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Healthy-green building design is essential for providing an indoor environment that is safe and productive to its occupants. In fact, a 2014 study by Harvard proved the importance of healthy-green building design. The study concluded that cognitive function test scores* doubled in indoor environments with improved indoor environmental quality. Healthy-green buildings also are good for the global environment** because they use less energy and are sustainable***.
Healthy-green building design and construction has evolved over the past 40 years to include the well being of both the environment and building’s occupants. Initially, the goal of green building design was to minimize the adverse impacts on the natural environment. Over time, this grew to include an additional emphasis on the health, safety, and productivity of the occupants of the building. A healthy-green building design considers energy, water, and waste efficiency along with indoor environmental factors, such as indoor air quality (IAQ), thermal, light, acoustic, privacy, security, and the function of the space. Healthy-green building design recognizes that design, construction, and material choices can all have a profound effect on the natural environment along with the people who occupy the buildings.
The modern healthy-green building movement began in the 1970s. It grew out of growing environmental awareness, rising fuel costs and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil embargo of 1973. During the 1970s, the Institute of Architects (AIA) formed a Committee on Energy. Initially, the organization studied passive green building techniques to achieve energy savings, like reflective roofing materials and natural ventilation. The committee also looked at technological solutions, such as the use of triple-glazed windows. In 1993, the United States Green Build Council (USGBC) was established to promote sustainable practices in the building and construction industry. The council includes trade associations, architects, designers, and individuals all interested in the greening of the construction business. In 1995, the USGBC began developing a rating system for sustainability, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Introduced in 2000, LEED initially focused on limiting the damage caused by a building project. Today LEED also emphasizes the potential for building projects to contribute positively to their communities and the planet with new impact categories including climate change, human health, water resources, biodiversity, green economy, community and natural resources. Buildings become LEED certified based on points they obtain within six building components: 1. indoor environmental quality 2. water efficiency 3. energy and atmosphere 4. materials and resources, 5. sustainable sites and 6. innovation and design process. Over the past forty years, healthy-green building design has become one of the fastest growing building and design concepts utilized by architects, contractors, and building owners.
When designing a healthy-green building, it is essential to consider both the global environment and the building’s occupants. A healthy-green building design promotes sustainable practices and an indoor environment that is safe, healthy and productive to its occupants.
Indoor Environmental Quality of a Healthy-Green Building
The indoor environmental quality (IEQ) of a structure significantly impacts the health, comfort, and productivity of its occupants. IEQ attributes include maximizing daylighting, applying proper ventilation, controlling moisture, optimizing acoustic performance, and avoiding the use of materials with high-VOC**** emissions. The IEQ of a healthy-green building should also include occupant control over systems such as lighting and temperature.
Healthy-Green Buildings are Water Efficient
A healthy-green building should include water efficient features that recycle water on site. Recycling the water on site reduces energy use and the financial costs required to pump, transport, and treat water in a sewage treatment plant.
Energy Efficiency of a Healthy-Green Building
A healthy-green building design is energy efficient and strives to create a net zero energy building. A net zero energy building makes as much energy as it uses over the course of a year. Energy efficient buildings are important because they save money and energy.
Materials and Resources of a Healthy-Green Building
A healthy-green building strives to minimize its impact on resource depletion, global warming, toxicity and human health and safety through careful use and reuse of materials and resources.
Sustainable Site Selection for a Healthy-Green Building
The location, orientation, and landscape of a building affect the ecosystems, transportation methods, and energy use of the surrounding area. The site should reduce, control, and treat stormwater runoff, support native flora and fauna of the region, prevent environmental degradation caused by facilities and infrastructure and support buildings that are comfortable, safe, and productive.
Innovation and Design Process of a Healthy-Green Building
Addressing operation and maintenance issues early in the design process of a healthy-green building can greatly improve the work environment, increase productivity, reduce energy and resource costs, and prevent system failures. Building operators, maintenance personnel, and designers should all participate in this early phase of the design to optimize operations and maintenance of the building.
The Bautex™ Wall System is an excellent option for a healthy-green building design. Bautex Blocks create an energy efficient building envelope that is pest, rot, disaster and fire resistant. Bautex Wall system also provides an excellent IEQ and is low maintenance.
- The Bautex Wall System insulated concrete wall system reduces the transfer of sound from the outside to the inside of a structure. In fact, the Bautex Wall System received a high Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating of 51 and a high Outdoor-Indoor Transmission Class (OITC) performance rating of 47
- Bautex AMB 20 air and moisture barrier applied to the block wall prevents air and moisture infiltration to the interior of a building
- Bautex Blocks have lower volatile organic compound (VOC) emittance than wood. Bautex blocks are 0% VOC.
- Bautex Blocks are pest and rodent resistant
- Bautex Blocks are low maintenance because concrete is less susceptible to rot and rust than wood or steel
Healthy-green building design creates an indoor environment that is healthy, safe and productive to its occupants. It is also good for the natural environment. A healthy-green building design must take into account the location of the building site, water, and energy efficiency, the design process, materials and resource used, and the indoor environmental quality. Attention to these components will ensure construction of a healthy-green building. For more information on healthy-green building design visit Bautex Wall Systems.
*Cognitive ability tests assess a person's ability to think, reason, perceive, and remember, along with verbal and mathematical ability, and problem-solving.
** Eighty percent of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuels. The burning of fossil fuels is a problem because it has caused an excessive buildup of greenhouse gases, which has created global warming. Adverse impacts of global warming are extensive. A few of the impacts include rising sea levels due to increasing rates of glacial melting, more acidic oceans due to increasing carbon dioxide levels, and more frequent and severe weather events.
***The sustainable design aims to reduce depletion of critical resources like water, land, raw materials and energy. Sustainable design of facilities and infrastructure also prevents the destruction of the ecosystem.
****Volatile organic compounds (VOC) are chemicals used to manufacture and maintain building materials, interior furnishing, cleaning products and personal care products. Emissions of VOCs from these products can cause nose, eye and throat irritations, headaches, nausea and damage to the kidney, liver and central nervous system. Some organics can even cause cancer in animals and humans.