Building in a more eco–conscious manner is a great way to make a positive contribution to the environment. Green
building is the practice of using green–friendly materials as well as building in a way that has the smallest
environmental impact possible. In addition to flooring, green building takes into account design , removal of waste, overall
construction and the maintenance of the building once complete.
Renewable Resources, Sustainable Resources & Solar Energy
Building materials that are considered green come from a renewable source (i.e. bamboo; cork), are manufactured and
extracted locally (i.e. recycled concrete), or can be sustainably managed (i.e. recycled stone; recycled
metal). Also considered to have environmental significance are materials that are made with non–toxic elements such as
linoleum, wool, and clay, and products made from post–industrial materials.
The more successful green buildings are ones that are designed to work off of solar energy. Other green building
techniques that help promote greener living are:
- using packed gravel for parking lots (rather than concrete)
- the use of sunlight through solar or photovoltaic* techniques
- utilizing plants and trees to reduce rainwater run–off (low impact deveopment)
The placement of windows and doors plays a huge role in passive solar building design for low–energy homes. The aim
is to use windows in a way that shades the house during the summer and maximizes solar gain during the winter months. Passive
solar building is only one aspect of green building and does not incorporate active systems (i.e. photovoltaic; mechanical
Green Building Design
Green building design is not just about conserving energy and using green materials, it's also about reducing
post–construction waste. According to "The Cost and Financial Benefits of Green Building," a study developed for the
Sustainable Building Task Force, approximately 60% of California's total waste comes from the construction of commercial
buildings. Green building hopes to minimize the amount of waste going to landfills by having compost bins placed onsite.
Another green building initiative is the replacement of centralized wastewater treatment centers with a process that helps
convert waste into liquid fertilizer. This concept was first developed in Germany, and helps to offset greenhouse gas
emissions through carbon sinks** that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
*Photovoltaic (PV) is the use of solar cells for energy through the process of converting sunlight
directly into electricity. Energy production through photovoltaic processes has managed to double every 2 years since
**Carbon sinks stores carbon for an indefinite amount of time. Examples of natural carbon sinks
include plant photosynthesis and oceanic absorption of CO2.