What Makes a Building Green?
A green building, also known as a sustainable building, is a structure that is designed, built, renovated, operated, or reused in an ecological and resource-efficient manner. Green buildings are designed to meet certain objectives such as protecting occupant health; improving employee productivity; using energy, water, and other resources more efficiently; and reducing the overall impact to the environment.
Governor Schwarzenegger has committed California to leading by example in improving the energy and environmental performance of existing and new state-owned buildings. By implementing sustainable practices in the facilities it owns, leases, retrofits or maintains, California can conserve resources and save money. Executive Order S-20-04, calls for reducing electricity consumption in state buildings 20 percent by 2015. Reaching that goal will include a combination of benchmarking the energy efficiency of state buildings, and commissioning or retro-commissioning facilities to ensure that energy systems are operated as efficiently as possible.
What Are the Economic Benefits of Green Buildings?
A green building may cost more up front, but saves through lower operating costs over the life of the building. The green building approach applies a project life cycle cost analysis for determining the appropriate up-front expenditure. This analytical method calculates costs over the useful life of the asset.
These and other cost savings can only be fully realized when they are incorporated at the project's conceptual design phase with the assistance of an integrated team of professionals. The integrated systems approach ensures that the building is designed as one system rather than a collection of stand-alone systems.
Some of the economic benefits include but are not limited to:
- Reducing materials consumption.
- Providing a useful outlet for collected recycled material.
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Conserving water.
- Conserving energy.
- Increasing the use of renewable products.
- Reducing the presence of toxic and hazardous substances in the workplace and environment.
These benefits in turn:
- Improve public and occupational health and safety.
- Improve wildlife habitats.
- Decrease air, water, and soil contamination.
- Improve compliance with regulations.
- Decrease costs associated with waste management, disposal, and cleanup.
- Promote a sustainable economy.
- Develop markets for environmentally preferable goods and services.