What is a Green Building?
A green building is an environmentally sustainable building, designed, constructed and operated to minimise the total environmental impacts.
Green Building Strategies
The main strategies to achieve a green building include:
- reduced energy consumption
- water conservation
- recycling waste
Well designed green buildings will save money, increase comfort and create healthier environments for people to live and work, using improved indoor air quality, natural daylight, and thermal comfort.
Energy use by depleting natural resources as well as CO2 emissions is one of our most important environmental impacts. Volatile energy markets, rising energy costs and increasing environmental awareness about issues such as global warming make energy efficiency and conservation a high priority.
Build Green's focus is on reducing building energy usage and increasing occupant comfort.
What is Environmental Sustainability?
In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development defined sustainability as:
Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
This definition was endorsed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janiero in 1992.
In 2003, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development stated:
The building sector has major impacts not only on economic and social life, but also on the natural and built environment. Various building activities, such as the design, construction, use, refurbishment and demolition of buildings, directly and indirectly affect the environmental performance of the sector.
Against this background, the concept of “sustainable building” – reducing the harmful effect on the environment of buildings and construction activities – has been attracting the attention of stakeholders in OECD countries. This can range from using recycled materials carried by low-polluting forms of transport in construction to maximising energy efficiency in a finished building, for example through improved insulation and solar-powered energy. A recent OECD report describes the environmental and economic impacts of the building sector and the current situation in regard to environmental policies and makes recommendations for designing and implementing policies to encourage environmentally sustainable buildings.
For more information, download the following documents:
- OECD Policy Brief (July 2003) (PDF format, 204KB)
- Executive Summary (PDF format, 21KB) of the OECD publication Environmentally Sustainable Buildings: Challenges and Policies (2003).
Where does your energy come from?
- In Australia, 90% of the energy used in buildings comes from black coal fired power generation.
- Fossil fuels produce large amounts of CO2 emissions.
- Globally, many opportunities are available for renewable energy.
Renewable Energy provides clean energy with zero CO2 emissions. Sources include:
Energy consumption in a building can be measured in terms of kWh/m2 pa. The advantages are:
- Allows comparisons to be made with other similar types of buildings
- Simple to calculate
- Only two variables — annual energy consumption and floor area
The UK Government White Paper issued in 2004 proposes energy consumption be measured in CO2/m2 pa. The advantage of including CO2 is that it includes the energy source. This is relevant when renewable energy sources are used.
Monitoring Energy Use
Monitoring, analysing and reporting energy consumption are three essential elements of an effective energy management strategy.
- Monitoring is the process of measuring and recording data.
- Data analysis involves comparison of data with targets or benchmarks to assess performance.
- A report can provide valuable information such as whether the building is performing poorly compared with other similar buildings, identifying areas where energy efficiency could be implemented and how much money could be saved.
Build Green can help you implement an effective energy management strategy.
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