Green Building

What is it? | Green @ TJC | Ideas & Resources

What is it?

What is Green Building?| Green Building Resources

What is Green Building?

You may have heard about a movement called "Green Building." It’s the hot new thing in architecture and is fast becoming a big part of the construction industry. In this context, the term "green" refers to an environmental focus, not the color itself. Green building aspires to create buildings that minimize their impact on environmental resources while maximizing benefit to its users. This is achieved through methods such as innovative building systems, low impact energy sources, strategic plan layout and sun-orientation, as well as simple material choices. Green building’s benefits can include cost savings due to reduced energy use, an overall reduction in consumption of natural resources, as well as improved heath of the user through indoor air quality control. Healthier, happier occupants, lower maintenance and energy costs, and environmental harmony are appealing reasons to make your next building green.

The U.S. Green Building Council leads the way to green buildings nationwide. It provides s system of standards that guide and certify green building design. Its platinum, gold, silver and certified L.E.E.D. (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) ratings are coveted by green focused architects, builders, owners and occupants. Various green decisions through the design and construction process are awarded points that combine to achieve the various levels of green certification. In addition to LEED, an alternative green rating system has been created by the Green Building Initiative known as Green Globes.

Many people initially encounter green building when choosing products such as paint, flooring and wall finishes. Manufactures increasingly advertise the green benefits of their existing products or create green alternatives. Products such as organic carpet, recycled glass tile, cotton insulation, and bamboo flooring have flooded the market with green options. There is a wide range of "green-ness" in these products. A product with only partially recycled content may be considered less green than one that was grown in your backyard. Builders should consider the overall impact of manufacturing, transportation, life span, and eventual disposal of the item when comparing green products.

Interest in green building may begin with finish materials, but a comprehensive green approach starts much earlier in the design process. When planning a new building, its orientation to the sun, location on its site, as well as energy and waste system design, are all important decisions with green impact.

A popular aspect of green building is the comfort of occupants. This includes issues such as indoor air quality, day lighting, and energy efficiency. Buildings with materials that off-gas potentially harmful chemicals (known as V.O.C.s) may not be obvious to the average person but many types of flooring, paints, stains, and other surface finishes can be detrimental to the user’s health. With the many hours spent indoors at home, work, and school, the quality of the air we are breathing is very important. Another comfort measure is maximizing natural light in interior spaces, known as daylighting. Planning spaces and widows correctly can virtually eliminate the need for artificial lighting during daytime hours. A warmly lit, sunny work or living space is far preferred by users and further reduces the energy demand during peak hours. Another noticeable measure of comfort is temperature. Traditional heating and air conditioning systems use large amounts of energy to heat, cool and move air around buildings. Natural ventilation is a green strategy that takes advantage of the natural movement of air to provide the desired cooling or heating for a building. Operable windows, solar heated thermal masses, extra insulation, thermal window films, and strategic solar orientation are all aspects to be considered when designing to optimize natural heating and cooling. A well ventilated, day lit space filled with clean air can collectively improve the quality of life for a building’s users.

Green Building Resources

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