Green building is a broad term that describes a holistic approach to designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining buildings that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout their life cycle.
Green buildings incorporate a variety of strategies to reduce their impact on the environment, such as:
- Energy efficiency: Green buildings use less energy to heat, cool, and light their spaces. This can be achieved through a variety of measures, such as using energy-efficient appliances and lighting, installing insulation, and using passive solar design.
- Water conservation: Green buildings use less water than conventional buildings. This can be achieved through a variety of measures, such as installing water-efficient fixtures, using graywater and rainwater for irrigation, and collecting rainwater for non-potable uses.
- Materials selection: Green buildings use materials that have a low environmental impact. This can include using recycled materials, materials that are locally sourced, and materials that are made from renewable resources.
- Indoor air quality: Green buildings provide a healthy indoor environment for their occupants. This can be achieved through a variety of measures, such as using low-emitting materials, providing good ventilation, and controlling humidity.
- Site selection: Green buildings are sited in a way that minimizes their impact on the environment. This can include building on previously developed land, protecting sensitive areas, and using sustainable landscaping practices.
Green buildings also offer a number of benefits, including:
- Reduced environmental impact: Green buildings help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve water, and protect natural resources.
- Improved indoor air quality: Green buildings provide a healthier indoor environment for their occupants, which can lead to reduced sick days and improved productivity.
- Increased property value: Green buildings often command a premium on the real estate market.
- Enhanced occupant satisfaction: Green building occupants tend to be more satisfied with their work environment and their overall quality of life.
The green building movement is growing rapidly around the world. There are numerous different green building rating systems available, such as Passive House, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), Built Green and Green Globes. These rating systems provide a framework for evaluating the environmental performance of buildings. Projects certified under these programs are guaranteed to meet a rigorous environmental standard.
Green building is an important part of the sustainability movement, however there is also a lot of “greenwashing” in the industry. It is very easy for architects and designers to claim their firm focuses on Green Building and Sustainable design. If your goal is to develop a green building, make sure you ask your design team to define the measures and metrics they use to define a sustainable project.
At [bundle] we use green building as a framework to help inform the design process. As Passive House designers we have numerous ways to design an efficient building envelope, but they are not all environmentally equal. Material choices have a profound impact on the aesthetic, experiential, financial and global warming potential of a building. Material and assembly selections that reduce the upfront (embodied) carbon footprint of a building are as important as increasing the energy efficiency of a building’s operation. We focus on building materials and assemblies that can be disassembled, reused, and recycled whenever possible and on those materials naturally low in carbon, or carbon sequestering. The benefits are two-fold, a reduction in the embodied carbon emissions required to build the building and the long-term reduction of carbon emissions required to operate the building.
By designing, constructing, and operating green buildings, our community can reduce our impact on the environment and create a healthier and more sustainable future.