What is a “green” building or “green” construction?
A green building is one that is healthy for its occupants and is sensitive to our environment. Nevertheless, the word “Green” in building design and construction needs context. There are so many different levels of quality and sustainability that can be put into buildings. Therefore, working with a credible architect is the best way to ensure you achieve the right level of “green”.
Some basic green design elements:
- Formaldehyde-free, low VOC paints and coatings reduce “off-gassing” that can result in dangerous pollution.
- White roofing (instead of black) reflects solar heat and reduces air conditioning loads to save energy.
- Recycled steel construction produces a structure that is strong, non-combustible and mold resistant because it’s cellulose-free.
- Environmentally and ozone friendly Icynene, a water-based, sprayed floor insulation and rigid Polystyrene (what an inexpensive coffee cup is made of ), made with recycled materials, provide a continuous blanket around the exterior walls and roof. As a result, you get superior thermal protection, energy savings and mold resistance.
- Eco-friendly interior wall finishes include medium density fiberboard (MDF) made from recovered wood fiber. This material slows deforestation and helps preserve natural habitats. Chair rails use bamboo because it is a rapidly renewable resource that grows as much as four feet a day.
- Recycled content carpet tiles help reduce landfill waste.
- Improved daylighting: Sun tunnels improve and balance natural lighting; light shelves help bounce more natural light to the center of the room; occupancy sensors conserve energy by turning lights off when people come and go; lights turn dim when natural light reaches proper levels.
- A vestibule safeguards the inside rooms from inclement weather, buffers outside noise and helps retain heating and cooling levels. Walk-off mats scrape dirt and moisture from shoes, improving the life-cycle and maintenance of the interior floor finishes.
- Energy efficient, 2-stage HVAC system reduces energy consumption and use R410A refrigerants that do not harm the ozone layer.
- Modular buildings themselves are the ultimate in sustainability in that they can be reused again and again.