The green building trend that has taken hold across the US in the past few years, and is surprisingly evolving toward a whole new level. Whereas before when there were only a few green real estate developments, today this trend in sustainable development has expanded to whole communities and neighborhoods as well.
The west coast city of Portland has been well known as an urban-design innovator, particularly for its transit-oriented developments, and is noted to be among the pioneers of green building and design.
Single-Family Home Builders Are Now Joining The Trend
The basic tenets behind green building- energy and water-efficient buildings that have features that stress the natural over the chemical, the recycled over the new and the renewable over the finite- have now become firmly mainstream.
According to environmental and real estate consultants, big developers today are slow to move, but they still see a using eco-friendly designs and materials green building. Even in the suburbs, which are home to large-scale builders of single-family homes, there is a lot more consumer interest swelling. In a McGraw-Hill Construction survey done in March of 2006, it forecasted that green building would reach a “tipping point” in 2007 and that two-thirds of US builders will be constructing greener homes.
Why Home Builders See The Need To Go Green
Home builders and real estate developers and are not simply riding the green building trend purely out of a sense that it’s the right thing to do. The housing and development industry knows that they can’t afford to be left behind. By 2007, it is expected that at least 6% of the nation’s non-residential construction, which represents a $15 billion slice of the industry, will be green, according to green-building experts, as six years ago it was less than 1%. More real estate developers are finding that using green technologies and construction materials adds no more than 1%-2% to total costs, which area easily recovered through energy savings.
Offering Incentives For Developers To Go Green
At present, the federal government, 15 states and 46 cities now require new public buildings to fully comply with the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), that requires the use of non-toxic building materials, among other things.
Four states and 17 cities now offer incentives for LEED-rated private buildings. The Green Building Council has certified nearly 550 buildings across the country since 2002, and recent real estate developments have adopted eco-friendly standards by creating greener multi-structure projects, such as South Waterfront in Portland, Oregon. The Green Building Council is also working on creating LEED standards for single-family homes as well.
The corporate world was the first to see the value of going green that are way beyond energy savings. Businesses and companies now notice less absenteeism among workers, less time lost to asthma, allergies and other illnesses aggravated by mold, stale air and chemicals found in many conventional buildings.
However, to large corporations like Ford, Bank of America, Target, Toyota, Honda, Starbucks,Adobe and others, going green also was about image-building as well as cleaning up the environment and cutting costs. Many corporate giants know are aware that aside from image-building, the products they make should also be green, along with their manufacturing processes and factories as well.
Energy savings, higher productivity and less waste. These are but a few of the many attributes towards implementing green building concepts and practices. These days, because of programs like the U.S. Green Building Council’s landmark LEED rating system for buildings, the ideas and concepts of green building have now entered the mainstream.
Currently, sustainable development analysts have noted that there are around 500 million square feet of green buildings under design, development, and implementation, and there has been a lot of success in LEED applications in different industries and sectors.
The Challenges Toward Widespread Acceptance of Green Building Ideas
Despite the rising acceptance in the concepts of sustainable building, there still remains a large challenge toward widespread acceptance and long-term practice, and despite the growing awareness in sustainable practices, green products, and high-performance technologies in building design and construction, many worry that there continues to be a lack of accurate, thorough, and quantifiable information regarding the financial and economic impacts of high-performance buildings within the construction and home building industry. In addition, there are also hurdles when it comes to the perception of cost, which has become a stumbling block in the quicker acceptance of green building concepts.
According to some sustainable development purveyors, there’s a consistent disconnect between capital costs and operating costs, as for instance, a building owner knows there is a return on investment of 40 percent going into a green building, as the investments are taken from capital; however, the year-to-year, the operating budget isn’t linked, and that poses a real stumbling block. For the past years, many entities have discussed and analyzed what it actually costs to build green and the ultimate value that results from constructing an environmentally responsible, high-performing facility in hopes of convincing the facilities industry to rethink construction budgeting and financing.
The Attributes Of Green Building Designs
Home builders and developers who have embraced the concepts of eco-friendly building, say that the four attributes of green building design, which are increased ventilation control, enhanced temperature control, enhanced lighting control, and increased daylighting, have been clearly and significantly correlated with increased levels in productivity.
Many note that indoor air quality also has been linked to potential productivity and health gains in workplaces and educational facilities, which helps to explain that the greatest advantages of green building come in the form of benefits to the occupants. The other financial benefits of green buildings are more than 10 times the average initial investment required to design and construct a green building. Construction industry insiders say that for energy savings alone, these exceed the average increased cost associated with going green, and the benefits and savings mark the true value of sustainable construction.
In these times where cost-efficiency, productivity and concern for the environment need to go hand in hand, home builders and property developers have a choice between a building designed to be healthy and efficient or one that is not. According to experts, with a 50-year life-cycle investment, green buildings are increasing at a rate of around 40 to 50 percent each year, and as global energy costs also soar up, the risks of simply doing conventional design are increasing, as well as the risk of going obsolete has fast become a large phenomenon too.
More and more companies are beginning to see the benefits of having energy efficient buildings and physical plants. Cleaner, more efficient office buildings and work spaces not only help the environment but also save the company money. One organization helps the companies to realize the benefits of greener building.
The Green Building and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating systems were developed and implemented by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). This nonprofit organization’s stated purpose is to support and advance buildings that are environmentally friendly and also profitable and healthy for its inhabitants. This system grades existing buildings on their capability for sustainable operations.
LEED is awarded to buildings that have been planned, developed and built to be high-performance, environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work. Leed charlotte has rated many buildings as environmental friendly. LEED is an environmental performance benchmark used by many developers in comparing their buildings relative to others.
More than 5,500 companies and organizations are members of this council, which had certified more than 200 million sq. ft. of commercial space as LEED certified. Companies that are certified by USGBC are then able to flaunt their environmental stewardship, and also will save money in the long run for having built cleaner operating, more energy efficient buildings.
Green homes incorporates smart design, technology, construction and maintenance elements to significantly reduce the negative impact of the home on the environment and improve the health of the people who live inside. No matter your location or living situation, the opportunities for living a greener life at home are restricted only by your imagination.
Turning your home into a greener place is a commitment you make, not just to yourself and your family, but to your community and the world. Moreover, it is also a learning process. Keeping abreast of new developments and scientific breakthroughs in technologies and products for green homes will ensure that you obtain the most benefit out of your efforts.
Less water, energy and natural resources are used in a green home where there is less of waste. It is healthier for those people who live in a green home as compared to those living in a standard home. While constructing a home it can be made green or can be converted green later on. The green process can be done at one time or can be made as a continuing process. The home can be made green from front to back, top to bottom, inside and outside and an energy efficient kitchen. A person can be guided as there are several green developers.
The benefits of residing in a green home are numerous. Eco-friendly homes are better for your health, sturdier, and affordable. In addition, people can qualify for rebates, tax breaks and other incentives from the government, utility companies and other nationwide sources when they choose to live in a more eco-friendly manner.