What Does “Green” Mean?
Green building refers to specific strategies and the overall concerted effort to sustain the current environment, reduce human impact and implement features that have personal and economic benefits.
In construction, green building is a term that represents the processes that are used during a building’s entire life cycle. Everything from the initial design to the eventual demolition is considered and can be accomplished in a “green” manner. When a building is constructed there is an environmental impact, which continues as the building is used. Green building is an effort that seeks to minimize the impacts to the current and future environment.
So, not only is green building about the construction of the structure, it also entails designing the building so it operates efficiently for years to come. Whether the building is designed to utilize the sun’s heat, or to use less water, green building strategies are used to make this happen.
Why Does “Green” Matter?
Green matters for several reasons:
- First, building green lowers the future expenditures of a structure. Utility costs are greatly affected by building green, and can be reduced by green strategies such as optimizing site orientation based on the heating and cooling demands of the building.
- Second, building green reduces the impact on the environment. The more we take from our current environment, and the more we tear down, the greater the negative impact we have on it. Green building is an effort to reduce our impact on the surrounding environment. Strategies like using recycled materials or minimizing waste are considered green.
- Third, building green creates a better, healthier environment. Whether it’s the use of nontoxic materials in construction, or controlling water runoff, green building strategies make an effort to improve life for everyone. Green building not only saves dollars, but it also makes life more convenient and enjoyable.
The following strategies must be used in your building design to meet the requirements for a true green building:
Green Requirement: Proper location and positioning of a building on its property can directly affect the amount of future energy expended.
Action: Site orientation strategies will harness natural sunlight and shade, by maximizing the sun for heating the building and maximizing the shade for cooling the building. This may mean strategically positioning the building in a way where natural resources can be used.
Green Result: Site orientation will allow the heating and cooling appliances and HVAC units in the building to be used much less. The reduction of usage will enable them last longer. Because of less usage, an energy savings occurs, helping preserve Mother Nature’s reserves. The owner of the building will also see a monetary savings from the reduction. Since appliances and HVAC units will be operating less often, there will be a reduction in noise pollution as well.
Green Requirement: Leaving the surrounding property as natural and undisturbed as possible during the construction process reduces the environmental footprint.
Action: Keeping excavation to a minimal level and not disrupting the natural surroundings will preserve the existing property. Trees and shrubs should be left in place if at all possible. Excavation should be minimal, as to not disrupt the natural landscape. The less intrusive, the better.
Green Result: By keeping trees in place, some future landscaping is eliminated and immediate shade from the sun is provided. This keeps air-conditioning costs, energy usage and noise pollution down in the summer. Trees and shrubs both provide oxygen to our environment, which we as humans need to live. Trees and shrubs also provide a landscape, and add beauty to the environment.
Green Requirement: Building structures should be placed in areas where people using the building have access to a variety of amenities.
Action: Erect building structures close to nearby shops and stores for convenience, and to minimize walking distance so people patronize businesses on foot. Utilizing mass transit by building close to public transportation reduces traffic.
Green Result: Creating walking opportunities for the public will reduce traffic, and free up roads for easier access for those that must drive. Carbon emissions will be reduced as well, helping reduce pollution into the air. Less traffic will also mean less noise pollution.
Energy Efficient Construction
Green Requirement: The process of constructing a building should be done in a manner that keeps energy usage and cost in mind. The building should be constructed properly in order to have the capacity to conserve energy and cost.
Action: Using LED lights in place of incandescent lights in a building reduce energy usage. Buildings should also be constructed with proper ventilation, allowing fresh air to circulate the building and reducing the strain on HVAC systems. Installing energy efficient windows – such as those using SunGuard SuperNeutral architectural glass – makes the building energy efficient by blocking out the heat in the summer, and keeping the heat inside in the winter.
Green Result: Creating an energy efficient building saves energy by reducing the work load of HVAC systems. Utilizing the proper lights, ventilation and windows reduces energy and lowers electricity costs. The energy reduction also reduces costs for the owner of the building.
Green Requirement: Water is a valuable nature resource and should be conserved as much as possible. A building should be equipped with the appropriate systems to ensure water conservation.
Action: During the construction of a building, proper flow fixtures should be installed in order to regulate water flow and avoid waste. Low-flush toilets should be installed throughout the building to use only the necessary amount of water needed.
Green Result: By installing proper water regulators, a building can help conserve water and save a natural resource. When less water is used, an energy savings is created. This energy savings not only helps our environment, it reduces costs for the building owner.
Green Requirement: Recycled materials should be appropriately used in the construction of any new building.
Action: Concrete can be broken up, crushed and reused from one project to another. Landscaping mulch can be reused under trees to save time and money. Many building materials that once were on another building can be reused on a new project. Many furnishings like wood trim, furniture, desks and chairs on the interior of buildings can be reused.
Green Result: The process of using recycled materials keeps the cost of building down and saves resources. Using these materials completes the recycling loop which minimizes the impact on the earth.
How Guardian Can Help
Building a Better Environment, Inside and Out
SunGuard Advanced Architectural Glass can help make your building “green.” Guardian is committed to developing products that help make buildings environmentally efficient.
Green buildings use construction practices and materials that protect people and the environment. These environmentally friendly buildings are designed, built and operated to respond to local climate and conditions, and use natural resources wisely.
Guardian supports the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system and is a proud member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a coalition of building industry leaders who promote and create environmentally responsible structures. The USGBC’s LEED system awards points for using recycled materials, reducing energy use (both during and after construction), and other methods of minimizing environmental impact – while improving the working environment as well. Visit www.usgbc.org for more information.
Using SunGuard Advanced Architectural Glass can help you earn up to 20 total points in four of the six LEED categories, including points for transportation. Because in many cases, there will be an independent SunGuard Select Fabricator within 500 miles of your project site, so your project may be eligible for those points. For complete details on all the ways SunGuard Advanced Architectural Glass can help you earn LEED points, click here to download our LEED brochure.
In addition, Guardian is part of the federal ENERGY STAR program, aimed at increasing energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We are also affiliated with other entities that work for a better tomorrow including, the National Fenestration Rating Council, the Efficient Windows Collaborative and the Glass Association of North America, to name a few.