Green Buildings

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GREEN BuiLDINGS REPRESENT commercial or residential buildings that are designed, constructed, maintained, and operated with energy-efficient engineer ing systems, responsible use of water, and recyclable materials. These buildings are becoming increasingly popular because of their environmental, economic, and social benefits due to responsible use of natural resources. As the Earth's population is increasing exponentially, the building stock that houses the population is also increasing at a similar rate. At present, in the developed countries, buildings are using approximately one-third of the primary energy and roughly two-thirds of the electricity. As a result, even modest improvements in current building practice can result in significant energy savings. Even more important is the consequent reduction of greenhouse emissions due to reduced energy consumption during the building lifecycle, which includes not only construction and operation, but also the demolition process.

Examples of green building practices include use of wind and sun for energy, ventilation, and lighting. An appropriately-oriented building, can, with its window openings, promote natural ventilation, so the use of air conditioning systems becomes unnecessary when outdoor weather is mild.

At the same time, natural lighting can reduce the need for electricity, but the window openings need to be designed to provide sufficient lighting levels without glare. The use of local materials for buildings reduces the cost of material transportation, and the use of the natural and recyclable material reduces the cost of building demolition. The building wastewater can be treated for irrigation or used as "gray water" for non-potable purposes to reduce the impact on water treatment plants.

Green roof technology has emerged as a solution that can reduce the stormwater runoff, building energy consumption, and the heat island effect in cities. A rating system from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is used for evaluation and comparison of green buildings' performance. This LEED system was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and includes the following five evaluation areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. Each of these areas has multiple evaluation criteria that potentially affect human and environmental health.

SEE ALSo: Alternative Energy, Overview; Green Cities; Green Design; Green Homes.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. Charles J. Kibert, Sustainable Construction: Green Building Design and Delivery (Wiley, 2007); Alanna Stang and Christopher Hawthorne, The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture (Princeton Architectural Press, 2005); Jerry Yudelson, Green Building A to Z: Understanding the Language of Green Building (New Society Publishers, 2007).

Jelena Srebric Pennsylvania State University

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