Learn what green building is, what its components are, and how it can help your business achieve its sustainability goals.
Published 27 Mar 2023
Green building is an innovative construction approach that centers on sustainable practices to minimize the environmental impact of a structure. It involves sustainable materials, efficient energy systems, green roofs, and other eco-friendly features. Green practices are a growing trend in the construction industry, with more and more builders adopting them in buildings to reduce their carbon footprint.
Green building practices present a great alternative to traditional construction systems for various reasons. According to the World Emissions Clock, buildings have contributed over 3 gigatons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2022. Adopting sustainable construction methods can significantly decrease this number through energy-efficient and water-saving systems, fixtures, and technologies.
Aside from their environmental benefits, green buildings also contribute to the following:
Green buildings often follow a specific set of benchmarks to gauge their sustainability. Each standard may vary per country or region, but it generally includes the following elements:
Design is among the crucial aspects of constructing green buildings, as it provides the blueprint on which the structure will be based. The goal is to build high-quality, durable buildings without compromising the surrounding environment.
For this reason, incorporating green practices is a must at all stages of the design process. One of the best ways to do so is by taking advantage of the natural features of the site for lighting, ventilation, and other functions.
Before construction begins, companies must first survey the land they will use for their building. Visiting the site on the ground helps determine if the land is suitable for the structure to be built and how to maximize its natural attributes when developing the building design.
Utilizing lands for sustainable buildings requires careful thought and planning, taking into account the following factors:
When building sustainable structures, it’s also vital to consider construction materials. It’s best to go for eco-friendly materials, as they are designed to have a lower environmental impact than traditional building materials like concrete and steel. Look for durable products made from sustainably sourced, prefabricated, or recycled materials, such as but not limited to:
In 2021, the International Energy Agency reports that buildings contributed to 30 percent of the world’s total energy consumption. This amounts to around 8 percent of the global energy-related carbon emissions for the year.
Reducing this number requires responsible energy use for buildings and their occupants, which can be resolved through sustainable buildings. Green structures often integrate energy-efficient systems and appliances to conserve energy. They can also harness renewable energy sources like solar and wind to power their operations.
Water is a vital element for a variety of business activities but remains to be a finite resource. In fact, water scarcity continues to be a global problem that affects nearly two-thirds of the population worldwide.
Given the impacts of water shortage not only on businesses but also on communities, green structures should incorporate water-efficient practices and systems into their design. It includes using water-saving technologies and plumbing fixtures and employing construction methods that require less water use.
According to the World Bank, over 2 billion tons of waste are generated each year on a global scale. Yet, only less than 20 percent of them are recycled annually and instead are brought to landfill sites.
Thus, for a building to be considered sustainable, it must produce less waste and find ways to handle existing ones. One great example is establishing a robust waste management system for all stages of the building lifecycle—from construction to demolition. It can also involve efficiently utilizing construction materials and repurposing waste products from job sites.
Lastly, green buildings also consider the conditions inside the building. After all, a healthy indoor environment is a must for ensuring the health, well-being, and satisfaction of building occupants. It requires carefully looking into various factors such as:
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After discussing the elements of sustainable structures, how can they be measured for future construction projects? Organizations can look into standards and certifications from their local green building councils. Each jurisdiction will have its own benchmarks and rating systems, so it’s best to refer to them for the requirements and metrics.
The table below summarizes 7 of the most common green building standards all over the world:
Sustainable building designs often adhere to the following principles:
Green buildings are a great way to incorporate sustainable practices in construction. Adopting eco-conscious construction methods and materials allow for more efficient use of finite resources, reduced environmental footprint, and a sustainable future for the planet.
Green buildings take an environmentally friendly approach to construction. They integrate sustainable design and building methods to establish energy-efficient, resource-effective structures. On the other hand, smart buildings focus on the technological aspect of building operations. They harness the power of information technology to run building facilities at their optimal function, such as lighting, HVAC controls, air quality, and more.
The most prominent green buildings around the world include the following:
Green buildings provide an important step in creating a more sustainable future for the world. For this to work, all aspects of the structure must be aligned with sustainability goals, including energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, and indoor air quality. One of the best ways to demonstrate this is by following green building standards.
SafetyCulture, the world’s leading operations platform, helps streamline processes to achieve green building certification for construction projects. Construction professionals can leverage the app’s tools to track, document, and manage compliance with sustainability standards while improving overall safety and efficiency on the job site.
Use SafetyCulture to perform the following actions and more:
Leizel Estrellas is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture. Her academic and professional training as a researcher allows her to write meaningful articles that create a lasting impact. As a content specialist, she strives to promote a culture of safety in the workplace through accessible and reader-friendly content. With her high-quality work, she is keen on helping businesses across industries identify issues and opportunities to improve every day.
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