What Is Green Building?

So, we hear a lot about green building these days. Just exactly what is it? Green Building is an approach to building that seeks to:

  • Improve efficiencies
  • Reduce waste
  • Improve health and happiness within a building.

Over the last 10 years as the demand and requirement for greener practices have occurred, we have had tremendous advances in building science.  These changes have encouraged us to take more of a systems approach to building and to the way that we think about buildings from financing to decorating.

Buildings account for nearly 40% of energy consumption in the US and 13% of water consumption.  The good news is that although we have made great advances, there is still a long way that we can go in making our buildings more efficient.  In fact in a recent study ranking the countries with the best green building markets the US did not even make the list.

A 2009 report by the U.S. General Services Administration found 12 sustainably designed buildings cost less to operate and have excellent energy performance. In addition, occupants were more satisfied with the overall building than those in typical buildings.

These are variables that have not traditionally been in an equation for value in design and construction of buildings.  While the overall paradigm for how we assess value in buildings is changing there is some natural reluctance.  Overcoming this resistance is part of the work of green design and building. Whether you are considering a new custom home or a remodeling project, we will help you understand the new opportunities that are available to you.

Part of the natural resistance to sustainable design comes from the early days when environmental building was associated with the need to change your lifestyle.  The term "green building" did not appear until 1985.  The seminal work on the topic published in 1975: Other Homes and Garbage, was subtitled Designs for Self-Sufficient Living.  No longer do we expect green buildings to require a different approach to living.

While for many, one of the goals of green building is to reduce environmental destruction, that is no longer a necessary goal.  Green building provides a smart application of building science to achieve improved economies, comfort and reduce operating coast with out respect to environmental concerns. For most of our clients, environmental concerns are down on the list of reasons they seek green building.

In a series of blog posts we will examine various aspects of green building.