Green Buildings – What Makes Them Green?

Posted by on Jul 16, 2014 in Blog, sustainable business | 1 comment

Green Buildings – What Makes Them Green?

Saving energy and following green practices while designing and building a building is becoming mainstream. “LEED Certified” and energy efficient buildings are now more common today. However, many people are still not clear about the green building concepts and have questions about what makes a green building green. We will discuss in this blog, the key components of a green building that are essential for building an energy efficient commercial or residential building.

Energy efficiency isa common concern, and it is determined by both the active and passive energy consumption of the building. The administrators of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) has certificate programs that evaluate how a building is constructed and designed to reduce the negative impacts on the environment. (What Makes A Building “Green?”)

An existing building can also be made more energy efficient by reducing energy loss, installing energy efficient heating and cooling systems, energy efficient lights, and other factors that reduce energy consumption. Below we will discuss some components of a green building.

Components of a Green building

  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
  • Water Efficiency
  • Environmentally Preferable Building Materials
  • Waste Reduction
  • Toxics Reduction
  • Indoor Air Quality

(Source: Components of Green Building | Green Building |US EPA)

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

water-21070_1920The most important the key factor of constructing a green building is to make it energy efficient. It is the first step towards achieving sustainability in green buildings. Energy efficiency helps reduce energy costs and also reduces carbon footprint. Energy efficient buildings become more competitive in the market and increases in value.

Water efficiency

Availability of fresh water is a growing concern today around the world. Water is essential for life and therefore using water efficiently, and conservation of water, and reducing wastage is one of the key components of a green building. Almost 20% of water used in households is needed for showers. Installing water saving devices, such as a low flow shower heads and water efficient toilets and faucets, can also reduce water wastage.

Environmentally Preferable Building Materials

When constructing a house or commercial building, it is important to choose building materials that are environmentally friendly. The aim of green building materials is to reduce environmental impact, zero off gassing, zero toxic chemicals and toxic gas emissions, maximize the use of resources and use renewable, rather than nonrenewable resources. (Green Building Materials)

Waste reduction

A green building design incorporates efficient waste management facilities, such as composting bins, to reduce the amount of solid waste sent to the landfills. Green architects also aim to reduce waste in any other forms, such as energy, water, and materials, during construction, operation, and maintenance stages.

Toxics reduction

empire state building

The Empire State Building is a 102-story landmark Art Deco skyscraper in New York City at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street. Its name is derived from the nickname for the state of New York, The Empire State. It stood as the world’s tallest building for more than forty years, from its completion in 1931 until construction of the World Trade Center’s North Tower was completed in 1972. Following the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001, the Empire State Building once again became the tallest building in New York City and New York State.

A green building focuses on health and safety concerns of the occupants by using construction materials and interior finish products with zero or low emissions to improve indoor air quality. Many building materials and cleaning/maintenance products emit toxic gases, such as volatile organic compounds (VOC) and formaldehyde.(Green Building Basics)

Indoor air quality

A green building uses materials that are non-toxic and have zero toxic chemicals and emissions, both indoors, and outdoors. Indoor air quality can enhance occupants’ health, safety and comfort. Recent studies reveal that buildings with good overall environmental quality can reduce the rate of respiratory disease, allergy, asthma, sick building symptoms, and enhance worker performance. The potential financial benefits of improving indoor environments exceed costs by a factor of 8 and 14

Useful links

EPA and U.S. Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR® : program promotes partnerships with home builders, office building managers, product manufacturers, and many other organizations to improve the energy efficiency of homes, buildings, and various building components and appliances.

320px-Taipei101.portrait.altonthompsonEPA’s Green Power Partnership provides information about renewable power sources, benefits of using them, and how to participate in the Partnership.

EPA’s Heat Island Reduction Initiative works with communities and other partners to reduce the heat island effect caused by urban patterns of development.

See also the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

EPA’s WaterSense program promotes and enhances the market for water-efficient products and services and educates homeowners, businesses, landscapers and others. WaterSense also develops performance criteria for water efficient products and services.

EPA’s Industrial Materials Recycling Program provides information on how industrial materials, such as coal combustion products, foundry sand, and construction and demolition debris, can be recycled to meet the material needs of our construction industry. Industrial materials can be recycled in construction applications because they have many of the same chemical and physical properties as the virgin materials they replace. In some cases, they can even improve the quality of a product.

Don’t miss our next Huddle Webinar on Green Buildings. Find out more when Glenn Meyers of Green Building Elements will be with us at our FREE WEBINAR this Wednesday. Sign up now and watch the webinar event live!

Source: Nourish The Planet


One Response to “Green Buildings – What Makes Them Green?”

  1. Hi. Thank you so much for explaining what green buildings are in such a good and detailed way. Many people think that green buildings mean energy efficient buildings. But there are many other things that are a part of green buildings, like reduced waste, use of eco-friendly materials which means less toxicity, and better indoor air quality as you’ve mentioned.


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