As defined by the World Green Building Council, an eco-friendly or green building reduces negative impacts on the natural environment and may also exert a positive influence. Any type of building from a private home to a community center can be considered green as long as it includes certain features that conserve natural resources and improve the quality of life of its residents. As well as reducing waste during the construction process, designers can help to maintain the green credentials of a building in the long term through the efficient use of energy, the implementation of a renewable energy source and the creation of good indoor air quality.
Mitigating Carbon Emissions with Renewable Energy Sources
Power plants that burn fossil fuels create almost 40% of carbon pollution in the US, so by increasing the use of renewable energy to power homes and offices, the amount of CO2 emissions can be minimized and the negative impact on the environment reduced. To encourage greater uptake of alternative energy systems such as solar power, it’s important for installation programs to be more accessible. The environmental platform Ecowatch notes solar energy use has increased because of successful incentive schemes. One such scheme allows for the initial cost of a solar project to be offset, making it easier for both developers and homeowners to play their part in the fight against climate change while at the same time reducing their energy bills.
Improving Energy-Efficiency with Insulation
While solar panels and other sources of renewable energy are a sustainable way to provide electricity, maximizing energy-efficiency within a building is still important for it to be considered green. While swapping incandescent bulbs for LED lights will reduce the amount of energy used in the first place, increasing insulation is a good way to save on wasted energy. According to the EPA, adding extra insulation in attics and basements in existing homes can save residents up to 15% on the cost of their heating and cooling bills but it is generally more cost-effective to install insulation in a new construction. While any form of insulation is green because it saves energy, using products made from recycled materials such as scrap cotton instead of chemically produced rigid foam makes a further positive impact on the environment.
Creating an Environmentally-Healthy Building
Another feature of a green property is that it offers its occupants a good quality of life by providing comfortable levels of light and temperature. In addition, one of the most effective ways to create an environmentally-healthy building is to maintain a high indoor air quality at all times. This can be achieved through the use of sustainable and non-toxic building materials, high quality construction techniques to remove the risk of damp and mold, and ensuring the capacity for adequate ventilation throughout the building.
The features of a green building can make a significant and positive impact on the environment. In addition, its occupants benefit from greater energy efficiency, lower energy bills, and a more comfortable indoor environment in which to live and work.