What They Are, How They Work, And Why They Are Important

Although green buildings are not new in the architectural world, they have taken on new importance as we work to create sustainable cities and reduce our impact on human health and the environment. Between 2005 and 2014, Green construction spending in the US alone has increased 12-fold, largely driven by tax credits and savings in desired operating costs.

In this section, we will look at what green building is, the features that make a building 'green,' and some of the main benefits generated by green buildings.

Green Buildings: What They Are, How They Work, And Why They Are Important

Green Building Architecture Rendering by: 3D RealSpace

Understand green buildings

That World Green Building Council broadly defines green buildings as buildings that, "in their design, construction or operation, reduce or eliminate negative impacts and can create positive impacts on our climate and natural environment." Green buildings are intended to preserve natural resources and improve environmental quality. life. The most widely used certification for green buildings is LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

What makes a green building vary greatly and may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Efficient use of res, including energy and water;
  • Use of renewable energy (e.g. Solar energy);
  • Incorporate waste reduction, reuse and recycling measures;
  • Good indoor environment air quality;
  • The use of non-toxic, ethical and sustainable materials;
  • Environmental considerations in design, construction and operation;
  • Consideration of the quality of life of residents in design, construction and operation; and / or
  • Design that allows adaptation to a changing environment.

It is important to note that there is no 'right' approach single for green buildings. Green buildings can and must vary depending on context, with importance placed on factors such as climate, culture, building type, and regional priorities (environmental, social, and economic).

Regardless of location, green buildings offer many benefits ranging from energy savings to improved health and well-being.

Green Buildings: What They Are, How They Work, And Why They Are Important

Architectural rendering provided by: 3D RealSpace

The economic benefits of green buildings

For many organizations and cities, design and development decisions often get to the point. But green buildings and economic viability are not mutually exclusive. According to the 2016 Dodge Data & Analytics report, the building owner reported it green buildings – both new and renovated – ordered an increase in asset value of 7 percent more than traditional buildings, while research published by National Geographic shows a 20 percent reduction in maintenance costs and 17 percent higher occupancy rates in a LEED certified building versus traditional construction. Beyond this, there are two main economic benefits for green buildings: energy savings and improved human performance.

Energy saving

Although these savings are not immediately recognized, green buildings do show a significant decrease in energy demand in the long run.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes green roofs and living walls as two mitigation strategies for cities heat island effect, which increases peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air and water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and heat-related illnesses and deaths in cities. While the outer walls act as a barrier and reduce the pressure on the HVAC system in the buildings they decorate, the indoor walls act as insulation and regulate the environment inside the building, protecting it from temperature changes. In a study published by a journal Indoor and Built Environments, the researchers found that living walls cool the space by four to six degrees Celsius, a change that significantly reduces the burden on the air conditioning system – especially during periods of extreme heat.

Overall, research shows that green roofs result in air conditioning savings of up to 75 percent and winter heat savings of 25 percent, as well as natural gas savings of 11 percent and electricity savings of 2 percent.

Employee health and performance

It should come as no surprise that employee health is directly correlated with the company's bottom line. OSHA estimates that sick leave and poor performance the cost of entrepreneurs is around $ 15 billion every year, while the American Institute of Stress puts it annual toll on US businesses of $ 300 billion.

Many green buildings create living walls to introduce green plants and use non-toxic building materials, both of which contribute to improving indoor air quality, where we spend about 90 percent of our time. Indoor air quality is important, but is often ignored health and safety issues it can be very extraordinary expensive for employers. By increasing ventilation, reducing CO2 concentrations and pollutants, and choosing materials that do not use toxic chemicals, businesses can benefit from reducing sick leave. and performance improvement of up to 8 percent.

Hospital research specifically links the presence of plants with lower health care costs, finding that patients who recover in rooms with plants experience much shorter hospitalizations, reduced need for analgesics, and lower anxiety. This group also reported being more satisfied, relaxed, comfortable, and calm – all feelings that improve health at work.

Productivity, of course, is a key factor that contributes to corporate profits, and studies at Washington State University examine the impact of greening on worker productivity. Researchers found that participant productivity increased by 12 percent when there are plants in the room. Another conducted by Texas A&M University places participants in an office environment with or without factory life and asks them to do a variety of creative problem solving tasks. Those in the room decorated with plants show greater innovation and ideas, with men producing on average 15 percent more ideas overall and women offer more creative solutions than their counterparts without plants.

Linking green buildings and health

From an overall health perspective, the case of green buildings is very interesting. Studies show that walking 20 minutes in nature can reduce all inflammatory markers in our body. In the same vein, being surrounded by plants – like those on a living wall or roof garden in a green building – increases our sense of well-being and reduces stress. Organizational psychologist Cary Cooper discovered that employees with access to natural elements in their workspace report increased perceptions of well-being of up to 15 percent.

The green building movement is not just about reducing waste and choosing more sustainable solutions, but about taking a holistic approach that considers how buildings affect the people who use them. As a report Human Space: The Global Impact of Biophilic Design in the Workplace notes, "The relationship between individuals and their environment can be an important determinant of how they feel, performance, and interact with others. So designing space that inspires, energizes and supports people who use it is a global necessity. "

With 'fitness' which continues to be a buzzword in business throughout the world, the question is not how much we can afford to invest in green buildings, but whether we can not to.

The final word

Green buildings may be more expensive in advance, but the long-term return is certainly greater than the initial investment. Whether it's the use of environmentally friendly materials, reuse and recycling programs, inclusion of renewable energy, or health features such as living walls, there is plenty of evidence that supports the huge economic, human and environmental benefits of green buildings. And when the focus on sustainability in the city continues to grow, there is little doubt that investment in green buildings will also.