Buildings worldwide consume various resources (energy, water, materials, etc.), generate waste (construction, inhabitant, etc.), and emit pollutants into the atmosphere.
A Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction report shows that the construction industry accounts for 38% of all energy-related glasshouse gas emissions.
And builders are frequently confronted with the difficulty of meeting the ever-changing need for new, renovated facilities that are accessible, safe, and healthy while minimizing environmental effects.
As a result, it is critical to create circumstances for collaborative action to speed up building decarbonization.
Sustainable buildings can help to minimize operating costs and carbon footprint while also increasing building robustness.
Furthermore, businesses and organizations can adhere to basic principles to secure net zero carbon structures and other important climate-related sustainable commitments.
What Is a Green Building Practice?
Green buildings are an integrated approach to planning and developing living and working environments that are healthy, cost-effective, comfortable, and ecologically friendly.
Green building methods are largely concerned with establishing more sustainable sites, boosting energy and water efficiency, minimizing waste and emissions, employing environmentally friendly building materials, and enhancing indoor environmental quality more efficiently than conventional processes.
Inefficient energy use in business and residential buildings has increased environmental concerns, severely influencing community sustainability.
According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), these structures account for one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, as well as one-third of all energy and two-thirds of all electricity.
Local governments can use an integrated strategy to improve buildings’ operations while stimulating economic development, safeguarding the environment, and laying the groundwork for a sustainable society.
Why construct resource and energy-efficient buildings?
Air conditioning, lighting, heating, ventilation, and facility support are all examples of energy use.
Although every commercial structure consumes resources, produces waste, and emits pollution, they have gotten more fuel-efficient and labor-intensive over time.
According to JLL’s Decarbonising the Built Environment report, only 18% of businesses have a real estate portfolio action plan.
While much emphasis is placed on new, cutting-edge buildings that achieve high sustainability accreditations, 70% of existing buildings will still stand in 2050, emphasizing the need to reconfigure spaces, retrofit older buildings, and refurbish by principles of the circular economy.
Resource and energy-efficient, eco-friendly designs attempt to limit resource depletion and pollution and to provide a secure and efficient workplace for the people who live and work in them.
Green buildings have a low environmental effect and make use of natural resources.
They benefit the community and the environment, are socially conscious and thus widely regarded, and are frequently the most cost-effective and best-operating option for enterprises.
Green buildings are intended to lessen the built environment’s total impact on human health and natural surroundings by:
- Utilizing water, energy, and other resources wisely
- Improving staff productivity while protecting occupant health
- Waste, pollution, and environmental deterioration must be reduced.
Basic Principles of Sustainable Building Design
#1. Optimize Site Potential
Site design must combine with sustainable design to accomplish a successful project, whether creating a new building or retrofitting an existing facility, and begins with good site selection, including the rehabilitation of an existing building.
A building’s location, orientation, and landscaping all impact transportation methods, local ecosystems, and energy use.
The site of a sustainable construction should limit, manage, and/or treat storm-water runoff, as stated by the WBDG Sustainable Committee.
If possible, include natural flora and fauna in the landscape design.
#2. Tackling the embodied carbon emissions
To achieve net-zero carbon by their ultimate target year, businesses must maximize emissions reductions across all new developments and substantial refurbishments in the pipeline.
Measuring and documenting the embodied carbon dioxide emissions associated with materials and construction procedures for new developments and substantial renovations is critical.
According to the World Green Building Council, it will account for half of the new construction’s total carbon impact between now and 2050.
Reducing it through low-carbon materials, modular building, and adopting a circular economy strategy will be crucial in real estate’s potential to achieve net zero.
#3. Making durable building structures
It wasn’t evergreen if a house had to be destroyed after ten years. Durable dwellings do not pollute landfills and do not necessitate the resources and energy required for tear-down and replacement. What is the secret to long-term success?
“Water is probably public enemy one, two, three, and four,” says EBN’s Wilson. “Uncontrolled water rots homes, peels paint, and causes mold.”
Moisture control is a major focus of building science-inspired elements such as ample overhangs, correct door and window flashings, and rain-screen walls, which allow the siding to dry, increase paint durability, and prevent water wicking.
Mistakes that allow outside water to enter a securely built house, as buildings should be, are unacceptable.
The one downside of a tight house is that if it becomes wet, the roof, walls, and ceilings do not dry out quickly. Normal building details are more important.
Understanding your climate’s requirements is critical. For example, controlling moisture and air leaks from inside to outside saves energy and prevents dangerous condensation from accumulating in framing cavities.
While there is disagreement over the use and placement of vapor barriers in blended climates, their usage in cold regions is widely recognized as a crucial moisture-control element.
Attention to detail—and construction techniques—is another important factor and has been identified as a source of many moisture-related faults that cause many issues for builders.
For example, the usual practice of slicing house wrap inside an X at window apertures and folding it into the raw openings is out of date and does little to keep water out.
To ensure proper performance for the life of the building, you must now follow a meticulous step-by-step sealing, flashing, and installation procedure.
#4. Focusing more on the clean energy
Reduced energy use in buildings is critical to achieving a net zero future. Businesses must promote energy optimization across existing assets and new developments.
They must also optimize the supply of on-site renewable power and ensure that all off-site energy is obtained from renewable-backed sources whenever possible.
Any remaining emissions must be offset by acquiring high-quality carbon offsets. There has been a lot of information released in the last year, but more to come, particularly through the SBTi’s Net-Zero Standard.
#5. Enhance Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ)
A building’s indoor environmental quality (IEQ) substantially impacts occupants, comfort, health, and productivity.
A sustainable building, among other things, maximizes daylighting, has adequate ventilation & moisture control, optimizes acoustic performance, and minimizes the usage of materials with high VOC emissions.
Although different steps are required for each building, HVAC adjustments can improve corporate air quality.