The environmental benefits of green building are numerous. This article will explore the benefits of environmentally friendly building construction, including energy efficiency, reduced water usage, and more!
Humans have been exploiting the riches that nature has provided for a very long time. In recent times, this has reached such mammoth proportions that we are forced to accept the fact.
In our endeavor to make our lives “better”, we have been scripting our own downfall, along with that of the environment. Often what we believe as progress or improvement has ended up affecting us adversely. We have woken up to the stark reality too late.
Now, it is a do-or-die situation for us. Unless we take care of our environment, there won’t be a place for us to call home. Unless we conserve natural resources, there won’t be anything left for future generations. Unless we stop polluting the environment and reduce the waste we generate, the earth won’t remain liveable.
In every single thing we do, we need to think about the environmental impact of our actions. The idea is to find a balance between our comfort and needs and the preservation of the environment. A green building is a step in this direction.
Read on to learn more about environmentally friendly construction and the environmental and economic benefits of green buildings.
What is a green building?
A “green” building is an eco-friendly building, the main goals of which are to preserve natural resources, have minimal impact on the environment, and improve the quality of life of people using it. This is the motivating factor in every aspect of the building – from design and planning to construction, operation, and maintenance.
There is no single blueprint for such a building. In different regions across the world, the climatic conditions are different and so are the availability of building materials and architectural styles. Traditions and cultures are different and also social, economic, and environmental priorities are varied. All these factors determine the “greenness” of a building.
However, the presence of these common features can make a building environment friendly.
- Eco-friendly approach in design, construction, operation, and maintenance
- Flexibility in design to adapt to changing environment
- Use of building materials that are ethically correct, non-polluting, and sustainable
- Maximum use of locally available building materials
- Quality of life and comfort of its occupants in all aspects
- Good air circulation and air quality indoors
- Use of renewable energy in its construction and operation
- Efficient use of natural resources in its construction, operation, and maintenance
- Effort to reduce pollution and waste generated with facilities in place for reuse and recycling
The purpose of the building is not relevant in classifying it as a green building. It can be a home, school, office, hospital, or community center, as long as it satisfies the above-mentioned conditions.
Why is green building important?
The underlying principle of green buildings is the efficient use of natural resources with the least damage to the environment. The health and wellbeing of its occupants are given priority. Such eco-friendly buildings benefit the environment, economy, health, and welfare of society as a whole.
The growth and development of communities are inevitable. Earlier, when it was done without accounting for the environmental impacts, it has led us to this disastrous state. If we want to preserve what is left of the natural resources and the quality of the environment and life, adopting sustainable practices is the only way forward. And a green building is a part of this plan.
Green building: Economic benefits
A green building benefits us in many ways – environmental, economic, and social. Even the environmental and social benefits ultimately boil down to monetary benefits. For example, the efficient use of energy resources is vital from an environmental point of view. This also translates to economic benefits. Degrading and polluting the environment also have economic ramifications.
Here are some of the notable economic benefits of an eco-friendly building.
1. Reduced operating and maintenance cost
This is part of the design of the building – to make the best use of the available resources like energy and water. A design that allows more natural light inside the building will need to spend less energy on artificially lighting it. Task lighting is another strategy to reduce energy use.
Keeping the inside of the building cooler or warmer naturally with the right selection and use of building materials can reduce the cost of cooling or heating as the case may be. Adopting strategies to avoid wastage of water such as water recycling can substantially bring down the operating cost.
2. Health and wellbeing of occupants
Instead of the sealed interiors in older buildings, green buildings come fitted with operable windows to let in air and light. Eco-friendly buildings also emphasize the use of natural building materials that promote good health in place of artificial ones that may have aesthetic value but are not recommended from a health point of view.
Better air circulation and air quality are preconditions to qualify as a green building. Indoor air quality has a direct impact on the health of its occupants. More natural light and fresh air are known to reduce stress and enhance the quality of life. This means less medical-related expenditure.
3. Improved occupant productivity level
As the well-being of the people in it goes up, there will be fewer incidents of health issues. So, for an office, this means less sick leave and improved productivity.
Some of the contributing factors to raising productivity levels in green buildings are improved air quality, natural lighting, natural ventilation, natural environment, and reduced noise pollution.
4. Enhance property value and profit
The green buildings incorporate various good building practices in their design and construction that will naturally increase their resale value. Lower operation and maintenance cost is a huge plus point for prospective buyers.
For green building owners, the lower expenditure on energy, water, and a host of other operational expenses means more profits.
5. Raise long-term economic performance
Green construction is not just beneficial for the owner and its occupants, it can contribute to the economy in a big way. With its environment-friendly measures, improved health of its occupants, and the use of fewer natural resources, the contribution of green buildings to the economy is substantial.
Environmental benefits of green buildings
The central theme of a green building is to conserve the environment. All the ideas that go into its design, construction, and operation are meant to benefit the environment. The economic and social benefits are merely consequential.
6. Enhanced energy efficiency
As part of the building design, the emphasis is on renewable energy such as solar power for homes. Allowing more natural light into the building and incorporating task lighting brings down energy consumption.
Using natural building materials can help in keeping the interiors cool or warm as need be. Again, using renewable energy sources for heating and cooling requirements can raise energy efficiency as well as reduce energy bills.
7. Reducing pollution and wastage
With better air circulation, natural lighting, and the use of renewable energy sources, green buildings can bring down energy consumption drastically. This has a direct impact on the polluting impact of the building. At the construction stage, the emphasis on locally available building materials can reduce the pollution from transporting them.
Avoiding wastage of energy, water, and other resources is part of the building design. Water recycling, rainwater harvesting, and the installation of water-saving faucets can help in avoiding water wastage.
8. Better use of materials during construction
Efficient use of materials means the use of building materials and utilization of processes in such a way as to keep it to a minimum without compromising on the quality of the construction. This means avoiding wastage wherever possible and increasing the efficiency of the processes.
To make this possible, green buildings choose building materials with a long life span. Whenever there is a need for maintenance, the materials chosen can be reused or recycled, thus avoiding wastage. Material efficiency also means opting for processes requiring less energy, water, and raw materials.
The vision of green buildings is centered around the concept of living in harmony with the environment without compromising on comfort and efficiency. With a little effort on our part, it is possible to find a way to manage our lives without depleting the natural resources or harming the environment.
The writing is on the wall. Unless we adopt concepts like green buildings, there is no future for future generations. This is an effort to conserve the planet for them.
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