Companies and organizations all over the world are working to reduce global carbon emissions.Construction companies and material manufacturers play a large role in those efforts as studies show buildings account for nearly 40 percent of energy-related CO2 around the world. Finding eco-friendly and sustainable solutions for the building process are paramount to the overall health of the planet.
Building green is one solution for communities – like using sustainable and locally-sourced materials such as Wheelers does. The average person may not see the benefits. But research shows the environmental, economic, and health benefits are far-reaching.
Developers and contractors don’t have to obtain certification to build a green building. But getting the project certified, validates those efforts.
Some of the building certifications available in the U.S. are:
- Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM)
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
- Green Globes
- Living Building Challenge
- Passive House Institute U.S.
- WELL Building Standard
These certifications validate projects meet industry standards and offer assurance to consumers a project’s eco-friendly claims are accurate.
Green-certified buildings don’t just reduce carbon emissions, they also lower waste, energy, and water. A 2011 study from the Department of Energy found CO2 emissions were more than 30 percent lower in LEED-certified buildings compared to conventional buildings.
The EPA says heating and cooling is responsible for about 43 percent of the energy use in the country. That is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases that harm the environment. But the DOE report shows green-certified buildings can reduce overall energy use by 25 percent.
The same can be said about water use too. The average person uses 80-100 gallons of water per day. But green building strategies include plans to reuse both rainwater and wastewater. That reduces overall use by 11 percent in homes and other residential buildings and up to 30 percent in schools.
And LEED construction projects already divert 80 million tons of wasted materials from landfills compared to conventional projects. That number is expected to rise to 540 million tons by 2030.
The benefits of going green stretch beyond the environment. The consistently lower operating cost, short payback period, and increased property value make them a smart investment. Studies show the upfront cost invested in green products and materials generally cost an additional zero to four percent, but can increase costs as much as 12 percent. But that investment typically pays off with many seeing nearly 7 percent on return on investment and 3.5 percent increased occupancy.
Green-certified projects have also contributed hundreds of billions of dollars to the U.S. economy while creating tens of millions of jobs. One study found green construction was responsible for adding 720,000 jobs in Texas alone between 2011 and 2014. In that same time period, sustainable construction projects around the country generated more than $167 billion in gross domestic product.
Sustainable buildings are also good for people’s overall health and well being. The U.S. Green Building Council surveyed Americans in LEED-certified buildings. People reported feeling happier, healthier, and more productive. Research backs this up. Several case studies show temperature control, air quality, and natural lighting improve productivity. Studies in European countries also linked green buildings to fewer illnesses and missed work days.
And people care whether their building is eco-friendly. A separate USGBC survey found 50 percent of people they talked to thought it was “very important” that green buildings improved respiratory and cognitive health in addition to saving them money.
So whether you’re constructing a new building or updating your current space, consider the benefits of seeking Green Building Certification for your next project. Check out this site to find out which certification is right for you.