Have You Adjusted Your Thinking to Green?

Over the past couple of years I have attended many seminars mostly on topics relating to green building and the environment. In truth, I was determined to make good use of the construction down time, in this economy, with a goal to learning as much as I could about home performance improvement. One such seminar taught me that the terms sustainable building and green construction have become more than simple buzz words, they have become policies promoted by the government. Policies which at their roots are designed to change the way we think about and use energy in the construction and operation of buildings. The ‘sustainable building,’ concept dictates the integration of efficiency strategies and processes that are adapted during the design, construction and operation of a building project. Green construction is the use of building materials in these processes that offer environmental benefits to the building owners (homeowners) and the wider society in specific ways. Some Advantages of Sustainable Building are:

Better Design
Reduced cost of maintenance over life span of structure
Improved effect on environment and occupants
Improved interior comfort
Improved energy conservation and efficiency

Overall, the Impact of adapting Green Construction has far-reaching implications considering that Constructing buildings worldwide consumes almost 3 billion tons of raw materials annually (this, I learn at one of the seminars). When contractors, architects and professionals in the building industry adapted green construction strategies they are helping to reduce the impact on the environment. Green building projects improve the adverse effects on the environment of extraction, fabrication, transportation, installation and disposal of building source material. Additionally, green building material is first biodegradable or created with renewable resources. This ensures that they have positive impacts on the environment throughout the life of the building. While there may be hundreds of different material available, most material are selected by these builders on the basis of:

Energy and resource efficiency: Materials with measurable recycled content, natural and renewable, efficient manufacturing process, minimizing waste, available locally, easily salvaged and refurbished plus durable.


Indoor air quality: The use materials that are non-carcinogenic, non-irritants, non toxic to the reproductive process and have no adverse effect on human and animal occupants. Materials used indoors would also be easily maintained and moisture resistant to inhibit growth of toxic mold and other contaminants.


Water conservation: Systems and materials that help to reduce the consumption of water.


Affordability: Using materials that have a longer life cycle and are easily obtained geographically and are within the project defined budgeted amount.


All in all, if you have already been exposed to the terms sustainable building and green construction, then adding energy efficiency improvement, home performance improvement, renewable energy (to list just a few more) to the group will only serve to dramatize the movement afoot to change the way we think about and use energy in our buildings.


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Tags: Building, Caledonia, Construction, RetrofitBoston, retrofit


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Comment by David Allen on March 17, 2011 at 6:24pm
You are right, Kent, we have to find a better way to communicate the benefits of a green environment to our audience. For example, energy efficiency improvement contractors, I noticed are now stressing comfort, health and durability as attractive benefits to homeowners.
Comment by Kent Mitchell on March 17, 2011 at 9:35am

You have done a good job in defining these strategies. 


The challenge we face though, is the perception of the end users - buyers & often builders too.  Mention "green" building and often their guard goes up as they believe it costs a LOT more & or is a hippy trend from the 70's.  Sustainable often takes a lot of explaining to a customer and they lose interest as it is being explained. 


We have found that it works best if we mostly just focus on the more general results - which is higher performance, better construction and healthier homes.  Somewhere I've heard that we have to communicate to the end user at about a 5th grade education level!

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