Green Building - Building It Green


Green Building Through Green Technology - Applying Green Ideas To The Building Industry

Green Building 2012 - Learn How To Build It Green 2012

The term “green building” is used to describe the practice of creating structures of various types, while utilizing processes that are environmentally responsible throughout the life-cycle of the structure. This green building concept includes the design of the building all the way through its construction, maintenance, renovations, and even the demolition of the building, at the end of its usefulness. Green building 2012 is dedicated to helping you learn how to build it green in 2012. It includes processes that assure these guidelines are followed and are successful.

The Motivation For A Green Building Program

The green building program actually compliments conventional building concerns, rather than superseding them. These concerns include, but are not limited to durability, economy, comfort, and utility. When the term green building is used, it can also be referring to a high performance building or to a sustainable building. The idea of a sustainable building is that it meets the needs of its current occupants, while not compromising its ability to meet the specific needs of future generations. But, regardless of how sustainable a building may have been in the design and construction stages, it can only remain sustainable if it is operated and maintained responsibly and properly. One area that isn’t specifically addressed with the green building program in place is the retrofitting of existing homes.

The primary motivation in having green buildings is to incorporate what we would call the three “R”s. The three “R”s for green materials used in construction are Reused, Recycled, or Renewable resources. Creating a healthy environment, both inside and out of the building is an emphasis of the green building program. Minimizing pollutants in the building and in the maintenance process in important in the overall program.

On the outside of the building, proper landscaping can help reduce water usage when properly incorporated. Having the right blinds or window coverings within the building can reduce heating and cooling costs. The positioning of the building in relation to the sun can also provide a huge impact on energy savings as well. By tilting a building by 20 to 30 degrees can impact how the sun heats in the winter months or isn’t absorbed as much in the summer months.

There are several aspects that are taken into consideration when designing a green building. The overall motivation is to reduce the negative impact the building or structure may have on human health or on the natural environment.  Areas that are therefore monitored are the efficient use of energy, water and other resources. The reduction of waste and pollution are also important factors. Finally, protecting the occupant’s health; and in the case of commercial buildings, improving the employee’s productivity, is taken into consideration. Motivations to build green aren’t always totally driven by environmental concerns. Other driving concerns may include some social or economic benefits. The building needs to functionally meet the needs and expectations of the business owner for it to be desirable. There are a lot of creative ways to accommodate those needs.

As with most concepts, there are normally extremes at both ends of the spectrum. To many going green means they can’t even shower or wash their clothes, must read by candlelight; and must be a tree-hugger in protest logging in the Northwest. Others could care less about the environment. I believe most people are somewhere in the middle; balancing their decisions with reason and common sense. Some who are extreme activists give green building ideas a black eye. This can, and does also happen in other arenas of life, including religion.

The History Behind Green Building

Passive solar energy has been utilized by builders for thousands of years. The Anasazi cliff dwellers in North America built their homes facing the South to capture the winter sun, thus providing heating. The famous Roman bathhouses of the first through the fourth centuries A.D. were solar heated, using large South facing windows to let the sun’s warmth heat them.

The contemporary green building movement came out of a need for more energy efficient buildings along with a new emphasis on being environmentally friendly. The green building movement began in the 1960s and early 1970s. This led to experiments with green technology. This, in connection with the increase in oil prices in the 1970s lent itself to research into improved and more efficient energy sources. There was also a quest for new renewable energy sources. 

These events led up to the formal beginning of the green building field, which came together in a more formal way in the 1990s. In 1989, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) formed a Committee on the Environment Exit Disclaimer.  In 1992, they published an Environment Resource Guide. It was in that same year that the EPA in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy presented the ENERGY STAR program. Also, in 1992, the first local green building program was established in Austin, Texas.

Under the Clinton administration, a “Greening of the White House” campaign was launched in 1993. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Exit Disclaimer was founded that same year. In 1998, the USGBC launched Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Exit Disclaimer pilot program, version 1.0.

It was in 2006 that nineteen federal agencies signed Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings Memorandum of Understanding. This was signed at a White House Summit. It was that same year that the Office of Management and Budget unveiled a new Environmental Scorecard for federal agencies. This included a Sustainable Building element.

It was in 2007 that President Bush signed executive order 13423, which strengthened federal environmental, energy, and transportation management. This included federal goals for sustainable design and high performance buildings. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 had requirements for high performance green federal buildings. It was in 2008 that the EPA adopted a new Green Building Strategy for its guidelines for green building activities.

Relationship Of Green Building And Global Warming

I believe that God has entrusted this Earth to us to take care of. We need to be good stewards of what He has assigned to us, which includes taking care of our environment. As a side note, I also believe that “man-made global warming” cannot be proven, although global warming is a natural phenomenon which does occur from time to time; as does global cooling. For some stimulating reading, read S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery’s book, “Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1,500 Years.” This book documents proof that global warming happened on this planet long before the industrial revolution occurred. Global temperature is more controlled by the sun and its activity, and less controlled by what we as humans do. Having said that, we each have an obligation to hold pollution down to a minimum; which means we need to go green when possible. That view is a strong deviation from the focus of many modern day environmentalists, although I believe it is much more reasonable.

Green Building Research

Research for green building is being conducted by a number of universities, private companies, national laboratories, as well as industry. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) reported in 2006 that over 70% of green building research is aimed on energy and atmosphere research. Second to energy was the research of materials and resources. Research is being conducted on indoor environmental quality when it comes to air quality.

Green Building Workgroup

The EPA’s Green Building Workgroup was established in 2003. Its purpose was to bring all of the programs in the agency together that are associated with building and development and make improvements to their environmental performance. This workgroup is seeking to provide EPA leadership in the green building program as they mutually coordinating and guide the development of Agency policies, programs, partnerships, and operations that have influence over building and development.

Other Green Ideas For Life

Outside the building industry are other very large industries that have an important impact on the environment. One of those industries is the automobile industry. The EPA has been very heavily involved in regulating emissions when it comes to fossil fuel vehicles. Over the last decade or more there has been a new push in alternative vehicles. Again, the emphasis has been on renewable energy, which includes solar cars, hybrid cars, and even all electric cars. Another alternative type of vehicle would be compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles; otherwise known as clean air vehicles. When it comes to cars, there is only one new CNG car for sale in the United States. That car is the Honda Civic GX. When looking into buying a new vehicle, its a good idea to first compare the best green cars. Each alternative vehicle comes to the table with a different angle in moving towards being green.

Although a majority of our homes have been heated with natural gas for decades, typical fossil fuels have been used to produce our electrical power. There are some good alternative sources of electrical power today. Some of these sources are also green. With the recent scare on nuclear power, that source will probably be put on the back burner for some time. There has been a diligent push towards wind power and solar power over the past decade or so. Both of these sources of energy are green, since they are based on renewable energy. There are advantages and disadvantages of solar power. One of the pros of solar power is the abundance of solar energy to tap into.

When it comes to solar power systems, there are two basic styles for home use. The first, and most popular is the type that ties into the electrical grid. Whatever electricity that isn't used at the time of production goes back into the grid, causing your electrical meter to turn backwards. The other style is an off-grid solar power system. This kind of system is completely self-contained. It can be used in very remote places where there is no power grid to tie into. It contains its own storage batteries, and utilizes an inverter to convert the Direct Current (DC) from the batteries into Alternating Current (AC) to use with lighting and appliances. With this system, you are totally living off the land; or I should say, off the sun. This is totally green!

With the renewed emphasis on Green Building 2012, more and more homes and businesses are going green. It's important to continue to learn how to build green in 2012. Technologies continue to improve which will enhance the ability to build green.