The act of constructing new buildings can have a significant impact on our environment. This effect is gradually being addressed by the increasing number of green buildings being constructed worldwide.
The main problem that green buildings solve is the high amount of gas being released into the air. They also use less energy and water, which lowers the demand for non-renewable resources. Green buildings also cost less to operate, which saves money even given the higher construction costs.
This article lists all the problems green buildings solve and how they solve them. Keep reading to learn more about how these problems are solved.
1. High Emissions and Global Gasses
One of the biggest problems green buildings solve is high emissions and global gasses. Building construction and the energy used during the process create a significant amount of carbon dioxide, which is the most prominent greenhouse gas in our atmosphere. In fact, in the United States, when you consider greenhouse gases used in constructing and running buildings, buildings produce 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
But, green buildings play a big role in decreasing the high amounts of greenhouse gases that are released into the air. Green buildings are designed specifically to not release toxins into the air, which not only harm our environment but harm our bodies.
Greenhouse gases continue to impact our planet and cause a harmful future if we do not take action. However, green buildings are one of the best ways to decrease greenhouse gasses, and the more of them we can create, the lower emissions we will add to the atmosphere.
Furthermore, If the amount of green buildings we are creating continues to grow, their energy savings compared to normal buildings will be up to 50% by 2050. The energy-efficient methods used by these buildings can also save carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere within the same period.
Along with many of the other problems listed in this article that green buildings solve, they also help lower air emissions. For example, low use of energy, specifically coal and oil, means fewer emissions are released into the air. This doesn’t just help with pollution, it also improves air quality and quality of life for people.
It is estimated that one in every six deaths around the world can be traced to air pollution. By limiting the amount of greenhouse gas emissions into the air, green buildings can make cities healthier places to live and help us live longer.
All the steps taken by green buildings to improve our environment and solve the problems listed in this article are worldwide, not just limited to the US. The more countries push for green buildings to be built, the fewer emissions are released to harm our environment.
2. High Operating Costs
Another problem that money buildings have is high operating costs. The older the building, the more it costs to operate it since the building is not as efficient. So water, electricity, and maintenance costs are all high compared to new buildings.
But green buildings solve this problem because they use less energy and water, saving money. Green buildings also use higher-quality materials, so they require less maintenance and will not break or need replacement as often.
The lower operating costs of green buildings may take a while to become obvious because the cost to build these buildings is often higher because of the design and materials green buildings require.
So for the first few years of the life of the building, the low operating costs will offset the high cost it took to build the green building. Once these lower operating costs make up for the high building cost, it will cost a lot less money for the people who live or work in the building and those who own it to pay for it.
Additionally, saving money on operating costs can actually end up helping the economy. Because individuals and businesses are not spending money on operational overheads, this money can be used in other places, such as in other companies and small businesses. This helps boost a country’s economic activity and helps grow its economy.
3. Low Productivity and Happiness
Another problem that green buildings solve is the low productivity and happiness of the people who live and work in the building. Not only do a lot of buildings today have an environment that does not simulate its residents, but there are also negative environmental factors that these buildings have that can unknowingly affect the people in them.
However, green buildings have been shown to improve the happiness and productivity of the people in them. The cause of these increases is the better design and construction materials of green buildings. These improved factors include better lighting, enhanced air quality, and added green features that make the working or living environment less dreary.
With the additional happiness provided by green buildings, people who live and work in these buildings might have longer life spans and improved quality of life. The improvements in these factors lower stress levels and help improve these people’s health.
Many health benefits come from the fact that the materials used in green buildings do not have any toxic or harmful chemicals or materials like those in other older buildings. The toxins these materials release over time can cause respiratory issues, allergies, and sometimes an increased risk of cancer in people.
The increase in productivity from green buildings comes from many factors that these buildings provide. For example, working in green offices shows more than a 100% increase in brain function due to working in these spaces. Additionally, thanks to the better air quality in these buildings, the productivity of people working in these buildings increased by 8%.
Green buildings also often have spaces to promote walking and other physical activities, which have been shown to help boost people’s moods and can also be used to treat mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
4. High Water Usage
Another common issue that buildings cause is a high amount of water usage. Buildings that are very old and were not built with the environment in mind use a lot of water. Some buildings use a lot of water – for example, residential buildings, in particular, have high water usage.
Even buildings that do not have people living in them, like offices and businesses, use water. All this water usage is not good for the environment. However, green buildings are being designed to save water and reuse it as much as possible.
