Green Building Benefits Health and Environment, by Jenny Johnson

1044276_353330168126107_44475268_n Today more contractors are switching over to sustainable construction.  More people than ever are concerned about what their homes are doing to this environment, but how many people will do something about it?  So what is sustainable construction, anyway?

Sustainable Construction, also known as Green Building, is a construction and design practice that uses local materials and efficiently uses water, energy and other resources.  Sustainable construction is based on the best practice which highlights quality, long term affordability, and efficiency

Green Building, along with its environmental benefits, has its social and economic benefits.

 

 

Environmental Benefits:

  • Improve air and water qualities
  • Reduce waste streams
  • Conserve and restore natural resources
  • Enhance and protect biodiversity and ecosystems

Economic Benefits:

  • Increases property value
  • Reduce operating cost
  • Create, expand, and shape market for green products and services

Social Benefits:

  • Enhance occupant comfort and health
  • Minimize strain on local infrastructure
  • Improve overall quality of life

 

Now there is a lot more to sustainable construction than just using bamboo instead of plywood.  You have to find out where your materials come from, the health impact of the materials, and if the material has the ability to renew itself.  The energy consumption of a material during harvesting, processing, transferring, and use are all considered to figure out if a material is really “green” or not.  Local materials are most commonly used because of the reduced energy needs for transportation.  Building materials considered to be sustainable include renewable plant materials like bamboo and straw, dimension stone, recycled stone, recycled metal and other products that are non-toxic.

However, it’s not all about the material.  You have to consider the energy efficiency, water efficiency and sitting and structure efficiency.

Water Efficiency

Reducing water use and protection of water quality are very important in sustainable building.  Waste water may be minimized by using water conserving appliances such as ultra-low flush toilets and low-flow shower heads.

Sitting and Structure Efficiency

When designing environmentally ideal buildings, the goal is to minimize the total environmental impact related with all life cycle stages of the building project.

Cycle

 

Energy Efficiency

According to Wikipedia, to reduce energy use, designers use details that reduce air leaks through the barrier between conditioned and unconditioned space. Onsite generation of renewable energy through solar power, wind power, hydro power, or biomass can significantly reduce the environmental impact of the building.  To save more energy designers can use high-performance windows and extra insulation in walls, floors and ceilings. They can also place awnings, porches and trees to shade windows and roofs during the summer. According to the Green Building Council, increasing sustainable construction can meet about 85% of future energy needs.

The United States Environment Protection Agency says U.S. buildings account for 39% of the total energy use, 12% of the total water use, 68% of the total electricity use, and 38% of the carbon dioxide discharges. Our environmental effects from this are air pollution, water pollution, indoor pollution, waste, noise, heat islands and storm water runoff. The ultimate effects from this built environment are harm to the human health, loss of resources, and environment degradation.  If we build smaller, more sustainable houses we could minimize the percentage rate of energy use, water use, electricity use, and the carbon dioxide discharges. Across the street from where I live a beautiful, old very large house was torn down so that young newlyweds could build a larger house. This is just my point. We need to be content with what we have and when it does come time to build we need to be flexible and considerate of what we are doing to this environment.

Professionals in the contracting fields estimate the cost of a green building to be about 17% higher than the cost of building the standard structures; however making a building sustainable is one of the best investments that you can make. Actually sustainable buildings are about the same price, if not cheaper, than the standard buildings, because they last longer the standard buildings; the occupant is healthy, more comfortable and happier. This should reduce medical expenses for the occupants and contribute to their overall productivity in life.

 

As you can see in this picture, interest in sustainable buildings are growing all over the nation.

As you can see in this picture, interest in sustainable buildings are growing all over the nation.

 

resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_building

http://www.epa.gov/greenbuilding/pubs/whybuild.htm