Green Construction Essay

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Green building, a term also known as green construction or sustainable building refers to a structure and the use of processes that are environmentally responsible and also efficient when it comes to resources throughout the life cycle of the building process; from siting to the design, construction, the operation, its maintenance, renovations that are made and demolition. Therefore a green building design involves the finding of a balance between building a home and the sustainable environment. It requires a lot of cooperation of the design team, engineers, architects and the client throughout the stages of the project. The practice of green building has expanded and complements the classical building concerns of utility, economy, comfort and durability. Sustainable development refers to the ability of achieving a continuing economy prosperity while at the same time protecting the natural systems within the planet and providing a high quality of life for people (Katz, 2012). Green building is therefore related to sustainable development since it promotes building practices which conserve energy and water resources, and also preservation of open spaces by brownfield development. This paper will look at how green building and sustainable development came about. It will highlight the impact that green building and sustainable development has had on environment and market. Finally it will look at green building and sustainable development on the concepts of energy efficiency and renewable energy, water efficiency and waste and toxic reduction.

The origins of Green building

Companies and individuals have been building green homes for close to thirty years now and within that time this green movement has been growing constantly. The history of green building is seen to date back even further than the 1970s. It was in the middle of the industrial revolution that Henri Becquerel witnessed how solar energy was transformed into electrical energy termed as photovoltaic power. At this time in the 1800s to early 1900s there were a number of solar plants that were built for the utilization of energy from the sun to steam power. In the 1950s, solar energy was used but in a small-scale that paved way for the solar panel solar solution to be put into use twenty years later. During the energy crisis in 1970s there was a movement of the initial concept of green building as research to it being a reality. Designers and builders were looking for a way they could reduce their reliance of buildings and homes using fossil fuels. There was use of solar panels for making homes more environmentally friendly though in small numbers due to their high initial costs (Patsalides, 2011).

From that time developers have constructed solar panels that are less expensive and more efficient hence making solar panels a reality. During this transition period, both designers and consumers were wondering if solar panels are able to make buildings more efficient, reduce the negative impact on the environment, and bring down the energy bills and the steps they could take to build even greener homes. Now, Green building involves much more than the use of solar panels. Apart from the use of the richest source of energy the sun, green builders and designers have examined several issues in order to make sure that building is ecofriendly. There was also the environmental movement in the 1960s and 1970s which led to experiments with the contemporary green building (Patsalides, 2011).

Impact of green building on environment and market

Green building is not only about costs but it also offers economic, environmental and societal benefits. Green building practices are aimed at reducing environmental impact of building. The first rule is that the greenest building is one that does not get built. The second rule is that each building has to be as small as possible. The third rule is to ensure not to contribute to sprawl even if the most environmentally sound and energy efficient methods are being used in the design and construction. Green building brings together an array of practices, skills and techniques that are used to reduce and ultimately eliminate the impact of buildings on the environment. Its emphasis is mostly on taking advantage of renewable resources like the use of sunlight through active solar, passive solar and photovoltaic equipment and the use of plants and trees through rain gardens, green roofs and reducing rainwater run-off. Green or planted roofs have significant economic benefits through the lowering of roof temperature and hence reduction of the amount of tonnage that is needed and lowering of costs of neighboring buildings. The environmental benefits of these planted roofs are the reduction of storm water runoff. The societal benefit of green building includes physical and aesthetically pleasing effects for the occupants and their neighbors as well. The use of materials in a careful manner helps in the reduction of energy consumption during the process of manufacturing as well as a protection of the health of the occupants. Careful construction techniques also assist in the reduction of the amount of construction waste which reaches landfills by 95%. Re-using of already existing structures reduces the consumption of resources and at the same time preserve the heritage. Careful siting can help in making buildings perform better from a human and environmental perspective: the proximity to transportation helps in the reduction of pollution and improvement of the quality of life of occupants (GSA, 2009).

Green building is among the many trends in construction that are important when it comes to underwriters and claims managers. Construction costa re being affected by the turmoil in financial markets as well as an active storm season. It is expected that by 2015, 40-48% of the new nonresidential construction will be green. This means that new building activities in 2015 will be green. In 2012, 41% of all the residential building starts were green as compared to 2% in 2005. The construction market accounts for about 5.5% of the U.S. GDP including the commercial, residential, industrial and the infrastructure construction. Energy efficiency will have a potential soar from $20 to $150 billion it means that close to a million jobs will be created (Loveland, 2013).

Energy efficiency and renewable energy

Green building involves measure of reducing the consumption of energy; the energy required to extract process and transport as well as the installation of building materials and the operation energy that is needed to provide services like heating and power for equipment that is used. High performance buildings require little operating energy, the embodied energy is more important and it makes up to 30% of the total cycle energy consumption. In order to reduce this operating energy the designers employ details which reduce the leakage of air through the building envelope. There are also some high performance windows and extra insulation walls, floors and ceilings specified. A passive solar building design is implemented in low energy homes. Designers orient walls and windows and place porches, awnings and trees in order to shade the windows and roof in the summer time and maximize the gain of solar during winter. If windows are effectively placed they can provide more natural light and hence less need for electric lighting during the day. Energy costa re further reduced by solar water heating. Generating renewable energy onsite through wind, solar, hydro and biomass helps in a significant reduction of environmental impact of the building.

Water efficiency

The reduction of water consumption and protection of water quality are key in green building and sustainable development. The demands of supplying of aquifer in most areas exceed the ability of replenishing it. Facilities would ensure that they increase their dependence on water which is collected, used, purified and then re-used within site. Protection and conservation of water throughout the life cycle of building can be achieved through designing dual plumbing that recycles water in the toilet flushing or use the…[continue]

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