In the present day, when buildings already pose crucial importance in life, there is a visible re-settlement of goals in the construction sector. Day after day, sustainable buildings are the focus of this re-settlement, green buildings being a concrete example of it.
Building green means to optimise every single element during the construction process, in order to obtain an eco-friendly result. More specifically it is promotion of a healthy environment for all involved during the construction and operation phase, thus helping against the disruption of the land, water, energy and resources (2016). Although environmental protection is the goal of green buildings and thus made them gather the attention of many, a visible positive impact can be seen in other areas with an importance comparable to that of the protection of the environment. Consequently, green buildings are going to majorly affect the construction sector because of their positive effects on several fields such as economy, environment, health & community, etc.
The first field remarkably affected by green buildings is economy. Above all, green buildings tend to have equal or lower costs during the construction phase compared to traditional buildings. Principally, all the embryonic elements of the project must be optimised.
Requires a well-developed project
Giving birth to a green building requires a well-developed project, which consists in deeply studied genesis’s elements and continuous calculations and measurements. Firstly, the location for a green building must be chosen after studying the effects of climatic compounds, especially those of wind and sunlight which directly affect the costs of ventilation and lightning system that must be implemented in the building. (2014, pp.2-6). Engineers and architects can apply strategies such as building envelope and mechanical system, shrinkage of the building, the replacement of ductwork with pipes, dynamic glazing, right-sizing, lower window-to-wall ratio, reduction of floor-to-floor height, low-flow and low flush plumbing fixtures, multifunctional spaces, structure-as-finish etc. Already proved, these strategies have brought about 30% saving in cooling system and 9% cheaper total initial costs. (2014, pp.2-6).
Moreover, the usage of green materials that are economical, naturally helps the lowering of initial costs. Materials used in green buildings need to be special and different than those commonly encountered in ordinary buildings. They need to be affordable and green at the same time. Regional, renewable and recycled & reused materials directly affect environment and economy, not surprisingly. Usage of regional materials helps local economy. Here are to be mentioned materials that are bio-based and have a harvesting cycle shorter, or 10 years. Regarding to renewable materials we can mention linseed, straw, cotton, wheat, sunflowers, natural rubber, bamboo and cork, used in linoleum, straw boles, wheat board panels, bamboo cabinetry and cork flooring. Their usage conserves finite resources.
Another highly-effective category of materials considered green, is that of recycled and reused ones. Here we mention concrete, steel, metal, glass, brick, types of plastic and waste materials such as: slag, fly, ash, straw silica fumes, rice husk ash, palm oil shell aggregate etc. In fact, the statistics are amazing: 90% of structural steel has recycled content. (2016, p.4,5,6,8). If these percentages can be kept that high, conservation of sources, reduction of the virgin market requirement and lower costs for processing and transporting will be possible. The triple R are integrated onto one-another and work as a chain, eventually come all three together and must not be separated. To sum up, green buildings positively affect economy as stated above. When all the initial elements of the project, from location to materials are carefully studied before applied, lower costs are obtained and profit is made.
Benefits During Functioning Phase
Apart from the economic profit that green buildings generate during their construction phase, they also have economic benefits during their functioning phase. Firstly, the functioning system in this kind of building is energy-efficient. This system is shaped by the internationally known program “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” (LEED), the primary function of which is certification of green buildings. Its focus is the optimal cooperation of processes such as water circulation, heating, cooling, ventilation etc. LEEDs’ early application mainly aimed to achieve green standards on buildings.
Later on, with its spreading and wide implementation, it was shown by the statistics that besides affecting environment, LEED strategy had a remarkable impact on economy too. According to a study made in Centro Atico University in Bogota, Colombia, over a 30-year cycle, the reduction in costs of water and electrical energy usage was respectively 42.7% and 31.2%. The investment costs for LEED that led to such lowering of energy costs were around $701m, and the profit was $863m (2016, p.8).
Operational and Maintenance Costs
Furthermore, operational and maintenance costs ought to be mentioned. In a building there are always reparations, restorations and different services to be made in order for it to remain in good conditions. The difference between these costs in an ordinary building and in a green one, is quite noticeable. In a comparison made between a traditional and a highly effective green building, the initial investment costs of which were equal, precisely $14m, the operational costs are observed to be different. In the traditional building the functioning costs are $75m, while in the green one $50m. As for buildings lifecycle, in 40years, the costs would be $100m for the traditional building and $75m for the green one (2003, p.8).
Obviously, a green building is not more expensive to build and still its lifecycle costs are lower, translated this to financial profit. Considering all the things mentioned above, it is undeniable that a green building is the optimal solution that fulfils the aims of all investors and engineers.