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What is a Green Building?

What is a Green Building?

A green building is an environmentally sustainable building, designed, constructed and operated to minimize the total environmental impacts.

   Green building refers to a structure and using process that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle: from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. In other words, green building design involves finding the balance between homebuilding and the sustainable environment.

Green building practices aim to reduce the environmental impact of building.  

    The built environment in general, and buildings in particular, are responsible for a considerable portion of energy consumed and would therefore be a prime attention area for energy efficiency interventions. The building sector can significantly reduce energy use by incorporating energy efficient strategies into the design, construction, and operation of new buildings and undertaking retrofits to improve the efficiency of existing buildings. It can further reduce dependence on fossil fuel derived energy by increasing use of on-site and off-site renewable energy sources.

Green Building Strategies

The main strategies to achieve a green building include:

  • reduced energy consumption
  • water conservation
  • recycling waste

In practice

  • Green building measures include:
    • Careful building design to reduce heat loads, maximizing natural light and promoting the circulation of fresh air.
    • Energy-efficient air conditioning and lighting.
    • Using environmentally friendly, non-toxic materials.
    • Reducing waste and using recycled materials.
    • Water-efficient plumbing fittings and water harvesting.
    • Using renewable energy sources.
    • Sensitivity to the impact of the development on the environment.

   Well-designed green buildings will save money, increase comfort and create healthier environments for people to live and work, using improved indoor air quality, natural daylight, and thermal comfort.

   Energy use by depleting natural resources as well as CO2 emissions is one of our most important environmental impacts. Volatile energy markets, rising energy costs and increasing environmental awareness about issues such as global warming make energy efficiency and conservation a high priority.

    Build Green's focus is on reducing building energy usage and increasing occupant comfort.

What is Environmental Sustainability?

In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development defined sustainability as:

Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

This definition was endorsed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janiero in 1992.

Net Zero Buildings

The concept of a Net Zero Buildings is getting more and more attention and is currently being implemented in some form or the other in South Africa and other countries worldwide.

Currently a limited number of building could qualify as Net Zero Buildings, but developments in energy saving and renewable energy technologies, building materials and construction techniques are advancing rapidly, enabling Net Zero to become a mainstream requirement for new developments.

As with any evolving field of attention, several definitions exist for Net Zero Buildings. However, it is commonly understood that a Net Zero Building combines a design to minimize energy requirements with the generation of energy by means of renewable energy technologies.

The NREL publication “Zero Energy Buildings: A Critical Look at the Definition” explores definitions in detail, and it suggests four ways in which net zero energy may be defined:

• Net Zero Site Energy: A site Zero Energy Building produces at least as much energy as it uses in a year, when accounted for at the site. 10394070 268050916652188 276340996378449642 n

• Net Zero Source Energy: A source Zero Energy Building produces at least as much energy as it uses in year, when accounted for at the source. Source energy refers to the primary energy used to generate and deliver the energy to the site. To calculate a building’s total source energy, imported and exported energy is multiplied by the appropriate site-to-source conversion multipliers.

• Net Zero Energy Costs: In a cost Zero Energy Building, the amount of money the utility pays the building owner for the energy the building exports to the grid is at least equal to the amount the owner pays the utility for the energy services and energy used over the year.

• Net Zero Energy Emissions: A net-zero emissions building produces at least as much emissions free renewable energy as it uses from emissions-producing energy sources.

In general, when using the terminology “Net Zero Energy Building”, we are referring to a building for which the annual amount of energy used in its operations is equal to the amount of energy generated by the building. If the amount of energy produced by the building is exceeding the amount of energy used, we are talking about Net Energy Plus Buildings.


  • Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Green building 
  • Green Home magazine
  • Green Building Council SA
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