Green Building is not a new concept, some architects and builders have been building “green” buildings for a long time. It’s just in the past few years that it’s become mainstream.
By using more efficient building methods and materials, it is also estimated that we could reduce the energy, resource consumption and / or waste production by 50-60% without decreasing value, aesthetics or function. With the understanding of the Earth's finite resources and the knowledge that manufactured products, including all building materials, have an effect on our resources, it is becoming increasingly important to make wise decisions regarding the use of these limited resources to protect our environment and our ability to sustain ourselves. The design and construction industry is in a position to effect change in building practices through the use of resource efficient construction materials and methods.
Green buildings are sited, designed, constructed, and operated to enhance the well-being of their occupants and support a healthy community and natural environment.
In practical terms, green building is a “whole-systems” approach to building that includes:
• Designing for livable communities
• Using sun and site to the building's advantage for natural heating, cooling, and daylighting
• Landscaping with native, drought-resistant plants and water-efficient practices
• Building quality, durable structures
• Reducing and recycling construction and demolition waste
• Insulating well and ventilating appropriately
• Incorporating durable , salvaged, recycled, and sustainably harvested materials
• Using healthy products and building practices
• Using energy-efficient and water-saving appliances, fixtures and technologies.
When implemented holistically, these strategies serve to preserve our environment for future generations by conserving natural resources and protecting air and water quality. They provide benefits for us today by increasing comfort and well-being and helping to maintain healthy air quality. Finally, green building strategies are good for everyone's pocketbook by reducing maintenance and replacement requirements, reducing utility bills and lowering the cost of home ownership, and increasing property and resale values.
• Enhance and protect ecosystems and biodiversity
• Improve air and water quality
• Reduce solid waste
• Conserve natural resources
• Reduce operating costs
• Enhance asset value and profits
• Improve employee productivity and satisfaction
• Optimize life-cycle economic performance
Health and community benefits:
• Improve air, thermal, and acoustic environments
• Enhance occupant comfort and health
• Minimize strain on local infrastructure
• Contribute to overall quality of life
Guidelines & Checklists
In California, there are two main entities that have green building guidelines and checklists to assist homeowners, developers, builders, architects, etc. build green. These are Build It Green and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED program. Many cities and counties in California are using these green building guidelines to create green building programs, some mandatory some voluntary.
Build It Green, is a professional non-profit membership organization whose mission is to promote healthy, energy and resource-efficient buildings in California. Supported by a solid foundation of outreach and education, Build It Green connects consumers and building professionals with the tools and technical expertise they need to build quality green buildings. Build It Green fosters collaboration with key stakeholder groups to accelerate the adoption of green building practices, policies, and programs through its network of councils.
Build It Green emphasizes five principles of green building:
• Livable communities
• Energy efficiency
• Indoor air quality
• Resource conservation
• Water conservation
Current Build It Green Residential Guidelines
• Home Remodeling Green Building Guidelines
• Home Remodeling Green Building Checklist
• New Home Construction Green Building Guidelines
• Single Family GreenPoint Calculator v3.4
• Multifamily Green Building Guidelines
• Multifamily GreenPoints Calculator v1.4
Build It Green is not involved with commercial green building projects or guidelines development.
US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is a voluntary, consensus-based national rating system for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. LEED addresses all building types and emphasizes state-of-the-art strategies in five areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials and resources selection, and indoor environmental quality.
LEED was created to:
• define "green building" by establishing a common standard of measurement
• promote integrated, whole-building design practices
• recognize environmental leadership in the building industry
• stimulate green competition
• raise consumer awareness of green building benefits
• transform the building market
LEED provides a complete framework for assessing building performance and meeting sustainability goals. Based on well-founded scientific standards, LEED emphasizes state of the art strategies for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. LEED recognizes achievements and promotes expertise in green building through a comprehensive system offering project certification, professional accreditation, training and practical resources.
Current LEED Rating Systems
• New Construction - LEED for New Construction and Major Renovations is designed to guide and distinguish high-performance commercial and institutional projects.
• Existing Buildings - LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance provides a benchmark for building owners and operators to measure operations, improvements and maintenance.
• Commercial Interiors - LEED for Commercial Interiors is a benchmark for the tenant improvement market that gives the power to make sustainable choices to tenants and designers.
• Core & Shell - LEED for Core & Shell aids designers, builders, developers and new building owners in implementing sustainable design for new core and shell construction.
• Schools - LEED for Schools recognizes the unique nature of the design and construction of K-12 schools and addresses the specific needs of school spaces.
• Retail - LEED for Retail recognizes the unique nature of retail design and construction projects and addresses the specific needs of retail spaces.
• Healthcare - LEED for Healthcare promotes sustainable planning, design and construction for high-performance healthcare facilities.
• Homes - LEED for Homes promotes the design and construction of high-performance green homes.
• Neighborhood Development - LEED for Neighborhood Development integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism and green building into the first national program for neighborhood design.
California law requires that anyone who contracts to do a property improvement project valued at $500 or more must be properly licensed by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB).