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Defining A Green Building Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 3276 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The green building is part of the concept sustainable constructions. The demand of this type of buildings has increased in the last decades and it is expected to continue upward. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) recorded that the public sector green building has increased 10 percent while the commercial sector has increased 5 percent of the annual construction market demand. (Yudelson, Jerry, 2008).

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In order to achieve the goal of this study, there are various steps of searches and investigations used from different sources of information. The following sections of the study is review the literature on Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and green buildings, this literature review was based on the printed publications, newspaper articles, books, and abstracts electronic online. The focus of the literature review is to detect the accepted definition of green buildings and the relevant criterion that used in the design and construction.

2.2 Defining a Green Building

An important concept in approaching this thesis is defining a green building, California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery defines green buildings which is known as a sustainable building, as structure that designed, built, renovated, operated, or reused in a way that is the efficient use of resources, it designed to meet the objectives such as protecting resident health, improving workers and engineer’s productivity, using resources like water and energy more efficiently finally reducing the impact of environment. (California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, CalRecycle). Jerry Yudelson, in his book The Green Building Revolution, describes a green building as a high-performance construction that reduces its impact of the environment and human health. (Yudelson, Jerry, 2008). The US Environmental Protection Agency, 2009 defines the green buildings as structures performance by using processing which that is environmentally appropriate and efficiency through the use of resources throughout a building’s life-cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance and renovation. This practice complements the classical building design concerns of economy, durability, and comfort. Green building is also known as a sustainable or high-performance building.

Green buildings are the construction that all of its materials and integrated systems are designed to reduce the impact of the surrounding environment on the residents. There are many reasons for using this kind of construction; the Green Building Index indicates some of these reasons as:

Green buildings are designed to save energy and resources, recycle materials and minimize the emission of toxic substances throughout its life cycle.

Green buildings harmonize with the local climate, traditions, culture and the surrounding environment.

Green buildings are able to sustain and improve the quality of human life whilst maintaining the capacity of the ecosystem at local and global levels.

Green buildings make efficient use of resources; have significant operational savings and increases workplace productivity.

Building green sends the right message about a company or organization – that it is well run, responsible, and committed to the future. (Green Building Index,2010)

2.2 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

2.2.1 A brief history of LEED

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) was founded in 1993 for the purpose of providing the sustainability to the construction of buildings. (USGBC) realized that a priority for the sustainable construction industry should be defined as “Green Building”. They start to research on the way to measure and rate the green buildings. Less than a year after formulation, the (USGBC) members made their establishment of a committee to focus on this topic. The first LEED project program was launched at the (USGBC) in August 1998 and was called LEED Version 1.0, while the LEED green building rating system Version 2.0 was released in March 2000. (Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Services, 2012)

The LEED founder realized that their clients should understand the advantages of green buildings in terms of, life-cycle cost, productivity and the ability of the market to accept these buildings. (Emerald Architecture case studies in Green Building McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2008). This achieve through the implementation of tools and criteria, it will be discussed in the next parts.

2.2.2 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) criteria

The Green Building rating system (LEED) is a standard criterion its aims to develop high-performance buildings, (American Council for Green Building USGBC, 2004), has been found this system in order to:

Develop a common standard for measuring.

Promote integrated building design.

Recognize environmental leadership in the buildings sector.

Encourage competition in the field of “green buildings”.

Raise consumer awareness of the benefits of high performance buildings.

Change building’s market.

Rating systems was developed by the USGBC for different types of buildings, Figure 1, shows each type with their own criterion.

Figure 1

LEED Rating System for Different Types of Buildings

Each rating system can be choosing depend on the construction type, these include:

New Construction: this type is appropriate for buildings which are not under the category of educational, retail, or healthcare, its uses high rise (7+stories) residential buildings.

Existing Buildings: this type is appropriate for existing buildings under development or improvement without build. There is only one rating system in this category, LEED for Operations and Maintenance.

Commercial Interiors: this type is appropriate for interiors dedicated to other tasks of retail.

Core and Shell Construction: this type is appropriate for buildings that are under construction or through renovation on its exterior shell and core mechanical, electrical, and plumbing units. There is only one rating system in this category, LEED for Core and Shell.

Schools: this type is required for buildings made up of core and supplementary learning spaces and non-academic buildings on school campuses. There is only one rating system in this category, LEED for Schools Rating System.

Retail and Commercial Interior Construction: this type is appropriate for commercial interior spaces and that are undergoing a complete interior fit-out of at least 60% of the certifying gross floor area. There are two rating systems in this category: LEED for Commercial Interiors LEED for Retail: Commercial Interiors.

