As countries around the world have been setting targets to reduce carbon emissions and are turning their focus towards energy efficiency, there has been more attention put on green buildings. A green building is known as a building whose structure and application are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s lifecycle. This includes many aspects, such as planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance etc.
What is the green building movement?
As mentioned above, green buildings complement building design concerns of “economy, utility, durability and comfort” while forming part of the built environment. The built environment is defined as the human-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity which impacts the environment in many ways. The aim of green buildings is to prevent and combat the negative effects of the built environment. The benefits from green buildings are as follows:
- Conservation of energy
- Reduction in operational costs
- Reduction of use of raw materials
- Creation of healthier environments for people to live and work
The concept for green buildings was actually established in the 1990s when builders and developers started to understand the importance of sustainability in buildings. However, it was often difficult to know if these buildings were in fact “green”, and as a result, the US Green Building Council created the LEED system as a way of defining all green building practices.
What is LEED?
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a certification system for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. The purpose of LEED is to act as a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance.
What materials are used to make a green building?
Green building materials include a number of materials, such as recycled plastic, wood and straw bales, to name a few. Green building materials are used to address several environmental issues, such as abnormal climate change, air pollution and biodiversity loss. The energy efficiency and durability of eco-friendly materials are ideal for commercial and residential buildings. According to the Digital Journal, by 2023, the global green building materials market is expected to grow at an annual growth rate of +10%.
Should your company be thinking about green buildings?
Yes is the simple answer to that! Consumers are interested in sustainability – they want to work or live in a building that isn’t damaging the environment. Sustainability is no longer an additional benefit for your business – it’s an essential one. As we have recently seen, consumers are rejecting plastic straws, wet wipes and packaging, therefore it is now goes beyond simply worrying about the efficiency of a building. If you’re in the real estate market, you must ensure you comply with these changes and do as much to satisfy your potential customers, otherwise you will simply get left behind.
Green buildings and health and wellbeing
The benefits to green buildings are endless, including conserving energy, reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions, reducing water consumption and improving air quality. As a result, this provides safer and healthier buildings for occupants.
According to a report on green buildings and the effect on health and wellbeing by the World Green Building Council, a number of benefits could be found. The report analysed factors such as increase in daylight, the use of biophilic design elements (for example, green walls and indoor plants) and enhanced fresh air ventilation on buildings around the world that have one or more green certifications such as LEED or BREEAM. The results demonstrated the following:
- There was a reduction in employee absenteeism.
- Operating costs decreased significantly.
- Employees felt more productive and healthier.
This evidence shows the importance that green buildings can have on your staff and, therefore, your company’s performance.
In addition to the importance of commercial green buildings, there is now an increased importance on green homes. So much so that a new statistic has revealed that 42% of tenants are now concerned about the environmental impact of a property and therefore consider this high on their priorities before signing any agreement.
Overall, the benefits of green buildings are extensive to companies, the economy and to us as individuals. Making the world more sustainable will improve the quality of our lives, and that’s the importance of the green building movement – people.