What is Green Building?

Green Building is the practice of increasing the efficiency of buildings and their use of energy, water, and materials, and reducing building impact on human health and the environment, through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal — the complete building life cycle.

Sustainability is a characteristic of a process or state that can be maintained at a certain level indefinitely.

Green building is not just about energy reduction. Most organizations’ definitions agree that green building also includes considerations in water efficiency, resource / material efficiency, indoor air quality, and lot design.
Lot Development. This is where it all begins with the city planners and developers properly laying out communities and cities which support efficient neighborhood design with easy access to local public resources and proper solar orientation of residential lots. Low Impact Development where storm water management and ecosystems are considered is included as well.
Resource Efficiency. Sometimes better known as material efficiency, this is where we get into efficient home designs, use of reclaimed and recycled materials, and advanced framing techniques.

Energy Efficiency. Two major facets to this well known area. First and most important is reducing the demand for energy in a home through innovative insulation techniques, high quality windows, proper house design and orientation, and low energy consuming appliances such as with Energy Star. The second part of energy efficiency is alternative energy sources such as with solar photovoltaic panels, instant hot water heaters and geo-thermal HVAC systems.
Water Efficiency. Water is becoming one of our most precious resources. Lawn watering can account for over 50% of a home’s water usage. Selecting draught resistant plants and reducing turf grass become very important along with use of low flow faucets, dual flush toilets, and well-designed hot water distribution systems.

Indoor Air Quality. A home is not all about efficiency. It also needs to protect and keep its inhabitants safe and healthy. Choosing construction and finish materials that have low emissions of volatile organic compounds can greatly improve the air quality in a home along with proper air exchanges through venting and fresh air sources.

Homeowner Education. What good is a home without a homeowner’s manual. If the homeowner does not maintain the house’s systems, then it is all for not. This affects each of the previous 4 sections of green building and the durability of the home.

Global Impact. While we focus on the house and its inhabitants, we must also look outward to make sure the decisions we make when building and operating a home do not negatively affect our neighbors, community and environment. This includes being socially responsible to all species of life.

To learn more about Green Building visit these sites and many more...

The Green Home Council. North Carolina resource for green building, training and certification of homes.

Green Home Builders of the Triangle. The Home Builder Association's green building council.

NCSU Solar Center. NC State University's Engineering School's resource for green building.

Duke's Smart Home. Duke University's resource for green building.

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