Eco friendly housing (Green Building Design) – By @Danalphie

Gherkin Building, London Goes Green

green buildings
In modern construction, a thoughtful integration of Green Building technology can make a tremendous difference in an overall appeal of a newly constructed building. Green Building helps preserve the external environment and provides great benefits to humans through the use of environmentally safe and energy-efficient building materials, efficient use of natural resources, human safety, well being and health and wellness considerations.

What Does green Building mean?
Green Building is a fairly broad concept, but the core ideas of green building entail the following:

Environmentally Friendly

Constructing the building is safe for the surrounding environment and will not significantly interfere with the wild life, its patterns of daily life, and that it will not negatively affect the natural environment. nearby. It also means that building is constructed from environmentally friendly materials that are available locally and that the construction process is well designed to reduce the unnecessary pollution and negative effects on the environment.

Efficient use of Resources

In green building practices, efficient use of resources means using water saving faucets and plumbing elements, energy efficient lighting units and passive solar design. It also involves, the use of energy efficient building materials aimed to attain highly energy efficient building envelope with well insulated walls, floors and ceilings. A well insulated building envelope will helps keeping building cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Reduced energy consumption provides financial benefits for the building owners and helps reduce the carbon monoxide footprint of the building on the environment.

Designed for health and wellbeing of the building occupants.

Another important feature of a green building is its design aimed at providing comfortable and safe environment for the human occupants. It means that building will be pleasant and safe for people to be in. It could contain the elements of intuitive floor plans, spacious and well lit hallways, fresh-air circulation and monitoring units, dampness and temperature controls. Use of Human safe materials and pleasant architectural design that provides psychological and physiological benefits for human occupants.

Gherkin Building, London Goes Green
Gherkin Building, London Goes Green

Green Building Benefits
The most fundamental benefit of Green Building is that it is environmentally friendly and safe for people occupying the building. A well designed and constructed green building is well integrated into the environment in which it is built and does not detract from it. It is pleasant and safe for people who use the building on a daily basis. Its aesthetic appeal of carefully designed and well integrated architectural features, such as efficient use of space, intuitive layouts, and pleasant lighting offer psychological benefits to people. While, elements such as clean air monitoring and circulating systems, handicap access, clean water and other elements make it safe and beneficial to human health.

Another important benefit of Green Building is Energy Efficiency, which deals with a building’s energy consumption for cooling and Heating needs. Green building elements dealing with energy efficiency include the use of environmentally friendly insulation, energy efficient windows, and solar-reflective building envelope materials such as metal roofing, and metal wall panels that help minimize unwanted heat gain or loss inside a building.
Other elements of a green building include effective use of natural lighting, and renewable energy generating systems all aimed at reducing energy consumption, which results in cleaner environment and direct cost savings for building owners.

Green Building Materials
Sustainability and environmental friendliness are two key requirements to green building materials. Many green building materials also offer energy efficiency benefits. For instance, use of metal in residential and commercial construction is considered environmentally friendly because metal is fully recyclable and long lasting building material that also offers excellent solar reflective benefits making it an energy efficient choice for roofing and wall panels when constructing a building envelope.

Wood – a Natural Building Material
Wood is the most abundant natural/organic building material. Wood qualifies as a green building material when it is grown locally, and its use does not negatively impact the local natural habitat from which it is sourced. For instance, bamboo is a common sustainable building material, and if grown locally, can qualify as green. Bamboo grows quickly and is easily replenishable. Specially grown Cedar can also be considered sustainable building material when its grown locally and cut in a sustainable manner that will ensure future growth and availability.

Green Energy Generation Systems
Energy Generating systems are considered to be the most expensive elements of a green building design, but the initial cost of this type of investment is justified when calculated for future energy savings for the building owner. It is also environmentally sound choice that not only results in free energy, but also earns LEED / green building credits to the building owner.
Two most commonly used renewable energy generating systems are PV solar power systems and wind Turbines:

PV Solar Power Systems
The use of solar energy in green building can provide free electricity for the building owners. Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels can be installed on the roof top of the building where the solar energy will be converted to electricity.

Wind Turbine Energy
Another green way to generate electricity is through the use of wind energy. Wind turbine can be set up in pathway of winds, which can provide significant amount of free electricity for the building owners.

Green Building Guide to Costs and Prices
Without a doubt, building green is initially pricier than the cost of conventional construction, but from a long term perspective, integrating green building elements will result in energy savings and longer lasting building that will pay for the difference in initial investment and then some.
Year 2012, also offers financial benefits and incentives that will make green building technology more affordable for homeowners and commercial buildings.

Green Building for Residential Use
Homeowners can greatly benefit from the use of green building technology in new home construction and for the existing homes. In fact, there are quite a few green building elements that homeowners of existing homes can benefit from:

Use of energy efficient windows and blinds
Replacing existing windows with energy efficient ones will increase the existing insulation level / R-value of your home, which will help keep your rooms warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. This will also translate into energy savings and better and cleaner environment. Consider that an installation of window blinds, or eco-friendly window treatments can further help maintain a room’s temperature, and helps maximize the use of natural light.

Insulating Walls, floors, and ceilings in your home
A well insulated home can help save well over fifty percent on your heating bill in cold season, and lower your cooling bill in hot season. A well insulated building will not leak warmer air out or allow cooler air in cold season, and will provide for similar effect in the hot season. Not only will well insulated walls and ceilings help you save money by reducing your energy bill, but it can also help the longevity of your home.

Cool Metal Roofing and PV Solar Panels Combo for Zero Energy Homes
Another great way to make your home more energy efficient is by replacing or upgrading your existing roof with energy efficient roof such as metal, or cool flat roofing membrane for lower-slope roofs. Not only can you keep your home cooler and safer with a longer lasting metal roof, but you can also combine and integrate your standing seam metal roof with solar roofing panels that will convert solar energy into free electricity for your home. This is one of the easiest ways to move closer towards having a zero-energy home.

Danalphie is a Professional Civil/Structural Engineer, (RMIEK, RMEBK). You can find him on twitter ‏@Danalphie or check out his blog

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