What is A Green Building

What is A Green Building

A green building is not automatically a good feng shui building

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A green building is a building made with full respect and understanding of natural cycles. A green building will use only renewable resources and strive to be self-sufficient throughout its life cycle. Hand Hansen / Getty Images

You can find plenty of info about green buildings, as well as many definitions as to what a green building is. Basically, a green building is a structure that was conceived, planned and executed in a resource efficient and environmentally responsible way. The same green theme will have to be continued throughout the life cycle of a building in order for it to qualify as a green building.

The green construction field is constantly growing and expanding. As new info about the damaging effects of various construction materials and methods is becoming obvious, the demand for green, healthy homes is getting bigger.

What exactly makes a building green and would you know one when you see it? Is it very expensive to build a green home? How about to renovate it the green way? What are the absolute must-haves of a green building? Are green building based on permaculture principles?

Let’s look at the very basics of a green building and how they meet the two major requirements — the health of the planet and the health of humans who will be working or living in the building.

There are several stages in the lifecycle of a typical building that can be potentially very damaging.

The first stage is its creation because it often includes non-renewable resources and energy. Unfortunately, this stage does not always end with the building being finished as many materials will continue to off gas substances that can be detrimental to human health (as well as to the environment.) If their presence is too obvious, this can lead to the so called sick building syndrome.

By contrast, a green building will be using only non-toxic, renewable energy resources, thus making the first stage short and complete in itself. Not only a green building will be built with minimum environmental damage, it will also not contribute to an extended cycle of pollution.

The second stage is long lasting — it continues till the day a building is demolished — and it requires large amounts of energy resources to maintain the building and everything in it functioning properly. Basics that we take for granted — running water, light /electricity, heating and cooling, efficient waste output system, etc — all have to be constantly produced by depleting more resources. A typical building can become a huge drain of energy resources, a hungry consumption monster.

By contrast, a green building strives to become as self-sufficient as possible in its energy requirements. This is were technologies such as solar and wind power, water catchment, natural ventilation, grass roofs and many new ones currently in development are coming into play.

Can you easily recognize a green building? A green building does not necessarily look obvious to the eye, especially a commercial green building. Still, such elements as solar panels, wind power and living roofs, for example, are obvious green building elements, or signs that a building is on its green transformation journey.

Is a green building more expensive to build? Yes, it is, but only if you look at it short-term. In the long term a green building will recuperate its costs by obvious energy savings. The same would apply to a green renovation which can cost more than a typical reno.

Is a green building automatically a good feng shui building? No, not necessarily. I have seen many green buildings that suffer from bad feng shui design decisions, as well as sometimes lack a basic joyful energy.

If you want to explore the topic of green buildings further, you can look into LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) criteria and classifications.

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