Sustainable building, green building, green construction or simply “going green” is a concept about eco-friendly construction. It involves the application of practices and technologies that are environmental friendly, right from the construction, to occupancy, maintenance, renovation and finally demolition. This concept first started rising in the ’70s when concerns regarding harmful impacts of construction industry on environment, and its resources, started growing.
Although no international agreement is available regarding carbon reduction and eco-friendly construction, there are organizations present that are working for the sustainability of natural resources, toxic reduction, recycling, waste reduction and application of energy efficient practices etc, such as EPA in the US. The EPA requires the construction industry to design and build buildings with eco-friendly materials and methods. This is not the only reason why construction industry has started following green trends. Many environmental-concerned companies and individuals have started emphasizing on green building, when doing a new construction or renovation project in their homes, commercial properties or work places. This is a very good sign because it educates and encourages the construction industry to work towards developing new sustainable building techniques. The need of going green gets more imminent as a recent study shows that the Ozone layer had depleted by 40%, which is alarming.
The basic principles of sustainable building in new construction projects and retrofitted properties include:
· Efficient use of land, water, energy and other resources.
· Improving the health of everyone living in a building.
· Providing clean environment to increase employees’ performance.
· Reducing pollution and other waste emission in the environment.
· Educating public about the need and merits of green building.
· Using local materials and manpower so as to avoid transportation cost of these brought from other towns and areas.
Not only it is important to derive methods for going green, it is equally important to use the present resources in an intelligent and efficient way.
Two-third of the Earth consists of water, not all of it readily usable. It takes a lot of work and energy to make water usable which means there’s a shortage of water and therefore, we need to use it efficiently. A popular way of maintaining the quality of water and reducing its usage is to use dual plumbing system, which recycles the water with every flush of the toilet. Low-flow showerheads and low-flush toilets can also increase water efficiency during the life cycle of a building.
There are a lot of ways to use energy efficiently. Few simple methods are to use light paint colors on the exterior and interior of the building. The exterior light colors will reflect sunrays and as a result the interior of the building will remain cool reducing the need of air conditioners and such. Interior light colors will also help reflect the natural light, which will reduce the cost and need of electric lighting. Modern insulation systems can also be installed in walls and floors to use the energy efficiently. Building can be designed with passive solar building ways that uses windows and walls to help shade the property in summers and provide natural light in the winters. Other ways to use energy efficiently are solar power, hydropower and wind power etc.
Using material that are recyclable and re-usable is an important part of sustainable building. It involves using natural materials such as straw bale, clay and bamboo for the construction or renovation of the building.
Compost bins are a great way to reduce waste emission by the occupants or work force in a building. Waste reduction can also be achieved by recycling the waste into fertilizers. Use of water instead of paper towels can also reduce waste going in the landfills. Some highly sophisticated waste reduction techniques can also be applied, but they may be a little costly.
We only have planet Earth to live on. We don’t have any other place to go. We need to keep earth and our environment safe and healthy, and Earth’s natural resources sufficient for our generations to come. We’ve already harmed the Earth enough. Now is the time to go green.