Thursday, April 17, 2014

What Is A Green Building?

New York PS 62- Green School Building 
What is a Green Building?

A green building is a sustainable, high-performance building that is environmentally-friendly and resource-efficient. A building's entire life cycle, including its design, construction, maintenance, renovation, and deconstruction is taken into account. Green buildings are designed to reduce the impact of the building on both the environment and human health, striving to efficiently use resources, reduce hazards, and eliminate waste and pollution. In the United States, the most common measure of a green building's design and performance is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Design).

The EPA outlines six primary focuses for green buildings:

  • Energy efficiency- green building strive to reduce energy consumption--including the energy needed to build and maintain the building as well as power its light and heating systems. The use of renewable energy, such as solar, wind, or hydropower can significantly reduce a building's carbon footprint.
  • Water efficiency- green buildings attempt to improve water efficiency and quality. Many green buildings have their own water collection and purification systems. Buildings can get creative when reducing their water consumption. For example, the Bank of America Tower has installed waterless urinals to reduce its water consumption by 10 million gallons a year.
  • Materials efficiency- materials such as recycled bottles, bamboo, straw, and recycled stone have been used to make green buildings. These products are nontoxic, renewable, and/or recyclable. 
  • Indoor environmental quality enhancement- green buildings reduce risks to air quality, such as impurities and microbial contaminants, and control moisture to reduce the risk of mold growth.
  • Operations and maintenance optimization- no matter how green a building may be in its design, it cannot reduce its impact on the environment unless its operations and maintenance are considered. The Bank of America Tower has come under criticism because, despite its green design, it uses an incredible amount of energy.
  • Waste and pollution reduction- green buildings reduce waste, from its occupants to its deconstruction. Green buildings strive to reduce water and energy waste with efficient, well enveloped systems. Buildings can also have compost systems to reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfills. 
Why Build Green?

If saving the environment isn't enough of a reason to build green, then consider its other benefits. Although green buildings will cost, on average, 2% more to build than a conventional building, it will save 25% more on energy and water costs a year. 

Additionally green buildings tend to have higher property values, with the average sale price increasing by more than $20 per square foot. 

Studies have found that productivity and sales increase in green buildings. For example, 70% of customers in the retail and hotel industry were more likely to support a green business rather than a conventional business. Customers reported that they felt better contributing to a company that was environmentally-aware. 

Green buildings also can improve the mental and physical health of its residents. Hospitals have begun to create green roofs and gardens to improve the happiness of its patients. A study earlier this summer proved that children and adults with asthma had improved health once moving into LEED-certified green buildings. 

A green building is a smart building. Not only do they reduce their impact on the environment, they are creative, healthy, and economically-efficient.