Green building is the practice of increasing the efficiency with which buildings use resources — energy, water, and materials — while reducing building impacts on human health and the environment during the building's lifecycle, through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal.
Green buildings are designed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment by:
A similar concept is natural building, which is usually on a smaller scale and tends to focus on the use of natural materials that are available locally. Other commonly used terms include sustainable design and green architecture.
The related concepts of sustainable development and sustainability are integral to green building. Effective green building can lead to 1) reduced operating costs by increasing productivity and using less energy and water, 2) improved public and occupant health due to improved indoor air quality, and 3) reduced environmental impacts by, for example, lessening storm water runoff and the heat island effect. Practitioners of green building often seek to achieve not only ecological but aesthetic harmony between a structure and its surrounding natural and built environment, although the appearance and style of sustainable buildings is not necessarily distinguishable from their less sustainable counterparts.
As of 2006, buildings used 40 percent of the total energy consumed in both the US and European Union. In the US, 54 percent of that percentage was consumed by residential buildings and 46 percent by commercial buildings. In 2002, buildings used approximately 68 percent of the total electricity consumed in the United States with 51 percent for residential use and 49 percent for commercial use. 38 percent of the total amount of carbon dioxide in the United States can be attributed to buildings, 21 percent from homes and 17.5 percent from commercial uses. Buildings account for 12.2 percent of the total amount of water consumed per day in the United States.
Considering these statistics, reducing the amount of natural resources buildings consume and the amount of pollution given off is seen as crucial for future sustainability, according to EPA.
The environmental impact of buildings is often underestimated, while the perceived costs of green buildings are overestimated. A recent survey by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development finds that green costs are overestimated by 300 percent, as key players in real estate and construction estimate the additional cost at 17 percent above conventional construction, more than triple the true average cost difference of about 5 percent.
On the aesthetic side of green architecture or sustainable design is the philosophy of designing a building that is in harmony with the natural features and resources surrounding the site. There are several key steps in designing sustainable buildings: specify 'green' building materials from local sources, reduce loads, optimize systems, and generate on-site renewable energy.
Building materials typically considered to be 'green' include rapidly renewable plant materials like bamboo and straw, lumber from forests certified to be sustainably managed, dimension stone, recycled stone, recycled metal, and other products that are non-toxic, reusable, renewable, and/or recyclable (eg Trass, Linoleum, sheep wool, panels made from paper flakes,compressed earth block, adobe, baked earth, rammed earth, clay, vermiculite, flax linen, sisal, seagrass, cork, expanded clay grains, coconut, wood fibre plates, calcium sand stone... ). Building materials should be extracted and manufactured locally to the building site to minimize the energy embedded in their transportation.
Green buildings often include measures to reduce energy use. To increase the efficiency of the building envelope, (the barrier between conditioned and unconditioned space), they may use high-efficiency windows and insulation in walls, ceilings, and floors. Another strategy, passive solar building design, is often implemented in low-energy homes. Designers orient windows and walls and place awnings, porches, and trees to shade windows and roofs during the summer while maximizing solar gain in the winter. In addition, effective window placement (daylighting) can provide more natural light and lessen the need for electric lighting during the day. Solar water heating further reduces energy loads.
Finally, onsite generation of renewable energy through solar power, wind power, hydro power, or biomass can significantly reduce the environmental impact of the building. Power generation is generally the most expensive feature to add to a building.
Green architecture also seeks to reduce waste of energy, water and materials. During the construction phase, one goal should be to reduce the amount of material going to landfills. Well-designed buildings also help reduce the amount of waste generated by the occupants as well, by providing on-site solutions such as compost bins to reduce matter going to landfills.
To reduce the impact on wells or water treatment plants, several options exist. "Greywater", wastewater from sources such as dishwashing or washing machines, can be used for subsurface irrigation, or if treated, for non-potable purposes, e.g., to flush toilets and wash cars. Rainwater collectors are used for similar purposes.
Centralized wastewater treatment systems can be costly and use a lot of energy. An alternative to this process is converting waste and wastewater into fertilizer, which avoids these costs and shows other benefits. By collecting human waste at the source and running it to a semi-centralized biogas plant with other biological waste, liquid fertilizer can be produced. This concept was demonstrated by a settlement in Lubeck Germany in the late 1990s. Practices like these provide soil with organic nutrients and create carbon sinks that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, offsetting greenhouse gas emission. Producing artificial fertilizer is also more costly in energy than this process.
Many countries have developed their own standards of energy efficiency for buildings. Above some examples of building environmental assessment tools currently in use:
Climate Change 2007, the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is the fourth in a series of such reports. The IPCC was established by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to assess scientific, technical and socio-economic information concerning climate change, its potential effects and options for adaptation and mitigation.
