Green buildings are becoming increasingly popular. They reduce CO2 emissions, gas consumption, and more. However, there are many indirect ways that green buildings get rid of the carbon dioxide in the environment. Taking advantage of these methods will reduce your carbon footprint and create a better future for the world.
Green buildings help reduce carbon dioxide by absorbing CO2 through wall-mounted plants, using renewable energy to reduce carbon consumption, and optimally insulating the structure. Using energy-efficient appliances and recycled materials will also drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Throughout this article, we’ll explore how green buildings use local plants, new-age appliances, and optimal energy sources to tackle the ever-growing carbon dioxide issue. We’ll also talk about how big of an impact these changes will make.
Plants Soak Up the Carbon and Produce Oxygen
Plants are synonymous with green buildings, green living, sustainable living, and net-zero emissions. Builders often place plants on roofs, throughout backyards, near outdoor furniture, and more. Almost all plants need enough carbon to thrive. They absorb carbon dioxide and emit healthy oxygen.
These plants are used on roofs and other places that could enhance the building’s insulation. For example, if you have a lot of sunlight hitting the roof or one of the walls, you could place a bunch of bushes, vines, and other plants on the building. This method would ensure the plants reduce your need for air conditioning while also letting them reduce carbon dioxide in the local environment.
Finally, plants play a vital role in limiting the amount of cleaning supplies you need to use. Placing plants on the roof means you don’t need to use harsh chemicals. Not only do you limit the toxic ingredients from getting into the air, but you’ll also stop yourself from using products that require a lot of carbon dioxide to produce.
Green Buildings Use the Sun’s Energy
According to Events Technologies, solar power is one of the best ways green buildings reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Solar panels are getting much more affordable, increase a building’s value, and limit the amount of gas-powered energy in the area. They can also power an electric vehicle, which prevents you from using gasoline on the road.
Here’s a list of ways sun-powered energy reduces carbon dioxide:
- The building won’t rely on gas-powered energy, such as gas burners, gas heaters, and so on. Burning gas immediately releases tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
- Solar power connects directly into the building rather than going through a series of pipes. Since you don’t need the pressure to funnel the electricity, you’ll use less energy (which mess less carbon).
- Solar panels are much more efficient than hydro-powered or wind-powered electricity. Both of those methods are much greener than gas-powered energy, but they need a little bit of gas to maintain their production.
Trees Provide Natural Sunlight Filtration
Many green buildings use their positioning to drastically reduce their carbon footprint. Air conditioning and heating are two of the biggest energy spenders. Planting trees on the west and east sides of the building prevent the sun’s heat from scorching the interior. Furthermore, you won’t have to use as many fans or appliances to manage the internal temperature.
Another reason people use trees and bushes to limit sunlight penetration is that they combine with the aforementioned benefit of removing carbon dioxide from the air. Using plants (including trees, bushes, flowers, etc.) for a green building project provides more benefits than most other components of the equation.
They Collect Rainwater and Gray Water
Rainwater collection is one of the most effective ways to reduce a building’s carbon dioxide output. Not only does it prevent the pumps and other equipment from using too much energy, but it also means you don’t have to rely on harsh sanitizers that use a lot of gas to produce.
Gray water works in a very similar way. Reusing the water used for washing dishes and taking showers can be used to water plants after it’s been filtered. This water limits the energy expenditure of your water supply, but it also helps the previously mentioned plants to grow much quicker.
USC explains that billions of gallons of water need to be treated each year, which requires pumps, sanitizers, and other equipment. All of these components use gas. However, using rainwater or gray water doesn’t require any gas, which means it doesn’t increase the building’s carbon production.
Rainwater collection can be done with modified gutters, collection barrels, and runoff systems. You can reuse the gray water from the building by plugging the drain and filtering the water through cheesecloth or filtration mesh.
Geothermal Energy Provides Clean Power
Geothermal energy might not be as well-known as solar power, but it’s just as effective. In fact, some geothermal systems are more efficient than solar energy because they don’t require sunlight. These systems use the earth’s natural steam and heat to produce electricity. This heat is gathered through a series of pipes going far below the surface.
So, why does geothermal energy in green buildings reduce carbon dioxide?
- Geothermal systems pull energy around the clock rather than only when the sun is out.
- You can use geothermal energy instead of gas-powered appliances, and they produce the same amount of electricity.
- The water from the steam goes back into the ground, ensuring there’s always enough steam and heat to power the geothermal system.
While geothermal energy was once exclusive to commercial properties, it’s becoming more popular throughout net-zero residential communities. Energy.gov states that in residential areas, the pipes typically go about six feet deep. In commercial properties, they can go hundreds of feet below the ground.
Reused Materials Prevent CO2 Emissions
Green buildings often use lots of recycled materials or supplies that don’t require too many chemicals and energy to produce. These materials are often refurbished to make them much more suitable for commercial business buildings, houses, and more. Refurbishing consumes much less energy than creating brand-new materials.
Another reason reused materials prevent CO2 emissions is that they don’t require cutting down more trees. Trees consume carbon, so chopping them down means there are fewer trees to eliminate the CO2 in the air. Instead, companies use plywood and other timber (as well as various recycled metals) to construct new green buildings.
