Green buildings are becoming increasingly recognized for not only their environmental benefits but for their positive economic and social results as well. The pros of making the investment in green construction are vast. Though adhering to the strict green standards can be difficult and costly, the long term impacts provided by green buildings make them exceptionally valuable.
Green Building Certification And Requirements
To officially be called “green” a building must meet some very high standards that cover many different facets of environmental protection and sustainability. The leader in green building standards is the U.S. Green Building Council through their coveted certification called LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Buildings may earn up to one hundred LEED credits throughout the construction process by including factors such as stormwater management, minimum energy performance, the use of recycled materials like FSC certified wood, and multiple other areas of design. The more credits the building earns, the more bragging rights it can boast.
Other municipalities, and state and provincial regulations provide their own local set of standards for new green construction. However, LEED is widely recognized as top dog when it comes to prestige and qualifications surrounding the “green” title.
Benefits Of Green Buildings
Green building benefits cover three major areas; environmental, economic, and social. Here is a deeper look at how each come into play.
The most obvious benefit of green construction is of course its positive environmental impacts and leadership. Green buildings reduce waste and consumption through the use of recycled and locally sourced materials, and energy-efficient lighting and appliances; protect local biodiversity by being constructed on sites where older, inefficient buildings once stood or in proximity to mass transit; and improve air quality by using finish products with low or zero emissions. This is not an exhaustive list and it’s important to remember that it’s not just the final product that is green, but the entire construction process that employs green practices as well.
We used to live in a world where making the investment in green practices and protecting the environment was considered a waste of money. Thanks to public interest pressure and forward-thinking leaders, we have now shifted to the mentality that green buildings are simply an intelligent investment opportunity. The occupancy demand for green buildings is higher than non-green buildings and are rented out at a higher dollar per square foot than non-green buildings. Additionally, new construction has a higher demand for green design than non-green and will only continue to increase.
Green building occupants have the satisfaction of knowing their residence is making a positive impact on their local community which improves their overall quality of life. Not to mention they will see a reduction in their energy bills. The community itself will be happier knowing that the green buildings in their area aren’t contributing to further waste and consumption which strains local infrastructure.
North American Green Buildings
There are many shining examples of green buildings across North America. Here are six of them for your browsing pleasure:
–The Verdesian in New York, New York
–Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability in Vancouver, British Columbia
–Real Goods Solar Living Institute in Hopland, California
–Seattle Justice Center in Seattle, Washington
–Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies in Oberlin, Ohio
–La Maison du Developpement Durable in Montreal, Quebec
Green Building Global Movements
Many organizations and events are leading the way in green building awareness. Here are some you might like to check out:
–The City Climate Leadership Awards by C40 And Siemens
–The Green Building Leaders Program by the Pembina Institute
If you are passionate about the investment in green buildings you might also want to learn about how businesses can can make their day-to-day practices greener as well: Turn Your Office Eco-Friendly
Photo Credit: University of British Columbia – Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability