What is green Construction?

Green construction or green building refers to building design and construction that is environmentally responsible and sustainable. Construction companies use green technology and green building techniques to lessen the building’s impact on the environment, leaving a smaller carbon footprint. These practices also aim to be more economically efficient, reducing costs of energy and maintenance over the building’s life cycle.  As a general contractor, KWA’s role in this process is to work closely with the design team to ensure that energy efficient components are incorporated into the design of the building and to implement those components during construction.

Sustainability reduces the impact on the environment

According to the US Green Building Council, the implementation of green building practices can substantially reduce the negative environmental impacts of not only construction, but also operational practices.  The results of these green building practices are achieved by:

  • Selecting a sustainable site.  Be mindful of the inherent impacts of development on land consumption, ecosystems, natural resources and energy use.
  • Increasing energy performance.  This is aided by reducing the amount of energy consumed, as well as using more benign forms of energy.
  • Choosing building materials wisely.  It is good practice to evaluate new and different materials to find the lowest impact from extraction, processing and transportation of those materials to your project site.
  • Increasing water efficiency.  For the multifamily industry, this includes installation of efficient appliances, as well as water conservation strategies such as rainwater collection or water reuse for landscape irrigation.

Fiscal advantages of sustainability and green construction

The upfront costs of a green construction project may be higher, however a building constructed with green technology and practices could save considerable costs over time. Energy costs make up a significant portion of maintaining a building. As the cost of energy rises, more efficient buildings are desirable. Buildings constructed with green, sustainable practices will save more on energy and water costs than traditional buildings. A practice that is becoming more common in multifamily and commercial development is the incorporation of occupancy sensors for lighting and air conditioning systems, creating both energy and cost savings.

One of the first cities in the nation to do so, the city of Dallas passed comprehensive  green building standards for both new residential and commercial construction.  They incorporated formerly above-code program requirements into their base building codes.  Effective October 1, 2013, all projects proposed to be built in the city of Dallas must meet the minimum requirements of the Green Building Ordinance.  Houston and Austin have also created their own green building programs that must be adhered to in order to receive a permit in those cities.

Additional benefits of green construction

Green construction also incorporates low-emitting materials. Low-emitting materials are products that do not release significant pollutants into the indoor environment.  These products contain zero- or low-volatile organic compounds (VOCs). A few of the areas that we look for low-emitting materials are adhesives and sealants, carpets, paints, and cleaning products.  Use of these materials provides occupants with improved indoor air quality.

The joint efforts of the owner, design team and general contractor are integral to creating a successful sustainable project.  Their efforts display a commitment to the environment and cost-efficiency. To encourage sustainable building processes, the U.S. Green Building Council established the LEED Program to provide verifications of green buildings; however there are other green certification programs available. Certified building projects are designed to lower operating costs, increase value, reduce waste and greenhouse emissions, conserve energy and improve indoor air quality for occupants. Green construction isn’t simply a trend; it is a practice that is growing both in the U.S. and abroad.

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