What is Green Building?
Green building, also known as eco-friendly, green or sustainable building construction, refers to both a structure and the use of processes or best practices that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s lifecycle. Green building processes may include site or building location, design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition.
To put it another way, green building design involves finding the balance between homebuilding and the sustainable environment. This requires close cooperation among the design team, architects, engineers, green certifier, builder and client at all stages of a project. The green building practice both builds on and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability and comfort.
Four primary programs or codes exist for constructing green buildings.
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) – A set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of green buildings developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Learn more about LEED.
- National Green Building Standard™ (NGBS) ICC 700 – A collaborative effort between the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and International Code Council (ICC) that provides green practices that can be applied to new homes such as high-rise multifamily buildings, home remodeling and additions, hotels and motels and the site upon which the green homes are located. Learn more information about NGBS ICC 700.
- International Green Construction™ Code (IgCC) – The ICC’s IgCC is an overlay code, meaning it is written in a manner to be used with all other ICC codes. The IgCC contains provisions for site development and land use, energy efficiency, water conservation, material resource conservation and efficiency, indoor environmental quality and comfort, commissioning and operations and maintenance and existing buildings. The energy efficiency provisions use the commercial provisions of the International Energy Conservation Code® (IECC) as a basis and then improves on them by generally increasing the efficiency of the IECC provisions by 10 percent. ASHRAE Standard 189.1 is also adopted by reference into the IgCC as an alternative path to compliance. Learn more about the IgCC.
- ASHRAE Standard 189.1 – The standard, developed for the design of high-performance green buildings except low-rise residential buildings, addresses site sustainability, water use efficiency, energy use efficiency, indoor environmental quality, high-performance operation and the impact on the atmosphere, materials and resources by buildings. Learn more about the ASHRAE Standard 189.1.
Although new technologies constantly arise to complement current practices in the creation of greener structures, the common objective is to design green buildings that reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment through:
- Efficient use of energy, water, and other resources
- Protection of occupant health and improvement in employee productivity
- Reduction of waste, pollution and environmental degradation.
Other concepts related to green building include the following:
- Natural building focuses on the use of locally available, natural materials.
- Sustainable design meets the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
- Green architecture is architectural design that minimizes the negative environmental impact of buildings by efficiency and moderation in the use of materials, energy and development space.
Green retrofitting is an option for existing homes, especially through public schemes for energy efficient refurbishment, to which green construction principles can also be applied.
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