Green Building Guest Post From A Construction Professional.

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This is a guest post from The Good Human reader Emma, who runs her own blog over at Guinness416. Thanks Emma for your words of wisdom!

Most people have a good sense of ways to make their home more environmentally friendly. Recycle, use less energy, or in more extreme examples construct a new house out of straw bale or rammed earth. But the trend is for much larger buildings – from libraries to research labs, and from churches to condo towers- are also being built green.

In fact, I was at a conference this week in which one of the speakers predicted that green building will account for 15% of all non-residential construction in the US by 2010 – and that’s a serious volume of work!

Why do owners of these building types want green buildings? Here are some reasons:

  • Marketing advantages – developers love to tout their new high-rise as a green building.
  • Fundraising – perhaps people with deep pockets would prefer to donate to the building fund for a new green library than the fund for a standard one.
  • Energy savings – The prospect of saving money on utility bills years into the future is very attractive.
  • Leadership – Municipalities and universities love to be seen to be leading the way in excellence in technology and design.
  • Productive work environments – People work harder and get less sick when they have access to daylight, can control their temperature and lighting levels, and breathe less VOCs.
  • Financial incentives – there exist a number of grants and tax breaks associated with building green.
  • I’m a construction professional, and I’d say that 75% of the projects that cross my desk right now are targeting LEED certification. It’s nothing short of amazing to see colleagues on project teams adapt quickly to the new paradigm. Superintendents on site make sure that soils don’t erode and dust doesn’t pollute the air. Carpet and paint manufacturers make and market low-VOC materials, so occupants don’t breathe in volatile organic compounds. Building owners want to know if they can have more bike racks and showers. Architects try to ensure that 75% of space is daylit. Engineers design for water use reduction and optimal energy performance. Spec writers call for use of locally sourced materials, or recycled-content products. Everyone loves green roofs.

    Sure, in some cases the parties involved are looking at their bottom line (sell more apartments! Get more contracts!) but there’s no doubt that my industry is changing the way it does business. So next time our city or town announces they’ll be replacing the local school, or local library ask your councilor if it will be a green building.

    Some further interesting links:

  • Videos from the US Green Building Councils’ recent expo.
  • 5ive – the diary of a LEED Platinum (ie, conforming to the highest level of the preferred construction green building standard) house construction project.
  • A great article about One Bryant Park, a green skyscraper, including descriptions of its green features.
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