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Green Diamond FAQ

What is Green Building?

Green building, also known as sustainable or high performance building, is the practice of:
Green building – also known as sustainable or high performance building – is the practice of:

  1. Increasing the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use and harvest energy, water, and materials; and
  2. Protecting and restoring human health and the environment, throughout the building life cycle: siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction.
What makes a building Green?
A green building is a structure that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout its life-cycle. These objectives expand and complement the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort. A green building is a structure that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout its life-cycle. These objectives expand and complement the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort.

  1. Efficiently using energy, water, and other resources
  2. Protecting occupant health and improving employee productivity
  3. Reducing waste, pollution and environment degradation
What are the benefits of Green Building?
Buildings have an enormous impact on the environment, human health, and the economy. The successful adoption of green building strategies can maximize both the economic and environmental performance of buildings.
How is Green Building related to smart growth and sustainability development?
Smart growth is development that serves the economy, the community, and the environment by supporting healthy communities while creating economic development and jobs. Sustainability, or sustainable development, is the ability to achieve continuing economic prosperity while protecting the natural systems of the planet and providing a high quality of life for its people.
How do buildings affect natural resources?
Buildings and development have significant environmental impacts on our natural resources, including:

    1. According to surveys conducted in 2002, 107.3 million acres of the 1.983 billion acres of total land area in the U.S. is developed, which represents an increase of 24 percent in developed land over the past 10 years.
    2. In terms of energy, buildings accounted for 39.4 percent of total U.S. energy consumption and 67.9 percent of total U.S. electricity consumption in 2002.
    3. Building occupants use 12.2 percent of the total water consumed in the U.S. per day.

Buildings, and the transportation infrastructure that serves them, replace natural surfaces with impermeable materials, creating runoff that washes pollutants and sediments into surface waters. Urban runoff constitutes a major threat to water resources, as it has been identified as the fourth leading source of impairment in rivers, third in lakes, and second on estuaries.

How do buildings affect climate change?
The energy used to heat and power our buildings leads to the consumption of large amounts of energy, mainly from burning fossil fuels – oil, natural gas and coal – which generate significant amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2), the most widespread greenhouse gas. Buildings in the U.S. contribute 38.1 percent of the nation’s total carbon dioxide emissions. Reducing the energy use and greenhouse gas emissions produced by buildings is therefore fundamental to the effort to slow the pace of global climate change. Buildings may be associated with the release of greenhouse gases in other ways, for example, construction and demolition debris that degrades in landfills may generate methane, and the extraction and manufacturing of building materials may also generate greenhouse gas emissions.
What building types can be Green?
Any type of building has the potential to become a green or sustainable building, however every building type has different design and efficiency needs depending on its particular function. New buildings may be designed, built and operated to be green buildings. Existing building can also become green through remodeling, retrofitting and improved operations. The EPA offers helpful tools for improving the environmental performance of new and existing:

  1. Homes
  2. Schools
  3. BCommercial and public buildings
  4. Commercial and public buildings
What are the economic benefits of Green or sustainable building and development?
Well-designed, constructed, operated and maintained green buildings can have many benefits, including durability; reduced costs for energy, water, operations and maintenance; improved occupant health and productivity; and the potential for greater occupant satisfaction than standard developments. A green building may cost more up front, but can save money over the life of the building through lower operating costs. These savings may be more apparent through life-cycle assessment (LCA). Cost savings are most likely to be fully realized when incorporated at the project’s conceptual design phase with the assistance of an integrated team of building professionals. The integrated systems approach aims to design the building as one system rather than a collection of potentially disconnected systems.
Are green buildings more expensive to construct and operate?
Perhaps surprisingly, good green buildings often cost only a few percentage points or no more to build than conventional designs. Integrated design processes that identify the most efficient, holistic approaches to building green can reduce these initial costs. For example, in some cases, when buildings are carefully designed to be energy efficient, heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) equipment can be downsized for significant savings. There are also many green products and materials that cost the same or even less than conventional ones. The General Services Administration (GSA) did a cost study evaluating the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, estimating the cost to develop “green” federal facilities. The study looks at two types of buildings (a courthouse and office building) and the costs associated with renovating each to the three different LEED levels: gold, silver and certified.