Green building has become more important than ever in today’s eco-conscious society. With rising energy costs, more buildings are looking for ways to cut their ecological footprint. A growing number of companies, governmental entities, educational institutions, and homeowners are choosing to go with green options for everything from heating and cooling systems to office renovations and garden landscaping. Many building owners and managers have already taken the green building to the next level by choosing energy efficient materials and by implementing “green” practices themselves. Today’s green buildings are recognized as keystones of eco-friendliness.
But what exactly is a green building? Green building simply refers to the application and management of environmentally responsible and resource-effective practices during the life-cycle of a building: from design to planning, construction, operation, repair, and maintenance, and decoration. As the name implies, green buildings take advantage of environmentally sound construction practices to conserve the natural environment. Green buildings aim to reduce or to eliminate the negative environmental impacts caused by their design and construction. The result is the extended life of the building, increased comfort, safety, and reliability, as well as a reduction in the need for extensive upkeep and cleaning. Not only does the green building offer tangible benefits to its users and the environment, but it also has intangible benefits such as better employee engagement and retention, higher property values, and reduced dependence on external contractors.
One of the most significant benefits of green building practices is the use of sustainable and recycled materials. These materials, when used in buildings, reduce the demand for natural resources such as fossil fuels, thus reducing the overall amount of pollution generated by a building. Additionally, sustainable materials reduce the amount of energy needed to power a building, making buildings more environmentally friendly. In addition to reducing pollution and waste, sustainable materials to ensure a longer lifespan for the building, greater resilience to climate change, improved durability, and savings on the materials and labor necessary to build the structure.
Green building research seeks to understand, promote, and increase the efficiency with which buildings are designed, built, maintained, and operated. Green building practices employ efficient and reliable technology, including sustainable construction practices, energy efficiency, renewable energy solutions, energy efficiency management, and maintenance of the building as an integrated whole. Energy efficiency is particularly important in buildings that house people, creating greater needs for low-greenhouse heat and energy consumption. Renewable energy efficiency involves using technologies to generate energy from renewable resources, such as the sun, wind, geothermal or hydroelectricity, and recycled or recyclable materials. These practices can reduce the total cost of a building project, making it more cost-effective.
Green building practices also include initiatives to reduce indoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution comprises a broad range of sources such as cigarette smoke, spores, pet dander, dust mites, humidity, radon gas, and tobacco smoke. A green building program promotes energy efficiency in all buildings, with particular attention given to ventilation. This effort focuses on improving air quality throughout the structure, improving occupant health, reducing indoor pollution, as well as minimizing energy costs. Green building research has found certain elements, such as multi-level heating and air conditioning systems, that promote air quality while simultaneously reducing energy costs.
Green developments also seek to protect human health by reducing the negative environmental impacts of buildings on human health and the environment. Green developments can improve air quality, enhance the comfort and safety of occupants, improve indoor air quality, promote greater energy efficiency, and decrease occupant exposure to allergens and pollutants. A green development project may contribute to improved air quality by reducing indoor air pollution due to a variety of sources (e.g., inadequate ventilation, existing fumes, solvents, and VOCs). These improvements will in turn improve occupant health and safety by eliminating or minimizing the risks of respiratory illnesses such as asthma, allergies, and sinusitis. These measures will also contribute to improved indoor air quality, thereby contributing to a healthier occupant and decreasing the indoor air pollution levels in commercial, institutional, and public buildings.
Green building research aims to create buildings that have improved energy efficiency, greater environmental impact, and a smaller environmental footprint. To attain this goal, the study of sustainable architecture focuses on building designs that are sustainable both economically and environmentally. Green projects incorporate design and materials that use renewable resources, employ sustainable construction methods, use energy efficient equipment and materials, and promote a better indoor air quality than that present in buildings with traditional building techniques. In addition, green building research seeks to create buildings that can effectively address legal requirements concerning compliance with building regulations and codes. This includes the implementation of procedures for maintaining environmental health and safety at work, the documentation and reporting of the building’s environmental performance, and the review and approval of operations manuals and policies.
Indoor air quality is one of the most crucial factors contributing to adverse health effects to occupants of buildings. Green developments aim to create buildings that are safer for everyone, providing a positive ambiance and stimulating energy efficiency. The overall environment of sustainable structures is one in which occupants can relax, enjoy physical activity, socialize, participate in cultural events, and pursue other recreational or wellness activities. With improved energy efficiency, improved indoor air quality, occupants of green buildings are able to enjoy their time at home while breathing cleaner air. These benefits create a happier, healthier workforce, which improves productivity and increases overall profitability.