Rise of green buildings

real estate, real estate technology  /   /  By Nick Kljaic

Going green. It is such a popular topic these days. But what does it really mean? Most people would agree that it means to change the way we live, from how we eat, dress, commute to how we communicate and work. Every part in our lives can be changed to protect and save our environment. Right now, we can even build and decide to live in Eco-friendly apartments and houses, so called Green Buildings.

According to Environmental Protection Agency, green buildings are “sustainable or high performance buildings which: 1.) Increase the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use and harvest energy, water, and materials; and 2.) Protect and restore human health and the environment, throughout the building life-cycle: siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction.”

 

Examples of world’s famous green buildings:

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These are a few facts about conventional buildings to show how much they consume or are responsible for:

  • 45% of the world’s total energy use;
  • 50% of all materials and resources;
  • 50% of wood use in North America;
  • 35% of the world’s CO2 emissions;
  • 80% of potable water use;
  • 25% of freshwater withdrawal (including power plants);
  • 40% of municipal solid waste destined for local landfills;
  • 50% of ozone-depleting CFCs still in use;

As the world’s population increases, these percentages will keep going up.  Development of conventional buildings will not be sustainable anymore; we have to consider turning to developing green buildings.

Basically, green buildings are designed and built to reduce their impact to the overall natural environment. They are efficiently using water, energy and other resources; also they are reducing waste, pollution and environment degradation.

Everything so far looks good, right? So why haven’t we been doing this sooner? Actually, first green buildings were developed in the early 1990s; the government was pushing for better utilization of resources. Today, most federal buildings have the Energy Star logo, which means they are green. The main reason why green buildings haven’t been developed for residential purposes is that nobody even thought about the environment and what impact conventional buildings have on it. Developers didn’t want to change the way they have been doing business for years. Also, developing green buildings is a few percentage points more expensive than developing conventional buildings so people didn’t want to pay for them, regardless that in the long term, they would save money by a significant reduction in their utility bills.

Nowadays, people think more about the impact they have on the environment, which results in increased development of green buildings. People are willing to spend more money up front to save money later and to protect the environment they live in. Even large companies (e.g. Lockheed Martin- Lockheed Building 157) are turning their factories and facilities into green buildings to reduce costs and increase the production of their workers.

It’s safe to say that green buildings are the future of real-estate.

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