WHY & WHAT IS A GREEN BUILDING?

A Green building focuses on increasing the efficiency of resource use – energy, water, and materials – while reducing building impact on human health and the environment during the building’s lifecycle, through better sitting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal. Green Buildings should be designed and operated to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on its surroundings.
WHY GREEN BUILDINGS?
Tanarimba A Green building focuses on increasing the efficiency of resource use – energy, water, and materials – while reducing building impact on human health and the environment during the building’s lifecycle, through better sitting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal. Green Buildings should be designed and operated to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on its surroundings.
Green buildings are designed to save energy and resources, recycle materials and minimise the emission of toxic substances throughout its life cycle.
  • Green buildings harmonise with the local climate, traditions, culture and the surrounding environment.
  • Green buildings are able to sustain and improve the quality of human life whilst maintaining the capacity of the ecosystem at local and global levels.
  • Green buildings make efficient use of resources, have significant operational savings and increases workplace productivity.
  • Building green sends the right message about a company or organisation – that it is well run, responsible, and committed to the future.
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Top 10 Green Building Trends for 2011

The trends range from green homes becoming easily affordable to community-based energy, from smart appliances to lifecycle analysis of materials.
1. Affordable green. Many people associate green, energy-efficient homes with higher costs, but that's changing. New business models, technologies, and high performance materials are bringing green homes within reach of all homeowners.
Free or low cost energy audits are now widely available, and as homeowners become more aware of the benefits of simple, inexpensive retrofits, energy efficiency upgrades are increasingly commonplace. Through programs like Solar City's  lease-to-own business model, homeowners can get solar on their roofs without an up-front payment. Habitat for Humanity builds affordable LEED and Energy Star-certified homes across the US for as little as $100,000.
2. Healthy Competition on Energy Consumption.  Sharing among "friends" on Facebook and other social networking sites may soon include a healthy competition for who uses the most and least energy in exchange for rewards. Earth Aid, for example, lets you track home energy usage and earn rewards for energy savings from local vendors. You can also elect to share the information with others on Earth Aid to see who can conserve the most energy.
Coupled with developments including home energy displays, DOE's Home Energy Score pilot program, and Oregon and Washington's Energy Performance Score, a lot more people will be sharing and comparing their home energy consumption.
3. Performance-Based Energy Codes. Existing buildings are responsible for most of our energy use and associated carbon emissions, but the prescriptive energy codes used in commercial remodels don't encourage effective retrofitting. Compliance with energy codes is determined at permit time, using prescriptive or predictive models, and actual post-construction may never even be reviewed. Heating and cooling equipment could be faulty or improperly controlled, with significant energy and financial implications.
Under outcome-based energy codes, owners could pursue the retrofit strategy they decide is most effective for their building and its tenants, but they would be required to achieve a pre-negotiated performance target through mandatory annual reporting. The City of Seattle and the New Building Institute have teamed up with the National Trusts' Preservation Green Lab to pioneer a framework for just such a code, for both new and existing buildings.
4. Community Renewable Energy. Neighbors will increasingly band together to get lower prices on solar installations and literally share renewable energy systems. Buying solar as group reduces the cost by 15-25%; investing in a neighbor's solar system allows people to benefit from solar even if they can't put it on their own roof because of shading, the age of their roof etc. Guide to Community Solar.
5. Smart Appliances. Through the use of smart meters, homeowners will get feedback on their energy use, allowing them to conserve during expensive peak hours, and to see in real time how much energy each appliance consumes. Manufacturers are introducing "grid-aware" appliances that have sophisticated energy management capabilities and timers, enabling the homeowner to gain control over their use.
6. Accessory Dwelling Units. During the recession, the McMansions trend gave way to "rightsizing," and with fewer people moving or building because of financial concerns, many are staying put and building  accessory dwelling units. These small detached or attached units can be used for offices, studios, in-laws or rentals, and are the ideal size for energy efficiency and green construction.
As rental units, they help cities increase urban density and restrict sprawl, while homeowners add value to their property. The cities of Portland, Oregon, and Santa Cruz, California, waived administrative fees to encourage this.
7. Rethinking Residential HVAC. Advances in applied building science have resulted in homes that are so tightly sealed and insulated that furnace-less, ductless homes can be a reality. The increasingly popular "Passive House" standard, for example, calls for such thick insulation in walls and ceilings that the home is heated by the everyday activity of the occupants, from cooking to computer use.
Even in Energy Star-certified homes, builders are encouraged to bring all ductwork inside the insulated envelope of the house to eliminate excess heat or cooling loss, and to use only small, very efficient furnaces and air conditioners. Geothermal heating and cooling is also gaining broader acceptance.
8. Residential Grey Water.  With water shortages looming in many areas including the Southwest and Southern California, grey water recycling of household wastewater is slowly gaining traction. Benefits include reduced water use, less strain on septic and stormwater systems, and groundwater replenishment. Although many cities have been hesitant to legislate grey water use, some communities have increased the amount of allowable grey water for irrigation.
9. Small Building Certification.  95% of commercial building starts in the U.S. are under 50,000 square feet, but most LEED- certified buildings are much larger. This is in part because of numerous "soft" costs including commissioning, energy modeling, project registration, and administrative time, all of which can be prohibitively expensive for small building owners and developers. Certification programs specifically designed for small buildings are springing up, such as Earthcraft Light Commercial and Earth Advantage Commercial.
10. Lifecycle Analysis (LCA).  Understanding the lifecyle of building materials - their effect from cradle to grave - has always been important to green builders. Now that we know how various green building materials perform, the industry is studying the effects of these materials over the course of their entire lives, from raw material extraction through disposal and decomposition.
Lifecycle analysts are examining  impacts of materials over their lifetime through the lens of environmental indicators including embodied energy, solid waste, air and water pollution, and global warming potential. The results will help architects determine which products really are "green."

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