Health Care: this type is required for buildings that serve individuals who seek medical treatment, also appropriate for buildings with other kinds of medically-related uses, such as unlicensed outpatient facilities, medical, dental and veterinary offices and clinics. These are considered LEED for Healthcare.

Homes: this type is appropriate for residential buildings.

(LEED Rating System Selection Guidance, USGBC, 2009)

LEED uses a point based-rating system. Points are given for each criterion that has been met. The main idea of LEED system is to provide a comprehensive framework for evaluating the performance of buildings in order to achieve sustainability goals. These points start from 26 points up to a total of 69 points. (American Council for Green Building USGBC, 2004), has been clarified these criteria in the following table:

Table 1

Levels of certificates of evaluation system LEED




26 to 32

Silver rating

33 to 38

Gold rating

39 to 51

Platinum rating

more than 69 points

Table 1: Levels of certificates of evaluation system LEED (2004)

These points are distributed on sustainable development strategies for the sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality of buildings. These estimates are prepared in the form of categories; each category has a particular number of points. The following section shows an analysis of these categories and Figure 2 illustrates these points as follows:


Figure 2

New Construction Program Categories (USGBC, 2005)

Sustainable sites / 14 points – this category required design a plan for sedimentation and erosion, and must be followed by site selection certain conditions, such as it should not found in the protected habitats or in public parks. Points are awarded based on:

Redevelopment the urban and field structure.

Provide incentives for the alternative transportation solution.

Reducing disrupt in the construction sites.

Reduce pollution from construction activity.

Implement a plan for managing the rainwater.

Reduce light pollution and heat island effect.

Water efficiency / 5 points- Points are awarded based on:

Limit the consumption of the water irrigation by 50 percent.

Build a system for wastewater treatment.

Reduce water consumption by 20 or 30 percent.

Use only rainwater for irrigation.

Energy and atmosphere / 17 points – This category requires minimizing operating energy, and reduction of the use of CFC in heating, ventilation equipment, air conditioning and refrigeration. Points are awarded based on:

Optimum energy operation.

Increase the use of renewable energy.

Installation of heating systems, ventilation and air conditioning, refrigeration and fire suppression systems that do not contain compounds HCHCS.

Materials and resources /13 points – This category requires a place to store and collect recyclable materials. Points are awarded based on:

Use 20 to 50 percent of the building materials that are manufactured in locations not far from the construction site of more than 500 km.

Using the authorized wood.

Re-use of building materials and the use of materials that fast renewable.

Using construction waste management system.

Indoor environmental quality / 15 points – This category should achieve minimum requirements of the indoor air quality in the internal area environment which is determined by legislation or standards such as (ASTM) or American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers ASHRAE 62-1999. Points are awarded based on:

System for monitoring carbon dioxide.

Develop a plan for air quality management inside the building during the construction phases.

Using of materials and components with low emission of gases and odors in the building.

Control the sources of chemicals and contaminants inside the building.

Provide daylight and landscapes in the building.

Innovation and design process / 5 points – This category awarded points to provide a certified expert in the evaluation of green buildings in the innovation phase of the project, as the project could to get to the point of having innovative ways for higher performance described in the previous categories. (LEED® for New Construction & Major Renovations Version 2.2, USGBC, 2005)

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In order to get possible points for each of the categories listed in the previous part, the project must meet the requirements listed in those categories. Furthermore, it must meet these preconditions; otherwise, the project will not be able to make points awarded in each category. Each of the previous categories includes one or more of the points likely to be achieved. (American Council for Green Building USGBC, 2004)

The certification process is divided into six stages:

Project registration.

LEED scorecard or checklist for schematic design.

Technical support.


Submit the project.

Certification. (Design Village 2003)

Figure 3

LEED certification process (Design Village 2003)

2.3 Benefits of green buildings

Green buildings are not a simple trend; and it’s more than fashion statement. Sustainable buildings are becoming important nowadays, building green is the most affordable construction, the optimal way to preserve the environment. The benefits of green buildings are categorized along three classes: environmental, economic and social.

This part of the thesis shows the great need for the green buildings and sustainable constructions; also it explains the benefits of the green buildings in the terms of design and development as well as the performance of the building itself.

This part will discuss how green buildings represent a smart choice of lifestyle, as well as the advantages for commercial projects. The first section will address the environmental aspect, after that the effects of the green buildings on the social life, finally the study concentrates on the economic benefits to the construction owners and the residents.

