What is Green Building?
Green building is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle from the decision about a structure’s location, design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and deconstruction. This practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort. Green building is also known as sustainable or high performance building. While building green applies mainly to new structures, existing homes can become green buildings through upgrades and retrofits.
Why Build Green?
Green buildings are healthy and energy- and resource-efficient from the inside out. Green homes are efficient: daylighting and low-energy light bulbs help keep lighting costs low and insulation and efficient heating and cooling systems keep temperature control costs low. EnergyStar appliances cost less to operate. Green homes use less water: aerating faucets keep wasted sink and shower water to a minimum; high-efficiency toilets use less water with each flush; a high-efficiency washing machine uses 40% less water than a standard machine; and drought-resistant landscaping requires less irrigation water. Green homes are often more pleasant to live in with better indoor air quality as a result of healthier building materials and better ventilation. Green buildings also tend to encourage mixed-use development leading to walkable neighborhoods where shopping, services, and schools are available within walking or cycling distance.
The GreenPoint rating system, developed by Build it Green, is like a report card or nutrition label for green homes. It demonstrates that a new home or remodel was built to trusted environmental standards and evaluated by a certified GreenPoint Rater. The City requires all new residences, including in-law units, to be GreenPoint Rated.
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is redefining the way we think about the places where we live, work and learn. As an internationally recognized mark of excellence,LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.
The LEED ratings system was developed by the US Green Building Council in 2000 through an open, consensus-based process led by LEED committees and is continually developed and improved. See the USGBC’s LEED website to learn more.
What Can You Do?
- Implement green building standards when upgrading your home, from replacing a ceiling fan to remodeling your kitchen. See GreenPoint Rated checklists, manuals, and guidelines for more information.
- Take advantage of features in your home that are already efficient. Well-placed windows can provide wonderful light and even help heat your house. A cool breeze can be much more refreshing than air conditioned air.
- Use your dishwasher! Many dishwashers are more water-efficient than doing dishes by hand. Make sure to run the dishwasher only when full and skip the heated dry cycle.
Do you rent? Check out the EPA’s Renters Checklist.