What would life be like if we no longer had the resources to supply us with food, water, and the necessary resources to sustain human life? What if our air was no longer breathable? What if our streets were filled with trash? If our behavior as a society doesn’t change our habits this image can soon become a reality. Going green is necessary to preserve and sustain our required livable resources. In fact we have all gone green without a conscious effort. One aspect of going green that interests me is green construction. Green construction is the ability to construct eco-friendly buildings while efficiently using resources and reducing pollution. This process also continues throughout the buildings life cycle. Green construction has the ability to create and sustain a viable way of reducing the permanent destruction of human resources.
USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council) is an organization of members who are dedicated in regenerating and sustaining a healthy environment. USGBC developed an internationally known green construction program called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). LEED was created “to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life” (Foundations of LEED, 2009, Para. 3). For a building to be deemed green, it must be certified by LEED. LEED’s certification process consists of five different categories. These categories are: Sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. The credits received from this rating will determine which level of certification it will receive. A building must score a minimum of 40 points out of the 100 points possible during the rating in order to be certified. A home that is undergoing the certification process must score a minimum of 45 points out of the possible 136 points to be certified by LEED. LEED has four different levels of certification for newly constructed buildings, which are: Certified (40-49 points), Silver (50-59 points), Gold (60-79 points), and Platinum (80+ points). (CCBC, 2011)
When a sustainable building or home is constructed and completed, the process does not stop here. Sustainable buildings and homes must be maintained. Sustainable maintenance is an important factor in the buildings life cycle. Using nontoxic cleaning methods, and least toxic pest control can maintain a healthy indoor air quality. By doing this will not only benefit the occupants, but also the buildings materials. Remodeling a sustainable building is also apart of the maintenance process. When a building is remodeled the materials being discarded are recycled to create new green construction material. A green constructed building is a redundant process. The building is built using recyclable material and when it is demolished or remodeled the waste and debris is recycled to create material for other green constructions.
Studies show that buildings with good indoor air quality enhance the work performance and the life of the occupants. Good indoor air quality reduces allergens in the home and workplace. Reducing allergens is beneficial to asthmatics and people with respiratory problems. When buildings are constructed the conventional way they produce gases into the air from paint, and adhesives, which can be harmful to the occupants. When a building is constructed with green materials this will not be an issue. Green constructed buildings use materials that have low toxicity and release minimal emissions. Moisture resistant products and or systems are installed in sustainable buildings to prevent the growth of biological contaminants.
The use or practice of constructing Green buildings and homes are beneficial to the environment by taking advantage of renewable resources that in