Why build green ?
In simple words any new construction specially on a greenfield site (where there were no buildings before) has a negative impact on the environment (scroll down for why?). But the reality is that we need buildings and implementing green building practices help us in reducing the impact of the building activity on the environment.
How does building activity impact the environment:
- Buildings consume large amounts of material and energy during construction and generate waste
- Buildings continue to consume energy, water and other resources during their lifetime along with continualy generating waste (domestic waste, solid waste and water waste)
- A building on a previously vacant greenfield site changes the land and its relationship to the surrounding environment:
- buildings change the natural landscape of the site by reducing existing vegetation, changing natural topography, and water flow patterns
- buildings create concrete barriers to absorbtion of water back into the earth thus increasing storm water runoff (leading to flooding of low-lying areas and additional burden on existing infrastructure) and fall in underground water table (due to reduced recharge)
- Loss of natural landscape also results in the loss of habitat for animal and bird life
- Materials used in a building have a direct correlation to the health of its residents
Most of the above reasons are fairly well understood in the building community then what are some of the reasons that green building practices are relatively inaccessible to the everyday builder? even when they are driven by common sense and reflected in many traditional construction practices. We have found that:
- There is increasingly a lot of superficial jargon surrounding green buildings that needs to be shed
- It may be easier to start from our backyard rather then wait for top-down government led infrastructure development and policy formulation
- There are available green certification processes than can offer a system of checks and balances but sadly the industry is disillusioned about them or find them too tedious and expensive
- Project planning is the key to success. It is vital that at all stages of design and construction; the builder makes choices that minimize the impact on the land, reduces use of energy, optimizes use of water resources, prioritizes reuse and recycling instead of use of virgin materials and reduces waste.