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Building Green – A Thank You Note to Mother Nature

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With our resources dwindling, building green is becoming all the more vital, and we become more aware of the sensitivities to toxins that many people have. With the price of natural gas, oil and other resources rising exponentially, saving energy is a big concern. Utilizing green construction in business and residential developments has started really taking off, and many people are interested in making their developments environmentally friendly. One survey found that at least fifty percent of all builders should be producing at least some green developments by the year 2022. However, once you’ve decided to build green, it can be difficult to know where to start. If you’re an investor or developer who’s interested in learning about the process of green building, here are a few basics to help you get going.

Currently, the building industry is centred on those practices which are least expensive, and easiest to implement. Unfortunately, many of these practices aren’t all that green. From the use of adhesives and materials that can off-gas, to the creation of structures that waste heat and water, a conventional building makes a big impact on the world around us. You can develop greener buildings in a number of different ways, for instance – using natural and non-toxic materials, reducing waste of energy and water, improving air quality, reusing materials and employing renewable energy sources whenever and wherever possible.

For those developing or investing in a property, building green can be especially difficult. Having a small scale development work can more easily exercise control and find green solutions. However, larger developments need advance and elaborate planning, and there isn’t a standard process for reaching the green building. However, working with experienced professionals can help a lot. For instance, it’s often a good idea to work with an energy consultant, who can help you decide how to implement designs that will allow your buildings to conserve energy more effectively. Conservation of energy is one of the biggest concerns related to green building, since most buildings do not make efficient use of power. Correct building orientation to make use of passive solar design, efficient heating and cooling systems, and high grade insulation are just a few of the options you can put in place to make your developments more energy efficient.

You should hire contractors with prior experience of building green building. This will aid head off conceivable problems later on. A contractor with prior experience with green construction will have better familiarity with the methods and materials that are used. They will also be more interested in working with you, even though the process required to build the building more eco or nature friendly means more planning and more work on their end.

Since building with recyclable and environmentally friendly materials can be more expensive than standard building, developers should also make sure they do their research in advance. Look at the cost of materials available, and design your budget appropriately. Be sure to factor in the increase in sale price for green building, and the improvements in energy efficiency when you decide what materials are most cost effective. Materials that are more expensive now will bring savings down the road. Even if you’re developing the property for resale, buyers will be aware of this, and may be willing to offer a higher price.

Development often requires the removal of existing structures. Standard practice is to demolish these structures, with the rubble usually being taken to the local landfill. For an environmental friendly process of eradicating old and unwanted structures, focus should be on deconstruction rather than demolition. Deconstruction is a time consuming process, but at the same time it allows the old materials to be reused or resold, and saves on tipping fees. If the structures under consideration are older, they might have been constructed from materials that are no longer in use.

Another place where many contemporary buildings generate waste is water use. There are not many structures that are designed with an effort to make efficient use of available water supplies. As more sources of water become polluted, and aquifers are emptied, water conservation becomes a greater concern. Strategize on using attributes, which save water in new building. These can include installation of ultra-low flow toilets and showers, faucet aerators and high-efficiency showerheads, efficient heating and cooling systems, and use of air-cooled equipment instead of water-cooled. In addition, it may be wise to designate a water efficiency coordinator for large projects.

The nationally accepted benchmark for green buildings is the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Standard. LEED certification offers self-governing, third party verification that your project is an eco-friendly and environmentally responsible. Even if as a developer you reject the option for this certification, having known to LEED standards can help you make the right choices when building green.

It is true that starting your first green building project can be intimidating, finding and talking to field experts and familiarity with standards can make the overall process a lot easier. Water and Energy conservation are the two major concerns followed by the use of recyclable or recycled, non-toxic materials and reduction of landfill use. With a sound plan and the correct priorities, making your development a green one doesn’t have to be hard. Green developments are turning up everywhere, from water-saving condominiums built of recyclable materials where decaying industrial buildings used to sit, to schools and businesses designed to make the best use of energy while providing good air quality. Slowly, green building is becoming mainstream, so now’s a great time to get started.

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