UNEP works to facilitate the transition to low-carbon societies, support climate proofing efforts, improve understanding of climate change science, and raise public awareness about this global challenge.
The GHG Indicator: UNEP Guidelines for Calculating Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Businesses and Non-Commercial Organizations
Agenda 21 is a programme run by the United Nations (UN) related to sustainable development. It is a comprehensive blueprint of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the UN, governments, and major groups in every area in which humans impact on the environment. The number 21 refers to the 21st century.
FIDIC’s Project Sustainability Management Guidelines were created in order to assist project engineers and other stakeholders in setting sustainable development goals for their projects that are recognized and accepted by as being in the interests of society as a whole. The process is also intended to allow the alignment of project goals with local conditions and priorities and to assist those involved in managing projects to measure and verify their progress.
The PSM Guidelines are structured with Themes and Sub-Themes under the three main sustainability headings of Social, Environmental and Economic. For each individual Sub-Theme a core project indicator is deﬁned along with guidance as to the relevance of that issue in the context of an individual project.
SBTool, formerly known as GBTool, is designed to assess the environmental and sustainability performance of buildings. SBTool is the software implementation of the Green Building Challenge (GBC) assessment method that has been under development since 1996 by a group of more than a dozen teams. The GBC process was launched by Natural Resources Canada, but responsibility was handed over to the International Initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment (iiSBE) in 2002.
The SBA is a non-profit, non-partisan international network of universities, research centers and technical assessment organizations that is intended to accelerate the international adoption of Sustainable Building (SB) practices through the promotion of shared methods of building performance assessment and rating. The SBA initiative is supported by the UNESCO Chair for sustainable buildings and the UNEP sustainable building and construction initiative.
CEEQUAL, the Civil Engineering Environmental Quality and Award Scheme, is an assessment and awards scheme for improving sustainability in civil engineering and public realm projects. Its objective is to encourage the attainment of environmental excellence in civil engineering, and thus to deliver improved environmental and social performance in project speciﬁcation, design and construction.
The system uses a points-scoring-based assessment, which is applicable to any civil engineering or public realm project and includes environmental and social aspects such as the use of water, energy and land, impacts on ecology, landscape, neighbours, archaeology, as well as waste minimisation and management, and community relations and amenity. Awards are made to projects in which the clients, designers and constructors have gone beyond the legal and environmental minima, to achieve distinctive environmental standards of performance.
Assessments are carried out by trained assessors who are responsible for scoping the credit issues to be addressed (in consultation with the CEEQUAL veriﬁer). The assessor then completes the assessment and submits it to the veriﬁer for review and approval. Once the veriﬁer is satisﬁed with the assessment the CEEQUAL certiﬁcate is issued.
EN 15804 (CEN TC350)
The development of EN15804 Sustainability of construction works is currently underway with the majority of sections under development but some under approval. This standard is intended to set out a methodology for the assessment of the sustainability of materials, buildings and construction projects using the Life Cycle Assessment approach.
The development of the standard is due to be completed by the end of 2011.
Global Reporting Initiative
The Global Reporting Initiative's aim is to make the reporting on economic, environmental, and social performance by all organizations is as routine and comparable as ﬁnancial reporting.
The Sustainability Reporting Framework provides guidance for organizations to use as the basis for disclosure about their sustainability performance, and also provides stakeholders a universally- applicable, comparable framework in which to understand disclosed information.
The Reporting Framework contains the core product of the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, as well as Protocols and Sector Supplements. The Guidelines are used as the basis for all reporting. They are the foundation upon which all other reporting guidance is based, and outline core content for reporting that is broadly relevant to all organizations regardless of size, sector, or location. The Guidelines contain principles and guidance as well as standard disclosures – including indicators – to outline a disclosure framework that organizations can voluntarily, ﬂexibly, and incrementally, adopt.
Protocols underpin each indicator in the Guidelines and include deﬁnitions for key terms in the indicator, compilation methodologies, intended scope of the indicator, and other technical references.
Sector Supplements respond to the limits of a one-size-ﬁts-all approach. Sector Supplements complement the use of the core Guidelines by capturing the unique set of sustainability issues faced by different sectors such as mining, automotive, banking, public agencies and others.
IPD Environment Code
The IPD Environment Code was launched in February 2008. The Code is intended as a good practice global standard for measuring the environmental performance of corporate buildings. Its aim is to accurately measure and manage the environmental impacts of corporate buildings and enable property executives to generate high quality, comparable performance information about their buildings anywhere in the world. The Code covers a wide range of building types (from ofﬁces to airports) and aims to inform and support the following;
IPD estimate that it will take approximately three years to gather signiﬁcant data to develop a robust set of baseline data that could be used across a typical corporate estate.
