What is Green Building?
Green building practices offer an opportunity to create environmentally sound and resource-efficient buildings by using an integrated approach to design. Green buildings promote resource conservation, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation; consider environmental impacts and waste minimization; create a healthy and comfortable environment; and reduce operation and maintenance costs.
University Memorial Center (61k) - Green Building Components of the Expansion and Renovation
Green building involves consideration in four main areas: site development, material selection and minimization, energy efficiency, and indoor air quality.
- Consider site development to reduce the impact of development on the natural environment. For example, orient the buildings to take advantage of solar access, shading and wind patterns tat will lessen heating and cooling loads.
- Carefully select materials that are durable, contain recycled content, and are locally manufactured to reduce negative environmental impacts. A growing market exists of quality recycled products at affordable prices.
- Incorporate energy-efficient design into buildings to create an efficient and comfortable environment. Take advantage of the natural elements and technologies to conserve resources and increase occupant comfort/productivity while lowering long-term operational costs and pollutants.
- Design for high indoor air quality to promote occupant health and productivity.
- Minimize the waste in construction and demolition processes by recovering materials and reusing or recycling them.
Why Build Green?
The design, construction, and maintenance of buildings have a tremendous impact on our environment and our natural resources. The building sector alone consumes two-thirds of electricity produced in the U.S., and is a significant contributor to air pollution and the pollutants that case climate change. The challenge then becomes to build smart so that buildings use a minimum of nonrenewable energy, produce minimal pollution, and use a minimum of dollars, while increasing the comfort, health, and safety of the people who work in them. Since building design has a strong impact on student learning, occupant health and occupant productivity, green building is important to incorporate at CU.
Is Green Building Cost-Effective?
Green building practices do not necessarily increase initial costs, but the certainly lower costs over the lifespan of a building. Over $42 billion annually is wasted in U.S. buildings due to energy consumption that could be avoided. When energy savings over time, increased durability, and enhanced occupant productivity is factored in, green design features and materials become easier to justify. While green technologies are usually less costly and easier to incorporate into the original designs of a building, there are many cost-effective strategies for retrofitting existing buildings. Several successful examples of green buildings have been built proving that sustainable design is cost-effective and a great environment example. Many of these designs have received awards and national recognition.
How can we build green at CU?
The 2001 CU Master Plan for campus states that CU's goal for sustainability is to "Adopt improved building industry practices for sustainability and the use of safe materials," as led by these three guidelines:
- Select environmentally sensitive architects to design CU-Boulder buildings.
- Keep up-to-date the provisions of adopted building codes and campus construction standards regarding these concerns.
- Weigh first-cost vs. longer-term payback decisions.
To make the process easier, the Environmental Center has compiled a Green Design Checklist covering many aspects of green building. Some of the suggested guidelines are already covered in existing CU building standards, while other guidelines go beyond the scope of the required standards and represent an opportunity to further the efficiency of your building.
Keep an open communication with Facilities Management personnel and your architect and environmental consultant to discuss which methods would be feasible and cost effective in your building.
CU buildings can achieve a "Green Score" under the LEEDTM system. The LEED Green Building Rating System TM, a program of the US Green Building Council, is a self-assessing system designed for rating new and existing commercial, institutional, and residential buildings. It evaluates environmental performance from a "whole building� perspective over a building's life cycle and provides a definitive standard for what constitutes a "green building." Credits are earned for satisfying various criteria and different levels of green building certification are awarded based on the total credits earned. The voluntary system is designed to be comprehensive in scope, yet simple in operation.
University Success Stories
Northland College Dorms, 1998
The Environmental Living and Learning Center features waterless composting toilets, and furniture and countertops made from recycled material. A 20kW wind tower and solar panels provide 8% of the dorms� power and cut water-heating costs by nearly 30%.
Oberlin College built a new Environmental Studies building that illustrates the balance between nature and human education. This building incorporated a 69,000 kWh/year PV system, a site wastewater purifier, and an efficient HVAC system. Sustainable products were used, and day lighting and passive solar heating methods were utilized. The end result was a building that uses one-fifth as much energy, while still providing an excellent learning environment for students.
UC Santa Barbara, 2000
This UC Environmental Science building has achieved a LEED certification from the US Green Building Council. The building will be naturally lit, heated, and cooled, as well as being constructed with materials manufactured from recycled and renewable sources. Toilets will be flushed with reclaimed water. the school is also planning to generate its own electricity with a fuel cell and photovoltaic tiles.
CU Boulder, 2001
The CU University Memorial Center expansion and renovation project has made environmentally conscious decisions already leading to 1.2 million pounds of construction and demolition wastes being kept out of landfills and recovered for reuse and recycling. The project is still underway, and is maintaining its commitment to sustainable design. Plans include using recycled-content carpets, daylighting, bamboo flooring, and low-VOC paints.
United States Green Building Council
Rocky Mountain Institute
DOE Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development
Built Green of Colorado
Environmental Building News
Green Building Concepts
Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology
Did You Know?
- Properly placing trees on a site can save 20-25% of annual energy costs
- Daylighting can reduce energy costs by 60%, since electrical lighting accounts for the majority of energy consumption and adds to the cooling loads in many institutional buildings
- Sick Building Syndrome, associated with poor indoor air quality, costs 150 billion workdays and about $15 billion in lost productivity each year in the United States
- Recycling and waste minimization keep unnecessary materials from landfills and can often save the developer disposal costs.