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GREEN BUILDING PRINCIPLES

Commercially available, cost-effective energy technologies could reduce overall energy consumption in the United States by as much as one-third--worth some $343 billion.

This link provides information on strategies such as proper siting and airtight construction, as well as installing energy-efficient equipment and appliances and renewable energy systems that will reduce the amount of energy your building needs to operate and to keep its occupants comfortable.

Environmental Impact

The built environment has had a tremendous impact on the environment. However, your building can interact more positively with the environment if you pay special attention to preserving the site’s integrity and natural characteristics, landscaping appropriately, and selecting materials that have lower embodied energy and those that are produced locally.

Resource Conservation

Conserving resources is a cornerstone of green building techniques. There are many ways to conserve resources during the building process. For example, selecting materials that have at least some recycled content can conserve natural resources and virgin materials. Minimizing construction waste can ease the impact on landfills. Installing water- and energy-efficient products can conserve resources while reducing operating costs.

Indoor Air Quality

Energy-efficient buildings are more airtight and therefore hold greater potential for indoor air quality problems. Because many building products can contribute to poor air quality, you can reduce these potential problems by selecting materials lower in chemicals and toxins, and installing mechanical ventilation systems to ensure an adequate fresh air supply.

Community Issues

Placing green building projects within easy access of public transportation, medical facilities, shopping areas, and recreational facilities decreases the need for automobiles and encourages bicycling and walking. In addition, successful green buildings blend into the community, preserving natural and historical characteristics, and will utilize existing infrastructure in order to reduce sprawl.

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Resources 

DOE's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network (EREN), developed by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency, is an excellent resource for information about renewable energy and energy efficiency.  EREN's section on buildings provides a host of useful links, as well as information on DOE's buildings programs. 

Orientation 

Properly sited buildings--those that are placed on an east-west axis with the longest wall facing south--will benefit from solar heat, natural shading, and natural lighting and thus reduce energy requirements. Energy-efficient floor plans place the primary living spaces on the south side and lesser-used rooms, such as storage and utility rooms, on the colder north side. 

Incorporating passive solar design principles into buildings can reduce energy requirements by relying on the sun to satisfy at least some of the heating requirements during colder months. Similarly, passive solar design can provide shading during summer months to help keep the house cool, as well as natural light, which reduces the need for artificial light.  

The Passive Solar Industries Council has developed guidelines for both new construction and remodeling projects. The manual provides climate-specific design information, worksheets, and examples. PSIC also offers for sale "BuilderGuide," a PC-spreadsheet-based design tool that automates the design guidelines. One-day workshops, combining residential design information and the use of BuilderGuide software, are offered to builders, homeowners, architects, utility representatives, and engineers. Contact PSIC for more information. 

CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE --> Written by: Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development


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