Green building, often called sustainable building, refers to the use of practices and materials that have minimal impact on the environment during the life-cycle of a building: from initial design to design, construction, operation, inspection, maintenance, and dismantling. Green buildings are made with this in mind. This type of building is one step further than simply using “green” in the title; they also strive to achieve a “greener” building by using products that have minimal impact on the environment and are easily recyclable. This is achieved by the use of energy efficient heating, air conditioning systems, solid state electrical appliances, non-toxic finishes for walls and windows, and building materials that can be easily transformed into green materials.
A building project’s purpose is to make a positive contribution to the preservation and enhancement of the natural environment. However, in today’s society, many projects attempt to do more than that – they sometimes push the envelope of what is “safe” for the environment and human health. These harmful practices create additional issues that must be dealt with properly. The result is a negative impact on the quality of life, resulting in less quality of life, and decreasing economic development in the area affected by the construction and maintenance activities.
Green buildings create a sustainable building project by reducing the total cost of operation over the life of the building. Not only does this lead to improved efficiency and a reduction in waste, it creates a better ecological footprint. This is especially important for public works projects such as schools and hospitals, which suffer from budgetary shortfalls in order to provide quality services to their communities. The end result is an investment in public and private infrastructure, preservation of the surrounding natural environment, and improved health for all those residing near or influenced by the location.
The term “green building” encompasses a wide range of approaches to building construction and design, with a focus on a sustainable development of the facility. Some buildings are designed to reduce their environmental impact through energy efficient designs, use of renewable or recycled resources, and construction of structures in an environmentally friendly manner. Such approaches may also extend to the use of passive solar design, energy efficient appliances and other passive techniques, and the incorporation of designs that minimize the use of electrical power during the construction phase. Green construction can also include the use of technologies to control and mitigate storm water runoff, use of recycled materials, passive cooling systems, and the creation of sustainable landscapes around the facility.
A number of factors go into making sustainable developments, including the relationship between the occupant health and environmental health. Studies have shown that when a structure is built with the occupant health in mind, that occupants experience higher levels of happiness, higher levels of productivity, and lower levels of absenteeism. Sustainable developments are not only beneficial to the environment, but also to the health of the occupants. Some studies have shown that occupants who participate in sustainable building practices have lower incidences of stress, depression, osteoporosis, common illnesses like allergies, asthma, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Improved energy efficiency is another major outcome of incorporating sustainable practices into the design and construction of a new facility. The U.S. government has allocated funds for research and programs that promote energy efficiency in buildings. Green construction techniques to reduce the negative environmental impact of any facility, whether it is a residential building or a corporate facility. The natural environment is not adversely affected as it would be if the facility were constructed with conventional building methods. Improvements made to facility operation and maintenance lead to improved energy efficiency, which reduces the total cost of operation and maintenance.
Green developments also create a better economic environment. Improved energy efficiency and greater building functionality lead to increased revenues for all commercial tenants and occupants, resulting in improved living conditions, which improves overall quality of life. Improved air quality contributes to a more healthy workplace; many diseases easily spread through poor quality air. Green construction techniques are known to reduce negative environmental impact by 50% to 75%.
With all of these positive outcomes from sustainable design and construction, there is no reason to delay implementing green construction practices into your facility. If you are interested in learning more about how commercial buildings can be built more efficiently, contact an architect today. There is a very good chance that he or she will be willing to help you achieve the improvements in efficiency and environmental impact that you desire. They are well trained in this field and understand what it takes to make a positive impact on your facility and provide superior design and construction techniques.