Green Building Acworth GA
Custom Builder, Neighborhood Developer, Volume Builder
Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association
Certified Professional Home Builder, National Association of Home Builders
Custom Builder, Neighborhood Developer, Specialty Contractor
Certified Professional Home Builder, Earthcraft House, EnergyStar, Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association, National Association of Home Builders
Goals of Green Building
You've heard about it and read about it. "Green building," "sustainable construction," or as I prefer to call it, "high-performance building" has been the fastest-growing segment of the building industry for several years now, and there appears to be no end to the growth in sight, even though the construction industry in general is in a holding pattern.
Yes, within the past couple of years, green building has become mainstream. And with good reason” it makes sense.
Have you ever wondered why green building has reached its current level of popularity? I believe the reason is because it's a simple, common-sense approach to the design and construction of any building â€” residential or commercial. The concepts, principles, strategies and products are all very similar, no matter what type of building or remodeling project you're undertaking.
|Green building doesn't have to be expensive, Charlie says, if you set the right goals, start planning early and get everyone involved.|
I've worked on more than 60 major LEED-registered and certified green building projects around the country with many different project teams (LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green certification program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council), and I am still amazed at the many different perceptions that construction industry professionals have about green building. When I ask people, "What do you think green building is?" responses range from "Building with straw bales and rammed earth," to "energy- and water-efficient building," to "photovoltaic solar panels." The truth is that all of those answers are correct.
|A green home does not have to take an extreme approach in either |
a natural or high-tech direction. Like the Ashworth Cottages in Green Lake, Wash., demonstrate, melding a traditional building style with advanced materials and systems can result in reduced energy consumption and a healthy home.
A green building does not have to take an extreme approach in either a natural or high-tech direction, but should employ common-sense strategies and construction methods in order to produce the most sustainable end product possible: a building that is resource-efficient, minimizes its impact on the environment and creates a healthy living or working environment for the occupants.
A green building should also be as self-sufficient as possible. Think about it: If your home or office building could produce its own electricity, collect all of the water required for your needs, and reduce or eliminate pollution at the same time, you wouldn't be held hostage if the electrical grid went down or the reservoir dried up. And just as important, our world would be better off.
Common Green Goals
Generally, a green building combines proven building techniques with advanced materials and systems that result in a reduced impact on the environment and on the homeowner's pocketbook over the life of the building. When considering a green building design, a homeowner should first conduct the research necessary to determine which green elements he or she would most like to see in the building. Some of the most common green-building goals include the following.
|Good indoor air quality is a common green building goal, which can be achieved through the use of low-VOC materials like those used in Las Vegas' LEED-certified MGM Mirage CityCenter.|
In addition, energy efficiency results in improved comfort for a home's occupants. An energy-efficient building will be less likely to have temperature fluctuations, requiring fewer adjustments of the mechanical systems, resulting in lower energy bills.
Indoor air quality. This is an area of particular interest for me, as I believe buildings are created for people. Anything we can do to improve the indoor air quality within a building will pay big dividends when it comes to the health of your family or the productivity of workers.
Controlling the source pollutants is another important element if good indoor air quality is one of the homeowner's goals. This strategy includes the use of low- or zero-VOC (volatile organic compounds) adhesives, sealants, paints and varnishes, coatings, carpeting and flooring, as well as non-toxic composite woods and other construction materials used in the breathing zone of the building. By specifying and using low- or zero-VOC products, the source of contaminants is eliminated.
Water efficiency. Similar to energy efficiency, implementing a water efficiency strategy for your home will immediately lower your water bill, and you'll feel good about making a difference as well. Water efficiency strategies include the use of dual-flush toilets and low-flow fixtures such as showerheads, as well as landscaping with native or adapted vegetation. Also, homeowners should consider using gray water for irrigation purposes. Water is a precious resource, and we need to start using it at least twice.
Keeping Green Costs Down
There is still a persistent feeling among many than green building costs more than traditional building practices, but I believe it does not have to. To keep control of costs, target only those elements that make financial, environmental and sometimes business sense (in the case of a commercial building) for incorporation into a building's design, and do it as early as possible in the construction process.
In the LEED for New Construction Green Building Rating System, there are a total of 69 points available to those who are targeting certification of a building, but only 26 of those points are required for a basic Certified level of certification. Only 26!
Other green building certification systems operate in similar ways, so depending on the owner's goals for the building, the low-hanging fruit should be targeted first in order to keep the cost of greening your building to a minimum.
If you're considering a green building in the future, the first step is to establish realistic building goals by conducting a brainstorming session (sometimes called a charrette) as early as possible in the design phase, and once your team is in place. The goal of the charrette is to focus the design and construction team on the building goals that are most important to you.
It's like starting at the top of a pyramid. Once the overall goals are established, it's much easier and cost-effective to choose strategies and building elements that will help you to achieve your goals. If your overall plan is to achieve a green certification for your building, knowing what you want early in the game will help you to establish realistic interim goals and save money.
So remember, the main factor in keeping the first cost of your green building low is to start early in the process. This will eliminate the need for redesign, which can result in additional costs. Just as the old carpenter's adage "measure twice, cut once" attests, forethought, proper planning and effective construction management will eliminate waste and reduce costs.
Charlie Popeck is the president of Green Ideas Environmental Building Consultants and a contributing editor to Smart HomeOwner. He can be reached at 602-512-0557 or Charlie@Egreenideas.com. Green Ideas specializes in helping design, construction and facility management teams understand and implement building science and sustainability into their projects.