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What is Green Building?

Green building or sustainable design is the environmentally-conscientious way to design and create residential or commercial buildings and spaces that are both high quality and low impact. A "green building" is a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative environmental impacts, and can in turn create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment. Green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve our overall quality of life. Sustainable design is about building a better future, not just a structure for our individual lifespan. Sustainable design is as much about the process as it is about the product. Seeing sustainable design as a process of nature's systems environments and systems networks empowers green builders and creatives to better evaluate and anticipate the environmental, economical, technological and social impacts on building assessments within an emergent state of perception. Sustainable design, or “green construction,” is ultimately a method of wisely using resources to create high-quality, healthier, more energy-efficient homes or commercial spaces. A green building is more than the sum of its parts though—its process and its impact matters in the “green equation.” 

Life Cycle Assessment

Conducting life cycle assessments give you valuable planning and purchasing insights based on the anticipated lifetime impact or expense of a product or process rather than viewing the product as the cheapest option available in the now. Builders and owners can save time and money by conducting life cycle or true cost assessments of their building materials and processes. Sustainable design is about finding that balance between high-quality construction materials and low environmental impact. A lighter carbon footprint means a longer-lasting planet, which is a win for the builder, owner, environment, and children of the future. Green building is a goal, philosophy, and a process our future as a species depends on. Viewing sustainable building as an essential process to the human family is important because green-buildings success isn’t just a matter of building with green materials for social status or virtue signaling. Green building combines both materials and processes to maximize efficiency, durability and long term savings while optimizing how we interact with our environment to help close the circuits of our collective energy bleeds.


The Benefits of Sustainable Design

From energy efficiency to safety and security, sustainable design offers a wide range of benefits to explore. There are a number of features which can make a building system green. Any building can be a green building, whether it’s a home, an office, a school, a hospital, a small business, a community center, or any other type of structure. However, it is worth noting that not all green buildings are the same, nor do they need to be. Different countries and regions have a variety of characteristics such as distinctive climatic conditions, unique cultures and traditions, diverse building types and ages as well as wide-ranging environmental, economic and social priorities—all of which shape their approach to building and the arts of creation. Individual countries and regions, should pursue green building processes that are best suited to their own markets and geography. As the most intelligent species on this planet we all call home we should be collectively and continually exploring new and innovative ways to educate our fellow citizens, builders, developers, local governments, creatives of all industries, and consumers of all types about how to achieve a healthier, less toxic, more environmentally sustainable future that better balances our symbiotic relationship with nature to a less parasitic function. As we are currently in the middle of the sixth great extinction while facing the climate crisis that's at our front door there couldn't be a better time in the collective evolution of the human species to pause, reflect, and make the changes necessary to save our world and make it a better place for all inhabitants of this fragile systems environment.

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The Rising Popularity of Sustainable Architecture

With our society’s increasing concern for the environment, it’s no surprise that green building continues to grow in popularity among the younger generations who will depend on the planet for their survival and their children's future. From residential structures to corporate facilities, sustainable architects, designers and industry creatives are discovering new ways to preserve our ecosystem while reducing our carbon footprint and reintegrating humanity into the natural environment to help tackle all of the mismatch disease. Here are several benefits of green building or sustainable design and how this architectural trend can protect the generations of tomorrow.

These systems to explore include but are not limited to the following;

Improved Indoor Environment: Quality of Life

When it comes to our quality of life, it’s no secret that our surroundings have a major impact on our health. Environmental adaptation is happening right in front of our eyes but sometimes it's hard for couch potatoes to perceive. Over the past several decades, designers around the globe have made massive progress, developing sustainable architecture that can dramatically affect the inhabitants of such buildings. From improved lighting sources, thermal conditions, ergonomic features and even upgraded air quality, occupants residing or working in green structures have experienced a marked improvement in their health, stress levels and overall quality of life.

Saving Water: Reduce, Reuse, Replenish

Another tangible benefit of sustainable building is water efficiency. This couldn’t be more critical as many overpopulated cities with booming populations countdown to “day zero.” Much research shows that green architecture and sustainable design can not only reduce water waste through water-efficient plumbing fixtures but also reduce the strain on shared water resources. By installing specially-engineered systems to purify water, it enables water recycling and also allows for alternative sources of water (such as rainwater and grey water). These systems developments not only save this vital natural resource which all life on Earth (including humans) depends on but also protects clean water sources for our future. Water reduction is built into green buildings by design, using low-flow toilets, grey water systems and xeriscaping. The focus is first on reducing the need for water (i.e. low-flow toilets and fixtures) then on dealing with water once it has been used (i.e. grey water irrigation). Water collection methods such as rainwater harvesting are also central to sustainable building and “closing the circuit” of our environmental impact

Enhanced Health: Indoor Environmental Air Quality (IEQ)

Living in a sustainable building can save your life—literally... According to a multitude of studies, people who reside in green structures experience a myriad of health benefits due to the eco-friendly materials utilized in construction. For example, green buildings avoid using building materials that may contain harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or plastic by-products and formaldehyde which have been known to release toxic fumes or “off-gas” carcinogens into the atmosphere. These often dangerous materials can be linked to respiratory disease, allergies, and many other health disorders, and in extreme cases, an increased risk of cancer. Many builders often use the cheapest products available to cut costs and deliver you a cheaper product but if you really take the time to assess the global health crises due to the lack of awareness of environmental toxins we may start to collectively reassess if what we think is saving us money is actually costing many their lives. The exposome can be defined as the measure of all the exposures of an individual in a lifetime and how those toxin exposures relate to health and well-being. The exposome like location and view should be taken into consideration when creating dwellings for our communities. Recent health studies state that most humans spend up to ninety percent of their lives indoors, which means the quality of indoor air is much more important to our health than the quality of outdoor air. Green builders strive to construct buildings that are good not just for the environment, but for our families health and longevity. Low-emitting materials are encouraged such as zero-VOC paints and formaldehyde-free furnishings. Improved ventilation and moisture-resistant products are also key IEQ attributes.

