Like most people, it is possible you have heard of the term ‘green building’. Even if you don’t have a background in architecture or engineering, it is easy enough to understand the concept of sustainable construction. It is likely you have been in or currently work at a building labelled ‘high-performance’.
What’s wrong with conventional building techniques?
Conventional building methods have been around for decades and were fundamentally responsible for creating the landscapes and even the homes we live in today. But traditional building techniques have a significant impact on health and the environment. These conventional building methods deplete natural resources, create huge amounts of waste, and emit greenhouse gases.
Since most cities have commercial and residential buildings built using conventional methods, you may conclude that these buildings contribute to substantial environmental degradation.
What does it mean to build green?
The concept and practice of green building are not new. If you go back to ancient methods of using renewable and natural resources, then you are in practice, already using the concept of green building. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. To put theory into practice, some innovative construction methods, such as using sip panels bolster the adoption of sustainable construction methods. To truly consider a construction method as ‘green building’ practice, there should be an emphasis on the following:
- As much as possible, minimise the use of natural resources.
- Produce less waste and reduce environmental impact.
- Improve the health and well-being of building occupants.
- Decrease the overall cost of operating the building throughout its life cycle.
Furthermore, green building methods should efficiently make use of resources such as water, land, and energy.
One of the significant pitfalls of conventional building methods is that it focuses only on the initial costs of construction. With green building, there is more emphasis on the overall cost of running a building in its entire life cycle. One example of how this principle is applied is when substantial investment is made on insulation to ensure that the resulting structure uses less energy throughout its lifetime. Compare this with traditional building methods where the contractor is likely to scrimp on the cost of insulation to allocate the funds to other design aspects.
Green building takes into account how the resulting structure or home impacts the environment instead of merely focusing on creating something that looks good and is functional. A well-rounded approach to design, engineering, and architecture are the guiding principles of green building.
Does green building only apply to new builds?
It is easy to have an impression that to put green building techniques into practice; you only have to consider new construction. On the contrary, you can transform an existing building and make it eco-friendly by applying some of or all the following suggestions:
- Harnessing the potential of solar power by installing solar panels.
- Using energy-efficient lighting fixtures and home appliances.
- Replace existing water fixtures with low-flow taps, showerheads, and toilets.
These simple changes can have a significant impact on saving energy and using fewer natural resources.