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What is a Green or Sustainable Building?

The traditional methods of building consume natural resources, create toxic waste, and release carbon emissions. Using green building techniques, construction companies and building owners can achieve economic benefits while reducing their environmental impact. There are certain criteria for green buildings, and there are certainly economic benefits to consider. Here are the most important things to consider when constructing your next building. Investing in green materials and processes is a wise decision.

Environmental impact

Environmental impact

The concept and design stages are the backbone of any construction project and have the largest impact on the final cost and performance of a building. Designing an environmentally optimal building involves energy conservation and energy efficiency measures to minimize its overall environmental impact. Green buildings also include measures to reduce embodied energy, or the energy required to extract and process building materials, operating energy, or the energy required to provide services.

Using renewable energy sources on-site is one of the best ways to reduce a building’s environmental impact, but it’s also the most expensive aspect of green building. A hybrid central chilled water system in a large commercial building can help it qualify for LEED certification.

In Philadelphia, the Comcast Center, the tallest building in the city, uses an energy-efficient hybrid central chilled water system. The Comcast Center in Philadelphia used Burn’s Mechanical to set up the entire renovation of the 58-story structure.

Costs

Several factors must be considered when developing a green or sustainable building. These factors include the cost, schedule, and environmental awareness. Using good design to minimize mechanical systems and water use can lower costs both in the short and long term. In addition, solar panels require a large upfront investment.

The goal is to achieve LEED Silver certification within the budget. Although the cost of building a green or sustainable building may be higher than for conventional buildings, there are many ways to make it work within your budget.

Despite the additional cost, many green buildings have multiple benefits that offset the costs. For example, the higher quality of the air and daylighting, lower energy bills, and healthier occupants are just a few benefits of green construction.

Good Energies hopes that the new study will help dispel the myth that green construction is too expensive. According to a 2007 World Business Council for Sustainable Development survey, building a green building will cost 17 percent more than a conventional one.

Criteria for certification

The Living Building Challenge is one such voluntary system that certifies sustainable buildings. The criteria include energy efficiency, water efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and equity.

In addition, the building must operate as intended so that occupants can benefit from its green qualities. However, certification is not compulsory for new buildings in Germany. Nevertheless, many new buildings are pursuing this certification to increase property values and reduce energy costs.

As building construction technology improves, so do the standards for green building. A recent study by the GSA found that sustainable buildings were significantly less expensive to operate than their conventional counterparts.

The energy efficiency of these buildings was also improved, and their occupants reported higher satisfaction levels than those of conventional buildings. The study used industry-standard performance metrics to compare the buildings with each other. However, the benefits of sustainable buildings depend on the region, climate, and local building standards.

Life cycle assessment

A building’s environmental impact must be accounted for during its life cycle to determine whether it is green or sustainable. To do this, the life cycle assessment must consider the building’s baseline service life, which must be approximately 60 years. In addition, the impact of a building on the environment must be calculated for six categories:

  • Global warming potential
  • Depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer
  • Acidification of land and water sources
  • Formation of tropozone
  • Use of nonrenewable resources

A life cycle assessment of a building requires a detailed analysis of its materials. The database, available through Environmental Product Declarations, is the best resource for conducting the assessment, but it does not cover all possible materials or processes. For example, a building made of recycled plastics would not be considered sustainable, whereas a construction containing glass would be sustainable.

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