What is Sustainable Building?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 December 2019
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Sustainable building is an environmentally friendly approach to the creation of new structures, as well as the remodeling of existing buildings. The concept of green building is based on the idea of using materials that are renewable in the construction of the edifice, as well as making use of alternative energy strategies to make the building comfortable for the occupants. By using various methods that are considered ecologically sound, the building and its occupants will leave a smaller carbon footprint on the landscape and thus promote the well being of the environment for future generations.

The process of sustainable building seeks to make the best use of building materials that are already on hand, or that are renewable in nature. This provides a wide range of resources that can be called upon when engaging in the task of creating sustainable architecture. The design may call for using materials that are recycled, such as harvested bricks or timber, or even unconventional materials such as glass bottles or old car tires. Sustainable designs may also make use of harvested materials such as straw for the insulation or wall construction, effectively using a resource that is easily renewable each growing season.


Along with using renewable or recycled building materials, the sustainable architect will also address the use of green methods to provide energy and utility services for the building. This may involve the inclusion of solar panels to collect natural energy for heating, cooling, and operating appliance within the space. Turbines to capture wind and create energy may also be incorporated into the sustainable building design. These systems may be used as the main source of power, or be utilized to augment the power obtained off the local power grid, if current regulations require the new building to be connected with a preexisting grid.

One of the best resources for the creation and design of sustainable building is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, commonly referred to as LEED. This type of system provides data on the various types of sustainable design and construction that are likely to make a positive impact on the environment while also creating a safe and healthy space for people to live and work. The use of LEED-based recommendations and data can also prove helpful when remodeling an existing edifice into a sustainable building, since the system can provide helpful information on a number of building alternatives. LEED can help builders with such matters as the installation of alternative energy sources, environmentally friendly ways to insulate the space, and other valuable tips that can be used to make the building a truly green one.


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