Principles of Green Building

There are five main principles of Green Building. The more a building incorporates
the details of these principles, the "greener" it is. Both the LEED and GreenPoint rating
systems follow these guidelines.

• Energy Efficiency
Energy efficiency is the foundation of green building. It makes sense because the initial
investment in improved energy efficiency saves money every year thereafter in reduced
utility bills, as well as improving comfort in various ways. Less demand for power equals
less need for new power plants, leading to cleaner air and reduced carbon dioxide production.

• Water Efficiency
Water is another critical resource. Water usage in California is also responsible for about a quarter of the state's energy use. California homes use 5.6 million acre-feet of water annually, and our prosperity depends on having adequate supplies of fresh, clean water. Buildings can be designed and built to use water wisely both inside and out while reducing expenses. High efficiency appliances do not have to be more expensive, and landscape water management systems are cost-effective.

•Resource Conservation
Careful planning and management of the construction process can prevent waste. Advanced framing techniques have become well-established homebuilding practices, along with making maximum use of engineered lumber. Using wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council helps protect the remaining old-growth forests. Using more durable products makes buildings and their components last longer. Specifying recycled-content products utilizes waste that would otherwise go to landfills. Surprisingly, some recycled-content materials may be of better quality and durability than conventional materials.

• Indoor Environmental Quality
Indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air, sometimes much more so, yet Americans spend most of their time indoors. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution. The New England Journal of Medicine reports that 40% of children will develop respiratory disease, and some of this is due to the conditions in their homes. Many building materials give off chemicals that produce air pollution, particularly during construction and for a period afterwards. Green building procedures use safer building materials that do not cause problems from these chemicals cause, and the costs and performance are comparable to conventional products. The South Coast Air Quality Management District and the State of California have been proactive in regulating all kinds of chemical emissions. Biological contaminants such as mold that can grow if conditions are right, and dust from outdoor air infiltrating into the house, are also contributors to poor indoor air quality. Green building prevents or minimizes these conditions.

• Community Design
Developments that are designed to infill already developed areas instead of converting farmland or forests can revitalize older areas and reduce transportation needs. New developments that cluster homes together can make more efficient use of the land to preserve natural areas for wildlife habitat as well as recreation. Homes should be oriented on lots to take advantage of the sun. Mixed-use developments encourage economic vitality and diversify the tax base. Of course, these options may not be available to remodeling or demolish/rebuild construction projects.

The following lists give strategies within these five principles that we use to "build green."    

Energy Efficiency

• Design optimization for the climate, such as passive solar heating, overhangs on south windows, deciduous trees on
    west and south sides
• Structural system optimization
• Increased insulation
• Advanced air infiltration reduction practices (air sealing)
• Whole house fan, solar attic fan
• Efficient windows, such as low-E double-pane windows
• Efficient lighting using compact fluorescent, LEDs, timer/motion activated exterior lights
• Energy Star (low energy-using) appliances
• Proper HVAC design and installation, with testing
• Renewable energy (solar water heating, photovoltaic system [solar panels], wind turbines)

Water Efficiency

Water Efficiency: Interior
• Water-conserving toilets, dishwashers, clothes washers
• Aerators on faucets
• Low-flow showerheads
• Piping systems effectively designed and insulated
• Eliminate leaks
Water Efficiency: Exterior
• Minimize turf (lawn)
• Use native and drought-resistant vegetation
• High-efficiency irrigation systems
• Group plants by water needs (hydrozoning)
• Proper watering schedules

Resource Conservation
• Resourceful use of materials though efficient design and smart construction (OVE, optimum value engineering)
• Diversion of construction and demolition waste
• Choosing reused, recycled, renewable materials
• Using FSC-certified wood
• Using locally-produced materials
• Life cycle considerations:
     • Durability
     • Recyclability
     • Manufacturing

Indoor Environmental Quality
• Low- or no-VOC paints, finishes, and adhesives
• Low-formaldehyde products
• Combustion gas safety (carbon monoxide)
• Ventilation fans venting to outside, bath fans automatically controlled with a timer or humidistat
• Crawl space vapor barrier
• Use hard surface flooring instead of carpeting
• Permanent mats outside doors to minimize tracked-in dust
• Proper drainage and flashings

Community Design
• Urban infill or transit oriented
• Clustered, higher density, smaller size
• Designed for safety and social gathering
• Pedestrian friendly
• Accessible and adaptable

Of course, almost no single construction project is able to take advantage of all of these strategies. For instance, remodels and rebuilds (tear down and reconstruct a house) have no ability to implement community design strategies, as these involve siting for new buildings.

But any construction project can utilize some or even many of these strategies to produce a more comfortable, safer building that costs less to operate, and manifests environmental responsibility all the way.

We can help you determine which strategies make sense for you, and show you how to incorporate them into your construction project. Call George Baral at 888-675-1400 to get started.

Money Saving Tip:

Tune up your heating and air conditioning system.
Regular maintenance can lower your operating costs and
extend the service life of your equipment. And do you
change your air filters regularly? Use a programmable
thermostat? Taking small steps such as these can
make your wallet as well as your home greener.
Get Tax Credits Now

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