Architects are designing green buildings so that plumbing systems use water as efficiently as possible and are reducing the number of shared water resources these buildings use. They can even reuse the water, such as by using sink water in the toilet system before disposing of it or by saving rainwater and using that instead of shared water. This, in turn, creates a lower impact on the environment.
Additionally, the materials used in constructing these green buildings, like the sinks, toilets, and other plumbing items, are made to use the least amount of water possible.
So, between the design of the building and the materials being used, green buildings are saving a lot of water compared to the older non-green buildings that exist today.
5. High Energy Usage
Similar to the high amount of water buildings use, they also use a lot of energy. Buildings, especially older ones, were not built with energy efficiency in mind. Buildings use a lot of energy, especially those used with a lot of technology, like office buildings and residential buildings where people have a lot of electronics.
However, green buildings are designed to be very energy-efficient. One of the most important factors in designing a green building is determining how it can be most energy efficient and how it can save energy.
One of the primary ways in which green buildings save energy is by using natural resources to power them. Green buildings use renewable resources like solar, wind, and water to power them as much as possible, reducing the amount of non-renewable resources (like oil and coal) being used.
Another benefit of using these types of energy is that they are less toxic to our bodies. Oil and coal release chemicals that are not good for us, but the sun, water, and wind do not put us in danger.
Green buildings also use energy-efficient designs like lighting that use less power, contributing even more to the low energy use and cost of power in these buildings compared to standard buildings.
6. Buildings with Short Life Spans
Green buildings last significantly longer than standard buildings with relatively short life spans. The materials used in green buildings are made in such a high-quality way that they can withstand the elements and extend the use of the buildings over time.
The longer lifespan of green buildings also contributes to their value. So, even if the original owners of the green building are done using it, it can still be resold at a high cost for another use. The higher value of green buildings is another benefit of constructing them.
And as we discussed above, with the less toxic materials these buildings use, their long life span does not have a major impact on the environment since they are not releasing any bad toxins into the air.
These green buildings also use fewer natural resources. The lower impact they have on the environment, combined with their long lifespan, means a significantly lower impact on the environment. Regular buildings need to be repaired and rebuilt more often, and those rebuilds and repairs have a bigger impact on the environment than the construction of green buildings.
7. Overuse of Materials During Construction
Building a traditional building requires using a lot of non-renewable materials, including wood, steel, cement, and sand. The use of these materials has frequently led to a critical shortage in their supply – for example, the world is currently facing a significant sand shortage that doesn’t look like it will get better any time soon.
Green buildings cannot do away with these materials altogether. However, they are designed in such a way that they upcycle and reuse materials where possible. Occasionally, this even includes whole structures.
Green buildings don’t just reduce the impact construction has on the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption, the building process itself is much greener than that of a traditional building. Additionally, these materials need far less maintenance than traditional materials, which further means that fewer non-renewable materials are used for repairs.
8. High Waste During Construction
Construction of new buildings can be quite wasteful when you consider all the materials used to build them and create a lot of waste with the excess and packaging. But, green buildings use materials that do not produce as much waste as standard buildings because it is another way in which these buildings can help improve the environment.
Green buildings also tend to use fewer materials in general. For example, you may notice fewer covered walls in growing buildings. Instead of using wall material to cover up the wood structure of a building, the designers may just leave it exposed to save from using excess materials. These design methods also give green buildings a distinct look that is becoming more popular with the increased number of these buildings.
It would not make sense for the materials used in a green building to create a lot of waste. This nonsense is why manufacturers take extra steps to ensure the materials for green buildings are packaged in the most efficient and low-waste way possible. The low waste produced during the construction period of these buildings makes them even more environmentally friendly.
And as discussed above, as the demand for these materials increases, manufacturers will have more incentive to make more products that produce less waste. The more they can do this and create less waste during construction, the greater the positive impact green buildings will have on the environment. They could even improve the waste created during construction in general, not just for green buildings.
- US EPA: Overview of Greenhouse Gasses
- USGBC: What is green building?
- NewSchool: What is Green Design? 10 Benefits of Green Building
- USGBC: Benefits of green building
- World GBC: The benefits of green buildings
- Rutgers: Benefits of Green Buildings
- Why Do Green Building Enclosures Fail and What Can Be Done About It?
- UNCC: BUILDINGS AND CLIMATE CHANGE
- World Economic Forum: Pollution is the ‘largest existential threat’ to humans, killing 9 million each year
- CNBC: A sand shortage? The world is running out of a crucial — but under-appreciated — commodity