Principles of green building

Green building techniques minimize energy usage and destruction to the environment, as well as create safe, comfortable buildings for people. Here are three sets of principles to follow.

  • Make appropriate use of land.
  • Make efficient use of limited natural resources.
  • Enhance human health for builders and homeowners.
  • Use nontoxic, local materials to assist the local economy.
  • Preserve plants, animals, endangered species, and natural habitats.
  • Protect agricultural, cultural and archeological resources.
  • Reduce total lifetime energy usage.
  • Be economical to build and operate.
  • Demonstrate recyclability.
  • Have a positive effect and increased productivity on occupants in the working or living space.

from the brochure for the
Green Building Conference '97
in Austin, TX

  • Make appropriate use of land.
  • Use water, energy, lumber, and other resources efficiently.
  • Enhance human health.
  • Strengthen local economies and communities.
  • Conserve plants, animals, endangered species, and natural habitats.
  • Protect agricultural, cultural, and archeological resources.
  • Be nice to live in.
  • Be economical to build and operate.

from A Primer on Sustainable Building,
Rocky Mountain Institute

  • Smaller is better. Optimize use of interior space through careful design so that the overall building size-and resource use in constructing and operating it-are kept to a minimum.
  • Design an energy-efficient building. Use high levels of insulation, high-perfomance windows, and tight construction.
  • Design buildings to use renewable energy. Passive solar heating, daylighting, and natural cooling can be incorporated cost-effectively into most buildings. Also consider solar water heating and photovoltaics.
  • Optimize material use. Minimize waste by designing for standard ceiling heights and building dimensions. Simplify building geometry.
  • Design for water-efficient, low-maintenance landscaping. Conventional lawns have a high impact because of water use, pesticide use, and pollution generated by lawn mowers. Landscape with drought-resistant native plants and perennial ground covers.
  • Make it easy for occupants to recycle waste. Make provisions for storage and processing of recyclables.
  • Look into the feasibility of using gray water. Water from sinks, showers, and washing machines can be recycled for irrigation in some areas.
  • Design for durability. To spread the environmental impacts of building over as long a period as possible, the structure must be durable. Durable aesthetics ("timeless architecture") are also important.
  • Design for future reuse and adaptability. Make the structure adaptable to other uses, and choose materials and components that can be reused or recycled.
  • Avoid potential health hazards: radon, mold, pesticides.

Environmental Building News


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