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Green Building

The built environment has a profound impact on our natural environment, economy, health, and productivity. In the United States alone, buildings on average account for:

  • 72% of electricity consumption
  • 39% of energy use
  • 38% of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions
  • 40% of raw materials use
  • 30% of waste output (136 million tons annually)
  • 14% of potable water consumption

Green building also known as a sustainable or high performance building is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction. This practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort.

It’s a practical response to a variety of issues that affect all of us – like increasing energy prices, waning water resources, and changing weather patterns. It means making intentional decisions about:

  • Energy efficiency improvements such as high levels of insulation, efficient HVAC systems, high-performance windows and energy-efficient appliances and lighting
  • Water conservation measures such as water-efficient appliances and fixtures, filtration systems, and drought resistant or low-maintenance landscaping
  • Resource conservation using materials and techniques such as engineered wood and wood alternatives, recycled building materials, sustainably harvested lumber, and more durable products
  • Indoor environmental quality considerations such as effective HVAC equipment, formaldehyde-free finishes, low-allergen materials, and products with minimum off-gassing or low volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Site design planning such as minimizing disruption and preserving open space

Benefits of Green Building

Environmental benefits of green building:

  • Enhance and protect ecosystems and biodiversity
  • Improve air and water quality
  • Reduce solid waste
  • Conserve natural resources

Economic benefits of green building:

  • Reduce operating cost
  • Enhance asset value and profits
  • Improve employee productivity and satisfaction
  • Optimize life-cycle economic performance

Health and community benefits of green building:

  • Improve air, thermal, and acoustic environment
  • Enhance occupant comfort and health
  • Minimize strain on local infrastructure
  • Contribute to overall quality of life

Excerpts from the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the US Green Building Council and the National Associate of Home Builders