Even though the cost of building sustainable buildings is more than the cost of building traditional buildings, sustainable buildings will help to improve the environment. There are challenges to building in a sustainable way because of material unavailability, high turnaround time, and limitations in design that reduce the interest of builders and investors. However, building sustainable buildings is the only key for us to improve our long term economic interests. Building environmentaly sustainable buildings will reduce our dependency on resources like energy, water, natural materials and lands, creating healthier living environment, and most importantly, preventing global warming.
Reducing the use of fossil energy in our buildings will brings us many opportunities to save money on unnecessary costs. In addition to the new jobs and business opportunities which will be created with clean energy technologies, green buildings reduce the amount of fossil energy consumption which is the main cause of the global warming phenomenon.
The threat of Global Warming may be the most serious crisis that mankind has ever seen. In the past decade, the average temperature of the earth has been increasing and that caused many disastrous events such as extreme rainfalls, rising sea levels, hurricanes, and other disasters. This temperature change is called global warming, and it is caused by large amounts of carbon dioxide and other toxic gases emissions in the atmosphere. Scientists named these gases Greenhouse Gases(GHG).
Once the problem is defined, the first solution that comes to the mind is that reducing the GHG can stop the temperature from increasing. The problem should be resolved where it begins and that is with the major energy consumers that produce greenhouse gases like the manufacturing industries, the transportation sector, and finally the building sector.
According to Architecture 2030, the building sector is responsible for nearly half of the total energy and seventy six percent of electricity consumption in the United States. This means that one of the biggest contributors to climate change is the building sector.
These cited facts make it clear that the building sector is the most important target that society should focus on to control GHG emissions and ultimately stop the increase in global warming. The intensive consumption of fossil energy also has a tremendous impact on the economy.
The higher cost of constructing green buildings is the biggest issue for investors and builders, but huge savings can be realized by those who work or live in green buildings and by the country as a whole. Parallel benefits will be earned at the same time by implementing policies that encourage more environmentally sustainable buildings. For example, a lower amount of energy usage benefits the country by making it less dependent on foreign energy supplies.
Clearly the building sector is playing a major role in our current high energy consumption, and any reduction of energy usage from this sector will lead to a considerable amount of savings. In the complex economy of the present day, expensive energy resources should not be wasted.
Every day, employees suffer because the lack of natural light and fresh air affects their health and productivity. Improving these factors will benefit people's health and the rest of the economy. Green buildings will improve health, safety, and productivity of employees. Green buildings will also lead to a significant saving on energy, maintenance, and operational costs. Employee salaries constitute the major ratio of overall office buildings' expenditures. According to a study published in 2003, employee cost is 89% of the total building costs and is also approximately ten times the building-related expenditures.
Poor indoor air quality has a direct impact on employee performance. When employees are affected by health roblems like allergies, sneezing, drowsiness, or feeling tired, they will also have low productivity. The above quotation shows that employee productivity impact should be compared with the overall building construction cost, and that means that investors should not overlook the long term benefits and costs while they are making decisions about building construction.
The most important issue that builders face when it comes to building green is the high initial cost of a green building. Since building a green building requires higher quality material, higher precision in design, and all these need highly educated and skilled engineers and workers, the initial cost is higher. But it is proven that this difference is not more that 3% of the total cost of constructing the building.
Some builders also argue that since buildings with green features have high-end materials or components, the needed material is not always easily available and this causes delays on the project. This argument is insubstantial because one of the fundamental requirement of a green project is to use local material in order to save time and energy where possible. Hence, if the project demands too many materials to be imported, it means that the project is not designed to be green.
It is difficult to place a proper estimate on the value of a high quality of life. What is it worth to have a stress-free day or a life without diseases such as cancer or lung disease? People should keep in mind that all the effort and work that is now being made can help them improve the quality of life. Nobody is living to work, but everyone is working to live.
Green buildings offer many benefits to society and to the people who will use them. They will result in lower energy costs and less green house gas emissions. The quality of life for those who use a green building will be higher since there will be better air quality and more natural light.
More green buildings will be constructed if people become more aware that there are many advantages to using environmentally sustainable construction. Building developers and owners need to be informed that the cost of building a green building is only 3% higher than the cost of a regular building. However, the benefits include having lower energy and maintenance costs for the building in the future and a more productive workforce. These benefits will be greater than the slight additional cost of building a green building.
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This article is written by Royane Real. Buy her self help books at www.lulu.com/real
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