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Reducing The Strain: Shared Resources, Increased Energy Efficiencies

With our planet’s ever-increasing population particularly in large cities across the globe, our local shared resources are being threatened as demands continue to grow. Based on the advancements and sustainable technologies developed by ingenious architects, engineers and creatives worldwide, vital resources such as water and energy are being protected. By increasing efficiency, green structures are capable of reducing the strain that has been placed on such resources, which can potentially be protected and preserved for future generations through the process of creating evolutive positive feedback loops.

Sprawl Upon Nature

The sprawl upon our natural world is far from sustainable and could almost be perceived as malignant. Green builders are encouraged to build on previously developed land rather than developing new land. It’s also important to build near and tie into existing infrastructure, such as bus routes, schools, and libraries, to reduce residents’ dependence on transportation, since the effort that goes into building a green home is wasted if the occupants have to commute great distances every day. The smaller the building site the better since there’s less environmental footprint. Sites that have been sustainably landscaped and don’t suffer from soil erosion or light pollution are also considered substantially more sustainable. Building does not just imply the physical construction of structures. Building also means the development of a neighborhood, the creation of a park, the redesign of infrastructure and energy grids. Some consider green building to be a culture of transformation, recreation, and the true salvation of this planet. One forward-thinking example would be the redesign of an entire suburban neighborhood into a car-free, population dense neighborhood with easy access to urban agriculture automated by technology.

Reduced Operational Cost and Maintenance: Traditional vs. Green

One of the greatest benefits of green buildings are their lower maintenance costs. Green buildings featuring specially engineered design elements that help reduce energy consumption and water bills, these efficient structures can save corporate and residential owners a fortune over the lifecycle of the dwelling. Although the expense required to build such structures may be initially higher than traditional "non-green" forms of architecture, the costs over a longer term time horizon is recovered exponentially. This is what green builders and sustainable designers call the true cost equation and it's not short sighted. Most green builders and sustainable designers look beyond quarterly earnings agendas to twenty and thirty year generational time horizons to determine true costs.

Energy-Efficient: Non-Renewable vs. Natural Resources

As a green builder, energy efficiency is a primary goal in building and landscape design. Developing structures that derive their energy from natural sources; such as the sun, wind, and water (tidal) is extremely beneficial to the environment, protecting the ecosystem from pollution associated with non-renewable sources. Non-renewable energy sources are not only harmful to humanity but costly to the future and environmentally destructive while their energy-efficient counterparts such as solar photovoltaics and the conversion of solar radiation into electricity using semiconducting materials that exhibit the photovoltaic effect, can save thousands over the lifetime costs of the infrastructure. 

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Carbon Footprint Reduction: Saving The Planet One Purchase At A Time

There has been an increase in large corporations opting for green initiatives. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), buildings account for 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Landlords and large businesses have taken heed, as increasing sustainability is an opportunity to do something positive for both business and society as a whole. Green buildings are constructed using energy efficient designs (i.e. passive houses are built with super-insulation and other techniques to ensure a tight building envelope and minimal energy consumption). Processes that make use of clean energy such as geothermal and solar PV systems are also widely used in sustainable building. Local and Federal governments are also rallying to provide tax benefits and tax credits for such implementations. Climate change and ecosystems collapse has been a growing concern for a number of years now, and it’s no wonder; our planet has seen a drastic depletion of our natural resources including animal wildlife, while pollution and the consequent climate change is at an all-time threat. Sustainable architecture is not only energy-efficient and healthier for its inhabitants, but it also benefits the planet. By reducing our reliance on non-renewable resources, sustainable architecture can actually promote and maintain a cleaner environment that's substantially less toxic. It just makes sense...

Efficient Material: Minimal Use For Maximum Impact

Upcycling has taken the architectural world by storm. By recycling and reusing resources (and even repurposing old structures such as barns), sustainable architects, engineers, and designers are tapping into existing resources to reduce carbon footprints and save natural resources. By reducing waste, preserving natural resources (such as hardware, wood, and stone), protecting our air supply, and limiting energy expenditures, green building companies can create extremely efficient structures that can withstand the test of time. It’s estimated that as much as one-third of our total landfill waste is construction related. To minimize the impact of this wasteful industry, green builders reduce material usage wherever possible. They also reuse and recycle materials by salvaging, deconstructing, remanufacturing and refurbishing existing structures. Preference is given to materials that are durable simply because they don’t need to be replaced as often. Care is also taken in selecting materials that are sustainably produced, come from natural, renewable sources (like hemp or bamboo), and require minimal transportation.

The Green Homeowner: Built To Last Built For The Future 

For educated and conscientious homeowners, architects, designers, and creatives of all types going green is a no-brainer: from energy and water savings and improved air quality to overall durability, sustainable materials have been proven time and time again to last longer and create a less toxic environment. Green materials not only endure for years exposed to the elements but require much less maintenance. In addition, because many of them are free from harmful chemical treatments, they are healthier for the environment and the inhabitants they serve. Before you begin your next build take the time to do your research and consider the future with the decisions you make. We all have our budgets and we all have to make our livelihoods but it is the small changes that alter the tale of time. We make those changes with every purchase to support and fund a brighter future. We all have to do our part–we’re all in this together. When considering remodeling or building a custom home, keep energy-efficiency as a priority. With so many new advancements and technological innovations, it’s easy to be green and save money while doing so. If you're interested in building a sustainable custom home in St. Petersburg, or Tampa Florida, contact us today.

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