Buildings account for 1/6 of the world's fresh water withdrawals, 1/4 of its wood harvest, and 2/5 of its material and energy flows. Sustainable design or building "green" is an opportunity to use our resources efficiently while creating healthier buildings. It provides cost savings through lower cost building operations, efficiency, and improved human health and productivity.
A green building, also known as a sustainable building, is a structure that is designed, built, renovated, operated, or reused in an ecological and resource-efficient manner. Green buildings are designed to meet certain objectives such as protecting occupant health; improving employee productivity; using energy, water, and other resources more efficiently; and reducing the overall impact to the environment.
Although a green building can cost more up front, it also saves through lower operating costs over the life of the building. Even with a tight budget, many green building measures can be incorporated with minimal or zero increased up-front costs (particularly thanks to federal and state incentive programs) and they can yield enormous savings.
Building Site - Whenever possible, it is important to choose a well-suited building site that lends itself to green design strategies.
Energy Efficiency - Most buildings can reach energy efficiency levels far beyond California Title 24 standards, yet most only strive to meet the standard. Here are some things to consider:
Materials Efficiency - Whenever possible, reuse and recycle construction materials. Consider deconstruction instead of demolition and save money and the environment by purchasing recycled materials from organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the ReUse People. When choosing new building materials, try to make sustainable choices and support local suppliers.
Recent studies reveal that buildings with good overall environmental quality can reduce the rate of respiratory disease, allergy, asthma, sick building symptoms, and enhance worker performance. The potential financial benefits of improving indoor environments far exceed an initial investment (Fisk and Rosenfeld, 1998). Some things to consider:
Green building measures cannot achieve their goals unless they work as intended. Building commissioning includes testing and adjusting the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems to ensure that all equipment meets design criteria. It also includes instructing the staff on the operation and maintenance of equipment. Over time, building performance can be assured through measurement, adjustment, and upgrading. Proper maintenance ensures that a building continues to perform as designed and commissioned