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The overall energy consumption in the United States can be greatly attributed to buildings. In fact, buildings are responsible for almost half the CO2 created in the United States. At the same time, both commercial and residential buildings are essential for the health of the nation’s economy and infrastructure. Much effort has been expended in the exploration of ways buildings can be made more efficient.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is a collection of rating systems for the design, construction process, and the operation of homes and neighborhoods. The purpose is to offer a framework that can be used as a guide when working to create green buildings.
In this remarkable video Christine Ervin talks about Green Building: An Exuberant World
Energy efficient buildings are often called ‘green buildings’, and the building concept is referred to as green architecture.
Initially, this type of construction is considered an expensive investment. However, over time the investment pays off in multiple ways.
Besides purchasing materials from nearby locations, some of the methods used in the design of energy efficient buildings include the following:
· The use of energy efficient electronics and appliances
· Increased insulation
· Energy efficient lighting
· Fluorescent and energy efficient lighting
· Programmable digital thermostats
· Low-flow showerheads
When materials are purchased from nearby sources less energy is used in the transportation process. This can result in immediate savings. Efficient electronics and appliances can result in a reduction in operational costs of the items. Long term benefits are gained.
Increased insulation helps ensure the building will not leak. This prevents cooled air from escaping in the summer months and warm is trapped in during cold months. Similar to the use of energy efficient appliances, proper lighting can help minimize energy consumption. Programmable thermostats make it possible to enjoy energy savings when the building or area is not in use.
The use of low-flow showerheads helps to reduce unnecessary water usage. Plus, a water boosting system can be added to provide constant and steady water pressure when needed and to help conserve water waste.
Solar Energy and Green Roofs
Solar energy refers to the concept of harnessing energy from the sun. This can include the use of solar thermal collectors and photovoltaic panels. Solar energy is a great way to reduce pollution.
Green roofs are another great option. A green roof is one that is covered or partially covered with vegetation. In some instances the roof may include a pond. Green roofs absorb rainwater, create a habitat for wildlife, provide insulation and help to lower urban air temperatures.
“What’s the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?”
-Henry David Thoreau