Why Build Green?

Why Build Green?

Buildings Use Energy

Buildings, including homes, are the largest user of energy in the United States, consuming 40 percent of total energy, 68 percent of electricity, 38 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, and even 12 percent of total water consumption (source: EPA). Green buildings attempt to reduce this consumption through a variety of strategies and in the process reduce their impact on the environment and human health.    

Benefits of Green Building

The benefits of building green extend beyond energy savings. Building owners should consider these benefits when planning a building project:

Environmental Benefits

  • Reduces carbon, or greenhouse gas, emissions, or "carbon footprint"
  • Conserves natural resources
  • Improves air, water, and land quality
  • Protects ecosystems
  • Promotes biodiversity

Human Benefits

  • Improves indoor quality of air and water
  • Improves occupant comfort and safety
  • Improves mental and physical health of occupants
  • Encourages occupants to adopt greener lifestyles overall
  • Beautifies or "greens" indoor and outdoor spaces
  • Supports sustainability of the planet for future generations

Economic Benefits

  • Increases energy savings
  • Reduces cost and effort to operate and maintain buildings over their lifecycle
  • Improves occupant productivity and learning
  • Increases demand for green collar jobs
  • Encourages investment in development of new technologies
  • Increases building value
  • Enhances economic development in a community

Cost of Building Green

Many building owners are concerned about the cost and feasibility of green building projects. Multiple studies have proven that green building need not cost any more than traditional building, and, in fact, can cost significantly less, especially if the owner takes into account the reduced maintenance cost and energy savings over the life of the building. Even if a green building has an initially higher investment cost, the return on investment in lower maintenance costs and energy savings quickly make up the difference. This does not take into account the improved productivity, comfort and health of green building occupants.

For more information, the U.S. Green Building Council has a dedicated online research library, including publications and links to additional resources.

As building owners learn about and adopt green building strategies, building professionals gain experience and accreditation, and local governments require buildings to adhere to green building standards and codes, green building will become more widely available, used and accepted. 

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