green building

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Green Building

Residential homeowners and businesses of every size the world over are starting to afford more attention to green building techniques and strategies, both for the sake of the environment and the comfort (and wallets) of the building's occupants. The good news is that enough time has now passed to evaluate exactly which initiatives have proven to be valuable.

Builders are increasingly turning to advanced framing techniques to help reduce their overall building costs, and to significantly lower their carbon footprint. This advanced construction has the same overall structural stability and integrity as most standard construction techniques, but up to a third less lumber is used, and framings are quicker to assemble. The savings are then put toward the incorporation of greater insulation (and other green building strategies), which can lead to overall energy savings at minimal extra cost to the builder or homeowner. 

Many warehouses and retail outlets are now stocking 50-100% reclaimed materials for new-builds and home repairs. Recycled and reclaimed materials commonly used in advanced green building techniques are wood, lumber, recycled plastic, recycled glass, composite matrials such as epoxy, and bamboo. Not only does the use of reclaimed materials and building supplies prevent the unnecessary use of natural resources, but the products are cheaper across the board (while still maintaining top quality).  

Becoming the standard of new buildings across the country, rainwater collection systems can be built in to provide free and reliable irrigation to the owner’s garden. As these features grow in popularity, the necessary collection tanks, filtration units and delivery systems are becoming incredibly affordable and result in massively reduced water use. While non-drinkable, the collected water can safely be used for almost any other purpose These systems in combination with low-flow toilet, faucets , showerheads and other advanced appliances (Energy Star/ water saving washers, dishwashers etc...) are commonly used very effectively in water conservation efforts. 

Another increasingly common feature used to create today’s green building are low maintenance materials for exteriors and outdoor features. For example, the use of fiber-cement siding immediately rules out the chance of rot, while at the same time greatly reducing the frequency of painting/ touching-up. Likewise, the use of composite materials for decking and other outdoor features reduces the need for occasional resealing and varnishing – excellent for the pocket and the environment. 

The efficiency of buildings as a whole will always be influenced by the size, quality, number and position of windows installed. Dual-pane windows are always effective at helping to reduce energy consumption for HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), thus lowering electricity bills. In addition, it is perfectly possible to reduce lighting and heating demands exponentially by the use of cutting-edge technology with newly installed, or retrofitted, windows. Using Electrochromic Smart Glass for windows enables you to determine the amount of light you may want to block.

Since you can regulate the amount of light, you will not have to depend greatly on air conditioning to cool rooms. Developers of this glass for use as windows indicate that the glass can reduce HVAC costs by over 25 percent. Flooring using composite materials, linoneum, cold weather epoxy and radiant heating can also significantly contribute to HVAC and home energy savings.

Solar panels

It is essential for a green building to have its own self reliant source of energy. Today, solar and solar thermal can do the job excellently, however are examples of large capital costs; up-front costs that do take a while to recover. Recently though, there have been dramatic breakthroughs in solar energy that will help further the mainstream use of photovoltaic (PV) technology, bringing solar closer to cost parity with fossil fuels as a viable energy source. 

Geothermal heating and air conditioning

Geothermal heat pumps are a piping system placed below the ground which circulates hot or cold water to augment HVAC, without excessive use of fossil fuels for energy. Heat pumps instead use the earth's natural energy. This significantly reduces energy bills as well as saving energy. Use of geothermal heat pumps have routinely cut heating bills in half, while operating with more than double the efficiency of traditional HVAC systems.

Cool Roofs

Cool roofs lower surface temperatures in bright sunlight compared to a conventional roof. This is usually done with greenery, white vinyl or a solar reflective coating. Finishing with a cool roof is a highly recommended strategy since, for example, during summer, air conditioning requirements will decrease leading to reduced energy costs.


Most people can actually attribute their high energy bills to poor insulation. Insulation technology, both with new and recycled material, has improved dramatically recently. While insulation with new materials, especially state of the art insulation, still represents a higher efficiency, some insulation materials today are recycled products that are cheap, readily available and still represent the latest in insulation technology. Cellulose (mostly from shredded newspaper), recycled denim and even some plant and waste materials are now used for insulation, in addition to fiberglass, polyurethane and other materials. Having a properly insulated building will reduce energy costs.

Please read: - from this article:

 "...many buildings would benefit the most from such steps as adding insulation, sealing leaky windows and doors, and replacing older single-pane windows with newer double-pane versions..."

The various methods presented here can help to reduce energy consumption by at least 30 percent. That's a lot to gain in the long run!

Please see the following articles on the latest green building technologies:

LEDs, CFLs: Lighting For a Brighter Future

Energy Star - an international standard

Home Energy Management (HEM)

demand response: improving energy efficiency

district heating

renewable energy storage

smart grid overview

smart meters - a more efficient use of utilities


Please click & read:

 The Bullitt Center Seattle: The World’s Greenest Building

The Cottle Zero Energy Home: A Stepping Stone Towards the 2020 CA Zero Net Energy Mandate

Green Urban Planning

Today, green urban planning is more important than ever. We provide facts about 8 cities that are focused on utilizing various approaches to sustainable development. You can also find out about many sources of 

renewable energy on Green City Times

City planning committees around the globe are becoming more focused on the importance of using sources of renewable energy, rather than fossil fuels and other finite resources. Our goal is to teach our readers about eight of the greenest cities in the world. As you peruse this site, you will gain insight into the worlds of renewable energy, urban planning, green building and sustainable mass transit. For instance, you will learn about an example of a bus system, located in Curitiba, Brazil, that serves as a standard of efficiency for other metropolises throughout the world...


Sustainability Trends

Ideas for a Greener Home

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle
  • Use eco-friendly cleaning supplies
  • Favor cloth over paper products
  • Chlorine-free baby diapers/ wipes
  • Choose natural lawn care - stop using pesticides and synthetic fertilizers
  • Use biodegradable detergent and oxygen bleach
  • For clean, safe drinking water without all of the waste - use a water filter and a reusable bottle
  • Install low-flow toilets

Energy Saving Ideas

  • Use CFL or LED light bulbs
  • Use Energy Star labeled equipment
  • Turn off all home and office equipment when not in use
  • Turn off lights when not in use
  • Turn down the thermostat - lowering it by just one degree can reduce heating energy costs significantly
  • Avoid phantom loads (electrical equipment that still uses energy even after turned off) by using a power strip
  • Reduce your water heater temperature from 140 degrees to 120 degrees
  • Install double pane windows