Green Buildings: What They Are and How to Implement Them

The number of green buildings or buildings seeking green certification is currently growing worldwide. Developers building green-certified constructions projects are projected to increase until at least 2021.

There are a number of benefits in sustainable construction, which makes this sector more and more attractive both to building owners and tenants. Below, we’ll look into what sustainable buildings are, the benefits of using them, and how to implement them.

What are green or sustainable buildings?

Greenhouse Coworking Space in Jakarta, Indonesia aims to be environmentally-efficient by using natural materials, natural light, and waste recycling.
Greenhouse Coworking Space in Jakarta, Indonesia aims to be environmentally-efficient by using natural materials, natural light, and waste recycling.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, green building – also known as sustainable building – is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle.

In other words, green buildings are designed to reduce its negative impact to human health and the environment through:

  • Efficiently using energy, water, and other resources,
  • Protecting occupant health and improving employee productivity, and
  • Reducing waste, pollution and environmental degradation.

This means that sustainable construction practices don’t actually stop at the construction stage. Sustainable buildings should also try to be environmentally friendly in its day-to-day operations, maintenance, and even demolition.

Why should we make green buildings?

Buildings and construction processes contribute about 36 percent of the global final energy consumption and nearly 40 percent of global CO2 emissions. As cities get bigger and more buildings are built, this number is likely to get bigger. That’s why changing the way we create and operate buildings is vital if we want to make lasting change for the environment.

The benefits of sustainable buildings have three main categories; environmental, economic, and social.

Environmental Benefits

Sustainable building practices can save up to 84 gigatonnes of global CO2 emissions by 2050. Buildings with green certifications in Australia, India, and the United States have saved 25 to 50 percent of energy and 20 to 50 percent of water usage compared to conventional buildings.

Economic Benefits

Energy and water efficiency means that green building owners and tenants can save operating costs on utility bills. In addition, green building certification can also raise asset value by up to 10 percent compared to conventional buildings. Finally, the prestige and comfort associated with sustainable buildings have been shown to attract more tenants and higher rent prices.

Social Benefits

Green construction practices can help improve tenants’ health and wellness. For example, one study found that workers in green buildings had 26 percent higher cognitive test scores compared to workers in high-performing buildings without green certification. In addition, employees in offices with big windows sleep an average of 46 minutes more per night.

How can we implement sustainable building practices?

The Ministry of Public Works building in Jakarta is the first green building to get a GREENSHIP certification in Jakarta.
The Ministry of Public Works building in Jakarta is the first green building to get a GREENSHIP certification in Jakarta.

Different certifications like LEED, Green Star, and GREENSHIP usually have different criteria about what makes a building ‘green.’ However, there are some ways that any building can use to make their operations more sustainable, regardless of certification.

Sustainable Materials

One way to achieve sustainable construction is to use less raw materials or sustainable materials like recycled glass and steel. Also, more durable options would delay the need for purchasing or producing replacements. Finally, using non-toxic paints and materials avoid the health problems like respiratory complications that can be caused by toxic materials.

Energy Efficiency

Buildings can save on energy usage (and costs) by utilizing as much as natural light as possible. This also helps keep buildings warm during cold weather. Some buildings also power themselves using renewable energy by installing commercial solar panels.

Waste Management

Buildings can also reduce waste in their day-to-day operations. This includes collecting, separating, and recycling waste by both tenants and operators. Additionally, building owners can also reduce waste on a larger scale by recycling construction debris to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills.

So, what’s next?

As demonstrated above, working in a green and healthy environment can improve employee productivity and wellness. In addition to providing a structure that’s as sustainable as possible, Greenhouse also aims to expand our positive impact through partnerships with local communities and even planting one tree every month for each member.

Check out more about Greenhouse Cowork.