Many of the benefits of green buildings are interlinked with each other. The application of integrated design, leads to reduce the initial costs of the building, in the other hand the implementation of intelligent design and suitable materials will improve the quality of the internal environment and provide better way to preserve people health who living in this buildings.(Queensland Department of Public Works, QDPW,2010)

2.3.1 Environmental benefits

The search in the environmental aspect is important for the search in the sustainable issue. One of the common things that the people making attention is the urgent environmental aspects, such as smog or water pollution in the way exceeds the growing interest in the problems of sustainability, such as climate change or oil-related problems.

Many people are unable to perceive the consequences of many of the environmental issues that will appear in the future after 15 years or more. However, the global environmental issues, such as global warming, water pollution, soil and air, the depletion of natural resources and waste management are the most important aspect at this stage of the global environmental situation. (Flavin, French et al, 2002).

2.3.2 Social life benefits

The internal environmental quality (IEQ) of any building has a significant impact on the health, comfortable and productivity of people living in it. Therefore the sustainable buildings must provide daylight, proper ventilation and moisture control, while avoiding the use of materials that including large amounts of volatile organic compounds. (WBDG, 2002).

Most of the people, who live in urban areas, spend on average between 90 and 95 percent of their time inside buildings; whether in the home, workplace, educational facilities, shops and entertainment venues. Therefore the internal environment quality (IEQ), and indoor air quality (IAQ) and their effects on human health, is critical and importance issue to the individual and social well-being. From another perspective, poor quality of the internal environment and indoor air quality is a reflection of lack of efficient building design and materials used in it. Thus, the improvements that are made ​​in these areas, is considered one of the key elements of sustainable buildings.

2.3.3 Economic benefits

A first impression about green building is that type of constructions is too expensive to be considered as economically feasible. However, studies have shown that the costs of green buildings are not substantially higher than regular development projects.

When determining the costs of green buildings, should take the following factors into account: expenses or the initial cost of the building; and the length of time for recovery. (Langston, 2001)

A working group in sustainable buildings in California said that it is useful economically to exceed the minimum requirements for energy by 13% by using current technology, this will provides the one business project approximately 400,000 US $ per year.( California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle).

One of the green building economic benefits are saving the energy and water, this provided by the efficiency green design and technology that leads to reduce the operation cost and offer long-term saving. Increasing the property values is another benefit, the low energy and operating costs and easy maintenance of green buildings will make higher property values. (Green Building Benefits, Bloomington city, 2012)

The following table summarizes the benefits of sustainable design (Charles J. Kibert, 2005)

Table 2 the benefits of sustainable design





Reduce the cost of the site preparation

References List

Internet Sources

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Sustainable (Green) Building – Green Building Basics, California Integrated Waste Management Board, http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/GreenBuilding/Basics.htm (accessed 19-2-2013)

Definition of Green Building, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, http://www.epa.gov/greenbuilding/pubs/about.htm.

Green Building Index, http://www.greenbuildingindex.org/ (accessed 20-2-2013).

History of LEED, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Services https://sites.google.com/site/businessrecovery , (accessed 21-2-2013).

USGBC- United States Green Building Council (2006) [Online] Available at http://www.usgbc.org/ (accessed 21-2-2013).

Design Village (2003) [Online] Green Procurement: Review of design and procurement processes. Available at: http://www.stanford.edu/class/cee100/Presentations/Green_Bldg_100_Gonzales.pdf, (accessed 23-2-2013)

QDPW (2000) Ecologically Sustainable Design in Office Fitout; Brisbane, Queensland Department of Public Works (QDPW) Built Environment Research Division. www.build.qld.gov.au (accessed 23-2-2013)

WBDG (2002) [Online] Design Objectives, World Building Design Guide (WBDG); Available at: http://www.wbdg.org/ Design Types; (accessed 23-2-2013)

Langston, C. (2001) [Online] Life Cost Studies, Building Design Professions; Available at: http://www.architecture.com.au/edg ; (accessed 23-2-2013)

Green Building Benefits, Bloomington city (online) , Available at: http://bloomington.in.gov (accessed 23-2-2013)


Yudelson, Jerry, “Green Buildings Today,” Chapter 1, The Green Building Revolution, Island Press, 2008

Flavin, C., French, H., Gardner, G., Dunn, S., Engelman, R., Halweil, B., Mastny, L., McGinn, A. P., Nierenberg, D. and Renner, M (2002) State of the World 2002: Special World Summit Edition, W.W. Norton & CO

Journals and Reports

Emerald Architecture case studies in Green Building, Green Source Magazine, Chapter 1, A Green Building Primer, McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2008.

LEED Rating System Selection Guidance, U.S. Green Building Council, Inc. (USGBC), 2009.

LEED® for New Construction & Major Renovations Version 2.2, For Public Use and Display U.S. Green Building Council, Inc. (USGBC),October 2005.


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