There is no doubt that in today’s society with all the environmental issues that have arose, everyone is doing their best to become a more ecologically friendly component to the earth. ‘Going Green,’ seems to be the term that most people use to describe their transformation of themselves, their way of life and their surroundings to preserve our environment.

However what does ‘green’ even mean? When people discuss their green buildings, what are they referring to? Well it isn’t as easy as buying green bricks or painting your house green, that’s for sure.  Rather, a green building is a structure in which contains several components and processes that work towards decreasing their environmental impact through:

– Efficiently using water, energy, and other natural resources

– Reducing pollution

– Minimizing waste

– Decreasing environment degradation

– Protecting tenants and their health

– Improving the productivity of employees

Goals of Green Buildings

In the 1970’s, the proposal of sustainable development was first beginning. With issues such as energy conservation and the amount of environmental pollution, the desire to become more ecologically aware and cautious wasn’t a choice but rather a mandatory change that needed to occur. That is when the concept of sustainable design first began, in the hopes of combining several different practices and techniques that would eventually eliminate or reduce the impact that buildings were having on the environment and human health.  The thought was that if buildings were constructed from local recycled sources, built on a smaller scale, contained optimizing systems, and would generate on-site renewable energy, that would then immensely contribute to the preservation of the earth.

Elements of a Green Building

There are five main elements that are considered when constructing and occupying a green structure.

–       Energy efficiency

–       Material Efficiency

–       Water Efficiency

–       Siting

–       Occupant Health and Safety

–       Building operation and maintenance

 

Through these components you can work your way to attaining a building in which is LEED certified. What is LEED you might wonder? I did too!! Wellllll….

What is LEED?

Leadership in Energy and Environment Design is a third party certification program which grades structures based on the design, operation and construction of their high performance green building. They consider the following categories and their associated goals when grading a building out of a total possible 110 point score.

-Site Development: encourage car pooling and bicycling, increase green space

-Water Efficiency:  reduce water consumption, minimize wastewater

-Energy Efficiency: building energy consumption, use renewable energy sources

-Material Selection: minimize construction waste, use locally recycled materials, use renewable construction materials

-Indoor Environmental Quality: use daylighting, provide operable windows and control of work space, improve delivery of ventilation air

-Innovation in Design: use a LEED Accredited Professional, incorporate new environmental features, develop a green education plan

Possible Components to a Green Building

There are many different components, technologies, and processes in which make a building more ecologically friendly. Simple things such as, setting up bike racks at a school, which reduces gas fumes, is a step that can be taken by any individual to decrease their ecological footprint and make their building ‘greener.’ What other ways can we make our building green?

Everyone is aware of the usual technologies such as windmills, solar panels and recycling, but who knew there was more beyond that?! The following are some of today’s most fascinating technologies and break-throughs, which were created to increase the performance of green buildings.

Underwater Kites

Tidal power is the latest energy of investigation and interest. A company named Minesto has conducted a model and has created a successful underwater kite that produces energy from the tide in the ocean. It creates enough energy that it could potentially produce electricity for all the homes in a small city.

LO2P Recycling Center

This center takes a skyscraper to a whole new level! This ferris-wheel- like structure is in reality an air purifier built out of old used cars from junk yards. It contains windmills throughout the structure that act as a way of filtering the pollution in the air, as well as growing food and generating energy. This three-in-one building is found in Delhi, however is being studied and considered for construction in new places.

Electric Cars

This is an example of an electric car and the type of charging stations which are becoming available.

Electric cars are the next step in automobiles. With electric cars the fumes of the gas will not be transferred into the atmosphere anymore and will instead be electrically ran. In San Fransisco the electric car has already began to trend, and there are now charging stations available to stop at and charge your vehicle.

Green Concrete

Regular concrete is harmful to the environment because it is a source of man-made carbon dioxide. However to change that, companies have created a new type of concrete which in fact absorbs carbon out of the atmosphere. How so? In the way it is produced. The process is called carbonate mineralization by aqueous precipitation. It removes 70-90% of CO2 from the gases it is produced out of, and is also a capture place. For every ton of concrete up to half of it is captured carbon. How the concrete is produced involves flue gases being run through alkaline brine water. Calcium and magnesium are then formed out of the CO2 by the chemical reaction with the water. These two elements are precipitated using the heat of the gases and the chemical reaction, and eventually dry. Who would have thought? With all the gases especially CO2 being pumped into the air, this concrete could purify the air immensely.

