In 1998, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) developed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which is a system for rating the sustainability of new buildings. These ratings are based on aspects such as the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of new structures.
The certification program is intended to guide developers, and recognize exceptional environmental progress. Goals of the program demonstrate profitable, yet environmentally-friendly business practices.
In order to participate, strict regulations must be followed to maximize sustainable enhanced building performance. However, projects can extend to a variety of innovations and scales of production to achieve specific levels of LEED certification.
They are flexible, and range from building design and construction to neighborhood development and home improvement. Listed below are some of the most popular ways to enhance performance while promoting sustainability:
Enhanced Building Performance Areas for Improvement
According to the EIA, approximately 41% of the total U.S. energy consumption was exhausted in residential and commercial buildings for 2014. Energy to run operations, such as air-conditioning, lighting, heating, and ventilation, can be greatly reduced by modifying the buildings’ internal systems and in turn enhance building performance.
Amendments to traditional floor plans are essential to providing more eco-friendly structures. Alternate energy sources, like solar and wind, can also be used to lower emissions, and relieve the current dependence on fossil fuels.
Building-integrated vegetation (BIV) is a popular aspect that is projected to improve, and expand into a multi-billion dollar industry over the next several years. It offers a flexible way to become more environmentally aware since projects are of varying degrees of cost, commitment, and results.
Simple additions, such as vertical greenhouses, green roofs and walls, are active measures to confront multiple problems. These small modifications can be made for the urban benefit of reducing solar heat, improving sound insulation, and removing air pollutants within buildings.
However, integrating vegetation also controls storm-water volume, addresses global climate change, and increases biodiversity.
Renewable energy use
For most urban areas, solar and wind powers have the greatest potential to be successful in residential and commercial buildings. Solar panels have now moved away from just the rooftops to becoming photovoltaic glass windows.
Technological progression has also produced panels with increasing rates of efficiency for electricity conversion. If the geographic location allows, wind turbines can be installed to provide the buildings with fresh air while generating electricity.
Storm water collection systems are also useful for reserving water to use for landscaping, cooling systems, and potable reuse.
Where to Start
As a result of the push to be more environmentally aware in the last couple years, several architectural firms in major U.S. cities have devoted to constructing sustainable buildings. Numerous projects have been successfully completed, and many others are still underway.
According to the Journal of the American Institute of Architects, below are the top contributors to sustainable construction: