What is a green building? A green building is a structure that uses a process that is environmentally responsible and resource efficient. A green building is made with respect and an understanding of natural cycles. A green building design provided an opportunity to use resources more efficiently while creating healthier and more energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings.
A great way to go green is to use a white roof! It is a roofing system that reflects heat and have proven to reduce the net cooling requirements of a facility by as much as 20%.What is it that turns an ordinary building into a green, sustainable, healthy place to live and work?
What makes a building green?
1. The right site. A green building should not be constructed in any sensitive habitats like wetlands, groundwater recharge zones, or old growth forests. They should be built over former brownfields that have been reclaimed. It is also a really good idea to have your building near major bus, train and subway lines to encourage the use of public transit.
2. Minimal energy use. Energy efficiency is a key component of any green building, which is why using good quality, insulating windows is as important as window placement. Windows in the right places allow daylight to reduce lighting use while providing solar warmth in cool weather.
3. The water-wise green building. Low-flow toilets, sinks and showers are awesome but you can take one step further by doing things like reusing graywater, which is non-septic water from sinks and showers, to flush toilets. Some green buildings even take advantage of rainwater, collecting it to cool the building and incorporating it into natural water features on the site.
4. Amenities and management. The very best green design and construction ideas don’t mean much if the occupants of a green building turn a blind eye to sustainable practices. For example, recycling and turning off lights when not in use requires ongoing participation from a building’s occupants and management.
Although these are only a few things that can make a building green, they are very good ideas and are very helpful within today’s society.
In my small community, we don’t have large scale Green Buildings, but there are a lot of efforts being put forth that help make a difference when added up. In my home, we use Insulated Concrete Foundation, which is more energy efficient than just concrete or a wood basement. We use LED lights that use 1/3 of the power than normal light bulbs do. We have programmable thermostats that we can manipulate to save gas in the winter and power in the summer during sleeping hours or time away from home. These are just a couple of examples from my home, but what I have noticed, are two homes with wind turbines known as micro-generation. These homes have spent more money than what would normally cost them for standard power hook up with Sask Power, but through their efforts and commitment to the extra costs, they are generating power from wind.
A wind turbine is made up of two or three propeller-like blades called the rotor. The rotor is attached to the top of a tall tower. As the wind blows it spins the rotor. As the rotor spins the energy of the movement of the propellers gives power to a generator. There are some magnets and a lot of copper wire inside the generator that make electricity. Winds are stronger higher up off the ground, so wind turbine towers are about 30 metres tall to allow the rotor to catch more wind energy. The turbines are built with a device that turns the rotor so that it always faces into the wind. Just one wind turbine can generate enough electricity for a single house, or the electrical energy to pump water, or to power a mill which grinds grain. The electrical energy can also be stored in batteries.
If you don’t know what a wind turbine looks like, I have inserted a picture for you to look at. One of which is the wind turbine just down the road from my home!