Friday, September 25, 2009

Building green? What are the benefits?

SUSTAINABLE DESIGN -Is it what you think it is?

With the adjective “green” now used to market anything environmentally friendly from packaging to plumbing, its easy to dismiss it as just the latest trend. However, when you look at the impact buildings have on people who live, learn and work in them, it becomes clear that rather than just being another architectural style, green design is simply good design

It is the best choice not just for the environment but for the community- and contrary to popular perception even for the pocketbook

What is sustainability anyway?

Sustainability makes the connection between a designed environment and the life lived in it. Structures built with wrong kinds of construction materials can result in decreased productivity and health- greening can save a community a considerable amount of money in future health costs, especially those incurred by sick building syndrome- where conventionally constructed building occupants experience negative health and comfort effects as a result of time spent in the building.

Do you think of “green” as “brown” -functional but primitive?
Or, do you see it as extremely modern?
Green building are as different as the communities where they are built. If you want modern or classical, you can have it.

To illustrate the point look at these recently completed LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified Public Libraries

Classical designs:

Darien, CT

Bozeman, MT

More modern designs:

Cheyenne, WY

Centennial Hills, Las Vegas, Nevada

The benefits
Even if you’re convinced that green buildings are the way to go from the standpoint of human needs, you may be skeptical about the environmental impact a building has in the first place, shouldn’t we be more concerned about gas-guzzling cars and overloaded landfills?

Buildings currently rack up 40% of total global energy use:
65% electricity consumption
30% greenhouse gas emissions
30% raw materials use
30% waste output
12% of potable (drinkable water)

Green design addresses this through wise management, not by skimping on necessities. Careful designers look to alternative energy resources and ways of reducing the quantity of water needed.

Green design provides a long term financial benefit.

They use:

  • 30% less energy
  • 35% less carbon
  • 30-50% less water use
  • 50-90 % less waste cost

How green should the new library be?

The LEED system-Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design- is part of the Green Building Rating System developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. It’s a way to ensure you get the green building you pay for. Because buildings rated by the LEED system can fall into one of four levels of acceptable achievement in green building performance-certified, silver, gold or platinum-flexibility exists in planning how a community's needs mesh with its desire for environmentally sound structure.

Certified 40-49 points
Silver 50-59 points
Gold 60-69 points
Platinum 80 + points


US Green Building Council

Green building Costs and Financial Benefits

Building Green Won't Break the Bank

The True Costs of Building Green