Environmental Resource Assesments
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Six Green Construction Considerations
The following points apply to all new construction, once the decision
is made that a building project needs to be undertaken.
- Small is Beautiful.
Since 1970, Americans have doubled the amount of residential, worship,
educational and commercial interior per capita. The trend towards ever
more "necessary" space is a major ecological burden on our limited
Earth. Extra space means extra energy and other resources for heating,
cooling, building materials, cleaning and maintenance supplies. Most
people do not realize that there is a comfort range between destitution
or space shortage and over-affluence or too much space. A wise green
construction principle is to build only the space needed to attain the
end result desired. Older people want accessible and handy space, not
an excessive expanse of it for quality living.
- Local Building Materials. Plan
to construct with local building materials (brick, stone, sand, pressed
earth, wood, etc.). Some recyclable building materials can be obtained
in excellent condition virtually everywhere. Reusing windows and
frames, flooring and other components is good economy and a model
practice for others to follow at a time when most prefer higher priced
but often lower quality new products.
- Renewable Energy Advantages.
Solar or wind energy should be considered in construction of green
buildings. Where possible, make use of unobstructed southern exposures.
Consider passive solar space design, heat retaining materials, solar
photovoltaic arrays, solar water heating units, and possible solar
- Energy Efficiency Measures.
Energy efficiency measures should be undertaken, especially using
energy efficient double-pane windows with proper glazing. Thermal
insulation requirements should be met in full to help reduce heating
and cooling bills. Choose installed appliances with energy efficiency
rating in mind. Make compact fluorescent lighting the primary mode of
lighting rooms, corridors, exit signs, etc., in order to achieve
maximum energy efficiency. Where possible, berm or inset new
construction into hillsides to allow for the use of earth as an
insulating material and as a possible heat source.
- Water Conservation Devices.
Use low-flow devices for toilets, showers and for faucets. In dryer
climates consider a rainwater cistern for watering houseplants, flower
beds and for other uses. An ideal situation is one where greywater is
recycled for growing plants or drained into constructed wetlands.
- Native Greenspace.
Value greenspace. Use native grasses, flowers and shrubs to the highest
degree possible. Plant native or naturalized trees with preference for
deciduous shade trees in the south and southeast and evergreens as
windbreaks in the traditional winter wind direction (generally north
and west). Ring property with trees or selected woody plants as
vegetative privacy barriers.
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