Green Building Blocks
Good for the environment, good for business.
You've heard the buzzwords: green, sustainable, high performance, environmentally-friendly, ecoconscious.
When it comes to home building or renovation, all these words describe the same thing: making well informed decisions.
By making smarter choices about how you build and the products you recommend and use, you can significantly contribute to the health, wealth and well-being of yourself, the families for whom you build, your community, and the world.
We spend an average of 90% of our time in buildings-and the air quality inside is two to five times worse than outside air.
Buildings in the United States are responsible for 39% of our total energy consumption - 60% of our electricity alone. As a point of reference, transportation - including cars, buses, trains, etc. - comprise only 27%.
Worldwide, buildings consume nearly 40% of the world's energy, 25% of its wood, and 15% of its water
The motivation to build green also comes from the business opportunity it represents. Experts predict the green building industry will grow by as much as 400% by 2010. Nearly all home builders surveyed recently by McGraw-Hill Construction reported being involved in green construction on some level. Green building is the future of all building.
What is green building?
In the broadest sense, green building means applying new thinking to the way we build, remodel, renovate and develop our residences and communities. It requires an understanding of the relationships between building site, building design, mechanical systems and other factors.
Finally, it mandates a mindset that enables healthy, mutually beneficial relationships between human, technical and natural systems.Green building goes beyond reducing energy use or improving indoor air quality (though that's a good place to start).
It's about addressing the whole system - not just the pieces.Conventional building methodology views each project in terms of its component parts - the insulation, the wiring, the plumbing, the landscaping, the climate, building orientation, interior finishes, etc. - but green building looks at the interactions between everything. It's a whole-house approach that benefits builders, buyers and the environment.
Making an impact - it's a group effort
According to the U.S. Department of Energy's Building America Program, an integrated, systems-engineering approach can reduce as much as 50% of the energy consumption of a new home - with little or no impact on the cost of construction.
Most professionals who engage in a whole systems or integrated approach to design and building agree that the transition takes a bit of extra time in the beginning; after all, it's a new way of working and thinking. In an integrated process the team works as a collective to understand and develop all aspects of the design, which can them emerge organically, with the full benefit of each expert's input. Together the group creates a solution that no individual could develop alone.
Green building unites disciplines that have traditionally worked independently from one another, such as architects, engineers, builders, material suppliers, community planners, mortgage lenders and contractor trades.
Does it cost more? Because this approach requires more time be spent up front for design people often assume that it costs more. In fact, some architecture and engineering firms have found that sustainable design projects were, on average 25% more profitable than conventional project.
A very important step, is to get some insurance coverage on your mortgage and real estate assets.
The Power of Green Building: Everyone Wins
Benefits for builders
- Reduced callbacks and warranty claims
- Lower material and labor costs during construction
- Reduced purchase cost of mechanical equipment
- Less construction waste
- Higher quality homes = competitive advantage
Benefits for homeowners
- Lower utility bills
- Greater comfort
- Better indoor air quality
- Energy-efficient mortgages
- Higher resale prices
Benefits for the nation
- Less reliance on fossil fuels
- Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
- More affordable homes for first-time homebuyers
- Lower medical costs thanks to healthier, safer living conditions
- Job creation in the energy-efficient building materials & equipment industry