Green building refers to a structure, including the development process, which is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle. This includes siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. Green building is designed to reduce the negative impacts to the environment and on human health by:
- Efficiently using energy, water, and other resources
- Protecting occupant health
- Reducing waste, pollution and environmental hazards
The introduction of sustainable development dates back millennia, when the Anasazi in the southwest built entire villages so that all the homes received solar heat in the winter. The green building movement further evolved during the energy crisis and the environmental pollution concerns of the 1970s. As the majority of the adult U.S. population can recall, skyrocketing oil prices led to the earliest experiments for the U.S. green building movement. There was and is a sense of urgency and a necessity for more energy efficient and environmentally friendly building practices.
Today, there are plenty of reasons to build green, including environmental, economic, and social benefits. However, modern sustainability initiatives call for a cohesive design of both new construction and the remodeling of existing structures. This is referred to as sustainable design. The sustainable design approach incorporates the building life-cycle, with each green practice employed, thus creating a design-purpose with synergy amongst the practices used.
Green building unites a vast array of practices and techniques to reduce and ultimately eliminate the negative impacts of new buildings on the environment and human health. Green building emphasizes the importance of taking advantage of renewable resources such as using solar panels, green roofs, or using packed gravel or permeable concrete instead of conventional concrete or asphalt to enhance replenishment of ground water …just to name a few.
While the practices, or technologies, employed in green building are constantly evolving and may differ from region to region, the fundamental principles are the same: design efficiency, energy efficiency, water efficiency, materials efficiency, indoor environmental quality enhancement, operations and maintenance optimization, and waste and toxics reduction. The heart of green building is an optimization of one or more of these principles. With the proper design, individual green building technologies can work together to produce a greater cumulative effect.
Learn about the benefits of using “green” tile in your home.