Building green reduces
impact on environment
By Louise Bolger
SUN STAFF WRITER
It's not easy being green; just ask Kermit
the frog. If you happen to be a building, say your home, being
green can be confusing, inconvenient and costly. So why do
it and just what the heck does it mean?
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. Since
buildings account for one-sixth of the world's fresh water
withdrawals, one-quarter of its wood harvest and two-fifths
of its material and energy flows, building green represents
a significant opportunity to improve the environment and human
Green buildings are designed to meet certain objectives. Reducing
the overall impact to the environment and improving human
health are probably the most important, but green buildings
can also improve employee productivity, and create financial
savings as a result of more efficient energy use.
If you're building a new home, the site of the structure should
be considered in order to protect and retain existing landscaping
and natural features. The shape of the building and orientation
should make maximum use of natural lighting and passive solar
design. Install a properly sized energy efficient heat/cooling
system and maximize light colors for roofing and minimize
glass on east and west exposures. Also, high-efficiency lighting
systems with advanced lighting controls including motion sensors
and dimmable controls will reduce lighting requirements.
Green construction materials include recycled materials, materials
that emit zero or few harmful air emissions or toxicity, durability
and have along life. When possible, reuse and recycle construction
and demolition materials to keep them out of landfills and
keep costs down.
Homeowners should keep water efficiency in mind for both new
construction as well as in their current residence. Green
homes are designed with dual plumbing to use recycled water
for toilet flushing or a gray water system that recovers rainwater
or other nonpotable water for irrigation. Use ultra low-flush
toilets and low-flow shower heads. I noticed the last time
I was in Europe that the hotels had state of the art toilets
which gave you the option of a full flush or a limited flush.
Also, using irrigation controllers with self-closing nozzles
on hoses will conserve outside water usage.
Water efficiency should also extend to our everyday lives,
including taking short showers, not letting water run in sinks
while shaving or brushing teeth, scraping rather than rinsing
dishes before loading them into the dishwasher and operating
it only when full, using appropriate water levels in washing
machines, not running water to defrost frozen foods and taking
youcar to a commercial car wash that uses recycled water.
When building or remodeling, choose construction materials
and interior finish products with zero or low emissions to
improve indoor air quality. Building materials can emit toxic
gases such as formaldehyde. Choosing the proper building materials
combined with adequate ventilation and a high-efficiency filtration
system will provide a good overall environmental quality that
can reduce the rate of respiratory disease.
We're all not perfect, but we should make an effort to become
more environmentally aware. One way is to think green when
building, renovating or simply living our everyday lives.
After all, just like Kermit says, "Green is the color