There are many definitions of what a green building is or does. The ideal ” green” project preserves and restores habitat that is vital for sustaining life and becomes a net producer and exporter of resources, materials, energy and water rather than being a net consumer.
A green building is one whose construction and lifetime of operation assure the healthiest possible environment while representing the most efficient and least disruptive use of land, water, energy and resources.
Breaking the Myth that Green Always Cost More…
While many green materials and technologies do cost more, it has been demonstrated that many green strategies and technologies actually cost the same and some even cost less than traditional “not-so-green” technologies.
By blending the right mix of green technologies that cost less with green technologies that cost the same or slightly more, it is possible to have a very green building project that cost the same a conventional one.
For example, the use of high performance windows and window frames increases the first cost of the building envelope, however the resulting reduction in the size and cost of the building heating and cooling system more than offsets the added cost of better glazing system.
This modular construction is one way to reduce the environmental impact. Everything that contributes to reducing the construction time will benefit the ecosystems and decrease CO2 emissions. The majority of metal is recycled and the orientation of the house is according to sustainable criteria, to achieve reduction of ecological footprint.
Integrated Design Process
Building a green building is not just matter of assembling a collection of the latest green technologies or materials. For examples, the interrelationships between the building site, site features, the path of sun, and the location and orientation of the building and elements such as windows and external shading devices have significant impact on the quality and effectiveness of natural lighting.
These elements also affect direct solar loads and overall energy performance for the life of the building. Without considering these issues in the early design process, the design is not fully optimized and the result is likely to be a very inefficient building.
Sustainable Site Design
- Evaluate the site in terms on location and orientation of the building in urban areas and improvements in order to optimize the use of passive solar energy, natural day lighting, and natural breezes and ventilation.
- Help reduce the urban heat island effect by reducing the building and site development footprint, maximizing the use of previous surfaces, and using light colored roofs, paving, and walkways. Provide natural shading of buildings and paved areas with trees and other landscape features.
- Use landscape design to preserve and restore the region’s natural habitat and heritage while emphasizing the use of indigenous, drought resistant trees, shrubs and plants.
- Help reduce night-time light pollution by avoiding over-illumination of the site and use low cut-off exterior lighting fixtures which direct light downward.
Energy and Environment
- Optimize passive solar orientation, building massing and use of external shading devices such that the design of the building minimize undesirable solar gains during the summer months while maximizing desirable solar gains during winter months.
- Optimize building orientation, massing, shape, design, and interior colors and finishes in order to maximize the use of controlled natural day lighting which significantly reduces artificial lighting energy use thereby reducing the buildings internal cooling load and energy use.
- Consider on-site small scale wind, solar, and/or fuel cell based energy generation and co-generation. Purchase environmentally preferable “green” power from certified renewable and sustainable sources.
Indoor Environmental Quality
- Use building materials, adhesive, sealants, finishes and furnishings which do not contain, harbor, generate or release any particulate including volatile organic compounds.
- Maximize the use of natural day lighting. Optimize solar orientation and design the building to maximize the natural daylight into interior spaces. Provide shades or daylight controls where needed.
- Maximize use of operable windows and natural ventilation. Provide dedicated engineered ventilation systems that operate independently of the building heating and cooling system.
- Provide smoke free building. When smoking must be accommodated, provide completely dedicated smoking areas. Located outdoor smoking areas so that non-smokers do not have to pass through these areas when using primary building entrances or exists.
- Provide clean and healthy building. Prior to occupancy install new air filters and clean ductwork and ventilation equipment.
Climate change is destroying our path to sustainability. Ours is a world of looming challenges and increasingly limited resources. Sustainable development offers the best chance to adjust our course. Ban Ki-moon