ISO/TS 21931:2006, Sustainability in building construction -- Framework for methods of assessment for environmental performance of construction works -- Part 1: Buildings, is intended to provide a general framework for improving the quality and comparability of methods for assessing the environmental performance of buildings. It identiﬁes and describes issues to be taken into account when using methods for the assessment of environmental performance for new or existing building properties in the design, construction, operation, refurbishment and deconstruction stages. It is not an assessment system in itself but is intended be used in conjunction with, and following the principles set out in, the ISO 14000 series of standards.
It is impossible to list in an exhaustive manner the existing plethora of public, private (or both) initiatives at national and international level. An existing instrument design by the OECD/IEA and UNEP gives to the public an accurate vision of the policies implemented in various countries.
A general conclusion when browsing the literature is that there is a tangible increase in the number of policies and instruments either in the process of design or currently in force.
In Adelaide, South Australia, there are at least three different projects that incorporate the principles of Green building. The Eco-City development is located in Adelaide's city centre, the Aldinga Arts Eco Village is located in Aldinga and Lochiel Park is located at Campbelltown. Guidelines for building developments in each project are outlined in the bylaws. The bylaws include various permutations of grey water reuse, reuse of stormwater, capture of rainwater, use of solar panels for electricity and hotwater, solar passive building design and community gardens and landscaping. Other developments such as Mawson Lakes and the 'Lightsview' development near Northgate, both to the north of the Adelaide CBD, also have green building requirements.
Melbourne has a rapidly growing environmental consciousness, many government subsidies and rebates are available for water tanks, water efficient products (such as shower heads) and solar hot water systems. The city is home to many examples of green buildings and sustainable development such as the CERES Environmental Park. Another one is EcoLinc in Bacchus Marsh. Two of the most prominent examples of green commercial buildings in Australia are located in Melbourne — 60L and Council House 2 (also known as CH2).
In Perth, Western Australia, there are at least three different projects that incorporate the principles of Green building. The Office development located in Murray Street, West Perth being designed by Eco Design Consultant in collaboration with Troppo Architects is one of them. The other two are mixed develpment along Wellington Street, in the ctiy centre. Guidelines for building developments in each project are outlined in the bylaws and the Green Building Council Australia. The Green Star considerations include Management - Indoor Environment Quality - Energy - Transport - Water - Materials - Land Use & Ecology - Emissions - Innovation For more information, refer to the Green Building Council Australia.
The most recent building to receive the 6 Green Star award was in Canberra, where Australian Ethical Investment Ltd refurbished an existing office space in Trevor Pearcey House. The total cost of the renovation was $1.7 million, and produced an estimated 75% reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, 75% reduction in water usage, and used over 80% recycled materials. The architects were Collard Clarke Jackson Canberra, architectural work done by Kevin Miller, interior design by Katy Mutton.
In NSW, an on-line assessment system called BASIX (Building Sustainability Index) (www.basix.nsw.gov.au) requires that all new residential developments to reduce water consumption by 40%, and CO2 emissions by 40% for detached dwellings and between 20 and 30% for multi unit dwellings compared to an average baseline. The online system provides designers with a mathematical model of the development that considered the interactions between the energy and water systems of the whole, drawing on climatic and normalised rainfall data for individual locations.
A progression of the R-2000 home program is the EnerGuide for New Houses service. This service is available across Canada and is designed to allow home builders and home buyers to build homes that use significantly less energy than the average homes being built. Some Canadian provinces are considering mandatory use of the service for all new homes.
In December 2002, Canada formed the Canada Green Building Council and in July 2003 obtained an exclusive licence from the US Green Building Council to adapt the LEED rating system to Canadian circumstances. The path for LEED's entry to Canada had already been prepared by BREEAM-Canada, an environmental performance assessment standard released by the Canadian Standards Association in June 1996. The American authors of LEED-NC 1.0 had borrowed heavily from BREEAM-Canada in the outline of their rating system; and in the assignment of credits for performance criteria.
In March 2006, Canada's first green building point of service, Light House Sustainable Building Centre, opened on Granville Island in the heart of Vancouver, BC. A destination for the public and professionals alike, the Light House resource centre is funded by Canadian government departments and businesses to help implement green building practices and to recognize the economic value of green building as a new regional economy.
In July 2007, the French government established six working groups to address ways to redefine France's environment policy. The proposed recommendations were then put to public consultation, leading to a set of recommendations released at the end of October 2007. These recommendations will be put to the French parliament in early 2008.
The name of the process, "Le Grenelle de l'Environnement", refers to a 1968 conference when government negotiated with unions to end weeks of social unrest.