White roof to lower temperatures

White roof solutions are becoming more popular in our society. It makes sense, as not only are they saving the earth, but the hole in your pocket too! When suns rays shine down on us they are either reflected or absorbed, the lighter the colour the more they reflect, the darker the color the more they absorb.  

That is why on a sunny day most individuals wouldn’t necessarily wear black, as it will accumulate more heat. It is the same with roofs. If your roof is dark it will absorb more heat, hence, raising your air conditioning bills, which in return heightens carbon dioxide emissions. When you switch to a white roof, you are immediately decreasing the temperature that your roof is absorbing. This leads to less air conditioning needed, less carbon dioxide emissions, and less money being spent by the tenant. Companies such as Tiocoat offer a wonderful white roofing product. Their high-strength, elastomeric coating, is available to be put on a wide variety of roofs and will ultimately save you lots of money.

Some other options that allow us to be environmentally friendly include:

–       Downgrading urban expansion

–       Recycle materials

–       Use of Natural sunlight

–       Shape and orientation of a structure

–       Motion sensors for lights

–       Gray water system (recovers rainwater)

–       Solar Panels

–       Green Lawn Care

–       LED lighting

–       Carpooling

 Going Green in My Town 

In my region, I am proud to say that we try our best to be green and to preserve the earth as much as we can! One way we work towards decreasing our ecological footprint is through one of our greenest buildings; the dome. That is right, our small little

community has gone above and beyond in my mind, and two of our own community members have come together to create the Great Lakes Dome Company; building domes in our own community.

 What is a Monolithic Dome?

A monolithic dome is a green building with, zero to little maintenance, superior energy efficiency, home security, and a life span measured in centuries. These domes are earth-friendly, extremely easy to maintain, cost- efficient, and durable structures which provide absolute protection to withstand hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires etc.  Even better, these buildings use almost half as much energy to heat and cool.

For the construction of monolithic domes, it requires an inflatable, tough airform, which creates the base figure of the building. Followed by a polyurethane foam insulator, and a concrete that is steel-enforced. Through a technological specific way, these ingredients are strategically formed together to create our eco-friendly dome. The site in which a dome can be built is limitless. Whether it is underwater, in mountains, on a beach; a dome has the capability of siting virtually any place.

How does the Earth Benefit?

The monolithic dome for many reasons is considered a green building. The number of natural benefits it creates just through the structure and architecture of it is incredible.

– Domes are micro-energy users. That being said they save lots of energy that is usually put out in a regular building. It is much easier to heat and cool the building due to its insulation and concrete outer exterior, and has been found to save ¾ of the usual energy spent on heating and cooling systems.

 

–       A dome has ultimate strength that provides longevity. As previously stated their life span is over centuries of years and in result these buildings will be passed on from generation to generation.

–       Domes provide near-absolute protection. Having the confidence and security that your building and its tenants are safe is a key feature of the dome. They are built to withstand fires, earthquakes, tornadoes etc.

–       Due to the near-absolute protection which domes are certified by FEMA, insurance costs are more inexpensive.

–       The construction process saves lots of money and time

These features of the dome are the factors that classify it as being one of today’s greenest building alternatives.

Public School Dome

Most people assume green buildings as places that people live, or work. However, who said they couldn’t be a learning environment? In my region we decided to take green and education and create a whole new experience for children. In a little town of my region called Southampton, our local public school fundraised money to fund for a dome to be installed outside the school. The community came together to make it possible and now the children attending this school have the opportunity to learn in a way that is green, fun, and is an extremely educational opportunity for them. The building was built just outside the school in their playground area. It is used as a playing area and as a class alternative. Its large area is perfect for educational games that cannot be played inside of the school. Different programs can be created to ameliorate the learning conditions of children by using the dome as an educational space area.

This is just our little way of trying to give back to the world and be an environmentally-friendly community.  Being green is very important, and after completing this blog, I have found out that it is actually very easy to do so! I hope this blog teaches you all a little something, and helps make you a more eco-friendly component to your community.

Till next blog, Hannah

Miss Teen Bruce County World 2013

xoxox

Written by: Hannah Cassidy
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