Thursday, April 21, 2016

Green Building and its Regenerative Effects

The problem with the population boom is our ability to keep up with and maintain our economic status quo. If we don't make changes we will be faced with ecological disasters and possibly worse. The economy must be transformed so it can be sustained in the long run. 

One way we can help solve this problem is by finding and using renewal resources for building structures wether it is a commercial building or housing developments. Green building is not a simple development trend, it is an approach to building suited to the demands of its time, whose relevance and importance will only continue to increase. The benefits to green building can be categorized in three fronts environmental, economic, and social. But we will focus on the economic and environmental benefits.

A common impression about green building is that the green premium is too expensive to be considered economically feasible. However, studies have shown that the costs of green buildings are not substantially higher than regular development projects.  Higher construction costs can generally be avoided by the inclusion of green design from the outset of the project.  Additionally, green buildings provide an assortment of economic advantages.

•  Energy and Water Savings. The resource efficiency provided by green design and technology leads to drastic reductions in operation costs that quickly recoup any additional project costs and continue to offer dramatic long-term savings (see statistics). Money previously directed toward utility costs may be used for other purposes.
•  Decreased Infrastructure Strain. Efficient buildings exert less demand on the local power grid and water supply, stretching the capacity of local infrastructure.
•  Improved Employee Attendance. Green design emphasizes increased natural lighting and control of ventilation and temperature-attributes that improve employee health and prevent absences. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports major reductions in health care costs and work losses resulting from commonly recommended improvements to indoor environments (see statistics).
•  Increased Employee Productivity. Employee productivity has been positively correlated to indoor environmental conditions, and shows improvements where green principles have been applied (see statistics).
•  Sales Improvements. Studies show better sales in stores that utilize natural light. Retailers are increasingly using daylighting in an effort to harvest the associated sales benefits.
Environmental Benefits 

•  Emissions Reduction. Pollutants released by fossil fuel fired electricity contribute to global climate change, cause air quality issues such as acid rain and smog, and pose risks to human health.  Green building techniques like solar powering, daylighting, and facilitation of public transport increase energy efficiency and reduce harmful emissions.
•  Water Conservation. Recycling rainwater and greywater for purposes like urinal flow and irrigation can preserve potable water and yield significant water savings.
•  Stormwater Management. Stormwater runoff can cause waterway erosion, flooding, and carry pollutants into water sources. Harvesting and redirecting stormwater, building surfaces with permeable materials, and using green roofs can control and utilize overflow.
•  Temperature Moderation. The heat retention properties of tall buildings and urban materials such as concrete and asphalt are the primary causes of urban heat island effect. These conditions may be offset by conscientious building design and site selection, as well as planting trees to accompany new developments.
•  Waste Reduction. Construction and demolition generates a huge portion of solid waste in the United States. Building deconstruction as an alternative to full-scale demolition results in massive decreases of waste production. 

If we could get more investment incentives and home buying incentives in the US for buying and building then we could get jump start on regenerative economics in the building industry.


DAYLIGHTING- The use of natural light to provide interior illumination.
DECONSTRUCTION- The dismantlement of a building with the intention of salvaging and recycling materials while reducing waste generation, used as an alternative to full scale demolition.
GREYWATER- Wastewater generated in buildings from sources like dishwashers, laundry machines, and toilets.
GREEN ROOF- A building roof covered fully or partially by vegetation, preventing stormwater runoff and absorbing carbon dioxide from the air.
GREEN PREMIUM- An increase in project costs associated with the inclusion of green features.
STORMWATER RUNOFF- Precipitation water that flows off of non-permeable surfaces rather than being absorbed into the ground.
URBAN HEAT ISLAND EFFECT- The tendency of an urban area to be hotter than its surroundings.

"Building Momentum: National Trends and Prospects for High-Performance Green Buildings," Prepared for the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Environmental and Public Works by the U.S. Green Building Council, November 2002. Available at:

The National Association of Homebuilders projects that 20 million tons of debris could be diverted from landfills if only one quarter of the buildings demolished every year were deconstructed. National Association of Home Builders, "Deconstruction: Building Disassembly and Material Salvage," 1998

.A study comparing the costs of 33 green buildings across the United States to those of same buildings using conventional design found an average cost increase of just under 2% for the green buildings. Kats, Gregory H. "Green Building Costs and Financial Benefits." Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. 2003. Available at:

"Managing the Cost of Green Building," KEMA, 2003. Available at:

Energy and water savings allow an average green premium recovery period of 3-5 years. "Making the Business Case for High Performance Green Building," U.S. Green Building Council, 2003. Available at

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