For the past decade, the construction industry’s effect on society has grown exponentially, in ways both good and bad. Its rapid evolution showcased the emergence of solutions to deal with the negatives. A prime example is the development of green buildings, geared towards combating its adverse harmful impacts on the natural environment.
The construction sector contributes a big percentage to the world’s wastes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the construction industry in the US alone comprises 25% of the non-industrial waste generated annually, or 160 million tons in figures. In another study by the US Green Building Council, the industry takes up 40% of the worldwide energy usage.
How is a building ‘green’?
A ‘green’ building aims to reduce such issues through design, construction, or operational methods. It also covers site planning, community, and land-use planning. Some key features include efficient use of resources such as energy and water, use of non-toxic and sustainable materials, re-use and recycling of the latter, and design adaptability, among other things. These can be applied to any type of development, may it be commercial or residential. See more here to avail your own green home.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, more commonly known as LEED, is the most established green building certification system in the world. It follows a standard metric for all building types and phases including construction, interiors, operations and maintenance, and core and shell.
For instance, Shanghai Tower in China is one of the grandest buildings in the world, being the second tallest tower at 2073 feet. Yet, it still manages to fit the standard of a LEED-certified building. It uses passive cooling through a transparent curtain wall that forms a buffer of captured air. Its façade also integrated 270 wind turbines that power its exterior lights. All these features account for a significant reduction in the building’s energy costs.
Merits: Environmental, social, and economic
As the previous example has shown, sustainable developments show potential not only through environmental merits but on other fronts as well. It paves the way for more productive communities and economic progress. To discuss more in detail, here are 7 well-known benefits of green buildings in different aspects.
1. Minimized pollution and strain on resources
The primary goal of green buildings is to address the building industry’s detrimental impact on the climate and environment, particularly pollution and resource depletion. Through its philosophies, it significantly minimizes waste production and greenhouse gas emissions. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the emissions savings could potentially be as much as 84 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050. The use of raw materials and shared natural resources are also kept to a minimum, which lessens the ecological strain.
2. Less maintenance and building cost
After such environmental benefits, others will follow accordingly such as economic benefits. Many assume that constructing a green building is more costly than it seems, but research shows that its price is comparable to conventional methods. These are achieved through apt design solutions, project management, and other cost-effective strategies. For instance, reusing and recycling materials can cut your expenses. Even design interventions like passive cooling and natural lighting can significantly reduce operational costs.
3. Energy efficiency
Newer technologies and features will require you to cash out a bigger budget initially, but the benefits and savings will be tenfold better in the long run. Solar photovoltaic systems have notably become more affordable in recent years. It’s a versatile technology, applicable both in large and small-scale developments. If you have enough panels installed, it can cover your entire electric consumption. These interventions are not only environmentally advantageous, but it significantly reduces operational costs as well since non-renewable energy sources are expensive.
4. Water efficiency
Another natural resource that green building methods are saving is water. It advocates for a consistent supply of clean water for future generations. One way is by using alternative sources like rainwater. Some major commercial establishments have been using gray water for water closets in public restrooms. Another method of achieving this is by incorporating water treatment facilities in your development to recycle water.
5. Market Value
Sustainability and social responsibility have become more prominent around circles of investors and potential occupiers. If your building uses green interventions, its credentials allow for increased marketability. Studies have shown that greener buildings have a high tendency to attract tenants and buyers. With the demand and technology incorporated, owners can implement higher lease and sale prices.
6. Workplace Productivity
The social benefits of green buildings interlink with economic profits as well. According to a study from Harvard, employees in green and well-ventilated office spaces showed a significant increase in cognitive function, crisis response, and focused activity level. These kinds of spaces also improve their well-being, with better sleep quality and fewer sick-building symptoms. These positive human responses account for a boosted workplace productivity.
7. Future proof investment
Sustainable interventions are also a way to protect your investment and secure longevity. With the changing times and stricter regulations, developments should be adaptable and must stand the test of time. The coronavirus pandemic gravely affected the world economy. Green recovery aims to provide policies and solutions that support the future of both the people and the environment. This includes green building initiatives that allow for flexibility, resilience, and consistently good quality of life for its users. Hence, their income and future market value are positively affected.
The future of green buildings
Despite the pandemic and struggles of construction, green building trends continue to emerge. Government bodies have started delving into green initiatives such as the UK’s Green Homes Grant. LEED-certified materials have been in trend and are still expected to boom in the coming years. These include wood, insulated concrete forms, composites, non-VOC paints among others.
Green buildings are still far from being the standard. However, in the long run, these sustainable initiatives can play a pivotal role in the large-scale economic progress of the world. It presents itself as a tool for job security, long-term resilience, and resource safeguarding.