"Green Design" and "green buildings" are some of the phrases we hear about all the time. They are used by everyone, whether they have extensive experience in the field of architecture or not. But what do they mean? What, exactly, does it mean when we say a building is "green"? In a bid to clear some of the misunderstandings about this topic, here are answers to what are considered the three most important questions on the concept.
What exactly is a “green” building?
As it stands, 40% of the world’s materials and energy are consumed by buildings. This includes 17% of the water and 25% of the wood we harvest. In the U.S alone, 62% of the electricity is used by buildings, which in turn contributes 30% of the greenhouse gas emissions.
Green building, also known as sustainable building, is a way to rethink how we construct our buildings regarding such things as the quality of air, both indoors and outdoors, the conservation of water, and the reduction of the energy we consume. The basic principles of green building have been around for many decades. However, heightened interest has only begun to surge in the last years due to a combination of new technology and increased urgency in the reduction of the impact we have on the planet. Many different considerations are including, such as building codes, new legislation, and new ways of using materials that were previously not thought of. Perhaps the most significant source of emphasis for green building is the good feeling that a designer or construction official gets when they know they made a contribution to ensuring the future of the planet.
What is "LEED"?
This term can be credited to the United States Green Building Council, which has been a leader in green design and construction since its establishment in 1991. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) method is their way of rating green buildings. It is voluntary and is concerned with rating sustainable and high-performance buildings.
Even though the method is voluntary, it has become the industry standard in the U.S and elsewhere. There are five categories under the LEED system:
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