How Are Green Guidelines Impacting On Commercial Construction?

By: Sam D Goddard

Green construction isn't all that different from regular construction. Both need to be carefully planned out and both need skilled labor to be brought into the picture. The difference is that traditional construction doesn't take the well-being of the environment into account nearly as much as green construction does. A building with certain green guidelines will even see construction of mechanisms whose sole purpose is to greatly reduce the overall impact the building has on the environment. Traditional construction often doesn't have any such additional mechanisms.

Some construction that follows green guidelines merely involves using the most efficient equipment possible. Take central air conditioning as an example, which is a modern convenience most people cannot live without. Older units aren't nearly as efficient as some of the units available on the market today. Admittedly, a building can still be fitted with a less than efficient unit. Green guidelines, though, would most likely stipulate that the building be equipped with an efficient Energy Star compliant unit. Extra care will also be taken to make sure that heat doesn't leak out or into the building. A unit working overtime to keep a building at a desired temperature would defeat the whole purpose of getting an efficient unit in the first place. The best way to make sure heat doesn't easily escape from or enter into the system is to make sure the building is sealed and the ducts don't leak, which is best accounted for during construction.

Other guidelines might be a lot more proactive when it comes to having a minimal impact on the environment. They can also involve the construction process itself. It seems obvious that any green guidelines worth their salt will call for reducing generated waste. To accomplish this, it may call for reduced usage of materials and energy during the construction of the building. Essentially all construction materials end up producing some sort of waste by-product. Therefore, the less materials that are required for the building, the better. Unfortunately, there will still be waste that will need to be disposed of. Instead of sending it to the landfill as is, green guidelines could call for it to be compacted as much as possible so it will have a smaller footprint.

Water conservation is a big part of going green. It involves using less water to accomplish the same tasks, such as reducing water usage for each toilet flush and having faucets that cannot accidentally be left on. But what about the waste-water that is inevitably created? It is often sent a centralized waste-water treatment system. Unfortunately, such a system tends to be both expensive and energy hungry. Green guidelines could call for converting this waste into fertilizer instead. This kind of fertilizer would require less energy to create and have less of an environmental impact than artificial fertilizers, not to mention the energy required for waste-water treatment would not be needed any longer.

The technology is in place today to allow buildings to get a large part of their energy from renewable and clean sources. Green guidelines could potentially stipulate that a building provide a certain percentage of its energy from wind or solar power sources. The infrastructure for such energy delivery would have to be put in place during the early stages of construction, while the finishing touches could be left for later. Nevertheless, both solar and wind forms of energy are environmentally friendly and can alleviate some of the burden that the electrical grid carries.

Green guidelines are about trying to save energy and resources, with the ultimate goal of saving the environment. Towards that end, every little bit helps and that's why careful consideration needs to be given to following appropriate guidelines.