Green building


A sustainable building or green building is a structure that is designed, built, renovated, operated, or reused in an ecological and resource-efficient manner. It minimizes a structure's ecological footprint while maximizing its long-term social and economic contributions via a life-cycle approach that includes external factors. Green buildings are designed to meet certain objectives such as protecting occupant health; improving employee productivity; using energy, water, and other resources more efficiently; and reducing the overall impact to the environment. A sustainable approach to the built environment creates buildings that are healthier for people and enhance productivity, can be built at market rate and cost much less to operate and use less fossil fuel and conserve energy, saving operational costs and requiring less maintenance. Sustainable design generate less global pollution components of global warming and acid rain and are designed to use less potable water, a critical strategy since only 0.013 percent of the world's water is drinkable. Other than that sustainable design is also resource-efficient and designed to manage waste at the highest productive level.

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What Are the Elements of Green Buildings? Protect and retain existing landscaping and natural features.Select plants that have low water and pesticide needs, and generate minimum plant trimmings.Use compost and mulches.This will save water and time. Recycled content paving materials, furnishings, and mulches help close the recycling loop. Passive design strategies can dramatically affect building energy performance. Which include building shape and orientation, passive solar design, and the use of natural lighting. Use strategies to provide natural lighting. Use a properly sized and energy-efficient heat/cooling system in conjunction with a thermally efficient building shell.Maximize light colors for roofing and wall finish materials; and use minimal glass on east and west exposures. Select sustainable construction materials and products by evaluating several characteristics such as reused and recycled content, zero or low off gassing of harmful air emissions, zero or low toxicity, sustainably harvested materials, high recyclability, durability, longevity, and local production. Reuse and recycle construction and demolition materials. For example, using inert demolition materials as a base course for a parking lot keeps materials out of landfills and costs less. Design for dual plumbing to use recycled water for toilet flushing or a gray water system that recovers rainwater or other nonpotable water for site irrigation. Minimize wastewater by using ultra low-flush toilets, low-flow shower heads, and other water conserving fixtures.

What are the economic benefits of green building or sustainble building?

These and other cost savings can only be fully realized when they are incorporated at the project's conceptual design phase with the assistance of an integrated team of professionals. The integrated systems approach ensures that the building is designed as one system rather than a collection of stand-alone systems. Even with a tight budget, many green building measures can be incorporated with minimal or zero increased up-front costs and they can yield enormous savings. A green building may cost more up front, but saves through lower operating costs over the life of the building. The green building approach applies a project life cycle cost analysis for determining the appropriate up-front expenses. This method calculates costs over the useful life of the asset. Some benefits, such as improving occupant health, comfort, productivity, reducing pollution and landfill waste are not easily quantified. Consequently, they are not adequately considered in cost analysis. For this reason, consider setting aside a small portion of the building budget to cover differential costs associated with less tangible green building benefits or to cover the cost of researching and analyzing green building options.

Why Should Interior Designers Be Interested In Green Design? Whether our perspective is global or local, we should care because the design choices we make affect the health, safety and welfare of those for whom we design as well as the health of the planet. We spend more than 90% of our lives indoors, therefore the indoor air we breathe, and the materials with which we have constant physical contact are fundamental parts of our lives. But only recently have we begun to consider the effects of indoor air and materials upon our physical health. Most design experts agree that green design is the standard by which good design will eventually be measured, and that designing for sustainability will soon be an ordinary part of an interior designer's job.

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What is a green building product or material? Green building materials are composed of renewable, rather than nonrenewable resources. Green materials are environmentally responsible because impacts are considered over the life of the product. Depending upon project-specific goals, an assessment of green materials may involve an evaluation of one or more of the criteria listed below. Building and construction activities worldwide consume 3 billion tons of raw materials each year or 40 percent of total global use. Using green building materials and products promotes conservation of dwindling nonrenewable resources internationally. In addition, integrating green building materials into building projects can help reduce the environmental impacts associated with the extraction, transport, processing, fabrication, installation, reuse, recycling, and disposal of these building industry source materials.

