According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), “Green building is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible. They are resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle. They are more efficient than typical buildings in their operations, maintenance, renovation, and deconstruction. This practice expands and complements classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort.”
As a culture we must realize and understand that built environments (buildings and their sites) have a substantial effect on human beings and the natural environment. It is our duty, as citizens to become more mindful of those impacts so we may sustain and improve our quality of life, for ourselves, our children and their children. The manufacturing, design, construction and operation of buildings are responsible for the consumption of vast amounts of our limited natural resources and the generation of massive amounts of pollutants and waste. Through the efforts of creating performance green buildings we can minimize consumption and reduce waste while improving economic viability.
Here are some of the many environment benefits of green building:
- Improved air and water quality
- Reduced waste streams
- Enhancement and protection of biodiversity and ecosystems
- Conservation and restoration of natural resources
- Economic benefits include: reduced operating costs, improve occupant productivity, increased assets and value, lower strain on utility infrastructure.
- Social benefits include: Enhanced occupant health, well being & comfort, improved indoor air quality, improved quality of life, community development, social equity, reduction of obesity, improved education retention, …the list is endless.
- Generation of sustainable growth
- Creation of jobs/careers
- Improved delivery of public services
- Increase in energy security and reduction of dependency on foreign fossil fuels
- Reduced trash, pollution and degradation of environment
Why Performance Green homes?
According to the U.S. Green Building Council, “Generally, green homes are healthier, more comfortable, more durable, and more energy efficient and have a much smaller environmental footprint than conventional homes.”
Some builders avoid going green because of a common misconception that going green will cost them more money for their project. While it may sometimes be true that sustainable materials and products can initially be more costly, the resulting building will save overhead in the long run through the significant reduction in energy bills and material replacements. This is a worthwhile investment that will save money and help the environment throughout the lifetime of the building structure and site.
Make Sure Your Building is LEED Certified or utilizes another green building rating system such as Living Building Challenge.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a third-party certification standard for sustainable, performance green buildings. LEED recognizes green building performance through 4 levels of certification (Certified, Silver, Gold, Platinum) through use of 21 rating systems. The LEED rating systems address green building practices for any building type including homes, offices, schools, hospitals, retail stores, civic buildings, manufacturing, hotels, and more. LEED certified buildings are third-party verified, environmentally-friendly, host improved indoor environments, and are dramatically less costly to operate, benefiting owners and occupants.
Here are some of the more common features associated with LEED certified buildings:
- Reduced costs for energy, water, and maintenance
- Verified energy efficient
- Better air quality – LEED is dedicated to using only low or no VOC paints and adhesives, with proper outdoor air ventilation
- Durable, longer lasting, disaster prepared, and free of indoor contaminants
- LEED certified buildings boast greater value, higher resale, and sell more quickly
- Overall, less expensive to operate and maintain
It is clear that there’s no reason NOT to design and build green, with LEED or other green building rating system. By owning, working, learning, or living in a third-party verified green building you’ll save money, be more productive, learn more, or be more profitable while treading lighter on our environment – it’s a win-win-win!