What Do 'Sustainable Construction' and 'Green Building' Really Mean?

Posted by Robbie Schultz, LEED AP, CHC on May 27, 2015 8:00:00 AM

In today's commercial construction industry, the demand for sustainable construction methods and green building techniques is growing at a rapid pace. As it should! There has never been a better time to build if you want not only incredible function and durability, but also energy savings and long-term rewards from your building. But what do terms like ‘sustainable construction’ and ‘green building’ really mean, and what can they offer you?

What Do These Terms Really Mean?

sustainable_construction_and_green_buildingThere is a great deal of talk about sustainable construction and green building, but what does that mean? And, are these truly beneficial to the environment and your commercial building or are they just "feel good" terms?

Sustainable construction can imply a variety of factors. In fact, this is one of the benefits of incorporating these techniques. They can be customized to meet your needs. Generally, this method of construction means significant steps have been taken to reduce the carbon footprint of the building while also using materials that do not deplete natural resources. The focus here is on the social, economic, and environmental impact of the building structure. Let's make that even clearer: Green building may include any building technique that does not damage the environment.

Generally, the terms “green building” and “sustainable construction” can be used interchangeably. They both refer to the opportunity to use resources in a more efficient, environmentally friendly way. The United States Environmental Protection Agency uses both terms to describe “the protection and restoration of human health and the environment through design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction.”

Green Building Methods

There are many ways you can incorporate sustainable construction into the design of your next project. One of the most effective investments is turning away from fossil fuels for energy power and instead using wind or solar power. Solar power pricing has fallen drastically in the last few years. New technology now allows solar panels to be built more affordably, which in turn makes solar energy more accessible. With it, businesses can not only power virtually any current electrical system within the company, but also sell back extra energy to the utility company. This means much lower or no costs for this type of utility.

Wind power is also readily available. It allows buildings to operate with a much lower impact on the environment, just like solar energy. In the long term, this means businesses can achieve their goals of reducing operation costs.

Incorporating Sustainable Construction

Incorporating sustainable construction techniques into your commercial construction project does not have to be a challenge. A few things you should know:

  • Your project does not need to take longer to build because it uses these techniques.
  • Your project does not necessarily need to cost more to build.
  • Your building can be just as technologically advanced as you would like it to be.
  • Your project can also be customized to meet any demands you have.
  • You can benefit from a variety of energy efficient upgrades to not only the building, but to your business's appliances and functional components.

Ultimately, to make this possible, you need to work with an experienced team in green building. A LEED accredited green builder with a portfolio can:

  • Use solar, wind, and geothermal energy sources to save money on energy costs
  • Incorporate rain gardens, rooftop gardens, green roofing technologies and onsite storm water reclamation systems
  • Use variable refrigerant flow mechanical systems, solar tubes, and infiltration basins with cisterns
  • Take advantage of pervious pavers and concrete
  • Make use of applicable recycled materials
  • Design for use of skylights, daylighting, light shades photo sensors to regulate the amount of light in a room, and motion sensors to turn off lights in unoccupied rooms
  • Low-flow water systems

More Methods of Building Green

Sustainable construction offers much more. It means using materials that are naturally sourced and readily available. This may include using recycled materials, bamboo that grows quickly instead of hard to find timber, and using skylights to generate more daytime light and reducing overall needs for lighting.

Green building methods not only help your business to be more environmentally friendly, but may also save you money and help you to showcase your environmentally-conscious business to the community.

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Topics: Green Building

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