Green building, also called green construction or sustainable building, is defined as the practice of creating structures using a process that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle.
When one is building green, they include the following: site, design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction.
Why are people looking into green building? Statistics have shown that homes built green are saving 39 percent of their total energy use, 12 percent of total water consumption, 68 percent of total electricity consumption and 38 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions.
Statistics also show that the building sector accounts for 30 to 40 percent of global energy use. Over 80 percent of the environmentally harmful emissions from buildings are due to energy consumption during the time when the buildings are in use. With this knowledge, green building aims to reduce this impact.
Green building could be said to be more of a philosophy of designing a building that is in harmony with the natural features and resources surrounding the site.
The practice of green building is not just the use of one or two techniques but a vast array of choices. Green building often emphasizes the utilization of renewable resources such as using sunlight through passive solar or active solar techniques, planting trees, creating rain gardens, and replenishing ground water through permeable concrete rather than conventional concrete or asphalt.
Other ways one builds green is to increase the efficiency of the building envelope, to use high-efficiency windows, high quality insulation in walls, ceilings and floors, orient windows and walls correctly in accordance to the sun, place awnings, porches and trees to shade windows and roofs during the summer while maximizing solar gain in the winter and providing solar water heating.
Some green builders go as far as to create onsite generation of power. This can include solar power, wind power, hydropower, or biomass.
Reducing and reusing water is also another objective of green building. Harvesting rainwater or diverting it into landscaping helps preserve drinking water supplies.
Waste-water may be minimized also by utilizing water conserving fixtures such as ultra-low flush toilets and low-flow shower heads. Some developments also use point of use water treatment. The use of non-sewage and greywater for on-site use such as site-irrigation can also minimize demands on the local aquifer.
Using building materials that are considered green is also a consideration in green building. Many are opting for bamboo flooring rather than traditional wood flooring due to the fact bamboo is rapidly renewable. Others use recycled lumber, stone, metal or other materials either directly or indirectly.
Today, there are a handful of building products made up of recycled materials such as those used to make compressed earth blocks. Then there are building styles such as adobe, rammed earth, straw-bale and such that are also considered green building.
Last, green building seeks to reduce waste of materials during construction. In California, 60% of the state's waste came from commercial buildings.
Building green does not have to be expensive nor complicated. Numerous builders are now quite versed in green construction and can make the cost of building green affordable in the forefront of the project and affordable throughout the lifetime of maintaining the home.