Sunday, November 1, 2009

Green Building Design - What Is It And How Is It Accomplished?

By Jerry Dyess Jr

Building green is a subject that's on a lot of people's minds, but few of us know how to go about it. Just what makes a building green, and what are today's architects and engineers doing to improve the environmental friendliness of the structures they build. Here's a look at some of the most important elements in green building design, and how they're accomplished.

The most important criteria when evaluating a green structure is energy efficiency. Use of environmentally friendly and recycled materials is certainly important, but the majority of a structure's environmental impact will arise not during its construction, but rather during its years of use. Just what constitutes energy efficiency is a subject of great debate, so individual research is required to decide what is most important to you.

Energy efficiency is often evaluated on a hundred-point scale. By comparing these ratings to buildings of similar structure, evaluations on efficiency can be made. Being rated at above 75 on this scale may qualify buildings for EPA Energy Star ratings similar to those given to appliances. To achieve this, builders typically employ the Target Finder, an EPA guide to help establish or improve energy efficiency.

All that needs to be done is for the designers to enter the estimated energy consumption to generate a performance rating on the system. Excellent examples of green design are eligible for special recognition by the EPA.

Of course, if you're interested in green building, it's important to have an effective policy to create these structures. A good green building policy needs to use simple, standardized metrics for measuring energy use in every phase of the design, construction, and operation of the building. New buildings need to be designed to meet local energy codes, but shouldn't stop there. Instead, designers should try to get them to meet aggressive energy targets and be much more efficient.

Evaluation during the process is also key. By checking on progress, designers create valuable feedback loops that help ensure green outcomes. Evaluations should ensure that the structure conserves water and energy, is using environmentally friendly materials and methods, and does so in a way that does not needlessly waste money over time.

Green building is an interesting, but complex area. Taking the time to understand how to accomplish this is an important step for any designer, architect, or engineer. If you're interested in green buildings, be sure to find out more about them.

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