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Understanding Green Construction

Going Green
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If you’re building a house or business, chances are good that you’ve come across the term green construction. Green construction is a catch-all phrase that covers a multitude of environmentally friendly building techniques, many of which have actually been around for thousands of years.

Green construction relies on materials that are recycled or manufactured in a sustainable fashion. Across the world, salvage yards are reporting booming business in recycled building materials. These salvage companies often go to demolition sites, particularly in areas where older homes or buildings are being torn down, and comb through the wreckage for materials that can be reused.

Recycled materials in green construction

Recycled flooring is often used in green construction. Well-constructed flooring, especially if it’s made of cypress or oak, ages wonderfully and can be used again and again. So can window frames and doors. Also, older homes often are constructed of valuable lumber, from joists to beams to siding that can be retrofitted for new home construction. The old building materials not only reduce the need for new lumber, they often lend the home a unique, aged look. In many cities, there are contracting businesses that specialize in construction using old materials.

In those instances where recycled materials cannot be used, contractors that specialize in green construction try to use wood and other materials that have been harvested and manufactured in a sustainable manner. This means selecting lumber from companies that carefully manage their forests or buying other materials from sources that have good environmental track records.

Green construction also looks to reduce consumption wherever possible. This can range from selecting energy efficient appliances to building smaller houses and denser, more pedestrian friendly communities. Not only will using energy efficient appliances consume less electricity and water, they will also save the homeowner money – often enough to pay for themselves over time. Solar energy is also an important component of green construction. Solar power can be used for heating or electricity and can seriously cut a home’s energy consumption.

Designing in green construction

Designing communities that are more compact, meanwhile, will reduce the need for road construction and vehicles, which will cut down on gasoline consumption and air pollution. Green communities often rely heavily on mass transportation. Green experts also say the more compact communities enhance quality of life for residents, since they put a premium on shared green space and outdoor recreation.

Finally, design also plays a large role in green construction. Designers and architects schooled in the many concepts of green construction design homes and buildings in such a way that they blend in with their native surroundings. Buildings are positioned in such a way to take advantage of the natural sunlight or prevailing breezes, which reduces the amount of artificial heating and cooling that needs to be done. Large porches also help cool houses and invite residents outdoors.

Many green construction concepts and philosophies have been around for centuries. But as the world becomes more environmentally conscious, green construction has taken on a greater importance.

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