Green Building Design and Construction
Today’s building professionals are creating healthy and environmentally friendly buildings using sustainable design methods in the construction industry. In order to verify that a building has been designed and built using strategies targeted at reaching high standards of human and environmental health, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) created a rating system called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) to identify and reward buildings that follow sustainable design practices.
The main benefits for incorporating sustainable design practices are:
Setting an example in your community
Green buildings with lower operating costs and better indoor environmental quality are more attractive to corporate, public and individual buyers. Green features enter into tenants’ decisions about leasing space and into buyers’ decisions about purchasing properties and homes. Green buildings sell and lease faster when compared to similar non-green projects in the same town. They tend be easier to rent and sell because educated tenants are increasingly understanding their benefits.
Reducing building operating costs
Energy efficient design of architectural, mechanical and electrical systems, energy efficient products, and high performance envelope products will reduce building operating costs.
Improving the health of building occupants
To improve occupants’ health in buildings, LEED buildings use paints and adhesives that contain no volatile organic compounds and sustainable materials with high-recycle content. The buildings also have the proper amount of outdoor air intake required for ventilation and maintain good indoor air quality by exhausting potentially toxic fumes in buildings (i.e. copy machine rooms and housekeeping rooms).
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Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
An energy efficient building design will reduce the amount of energy a building needs, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the amount of electricity that a power plant has to generate and deliver to a building.
Reducing Environmental Impact
We can reduce our impact on the environment by reducing water usage in a building. One way to do this is by using plumbing fixtures that consume less water than your standard fixtures. Look for toilets with a flush rate of 1.28 gallons per flush or less, look for waterless urinals, and look for sinks with automatic sensors. Another method is collecting rainwater and re-using it by storing it in tanks, filtering it, disinfecting it, and then using it as water for the toilets in the building.
According to the USGBC, buildings in the United States are responsible for 39% of carbon emissions and 40% of all energy consumption, which makes sustainable building design a source of considerable economic and environmental opportunity.
A green or sustainable building is energy efficient, healthy for occupants and has a long life. The way that it is designed, constructed and uses energy is efficient and has low environmental impacts. It uses recycled materials when possible and uses construction materials from local markets as to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation of materials.
Sustainability and green design in construction is a moving target. Projects must meet rigorous performance measures to win ratings, like LEED, and the prizes do more than glow on display and attract business. They also help to increase future green building design standards.