August 4 2009

What does sustainable building mean?

by jim

Amidst the assortment of green vernacular, the term “sustainable” seems to be among the most frequently cited. This is especially true in the construction industry, as many home builders lay claim to sustainable building practices; but what does sustainable building mean for the home buyer – and, for the earth?

According to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, which to some extent is responsible for overseeing these practices, the concept of sustainable building integrates a variety of strategies during the design, construction, and operation of building projects. One important strategy in the design of a sustainable building is, of course, the use of green materials.

Green building materials meet one or more of the following objectives:
   - Resource Efficiency through recycled, natural/renewable, or locally available content
   - Indoor Air Quality enhancement though non or low-toxic materials by utilizing materials
   - Energy Efficiency, with materials and systems that reduce energy consumption
   - Water Conservation, with products and systems that reduce water consumption in buildings and conserve water in landscaped areas
   - Affordability, which is met by ensuring that product life-cycle costs are comparable to conventional materials or as a whole, are within a project-defined percentage of the overall budget.

As you can see, there are many ways sustainable building guidelines can be met; and the definition of sustainable materials isn’t so hard to pin down, after all. For more information on sustainable building practices in your area, try researching the website of your state or local housing authority, waste management board, or energy department. Also, many states have green building commissions; don’t forget to do some searching regarding that as well.


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