The six working groups addressed climate change, biodiversity and natural resources, health and the environment, production and consumption, democracy and governance, and competitiveness and employment.
- invest Eur 1 billion in clean energy over the next four years as part of wide-reaching environmental plan to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, including proposals for ecological taxes; 20% reduction in France's energy consumption by 2020 and a boosting of the use of renewable energy, such as wind power and biofuels, by 20% by 2020; - freight be transported on new high-speed rail lines and waterways rather than highways; and - a series of green taxes including a tax on the most polluting vehicles, as well as a tax on transport trucks crossing France's borders.
The french regulation (RT) for new construction was following an incremental logic with a regular (every ﬁve years) increase in the exigence level requested to achieve by 2020 (RT 2020) a 40% reduction of energy consumption with respect to the RT 2000. Current label are: THPE 2005=20% better than the RT2005. THPE EnR 2005= 30% better than RT2005+ Renewable energy production for the majority of heating. Within the framework of the “Grenelle de l’envronnement”, a performance acceleration is expected to meet with the following objectives for tertiary buildings:
I. Low consumption buildings (BBC) by 2010 with minimum requirements concerning the levels of renewable energy and CO2 absorption materials by 2012.
II. Passive new buildings (BEPAS) or Positive buildings (BEPOS) by 2020.
Labels for refurbishment of existing BBC buildings.
All these developments match with the european and international regulations and frameworks.
German developments that employ green building techniques include:
CII-IGBC recently announced that Shree Ram Urban Infrastructure - a developer - is attempting the first ever LEED Platinum rating (Core & Shell) in India and will be the first ever residential building in the world to do so. Entitled ' Palais Royale', the building will be located in Worli, Mumbai with an estimated height of over .
The Green Building Council of South Africa (launched 2008) has developed a Green Star SA rating tools, based on the Green Building Council Of Australia tools, to provide the property industry with an objective measurement for green buildings and to recognize and reward environmental leadership in the property industry. Each Green Star SA rating tool reflects a different market sector (eg. office, retail, multi-unit residential, etc.).
The first tool being developed is Green Star SA-Office which was published in pilot form for public comment in July 2008, with final release at the Green Building Council of South Africa Convention & Exhibition ’08 on 2-4 November 2008.
South Africa is in the process of incorporating an energy standard SANS 204 which aims to provide energy-saving practices as a basic standard in the South African context.
Green Building Media (launched 2007) has also played an instrumental role in green building in South Africa, through their informational portal, greenbuilding.co.za, as well as their monthly Green Building e-Journal of South Africa, which is sent to professionals within the built environment. They currently hold two annual events which focusing on sustainability; the Green Building Conference and a Retrofitting Seminar.
The Association for Environment Conscious Building (AECB) has promoted sustainable building in the UK since 1989.
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non-profit trade organization that promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. The USGBC is best known for the development of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system and Greenbuild, a green building conference that promotes the green building industry. As of September 2008, USGBC has more than 17,000 member organizations from every sector of the building industry and works to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work. To achieve this it has developed a variety of programs and services, and works closely with key industry and research organizations and federal, state and local government agencies. USGBC also offers a host of educational opportunities, including workshops and Web-based seminars to educate the public and industry professionals on different elements of the green building industry, from the basics to more technical information. Through its Green Building Certification Institute, USGBC offers industry professionals the chance to develop expertise in the field of green building and to receive accreditation as green building professionals.
The National Association of Home Builders, a trade association representing home builders, remodelers and suppliers to the industry, has created a voluntary residential green building program known as NAHBGreen (www.nahbgreen.org). The program includes an online scoring tool, national certification, industry education, and training for local verifiers. The online scoring tool is free to builders and to homeowners.
The Green Building Initiative is a non-profit network of building industry leaders working to mainstream building approaches that are environmentally progressive, but also practical and affordable for builders to implement. The GBI has developed a web-based rating tool called Green Globes, which is being upgraded in accordance with ANSI procedures.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program rates commercial buildings for energy efficiency and provides Energy Star qualifications for new homes that meet its standards for energy efficient building design.
In 2005, Washington State became the first state in the United States to enact green building legislation. According to the law, all major public agency facilities with a floor area exceeding 5,000 square feet (465 m²), including state funded school buildings, are required to meet or exceed LEED standards in construction or renovation. The projected benefits from this law are 20% annual savings in energy and water costs, 38% reduction in waste water production and 22% reduction in construction waste.
Charlottesville, Virginia became one of the first small towns in the United States to enact green building legislation. This presents a significant shift in construction and architecture as LEED regulations have formerly been focused on commercial construction. If US homeowner interest grows in "green" residential construction, the companies involved in the production and manufacturing of LEED building materials will become likely candidates for tomorrow's round of private equity and IPO investing.