Green building is the practice of
(1) increasing the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use energy, water, and materials, and
(2) reducing building impacts on human health and the environment, through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal—the complete building life cycle.
The EPA defines green building as, "the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and deconstruction."
So essentially when correctly applied, green building is meant to improve design and construction practices so that the buildings we build last longer, cost less to operate, and facilitate increased productivity and better working environments for workers or residents. But even more than that, it is also about protecting our natural resources and improving the built environment so that the planet's ecosystems, people, enterprises, and communities can live a healthier and more prosperous life.
building green may incur marginally greater upfront costs, in the long run a green home is more affordable and cost effective because the operational costs are lower when compared with conventional buildings. There are various strategies and approaches that can be employed to achieve inexpensive green building. These include reducing waste, optimal value engineering, right-sizing the structure to using solar panels, low-e windows, and energy-saving appliances, and more—all of which can help qualify the project for federal tax credits.
Green building is mainly concerned with how you design and orient your building, site selection, water conservation, energy performance, window location, and so on. However, making smart decisions regarding eco-friendly building materials (e.g., those possessing a high recycled content, low embodied energy, minimal VOCs) is an important aspect of green building, but they are only a small part of the overall equation.
Green buildings are typically more comfortable and healthier than conventional buildings. In fact, one of the chief characteristics of sustainable design is to support the well-being of building occupants by reducing indoor air pollution from exposure to contaminants (e.g., asbestos, radon, and lead), therefore avoiding complaints such as sick building syndrome (SBS) and building-related illness (BRI). This can normally be achieved by selecting materials with low off-gassing potential; proper ventilation strategies; adequate access to daylight and views; and optimum comfort through control of lighting, humidity and temperature levels.
Today, green building materials are more popular than ever and have become much more accessible. Much information—including performance data and contact details—can also be obtained from the various green product directories on the market such as the two comprehensive directories published by BuildingGreen Inc. (GreenSpec® Directory and Green Building Products). According to a recent U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC®) report, in excess of 70% of the green building research is focused on energy and atmosphere research.
Green concepts do not generally inhibit or restrict building design or space usability. Furthermore, all modern techniques that apply to conventional building can be employed when building green. A good example of this is the Condé Nast Building (officially 4 Times Square) located in Midtown Manhattan. The building boasts 48 stories and rises to 809 feet (247 m). It is environmentally friendly with gas-fired absorption chillers, and a high-performing insulating and shading curtain wall, which keeps the building's energy costs down by not requiring heating or cooling for most of the year. In addition, the building uses solar and fuel-cell technology, making it the first project of its size to incorporate these features in construction.
It is not really difficult to convert existing buildings into green/ sustainable buildings. Actually, there are numerous scientific ratings and checklists that builders can use to redesign and realign traditional buildings to meet modern green standards. Likewise, many rating systems, such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) for existing buildings, Canada's Go Green Plus, and the Japanese CASBEE certification system, all encourage such conversions. To this end, President Obama after becoming president committed his administration to retrofitting 75% of all existing federal buildings. It is important therefore to increase public awareness of how baseless these myths are and to do all that is possible to eliminate them. The LEED Rating System is, in most cases, a totally voluntary program: You pay your fees, follow the LEED guidelines, and ultimately receive a plaque or certificate stating your building has achieved a Silver, Gold, or whichever status.
George W. Bush followed in his father's footsteps and during the eight years of his presidency, greening the White House was taken a little further with the installation of three solar systems, including a thermal setup on the pool cabana to heat water for the pool and showers, and photovoltaic panels to supplement the mansion's electrical supply. The White House greening approaches fit under several main headings:
1. Building Envelope: Realizing that a significant amount of energy is lost through building elements, such as the roof and windows, an effort was made to analyze these and find solutions to increase their efficiency.
2. Lighting: Energy-saving light bulbs were used wherever possible and the use of natural light was maximized. Steps were also taken to ensure lights were turned off in empty rooms.
3. Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning (HVAC): HVAC measures were used to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat and cool the buildings while simultaneously increasing occupant comfort. Correct ventilation is necessary to help achieve this.
4. Plug Loads: The installation of energy-saving office equipment and replacement of refrigerators and coolers with more energy-efficient models.
5. Waste: Initiation of a comprehensive recycling program for aluminum, glass, paper, newsprint, furniture, fluorescent lamps, paint solvents, batteries, laser printer cartridges, and organic yard waste.
6. Vehicles: A program was initiated to lease vehicles that accept cleaner-burning alternative fuels, and the White House participates in a pilot program to test electric vehicles. Many employees are encouraged to use public transportation to decrease the use of automobiles.
7. Landscaping: White House upgrades include methods to reduce unnecessary water and pesticide use, and the increased use of organic fertilizers on the grounds of the complex were studied.
The author of the aboved writing: Sam Kubba