How do we know if its “green” or not?

To understand Green building we first need to define what “green” is. The basic idea is that green building uses materials, methods, and technology that create an eco friendly home. This article will discuss what it means to be “green” and what this means to our Hawaii home builders.

Because every building project is different and individual reasons for building green vary you need to set some priorities before you start building. Where one location you might need to be worried about overflowing landfills and in another it is contaminated stormwater runoff, these both have different methods to handling the problem so you must make a priority to solve it. Understanding the differing priorities is key to choosing materials for a project. In Hawaii you want to focus on airflow and stability due to the heat and storms.

The next aspect to green building is the design. For example, products that deal with energy such as a a dual-pane, low-e window is not green as far as its materials but if used correctly it can reduce energy use by maximizing the collection of winter sunlight and blocking out the summer sun. This can be very important as the right strategy will help achieve your goal.

No one material is perfect when It comes to green choices, there is always a trade off. Building materials can have positive and negative impacts on our environments. One way to assess the impact of the materials is the Life Cycle Assessment, which looks at the full range of the products impact from resource extraction to installation and ending at disposal. All of these are important when making a comparison to decide which material is best for the specific project.

Global Green has done us a favor and divided products into 5 basic categories. The First is Save Energy, which covers products that either reduce heating or cooling loads, use less energy, or products that produce energy. The next category is Conserve Water, these products conserve water above and beyond what is required by law or consume less water. Examples of these are double flush toilets and native landscaping. Our next category is Contribute to a safe, healthy indoor environment. Products in this category don’t release significant pollutants into the building, block the spread of or remove indoor pollutants, or warn occupants of health hazards. After that is the Protect Natural Resources category which focus on recycled content, products made from agricultural waste material, reduce material use, are made from rapidly renewable resources, or wood products from sustainably managed forests certified by the FSC. Our last category is Reduce Buildings Impact on the Community, such as products that mitigate the effects of stormwater runoff, provide easy access to alternate modes of travel, products that don’t require chemical pesticides, or don’t contain PVC.

All of this leads to the answer of what does green really mean. A product that is green ultimately is specified according to location and need. Use of a product can also determine “greenness” alongside 5 categories that divide up the market into easy to understand segments. Our Hawaii Home Builders hope this helps you understand green building a little more and maybe easy your mind on green building in general.

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