Sustainable Construction

The construction of buildings in the United States accounts for thirty percent of waste output annually. The construction of these buildings also consume seventy-one percent of the total electrical energy in the U. S. Due to the diminishing health of our planet, it is evident that sustainability in construction is a necessity. Sustainable, or green, buildings are not only beneficial to the planet, but also to the owner, the designer, and the builder. Sustainable buildings provide monetary benefits to all of these groups while also cohering with the social imperative to preserve the health of the planet.

Builders in the past thought that sustainable methods and materials were too expensive to use; however, due to the technology boom in green building, sustainability is actually increasing profits for builders and saving building owners money through conservation of materials and energy. The new green technologies are also greatly reducing builders’ carbon footprint and negative environmental impact. It is being made clear that sustainability is the future of construction and that everyone involved with the construction of buildings must move towards greener buildings and building methods.

Green Building in past years was much too expensive to achieve but due to the fast growing market of sustainable products and methods green building is now very profitable to builders and building owners. The rising popularity of sustainability in construction is proving that it will last and according to Michael Montoya, writer of Green Building Fundamentals, “designers and builders who do not embrace this concept in their business models will soon be left behind. ” This is an eye opener for young workers and students in the designing and construction fields.

They must start learning the methods of sustainability in order to compete in the new market. Sustainability and eco-friendliness is becoming more popular everyday with the younger generations. Companies are paying contractors large sums of money to make their buildings as sustainable as possible. They do this because it has great potential to attract customers, specifically if the building has signs letting the public know of its eco-friendly components. Sustainable building is a trend backed the U. S. government.

Government programs such as the United States Green Building Council, or the USGBC, push sustainability on the market through many different programs, one of the first and most known being LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is a rating system that provides an incentive for builders and building owners to build and operate sustainably. It ensures green building will last. LEED is a green building certification system developed by the U. S. Green Building Council, which is imperative to promote sustainability.

The USGBC’s goal, states Traci Rider, author of Understanding Green Building, “is to drive market transformation within the building industry, essentially to make green building strategies the go-to system in everyday design and construction operations by awarding various levels of LEED certification. ” The government is essentially changing the market with LEED. In California currently, there is a new building code that requires all new buildings to get LEED accredited. Many old hospitals in the San Francisco Bay area are being rebuilt to LEED standards as a result of this new building code.

There are three major ratings of buildings within LEED, platinum, gold, and silver. Platinum is the highest rating and silver is the lowest. Most modern builders and building owners strive to achieve the highest LEED rating with in their budget, which is usually a gold or silver rating. It can be expensive to attain a gold and silver ratings; however, these accreditations often save money in the long term through their energy conserving designs. A platinum rating will conserve the most energy and save money, but the initial cost to design and build is very expensive.

The government support of LEED, such as the new building codes in California, makes it evident that builders must move towards sustainability in order to keep working. The future will only bring more “green” building codes as the planets’ health continues to diminish. Builders that are experienced with LEED and sustainable buildings will have an upper hand when attaining contracts. This proves the benefits of sustainability for builders. LEED accreditations are also becoming very popular among building owners.

Many owners of large companies want a LEED rating shown on their building to show the public that they are eco-friendly. Sustainability is the rising trend across the board and building owners are noticing. LEED accreditations on their building can possibly bring them more business. The popularity of LEED thus creates more business opportunities for builders and designers experienced with it. The USGBC is currently changing the market through LEED and other programs; consequently, builders and designers must learn sustainability and the LEED rating system or they will be left behind.

Economic opportunity, however, is not the only reason builders are becoming sustainable. The younger generations are realizing the call to protect the planet, which has been neglected in previous years. Pollution and resource usage from buildings plague the United States and many other countries around the world. Builders are responsible for forty percent of the raw materials used by the world. They use twelve percent of the earth’s potable water, while also greatly adding to the pollution of the sources of potable water. All of these resources are in low supply.

Almost all aspects of traditional construction are wasteful and harmful to earth, from the production of steel and lumber, to air pollution from heavy machinery. In order to preserve earth for future generations it is imperative that construction moves towards sustainability. The World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainable development as, “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. ” There are many methods and technologies available today that satisfy that definition.

The most basic of these are using rapidly renewable and recycled materials, reducing water usage by collecting rain water, and using alternative sources of power rather than oil. Highly complex sustainable designers and builders incorporate these elements, along with many others, into intricate plans to make the building as efficient as it can be according to their budget. Sustainable builders and designers are examples to everyone in their field and younger generations. Earth cannot sustain the population’s wasteful and polluting methods, so the populations must move towards sustainable methods to preserve earth.

Most building owners and investors only see the benefits of sustainable construction to society and the environment. These people fear that the cost implications of green building will not be worth the money it takes. It does seem reasonable because sustainable buildings are more expensive to build, however; sustainable buildings have great potential for saving money. Sustainable buildings are designed to conserve resources and energy. Therefore, these buildings avoid using oil and water and other expensive resources and instead use alternative energy resources and the collection of rainwater.

The alternative energy resources, such as windmills and solar energy, are much cheaper than burning fossil fuels. Collecting rainwater allows companies to not pay for and waste thousands of gallons of potable water from the city. Although the initial building costs of sustainable buildings can be much more expensive due to building and design costs, “building owners are realizing quantifiable cost benefits such as savings in capital cost investment, reduction in operation costs, increased occupant productivity, more efficient resource usage, and marketing and revenue generation benefits,” states Montoya.

The critics of sustainable buildings often overlook the potential to save money in the future. It should be made clear that if preserving society and the earth is not a good enough reason for building owners and investors to build sustainably, there is also great potential to save money through green buildings, even if the initial cost of building is more expensive. Americans and people around the world are realizing the destructive nature of humans towards earth. For generations humans have been taking from the earth and throwing their waste in it.

In more recent years people are starting to see the negative effects of exploiting the earth. Eco-friendly and environmental movements have spawned from this realization. Even the construction field, one of the most wasteful fields on earth, is moving towards sustainability. Younger people in that field are realizing the multitudes of benefits from moving towards sustainability. The trend is currently on the rise and does not look like it will slow anytime in the near future. It is vital that people keep moving towards environmentalism and sustainability or else earth will not be able to be enjoyed by future generations.

One of the best places to set an example in sustainability is building because it was in the past the most wasteful job. Works Cited Glavinich, Thomas. Green Building Construction. Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons, 2008. Montoya, Michael. Green Building Fundamentals. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, 2011. Rider, Traci. Understanding Green Building Guidelines. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2009. "Welcome to LEED. net. " LEED. net. Bob Moore Construction, 2010. Web. 27 Oct 2011. <http://www. leed. net/>. http://www. greenbiz. com/slideshow/2013/01/25/top-10-states-leed-projects