Buildings have an extensive impact on the environment in terms of energy use, water consumption, electricity consumption, and carbon dioxide emissions. Traditional approaches to new construction, renovation, deconstruction, and operations and maintenance of buildings will do little to improve these statistics. However, education within the industry can influence positive change.
- New Construction
- Operations and Maintenance (O&M)
- Overcoming the perceived and actual costs associated with investments in green building practices, and
- Providing education on the environmental, operational, and fiscal benefits of environmentally sustainable buildings
- Proper Investment in Operations & Maintenance
- Consider Green Building Standards
- Utility Rate Structures
- Building Performance Disclosure
- Integrated Design
- Sustainable Building Goals
- Green Building Codes
Video: Integrated Design
In the United States, buildings are responsible for almost half of all energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions annually. Seventy-six percent of all power plant-generated electricity is used just to operate buildings. If current trends continue, annual energy consumption in the U.S. may increase by 37 percent over the next twenty years.
The benefits a city can expect to see from green building practices include the opportunity to cut down on every category of waste associated with construction. Today's average high performance building is markedly more efficient:
- Cuts energy use by 24 percent to 50 percent
- Reduces carbondioxide emissions by 33 percent to 39 percent
- Lowers water consumption by an average of 40 percent
- Eliminates up to 70 percent of solid waste
Operators of buildings who take a longer view and value wise investments are rewarded. Green buildings can achieve an 8 percent to 9 percent reduction in operating costs, and a 7.5 percent increase in overall value.
The building sector is the largest consumer of fossil fuels and natural resources in the world today. It is also one of the biggest polluters. Worldwide, an estimated 70 percent of the average city's greenhouse gas emissions are generated by buildings. Unless radical changes are implemented in planning, design, construction and operation, the energy consumption of buildings globally will triple by 2050.
- Inefficient buildings with higher operation and maintenance costs
- Wasted energy and water
- Increased air and water pollution
- Damage to human health
- Rise in city temperatures from urban heat island effect
- Significant amounts of construction waste