Green building – everything you need to know
Green building, also known as sustainable construction and designing, is rapidly growing in popularity among construction companies in America.
The concept has changed the construction market with the introduction of high energy-efficient systems. These include leveraging solar panels, green and locally sourced materials, automation, and other technologies that are energy saving and have a lighter carbon footprint. These systems eliminate or reduce the negative impact on the natural environment.
Green buildings look to preserve precious natural resources and while improving the quality of life. Let’s explore more on Green Building:
Features that make up a green building
- Designing a building that can enable adaption to the ever-changing environment
- Consideration of the environment when designing, constructing and using a building
- Putting into account the quality of life for the occupants during designing, construction and operation of the building
- Having waste and pollution reduction measures that enable recycling and re-use of construction materials
- Using renewable energy like solar and wind energy
- Having good quality indoor air
- Efficient usage of water, energy and other resources
Green Building Certification
The U.S.A provides its counties with certification for different projects pursuing green buildings.Its known as LEED certification achieved through earning of points based on the various green building strategies applied across several categories. The certification applies to new multifamily and non-residential green buildings and it also extends to existing buildings undergoing renovation to meet given green building standards.
The Green Building Certification in America falls under the four levels of LEED rating certification system that includes Gold, Platinum, Silver and certified. For the highest level, which is platinum, a building achieves a score of 80+, gold 60.79, silver 50-59, and certified 40-49.
Green Buildings Incentives
Federal, local, and state governments have extended and created over 2,000 financial incentives programs as a reward for green builders. The green incentives target residential and commercial developers, such as community condominiums, production home builders, and apartments. Also, it targets those making green renovations or improvements to their buildings. The available incentives range from Rebates, State tax Incentives, Sales Tax Exemption, Property Tax Exemption, Grants, and Federal Tax incentives.
Strategies used in making green buildings in the U.S.A
The green building materials include recycled stone,wood from certified and responsibly managed forests, recycled metal, renewable plants like straws, and bamboo. Also, recyclable and non-toxic materials reclaimed from other construction projects.
For the flooring, it’s advisable to use adhesive or sealants containing low volatile organic compounds (VOCs), while the carpeting should use natural fibers or recycled materials like seagrass and wool.
In the case of hardwood flooring, use certified wood from sustainably managed cork or bamboo that falls under the category of rapidly renewable materials. Other reclaimed or recycled materials best for green building include ceramic, glass and stone tiles, real linoleum from limestone, cork dust, and biodegradable linseed oil.
Insulation materials play a primary role in the construction of energy-efficient buildings. The materials come in flexible blankets or sheets made of fibers from recycled cellulose, fiberglass, mineral wool, or denim.
Additionally, a constructor may use insulation materials made from different natural fibers like sheep wool, cellulose, hemp, flax, clay pellets, or wood fiber. However, most buildings use spray foam or the foam boards made from polyurethane while smaller spaces use blown cellulose, fiberglass, mineral wool, or perlite.
Indoor Air Quality
When buildings have excellent and airtight ventilation, they allow fresh air to come inside from outside while the stale air leaves through the vents. A green building should have ventilation for recirculation and filtering of good and bad air. Insulation and ventilation also controls moisture, that can lead to bacteria and mold growth when not checked.
For the demand-controlled ventilation, you may use CO2 sensors or occupancy sensors to help in adjusting fresh air intake as needed by the building occupants.
Products that have non-VOCs or low VOCs need to be used for interior finishing, cleaning, and paints works of green buildings. Paints coatings made from natural materials like lime, clay, milk protein, linseed oil, chalk, mineral or plant dyes, and the natural latex works best since they don’t have toxic substances.
Traditional rooftops have higher temperatures than the surrounding air temperatures, especially in cities. Using cool roofs is advisable since they don’t absorb solar heat; instead, they reflect it lowering indoor temperatures. This reduces the need for air conditioning hence saving on energy costs. Coating roofs with colored or white paint materials made from multiple layers of foams helps in lessening the absorption of the solar heat.
Additionally, constructors like Meridian home builders utilize asphalt shingles, metals, or clay tiles for roofing. Using green roofs helps in improving the quality of air, save energy, increase biodiversity while providing aesthetic enhancement.They help in managing stormwater through absorption precipitation, while some may give a place to grow food.
Window placement has a direct relation to the angle of the sun reflection in a building, thus affecting energy efficiency, cooling, and heating costs. Windows facing west and east allow more heat than those facing south and north. Green buildings need energy-efficient windows like the double-paned windows filled with krypton or argon for insulation. Insulated windows have two or more layers.
Green buildings need heat-absorbing tinted windows and windows with reflective coating to help in blocking light. Low – emissivity windows help in preventing heat while allowing light to pass.
Lighting plays a critical role in green building as many people spend more time indoors. Green buildings need to allow more light reflection while reducing excess heat from skylights and windows through shades. It’s advisable to use LED bulbs and compact fluorescent lamps that last longer and use less energy.
Renewable energy and water
Green buildings need to use solar water heaters, solar photovoltaic panels for building exterior and a roof made from flexible solar cells. This means saving more on your wallet and there are home builders who have embraced the Home Energy Rating System(HERS) to assess the energy efficiency of their clients projects.
Conserving water using low-flow faucets and ultra-low flush toilets help in reducing water consumption. Using a greywater recycling system for water coming from dishwashers, sinks, and washing machines may be used for landscaping of non-edible plants or treated to be used for flushing toilets.
Green building landscaping helps to keep the natural features intact since it requires less water and uses native grass and plants. The plants should use organic and natural compost instead of chemical fertilizers, while drip irrigation should be used instead of sprinkles.
Green buildings improve the economic, social, and environmental aspects of life by reducing the negative aspects to the environment. People living in green buildings experience better health and wellbeing due to better indoor air quality, while reducing the cost of energy and increasing the value of your home. Why not build green today?