Some green buildings go as far as reusing screws, nails, and other materials. Much like reusing old wood and metal from other projects, using recycled screws and nails drastically reduces production requirements. All reused supplies are tested for mold, wood rot, and rust that could impact the green building’s structural integrity.
Contrary to popular belief, reused construction materials can be just as reliable as brand-new supplies. They’re already cured and treated for building, not to mention the processes they go through to ensure they’re good enough for several years to come.
Triple-Glazed Windows Limit Air Conditioner Usage
Triple-glazed windows, also known as triple-pane windows, are designed to reduce the amount of hot and cold air coming through the glass. Gas is trapped between each pane, providing a highly-effective, invisible layer of insulation. Not only does it keep the building at a reliable temperature, but it also increases the window’s durability.
These windows cost a little more than traditional single-pane or double-pane windows, but they’re more than worth it. Having better insulation on the windows means you have to use air conditioning and heating much less. You won’t expend too much energy, and the electricity from the building’s solar power and geothermal system will go to better use.
Keep these three things in mind about triple-glazed windows:
- They provide a seamless transition between insulated walls, unlike single-pane windows.
- These windows are much less hot to the touch, which means they won’t heat nearby counters, furniture, and other surfaces.
- The building will use produce less carbon dioxide by limiting the need for fans and dehumidifiers from window condensation.
Optimal Green Construction Allows for a Cross Breeze
Most green buildings have windows, doors, and vents facing each other. This placement allows the natural breeze to flow through the building, cooling it off. While directional wind can be used for wind power, it’s much more suitable for cooling down the room.
Cross ventilation has been used in countless buildings, but green buildings are designed knowing which way the window blows. Below, you’ll find a handful of reasons green buildings create a cross breeze.
- Windows are placed on the far end of the building facing opposing doors and windows. Opening the windows and doors will ensure the breeze can flow through without slamming them shut.
- Most windows face trees to prevent sunlight from coming through, but they also limit heavy gusts from pushing through the building. This placement allows the breeze to flow through the room without any obstruction.
- A natural cross breeze limits the need for fans. Using fewer fans means using less energy, reducing the building’s carbon dioxide.
Plant Placement Provides Homes for Local Insects
Placing flowers on and around the building can provide food and homes for insects around the area. Bees and other pollinators drop seeds around the area, increasing plant life. This new plantlife consumes more carbon dioxide, which reduces the building’s carbon footprint.
Bees can produce honey, which is much more efficient than purchasing produced honey. All of these small building blocks add to a massive reduction in local carbon emissions. Not only that, but they create a much better environment for additional plants.
Green Buildings Optimize Insulation
Optimal insulation is a crucial part of green buildings. Without enough insulation, the building needs more air conditioning and heating. Furthermore, it could increase the number of fans required to dry the air, ventilate each room, and remove toxic fumes and foul odors from the air.
Green Building Solutions states roof, wall, and floor insulation are integral. You can’t expect an insulated house if there’s no insulation in one of these three areas. Remember how important triple-glazed windows are, too. Many green buildings also introduce skylights for free lighting when the sun is at its highest. These windows have shutters to provide insulation.
Here’s how green buildings are insulated:
- Green Fiber provides various insulation methods for walls, roofs, and floors that use recycled eco-friendly materials.
- ThermaCork is excellent for temperature control, but it also provides sound insulation.
- The previously mentioned triple-glazed windows reduce the external ambient heat from entering the building.
- Concrete floors in basements and under carpets limit the heat loss through the ground.
- Cellulose insulation is made with newspaper and other recycled materials to limit toxic waste, carbon emissions, and more.
You can’t have a green building without high-quality insulation. The building will experience structural issues, and the occupants will be too hot or cold without it. Renovated green buildings often switch the insulation to prevent the old materials from decomposing.
Energy-Efficient Appliances Reduce Energy Usage
Using energy-efficient appliances is an irreplaceable component of green buildings. They use Energy Star products to limit the amount of energy required to heat, clean, cool, and water everything in and around the building. NDTV claims green buildings use LED lights and other modern technologies to prevent unnecessary energy usage.
New-age green building projects also take advantage of smart gadgets. For example, many devices and appliances tell you how much energy they use. They’ll reduce their energy requirements during the most costly part of the days, which limits the carbon dioxide by preventing excessive gas burning.
Here’s a detailed list of energy-efficient appliances used by green buildings:
- Energy Star laundry machines, heaters, air conditioners, TVs, etc.
- Low-energy dishwashers
- Energy-efficient swimming pool equipment
- Solar-powered heaters, air conditioners, and generators
- LED lights
- Tower fans (they often use less energy than pedestal fans)
- Energy-monitored smart devices (thermostats, lights, alarms, cameras, etc.)
Green buildings continue to improve local environments. With enough people jumping on board the movement, they can quickly reduce humanity’s carbon footprint. Everything from the way a building is facing to the local plant life, insulation, and water collection opportunities makes a significant difference.
- Green Building Solutions: Energy codes need your help!
- NDTV: How Green Buildings Can Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
- USC: Environmental Benefits of Harvesting Rainwater
- Events Technologies: Immersion Green Building
- Energy: Geothermal Heat Pumps
- In Habitat: 7 eco-friendly insulation alternatives for a green home