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6 Green Building Tips for Environmentally Responsible Construction

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green building tips

Green building strategies can help you save energy, reduce operating costs and live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. And the best part is the everyone benefits from the construction of a green building!

1.    Green Building Requires More Efficient Use of Space

The larger your space is, the more energy it will require to heat, cool and light. According to the Getty Center, the average building has a lifespan of 60 – 120 years. Factors that impact this lifespan include environment, construction materials used and design.

The decisions you make in designing your green building will impact the environment for more than six decades! It’s important to get this right. So, pay careful attention to how you use your space. And, where possible, minimize the size of the building. The smaller footprint will reduce the energy load, and reduce the amount of natural, open space that is consumed.

2.     Green Building Requires an Investment in Insulation

The temperature of the air inside of your building is likely controlled by an HVAC system. This is one of the primary energy drains in your building. By investing in high-quality insulation, your green building will do a better job of maintaining the desired interior temperature.

Insulation keeps cool air in, and hot air out during the summer. And during the winter, it keeps warm air in, and cool air outside. Insulation will literally work 24/7 to improve the comfort of your building, while reducing the workload on your climate control system.

3.    Green Building Plans Use Solar Energy

Your roof does more than keep the rain and snow off your tenants’ heads. It also deflects the harsh rays of the sun. And you shouldn’t just let those solar rays bounce off your roof without providing a little power.

Solar energy is the fastest growing source of global energy. It’s clean and requires virtually zero ongoing cost to collect. Solar panels can be strategically installed on your roof. Any power that you produce, without consuming yourself, can be sold back to the electric company. Have you ever seen a power meter run backwards? It’s music to a landlord’s ears.

You can also opt to install a battery to store excess power. Then, at night, when solar power isn’t available, the batteries can discharge – further reducing your need to pay for electricity from the power company.

4.    Green Buildings Make Space for Gardens

Traditional food production at massive farms is toxic for the environment. Pesticide runoff pollutes the water table, while heavy farming equipment emits greenhouse gases into the air. Green building designers understand the importance of bringing fresh produce production closer to the kitchen table.

Both residential homes and corporate office parks need to include space for gardening to occur. A home garden offers an opportunity to reduce grocery costs, while teaching children about how healthy food is grown. And gardening offers numerous health benefits to stressed out employees.

Plus, all the extra vegetation helps to clean the air that we breathe through phytoremediation.

5.    Green Building Adapts to Nature, Instead of Replacing It

When a building is constructed, it permanently changes the space where it is raised. A structure casts a new shadow. The way that rainwater finds its way to the lakes, rivers and streams is forever altered. Creatures that called the space home are forced to move on, or face extermination by pest control companies. And new traffic patterns are introduced – increasing road noise and requiring the installation of massive parking lots, which decimate local tree population.

Architects with a goal of embracing green building strategies take the time to conduct a careful site survey. They look at how water flows, and nature is currently interacting with the space. They try, as much as possible, to harmonize the needs of the development with the existing plant and wildlife that inhabit the space.

It’s only taken us 25 years to destroy a tenth of our planet’s wilderness. We have to do more to reduce the impact of sprawling urban landscapes on mother nature. Including large green spaces for recreation is a start, but we can do better.

This teahouse in China was constructed using materials found locally. The layout of the building was adapted to the existing landscape of the space. The most exciting aspect is the ability for large glass sliding walls / doors to be removed when the temperatures allow it. The entire building almost blends in with its surroundings, thanks to the locally sourced building materials.

Before the advent of large deforestation projects and international shipping of building supplies, every structure was constructed using nearby materials. This eliminated the need for long distance transport. And it allowed for structures to be much more in tune with their surroundings.

Advocates of green building are working hard to educate architects in ways to minimize impact on the earth’s surface – preserving natural flow of water and reducing the need for expensive leveling and transformative site preparation.

And in construction of transportation networks, environmentally conscious designers are including awe-inspiring animal bridges. These beautiful structures allow for migratory species to avoid the heavily travelled highways by walking over them in safety. This reduces accidents involving collisions between vehicles and animals and helps preserve the natural migratory patterns that support our ecosystem.

6.    Green Building Provides for Adequate Waste and Recycling Facilities

How many times have you left your apartment to find the dumpster overflowing with garbage? This isn’t just unsightly. It’s an environmental hazard. When trash spills over the containers designed to hold it until collection, it enters the surrounding environment as litter.

Responsible green building designers factor in space for excess trash containers. And responsible building operators will encourage recycling initiatives to help reduce the amount of waste that ends up in our landfills.

In conclusion, green building demands that we focus our attention on how our structures will impact mother earth – both locally and as a planet. Wasting precious resources in your building can require additional energy production elsewhere. By efficiently using space, investing in clean solar energy and designing structures that coexist with the environment, we can have a positive impact on the environment that lasts generations.

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