Green building, green architecture or sustainable architecture is a design and construction practice that is sensitive towards the environment. Green building is now a popular design alternative that is said to promote and protect economic health and well-being of the community and the environment. Green building is aimed at achieving certain objectives such as providing for occupant safety, improving employee/occupant productivity, and using energy, water and other resources as judiciously as possible.
Here is a sample of some green building techniques:
- Choose a site that is well connected with mass transit.
- Retain the natural features and protect the existing landscape
- Maximize the effect of lighting by using light colors for roofing and wall finish materials; install high R-value wall and ceiling insulation; and use minimal glass on east and west exposures.
- Passive design strategies like building shape and orientation, passive solar design and natural lighting can drastically reduce negative environmental effects.
- Use of natural lighting is known to show positive effects on productivity and well being.
- High efficiency lighting equipment with advanced controls such as lighting with motion sensors tied to dimmable lighting controls. Reduce general overhead lighting levels with task lighting.
- Computer modeling is an extremely useful tool in optimizing design of electrical and mechanical systems and the building shell.
- Minimize electrical load lighting, appliances and equipment.
- Alternative energy sources such as photovoltaic cells and fuel cells provide effective alternatives as emerging technologies of tomorrow.
- Select sustainable construction materials and products that promote conservation of resources and efficiency, by evaluating several characteristics such as reused and recycled content, zero or low off gassing of harmful air emissions, zero or low toxicity, sustainably harvested materials, high recyclability, durability, longevity, and local production.
- Cut construction costs and reduce material usage by adopting dimensional planning and other material efficiency strategies.
- Facilitate recycling and waste management endeavors through better design.
- Incorporate dual plumbing strategy into your design to use recycled water for flushing or a gray water systems for recovering rainwater
- Use ultra low flush toilets, low flow showerheads and other water conserving fixtures to minimize wastewater
- Use a water budget approach that schedules irrigation using the California Irrigation Management Information System data for landscaping.
- Volatile organic compounds (VOC) and formaldehyde are some of the toxic gases emitted by many building materials and cleaning products. These emissions have an adverse impact on occupant health.
- To improve indoor air quality adopt construction materials and interior finish products with zero or low emissions
- While designing provide for adequate ventilation and a high efficiency, in-duct filtration system. Heating and cooling systems that ensure adequate ventilation and proper filtration can have a dramatic and positive impact on indoor air quality.
- Select microbial growth resistant material, provide effective drainage from the roof and surrounding landscape, design adequate ventilation in bathrooms, proper drainage of air-conditioning coils and other building systems to control humidity. This helps to prevent harmful microbial growth
Green building has far reaching social and economic ramification that determine your commitment to the future of how the world shall live in the many years to come.
Install a radiant barrier to the underside of your roof – A radiant barrier is a sheet of aluminum foil with a paper backing that reflects heat away. They are particularly helpful in case you have air-conditioning ducts running through your attic and help reduce heat gain from your ceiling by 95 percent. Some home owners save more from cooling ducts because radiant barrier helps maintain lower attic temperature and thus, keeping the ducts cooler.
Adding a solar heating system helps you combat the rising energy costs, as well as, increase the value of your home. Your home has potential for solar retrofitting heating if the sun shines directly on it in winters. The two major types of active solar retrofits are solar hot water fluid collectors that heat the fluid contained in them and circulate them to the house; and solar air collectors that heat the air in them and distribute them throughout the house with fans. In addition, you can power your house with solar electricity with solar photovoltaic panels that consist of silicon cells that trap the suns heat and convert it to electricity.
Install a high performance showerhead that uses 60% less water than a traditional shower head. It will justify and return its cost in mere months from water heating savings alone. Design a re-circulating system for centralized hot water distribution.
At least 75000 compounds have been released into the environment since the second World War, fewer than half of these have been tested for toxicity to humans and less than that have been tested for their reaction towards children. Look for no-VOC paint, solid wood flooring and other materials without bleach, formaldehyde and other compounds.
Design the kitchen such that it will not require any remodeling thus, saving energy and resources. Think about adding features that help you do more than eat and cook in your kitchen. Consider adding a small area for a desk or for entertainment. Kitchen design should allow easy movement between the sink, refrigerator and stove. Also, install a recycling centre into the kitchen cabinetry making kitchen waste recycling easier.
Choose an aesthetically appealing material that will require minimum repainting and waterproofing, withstand bad weather for years. When re-siding a home look to wrap the house with rigid foam for better insulation.
A basement offers additional living space if done up well. It can be used as a recreational area, home office or rental suite and fixing up a basement is easy and cost effective. However, if you cannot find adequate way to fix basement moisture problems call a professional or install a full-face respirator. Wet basements and moulds will cause finish materials to rot causing health and odor problems.