A green building, also known as a sustainable building, is a structure that is designed, built, renovated, operated, or reused in an ecological and resource-efficient manner. Green buildings are designed to meet certain objectives such as protecting occupant health; improving employee productivity; using energy, water, and other resources more efficiently; and reducing the overall impact to the environment. Green buildings use durable materials that are salvaged, have recycled content or come from rapidly renewable resources. These materials significantly reduce the environmental destruction associated with the extraction, processing and transportation of virgin materials.
Green Building practices promote construction of buildings that are healthier for the occupants and healthier for the environment. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, buildings consume 40% of the world’s total energy, 25% of its wood harvest and 16% of its water. The building industry is the nation’s largest manufacturing activity, representing more than 50% of the nation’s wealth and 13% of its Gross Domestic Product. Energy and material consumption in buildings can contribute significantly to global climate change.
Sustainable building practices go beyond energy and water conservation to incorporate environmentally sensitive site planning, resource efficient building materials and superior indoor environmental quality. Some of the key benefits are:
- lower electric and water utility costs
- environmentally effective use of building materials
- enhanced health and productivity
- long-term economic returns
- reduced environmental impact