

Constructing environmentally friendly buildings is about much more than solar panels and high-efficiency heating and cooling units, says Ying Hua, assistant professor of design and environmental analysis in the College of Human Ecology.

Hua recently was awarded a U.S. Green Building Council grant to develop a new course on sustainable building practices and a Abe Fellowship by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership and the Social Science Research Council. She has set out to compare how Japan and the United States approach "green" building design and construction and to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each country's approach.

"Many barriers for the major market transformation toward more sustainable practice in the building sector are caused by non-technological factors," Hua explained. "I am not only looking at the design stage, but at the whole life cycle of the building." That includes, she said, considering everything from siting and designing for passive air conditioning to what happens to a building when it's no longer useful.

"My goal is to understand how all of this has an impact on building performance, and then use what I learn to develop recommendations for the most effective policies and instruments," Hua said. She's hoping those recommendations can be put to good use in such emerging economies as China and India, where development policies will have a major impact on the success of reducing global carbon emissions.

Hua's new course, Collaborative Sustainable Building Practice, is one of only two university-level classes in the nation recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council for the Excellence in Green Building Curriculum Incentive Grant in 2008.

The course is designed to look beyond green design of single buildings and address broader issues affecting sustainable building practices, including complex stakeholder structures and the fragmented delivery processes in the United States and abroad.

Sheri Hall is assistant director of communication for the College of Human Ecology.

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