Mean lean green
It is based on the hierarchy:
- Mean. Reducing the demand for materials, energy, water and other resources. For example, creating guidelines for building designers to ensure demand is low from the outset, by utilising passive measures such as natural heating, lighting, ventilation and external shading.
- Lean. Ensuring that materials and systems are used responsibly and efficiently. For example, reducing distribution losses for energy (or water) between generation and usage. This might involve supplying heat, cooling, power and water from an on-site source.
- Green. Supplying any remaining requirements from renewable sources to minimise residual carbon emissions. For example, solar power or rainwater harvesting.
Developers can tend to jump straight to the ‘green’ aspect , that is, renewable energy generation, but the other two – using less and making sure as much as possible gets to the point of usage – are equally important.
The philosophy applies to environmental assessments and strategies at all scales, including; the design of buildings and infrastructure, new city developments and climate change adaptation projects, as well as implementing strategies to reduce carbon and take advantage of carbon finance and trading. Being Mean, Lean and Green in its broadest sense requires integration of central and local government policy, legislation, building regulations, client policy and design strategy.
Whilst the Mean Lean Green approach is popular in the ‘Global North’ it can be less useful in the ‘Global South’ where the ‘lean’ aspect may already happen through necessity, and in fact increased resource consumption may be required to improve quality of life.
NB The term 'Lean Construction' was coined by the International Group for Lean Construction in 1993. It is, in part, an adaptation of the principles of lean manufacturing concerned with maximising the value delivered to clients/customers/end-users while minimising cost and waste through the entire construction supply chain.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Circular economy.
- Climate Change Act.
- Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA).
- Emission rates.
- Energy targets.
- Lean construction.
- Recyclable construction materials.
- Smart cities.
- Sustainable materials
- Zero carbon homes.
- Zero carbon non domestic buildings.
 External references
- ODA: Mean, lean and green, Powering the Olympic Park.
- Lean, Mean & Green: Reimaging Detroit and other post-industrial cities too.
- Commission for a Sustainable London 2012: Case Study: Renewable energy.
- Public Service Review: PROFILE- Green Solutions – without the upfront cost.
Featured articles and news
What is Modernism?
Modernist architecture and its many international variations explained.
BRE support Europe-wide strategic heating plans for local and national authorities.
Work set to begin on 'one of America's greatest parks', which will be 10 times bigger than Central Park.
One of our most popular articles - RSHP's Mike Davies writes about the concept design process.
As Cuba mourn the death of Castro, major renovation of this symbolic landmark may be a reflection of the country's fresh start.
How cannabis plants are used to create an alternative building material with plenty of advantages.
What does Mayor Sadiq Khan's first policy statement mean for London's infrastructure?
Bjarke Ingels Group announced as winners of design competition for new residential landmark in Amsterdam.
Designing Buildings Wiki has reviewed a well-designed and researched set of architecture city maps.
Designing Buildings Wiki attended the second annual Building Live conference, tackling the challenges facing construction.