Impact of Building on the Environment
The buildings in which we live, work, and play protect us from nature's extremes, yet they also affect our health and environment in countless ways. The design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal of buildings takes enormous amounts of energy, water, and materials. The process also generates large quantities of waste, air, and water pollution, as well as creates stormwater runoff and heat islands. Buildings also develop their own indoor environments, which present an array of health challenges. Where and how they are built affects wildlife habitat and corridors and the hydrologic cycle, while influencing the overall quality of human life.
Buildings consume approximately 37% of the energy and 68% of the
electricity produced in the United States annually, according to the
U.S. Department of Energy. Energy-management practices and
energy-efficient equipment can reduce energy costs by at least 20%. That's a
net savings opportunity worth more than $11 billion by 2010 for the
Green Building Initiative
As the environmental impact of buildings becomes more apparent, a new field called green building is gaining momentum. Green or sustainable building is the practice of creating healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance, and demolition. Research and experience increasingly demonstrate that when buildings are designed and operated with their life cycle impacts in mind, they can provide great environmental, economic, and social benefits.
Green Building Priorities
Water conservation and runoff reduction measures
Indoor environmental quality
Reduction of waste
Smart growth and sustainability
Environmentally friendly products and building materials