Human health and ecological balance are threatened by certain aspects of conventional construction, which can release any of 1,500 identified bacterial and chemical air pollutants. Construction debris represents a third of U.S. landfill waste, and over 40 percent of U.S. energy use is related to buildings. Such pollutant- and waste-intensive construction is unsustainable.
Green building, in contrast, takes a whole-systems perspective, encompassing energy and water conservation, indoor air quality protection, resource-efficient building techniques and materials, and designs that minimize waste while utilizing recycled materials. Green building minimizes a building's energy needs, waste stream, and ecological footprint, protects the health of its inhabitants and its environs, and reduces construction and maintenance costs over the building’s life.
Green building may also incorporate alternative, recycled, and natural building materials. Recycled materials, in particular, can greatly reduce the energy used to mine, harvest, manufacture, package, transport, and dispose of construction materials. Construction techniques such as rammed earth and straw bale that use readily available, natural resources result in affordable, energy efficient buildings.
Finally, cities such as Austin, Texas; Oakland, San Francisco, and Santa Monica, California; and Portland, Oregon have shown that deconstruction programs can help reduce the construction waste stream by facilitating reuse of building materials.
The LGC is a staunch supporter of green building programs and practices. For additional information, check out: