Fossil fuels are responsible for worlds ninety five percent of energy supply and conventional resources only amount to only three percent. This leaves our future uncertain since the conventional sources of energy are getting exhausted. With the rapid depletion of non-renewable resources, the need of the hour is being energy efficient. A green building is one such concept which uses the minimum amount of fossil fuels.
Buildings or homes that we live in protect us from nature but they also harm our health in innumerable ways. Construction of buildings or houses in the earlier methods involved using materials which would give out toxic chemicals into the surrounding air. This would lead to indoor air pollution and ultimately lead to some serious health hazards. This problem is addressed by this new concept.
Green buildings, also called sustainable buildings are the practice of harvesting the energy required for the functioning of the building. It also focuses on improving and guarding human health during the entire life cycle of the building- from design and construction to deconstruction. It works in tandem with the environment and uses its resources efficiently. These buildings also minimize waste and pollution.
A green building minimizes its impact on the environment. The aims of using green buildings are stated below:
- Structure efficiency: The success of any building depends on its design and construction. The same goes for a green building. The goal during the design phase focuses in minimizing its impact on the environment throughout the building’s life. The surroundings guard the natural beauty and enhance the existing landscape.
- Energy efficiency: Green buildings use renewable power sources like solar power. They incorporate cool roofs and green roofs to save energy and water. These homes have air sealing, insulation to avoid energy loss. These homes use nontoxic paints. In addition to solar power it harnesses the wind energy, hydro power and biomass to meet its energy needs.
- Water efficiency: Green buildings aspire to reduce water wastage. They use the concept of rainwater collection to collect and store water. Rainwater is free and easy to obtain making it an excellent option. It also uses recycled water for flushing of toilets. It uses paved driveways and patios to ensure the runoff water doesn’t penetrate into the ground water.
- Air quality: Indoor air pollution can be as high as five times more than the outdoor air pollution. It can be mostly attributed to the materials with which the building is constructed and furnished. Volatile organic compounds that are abundant in households have the potential to harm our health. They are given out by the paints, carpets and cleaning products we use. Asbestos is another deadly compound used in the construction of buildings. Hence green buildings seek to diminish the occurrence of these compounds.
- Waste reduction: the easiest way to reduce waste is to use renewable products such as plant matter and recycled stone or metals. Eco friendly construction helps its residents waste less in the future. It employs the concept of smart growth, which is an amalgamation of human health and ecological sustainability. These buildings aim at using recyclable products during construction such that they can be reused after the life of the building is over.
Any type of building can be green. Our homes, offices, schools, and libraries- just about every place we visit. Buildings can account for as high as thirty nine percent of the total carbon dioxide emissions. If kept unchecked these emissions of carbon dioxide from buildings will increase global temperatures by two to ten degree Fahrenheit in this century alone. Buildings also devour eighty percent of the total electricity produced.
Green buildings overcome the above mentioned perils and help fight the global climate change by reducing the impact it causes on the environment.
Who decides what building qualifies as a Green Building and what doesn’t?
For a building to be certified as a Green Building, it has to meet certain standards specified by the governing body. LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental is one such body, who certify green buildings. There also exist other private and non-profit organizations that can certify a building as “green”.
Also, Green buildings are rated by the Energy Star based on one single, yet very important aspect – Energy. Based on how efficiently green building use energy, it is awarded an Energy Star label.
Benefits of Green Buildings
Along with being environment friendly, green buildings also have other advantages, mainly economic ones.
Even though a green building maybe more expensive to construct, it covers up for the extra cost over its life cycle. A green building has better durability and also brings about improved health for the resident along with increased productivity and satisfaction.
The complete analysis of a green building can be done by using the “Life Cycle Assessment” also known as “cradle-to-grave analysis”. Life Cycle Assessment is actually the science of measuring the impact of a building on the environment right from the beginning, i.e. the effect on the environment while sourcing the materials to be used for construction up till the final disposal of the building.
In today’s time, going green seems to be the only way to be sure of a sustainable future and green building is a concept that brings us one step closer to that goal. Energy efficient and less polluting homes is becoming the norm with each passing day and we can all hope to live in a green building one day and do our part in conserving the environment.