Sunday, September 30, 2018

Why Don’t Green Buildings Live Up to Hype on Energy Efficiency?

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 siting to 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 a sustainable or high performance building. However, there have been instances where overly optimistic energy modeling helps cause the “energy performance gap,” a problem that has become frustratingly familiar in green building projects.

Many of the green buildings do not live up to hype on energy efficiency. Analysts call it the “energy performance gap” — the difference between promised energy savings in green buildings and the actual savings delivered. The problem, researchers say, is inept modeling systems that fail to capture how buildings really work. Richard Conniff who is a National Magazine Award-winning writer and whose articles have appeared in The New York Times, Smithsonian, The Atlantic, National Geographic, and other publications says, "Buildings account for 40 percent of climate change emissions and are the fastest growing source of emissions."

The performance gap refers to the failure of energy improvements, often undertaken at great expense, to deliver some (or occasionally all) of the promised savings. A study last year of refurbished apartment buildings in Germany, for instance, found that they missed the predicted energy savings by anywhere from 5 to 28 percent. In Britain, an evaluation of 50 “leading-edge modern buildings,” from supermarkets to health care centers, reported that they “were routinely using up to 3.5 times more energy than their design had allowed for” — and producing on average 3.8 times the predicted carbon emissions.

In an article published in Yale E360, Conniff says, "The performance gap is “a vast, terrible enormous problem,” in the words of one building technology specialist, and that’s not an exaggeration.  Though much of the public concern about energy consumption and climate change focuses on automotive miles-per-gallon, the entire transport sector — including trains, planes, ships, trucks, and cars — accounts for just 26 percent of U.S. climate change emissions.  Buildings come in at 40 percent, and they are the fastest growing source of emissions, according to the U.S. Green Building Council."

The organization that gives LEED certification is now requiring that developers post actual energy usage on an online data base. Read full article here:

Friday, September 28, 2018

How green buildings save the environment buildings can help in environment protection by adopting sustainable construction and operation strategies. According to green building experts, it makes sense to implement sustainable features during design and planning stage itself. Once construction starts, it becomes almost impossible to alter the fundamental requirements like optimum orientation.

Builders should also follow climate responsive design by practicing good construction management that includes preserving existing vegetation and natural features like ponds, water bodies, contours etc. Also, by avoiding excavation work during monsoon can ensure that soil erosion does not take place. Similarly, the top soil should be preserved for reusing later in landscaping work. Water should also be judiciously used during construction activity.

The construction work of any building (big projects in particular) pollutes air, hence, appropriate air pollution control measures such as minimum 3 meter high barricading all around the construction site, wheel washing facility and sprinkling of water on loose soil, must be used.

The practice optimizing the supply by recycling and reusing sewage water on site and storing the rainwater along with minimizing the demand by use of water efficient fixtures (low flow faucets, dual flush WCs, efficient irrigation systems like drip irrigation) can help achieve water sustainable build-ups.

Once the construction is over, the green buildings by using natural sources of energy, lighting, ventilation, temperature control etc not only help save environment but also reduces the cost of living in them in long run.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Water Harvesting as a Green Building Practice
Green buildings, as we all know, refers to both a structure and the application of processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle: from planning to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. Well, the most of the efforts are directed towards creating greener constructions, the new practice or objective is also to help both home and office owners to reduce waste, environmental degradation and pollution. One of the best examples of green building practices is rainwater harvesting.

Experts say that by harvesting rainwater the use of drinking water for various domestic, industrial and agricultural purposes can not only be reduced but the devastating effects of drought and rainfall can also be minimized. Water harvesting has also a positive effect over groundwater. Adopting methods to increase groundwater recharge is another essential green building practice because groundwater protects the environment against climate changes. 

Rainwater harvesting systems can broadly classified as passive and active. Though rainwater is non-potable, it can be safely used for activities like washing cars and lawn irrigation etc. Active systems often uses pumps to supply the water to the distribution. The active systems may also include water treatment arrangements so that rainwater is made safe for washing, toilet flushing and evaporative cooling. Passive systems are actually small barrels placed at the end of downspouts.

Harvesting rainwater reduces Flooding and Erosion, and also water bills. It can improve plant growth. Can also be used for almost all non-drinking purposes and hence reduces demand on ground water.

Green building design must ensure rational use of natural resources.