Why Build Green?

Why Build Green?

Did you know?

In the United States, buildings account for:

39 percent of total energy use
12 percent of the total water consumption
68 percent of total electricity consumption
38 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions

The built environment has a vast impact on the natural environment, human health, and the economy. By adopting green building strategies, we can maximize both economic and environmental performance. Green construction methods can be integrated into buildings at any stage, from design and construction, to renovation and deconstruction. However, the most significant benefits can be obtained if the design and construction team takes an integrated approach from the earliest stages of a building project. Potential benefits of green building can include:

Environmental benefits

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

Economic benefits

  • Reduce operating costs
  • Create, expand, and shape markets for green product and services
  • Improve occupant productivity
  • Optimize life-cycle economic performance

Social benefits

  • Enhance occupant comfort and health
  • Heighten aesthetic qualities
  • Minimize strain on local infrastructure
  • Improve overall quality of life


Improved Indoor Air Quality:

Indoor air quality is directly related to VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) that are released into the air during or after construction. VOCs are commonly found in products with high levels of solvents (i.e. Paints & Adhesives). These emissions affect both the construction crew as well as the homeowner. In fact, VOCs may continue to release harmful particulates long after the home is complete. In order to avoid health problems, such as asthma and other respiratory diseases associated with high levels of VOCs, look for products that are solvent free or contain minimal VOCs.

Despite all these intensive inputs, we are not constructing healthy buildings. More than 30% of buildings in the US have poor indoor air quality, a serious problem given that most people spend about 90% of their time indoors. A 1990 study by the American Medical Association and the U.S. Army found that indoor air quality problems cost U.S. businesses 150 million workdays and about $15 billion in productivity losses each year. The World Health Organization puts the losses at close to $60 billion.

By the year 2010, another 38 million buildings are expected to be constructed in the US, bringing our country’s total to over 100 million. The challenge is to build those new buildings, and renovate the older ones, in ways that reverse these unhealthy trends. Fortunately, there are ways we – as consumers, designers, builders and product manufacturers – can respond to this challenge. By building green, we can assist in preserving natural habitats, watersheds, and ecosystems, protect air and water quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and solid waste, all while conserving natural resources and creating healthier indoor and outdoor environments.

Green building also has tangible economic and public health benefits. These include lower operating costs via reduced energy and water utility bills, and reduced maintenance and replacement costs due to greater durability of materials. The use of non-toxic materials in residential construction is especially important in protecting children from respiratory and other diseases.

In commercial settings, green building results in improved occupant health and comfort (primarily due to indoor air quality measures and daylighting) which in turn leads to higher produc-tivity, less absenteeism, and reduced insurance costs and liability risk.

On the hierarchy of human needs, shelter is second only to food. Everyone wants a place to live. One of the best and easiest ways to lessen the impact on the planet of fulfilling that need is to build environmentally-sound structures. Not only can we improve the global environment, building green can improve your local environment.

Conservation of Natural Resources:

Green building isn’t just about what comes out of the product (toxic emissions), but also what goes into the products, such as salvaged materials, pre- or post-consumer recycled content, or agricultural waste. Resource conservation also covers products that reduce material use, products that have low maintenance requirements, certified wood products and rapidly renewable resources.























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