Green Construction is the practice of building in a way that increases efficiency of the use of materials like energy, water and other materials and resources while reducing the impact on human health and the environment during the process of building through more efficient design, site selection, construction, operation, maintenance and finally removal. Green construction buildings are designed to reduce the overall impact that the environment of buildings can have not only on the environment but also on human health by making efficient use of energy, water and other natural and man made resources, protecting the health of occupants, improving the productivity of employees, reducing waste, reducing pollution and emissions and reducing the amount of environmental degradation as well.
Green construction follows the same basic concept as natural construction, but natural construction or natural building is usually on a much smaller scale, focusing on using natural materials that are available on a local basis rather than actually focusing on the reduction of the construction’s carbon footprint as it were. Two other commonly used terms for this concept are sustainable design and green architecture.
Sustainable development and overall sustainability are both integral to the concept of green building and green construction for numerous reasons, including:
1 – Reduced operating costs through an increase in productivity as well as using less water, energy and other resources.
2 – An improvement in the health of the public and building occupants because of an improvement in the quality of the air.
3 – A reduction in environmental impacts through activities such as lessening runoff from storm water and heat island effects.
People who practice green construction often seek to achieve not only ecological harmony but also aesthetic harmony as well, between structures and their surrounding natural environments. Sustainable buildings are not intended to appear different from less sustainable counterparts, and in many cases are near indistinguishable.
One of the primary intentions behind green construction is to reduce the overall environmental impact that buildings and construction create. Buildings tend to account for quite a large amount of land use as well as consumption of energy and water and alteration of air and atmosphere. In the United States alone, more than 2,000,000 acres worth of open spaces, wetlands and wildlife habitats are developed every year, meaning that they are mowed down and reconfigured to be zoned for buildings, and this is exactly what green construction seeks to eliminate, or at least significantly lessen.
It is surprisingly easy to underestimate the environmental impact that buildings place on our earth, especially while the perceived costs associated with green building and green construction are grossly overestimated. According to recent surveys conducted by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, green costs tend to be overestimated by as much as 300 percent, because the true difference in cost is only around 5 percent between green construction and conventional construction despite the fact that key players in construction and real estate often inappropriately cite the cost difference at 17 percent or more.
By reducing the amount of waste created by construction, reducing the environmental impact that building has, and any harmful elements that many affect human health, green construction has become a cost effective way to make positive changes in the environment, showing that we do not have to be quite as harmful to the planet as we have been in the past.