The term green buildings is a common concept that is usually thrown around in the construction and real estate market. The new generation of home buyers are becoming increasingly in touch with their environment and do try their best to do their part in keeping the earth safe and trying to remedy the damage that is already done. They are usually in the search of better, more sustainable and affordable homes.
What is a green building? To explain this, first I have to explain the concept of a home/house as an entity that consumes and releases energy. A building consumes energy during construction by the use of construction materials and other resources such as water. For a material to get to a construction site, it could have come directly from the ground, eg. quarry stone, or it could have been through a manufacturing process, for example gypsum boards. You can therefore see that some materials have a higher energy footprint(carbon footprint if you will), than others.
The other way a building consumes energy is through maintenance of internal conditions to make it more conducive for the inhabitants. This is whereby some means of system, heating system, cooling system etc, to keep the temperatures optimal is used. Daily home use is also a big consumer of energy. This counts the energy that is used for normal daily home operations like heating water for showers, dishwashers etc.
How does a building release energy? Any wastes from the house such as water can be counted as energy lost. Energy that is released as a by-product from the processes that are used to keep the house at optimum conditions is also considered as energy released/wasted.
Now, to answer the question, ‘ what is a green building?’. A green building is a building that can be constructed with the lowest possible energy for the specific building type, can be operated at the lowest possible energy requirement levels especially from clean energy sources and has very little energy wastage.
In summary a green building has:
1. Efficient building design
2.Low embodied energy(Carbon footprint materials)
3.Efficient systems in terms of energy consumption
4.Efficient water use
5. Green sources of energy
6. Recycling whenever possible
What does a green building look like? As you can see, a green building is a building that maximizes the efficiency of a number of systems to make the house have as little carbon footprint as possible.
Some features of a green building include: Using materials with low embodied energy, having efficient in house systems such as efficient appliances, bulbs, heating and cooling systems, building designs that maximize passive heat flow to ensure there is no need to make up for thermal conditions using mechanical systems, recycled water, water harvesting, green power sources and so on. I will dive more into factors you need to consider when building a green building in terms of design, materials, energy efficiency and water efficiency.
Read more on how to make the most out of your small house plan.
I hope this read has been useful.