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Sustainable building is a green initiative that seeks to guide the process of designing, constructing and using buildings in an environmentally responsible manner. Building with green principles in mind helps protect the environment and conserve limited resources available on Earth. While many sustainability practices have been created for the duration of a building's life cycle, green principles can also be applied to home improvement techniques and remodeling plans. Residences and businesses interested in increasing the sustainability of their edifices often enjoy a host of benefits, including lower bills, healthier living spaces, and better occupant moods.
What Is Sustainable Building?
At its heart, sustainable building minimizes the amount of non-renewable resources that a building uses in its construction and operation. This can include a reduction of energy consumption, opting for environmentally friendly materials to use within the home, and the conservation of water. Air quality can also be consciously protected to ensure the health and safety of people within the building. As a way to ensure that a green building realizes its maximum potential, sustainable building sites, including land plots, are also usually optimized for use.
A major goal of sustainable designing is to create a building or home that supports the health and well-being of occupants and residents. It's important to realize that the philosophy behind sustainable building doesn't end after the construction of an edifice or home. True sustainable building ensures that the structure or home's operations and maintenance processes are resource-efficient. Similarly, all remodeling, renovations, and demolition actions have to be environmentally sound.
- Green Building Basics
- Sustainable Design
- Green Building Costs and Financial Benefits (PDF)
- Building a Home for a Sustainable Environment
Sustainable Building for Residences
Though there exists a misconception that green buildings' costs outweigh their benefits, there is also growing evidence to suggest that those who invest in sustainable building see financial rewards and greater tenant satisfaction. When planning to construct a home, the commitment to going green should be present from the scouting of the location and first sketched designs. If you're building your home, it can be beneficial to find a contractor that is knowledgeable about green building principles and can provide you with service that matches the philosophies set forth by the sustainable building movement. A matching service may be able to introduce you to professionals who use non-toxic, recycled, and renewable materials and are aware of techniques to reduce contaminants and pollutants within the home. Contractors who suggest waterproofing the foundation and hardwood flooring are often well aware of practices that can reduce indoor pollution. While homes built in previous decades are less likely to be green-certified, opting to buy a home that has already been built and remodeling it with sustainability in mind can lessen environmental impact due to fewer construction processes.
- A Green Home Stars With Energy Star Blue
- Bringing Green Homes Within Reach: Healthier Housing for More People
- Going Green in Home-Building and Remodeling (PDF)
- Green Home Buyers Guide (PDF)
- The Social Benefits of Sustainable Design (PDF)
Commercial Sustainable Building
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For a business owner, having a building that is LEED-certified can lead to a number of advantages, such as an increase in property value, zoning allowances, and eligibility for tax rebates. Sustainable businesses often enjoy longer property lifespans and spikes in employee productivity. In addition, lower energy and operation bills can translate into higher profit margins, while adopting a green philosophy can establish a business as a conscientious force in the market and a responsible choice for consumers. For employees, going green at work can necessitate the economical use of office supplies and consumables, such as paper products, and making a concentrated effort to recycle high-use items like printer cartridges.
- Green Building Materials (PDF)
- Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED)
- High-Performance Commercial Buildings (PDF)
- Collaborative for High-Performance Schools
- Database for State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency
- 10 Ways to Go Green at Work (PDF)
Green Home Improvements & Remodeling
If your residence has already been built, you can still make home improvement plans to modify its interior and exterior for a greener living space. A few reasonable modifications like buying Energy Star-rated appliances, weatherizing your home, and investing in energy-efficient heating and cooling systems can significantly reduce your electricity consumption. Adopting a few Earth-friendly habits like recycling as much as you can, choosing to take showers over baths, and turning off lights as you leave rooms can go a long way in lowering consumption of precious resources. Using green cleaning products made out of natural ingredients and composting organic material to utilize it in your garden can help support your immediate environment. Planting trees in your yard and introducing greenery into your home's interior will improve air quality and can add value to your house while also contributing to feelings of well-being.
- Going Green at Home
- Home Remodeling: Green Building Guidelines (PDF)
- Green Home Remodeling Guide (PDF)
- Conserving Water
- Home Improvements for Sustainability
- 10 Great Green Home Improvements