Concrete and masonry

Concrete is a strong and durable material with a high heat storage capacity. It is good from an indoor air quality standpoint as it is inert. The problems with concrete are washout water at concrete plants which can have a high pH, and the use of cement as a binding agent in concrete. Cement is very energy intensive and is a major contributor of greenhouse gases. To prevent this, up to 70% of cement in concrete can be replaced with fly ash. Fly ash is a waste product from coal fired plants. Brick, block and stone have a low embodied energy and are therefore environmentallyfriendly materials. To avoid added impacts of transportation, local masonry should be used where available.


For materials used in roofing, durability is critical. One option for materials is metals,

such as copper, steel and aluminum. Metal roofs are good because they can be made

of recycled material and can be recycled at the end of their life cycle. They also last

longer than asphalt. Cool roofs are an option that can be useful in both mild and hot climates. The roof material is covered with a reflective coating. This coating prevents the building from getting hot, reduces heat island effects and prolongs the life of a roof. A non-petroleum based coating should be used. Living "green" roofs are another option. Green roofs are roofs that are partially or completely covered with soil and vegetation. These roofs provide environmental cooling, habitat, added insulation, storm water management, natural beauty, cleaner air and can extend the life of a roof. One source suggested two to three times longer than a conventional roof while another suggested they can extend the life up to 100%. Planted roofs can require more maintenance and require a system to prevent root penetration and water seepage. Green roofs can either be "intensive", and consist of a normal garden which requires more maintenance and labor or "extensive", and consist of slow growing, low to no-maintenance plants.


There are many environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional flooring such as

bamboo, cork, recycled ceramic tile, certified wood and linoleum. Bamboo is a rapidly

renewable alternative to traditional hardwood floors. Bamboo is stronger than oak, but some of the lower quality versions can emit volatile organic compounds through the adhesives used. Cork is made from the bark of Cork trees. It is renewable because it naturally 90 peels off and then continues to grow. One of the advantages of cork is that it is noise insulating and resilient. If traditional wood floors are desired than an effort should be made to use wood products which are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Ceramic tile and linoleum are two other flooring options. Ceramic tile can be made with recycled content and can contain up to 100% waste glass. This type of ceramic tile has a price comparable to moderately priced traditional tile. Linoleum is made from linseed oil and wood products which are both renewable. Carpet is a flooring material which has traditionally been harsh on the environment. Carpet production is very water and energy intensive, and the pigments are produced using toxic dyes. Some more environmentally friendly options include natural wool carpets, refurbished carpet, carpet tiles, carpet made from recycled materials, or carpet leasing options. Refurbished carpet has been cleaned and re-dyed, and is generally much cheaper than new carpet. Natural wool fiber carpets are more expensive than synthetic fibers, but have reduced manufacturing impacts. The use of carpet tiles (usually 17" by 17") allow stained or worn areas to be replaced more easily. Some carpet can be made from recycled plastic packaging. Carpet leasing is an alternative to traditional buying methods. The carpet is maintained by the manufacturer and removed when the user is finished with the product. The carpet is then reused or recycled by the manufacturer. An effort should also be made to use carpet that contains low volatile organic compounds adhesives and padding.


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There are several components to paint which can be damaging to the environment and

health. Paints are composed of solvents, pigments, binders/resins, and additives. For

91 new paints, water based (latex) should be chosen over oil based (alkyd). Paints should have low or no volatile organic compounds content, and should have no heavy metals or other compounds on the Green Seals list of prohibited chemicals. Some alternatives to traditional paints are natural paints which use plant based solvents and/or a milk based protein (casein) as a binder. These paints may not be readily available and can be more expensive than traditional types of paints. The milk based protein is also susceptible to mildew so is limited to indoor use. Two types of recycled paint are sometimes available. Paints are collected through public and private paint programs. Reblended paint is made from 100% post consumer content. It has traditionally been available in a limited color range of beiges and browns. Reprocessed paint is made from reblended paint with some added resins and colorants. Reprocessed paints are available in a wider range of colors, but may still contain a high volatile organic compounds content due to the added virgin components.