House as a System
Green doesn't have to be expensive to build, nor does it have to look "different". It can be designed in any style, or any shape. The main focus of green building is to provide benefits to the occupants. A green building is a building that is designed, constructed, and operated utilizing a whole-system design approach, with the goal of enhancing the overall environmental performance of the building and the site on which it sits.
Our built environment is changing the world significantly. Many of the homes built today consume an inordinate amount of natural resources and energy; building contribute over 40 percent of the total greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, more than either industry or transportation alone. Green building is a systematic approach that covers every step of design and construction from land use and site planning to materials selection, energy efficiency and indoor air quality. At its most basic, green building is a tripod of three interrelated goals:
Energy Effect - the cornerstone of any green building project. A well-designed and green-built home consumes as little energy as possible and uses renewable resources of energy whenever possible. Lower energy use not only saves homeowners money but also has broader societal benefits, including:
- fewer disruptions in energy supplies
- better air quality
- reduced global climate change
Conservation of Natural Resources - There are great varieties of effective building strategies that conserve natural resources and provide other benefits, such as lower costs. Strategies include the use of durable products to reduce waste and specifying recycled-content products that reuse natural resources.
Indoor Air Quality - Poor indoor air quality is often caused by mold and mildew that are the result of leaks or poorly designed and maintained heating and cooling systems. Another common source of indoor air pollution is the off-gassing of chemicals found in many building materials. Some are known carcinogens.