In recent years, the Unites States in general has resolved to better the living conditions of its residents. There has been a consistent move to improve living standards by offering better quality houses and buildings with benefits not provided by traditional construction. In fact, today traditional housing is giving way increasingly to the green, and based on the concept that green housing offers a higher quality of residence and a number of advantages. It is true that, for many citizens, traditional housing is still more desirable. Large numbers of people know little about green building and fear excessive costs, and have other concerns as well. Then, people tend to favor that which they have always known. At the same time, builders may change this thinking, and through focusing more on green construction. As more people invest in green housing, the benefits will be widely known and others will soon view green housing as the “traditional.” It is certainly established that green building offers a variety of advantages traditional construction cannot provide. If initial costs are higher than with traditional building, long-term savings more than compensate for this. Maintenance is also easier and less expensive. Then, and because of the benefits to the society, the U.S. government offers substantial tax credits and other financial incentives to encourage both builders and residents to “go green.” The housing industry has faced extreme challenges in recent years, largely due to the recession, but this in no way lessens the value of green building. Beyond anything else, it is up to the builders and construction companies to set the pace and emphasize green building. As this occurs, the society will embrace the changes and U.S. residents will enjoy a better quality of life, help to preserve the natural environment, and save money as well. In the following, then, the important differences between traditional and green building are examined, with the intent of encouraging the housing industry to make greater efforts in green building.
Green housing materials may cost more since they involve factors not a part of traditional housing. The expense of the basic materials includes the energy systems, and this general equipment is likely to cost more than the traditional ones. At the same time, these are costs that are made up over time. The higher quality systems require less maintenance, so the owner saves money over time. Green systems and materials are far more efficient, in terms of using energy and saving resources. For example, the windows are energy efficient in terms of conserving heat and coolness, the house appliances are energy enabled, and the boilers are designed to reduce the consumption of energy. These are all materials and systems based on renewable processes, which virtually ensure a one-time process of construction. Over a long period, then, the cost of ownership is reduced in the green homes because of the higher quality of the equipment. Comparatively, the costs of traditional homes are quite low during the construction. However, and as too many homeowners know, maintenance costs are ongoing expenses, which over time exceed any costs of building green. The quality of the materials used in traditional building is comparatively lower, and this makes it easier and less expensive for construction. The higher costs, however, build up over time and the owners end up paying a great deal for their “less expensive” home (Erickson & Cerpa, 2010).
As may be clearly seen in the following graph, the market of green building is dramatically increasing, which means that the traditional building market is decreasing. The cost of green building is also increasing, but it will decrease overtime due to financing, tax credits and other benefits, and the reduced bills from which green building owners benefit.
Green buildings have an added advantage when it comes to financing of the construction. The individuals may get loans from the government easily since the main intention is to better the living standards of the local citizens and the communities in general. Qualifying for a mortgage is an automatic qualification for green home financing. The chances of getting government support through loans and grants to obtain the green homes are also extremely high, as opposed to traditional homes. Green homes brings a wide range of advantages to both the communities and the owners, and the government is increasingly eager to fund their construction and development. The cost of building a green house is higher, as noted in the previous discussion. At the same time, the government supports the construction because of its economic advantages. The citizens who can qualify for a mortgage can easily get assistance to complete their project, and this supports their construction (Erickson & Cerpa, 2010). Financing is usually a major concern of those building their homes, so the government’s encouragement of green building is too important a benefit to pass by.
States offer up to 40% tax credit for the green houses, and the owners can claim this credit. Building a green house has a number of tax credits. The government of the United States is committed to this. A tax credit is usually out of the cost of solar hot water or photovoltaic systems. Another 10% tax credit is offered on the windows which are energy efficient, HVAC systems, insulation, and boilers. The percentage equally includes other energy appliances. The green houses also come with low interest on loans, which is a critical benefit to owners. The people who qualify for the loans pay much lower interest and this greatly encourages their construction. The traditional houses, on the other hand, have a lower tax credit. No added advantages are given to the constructors, as they stand on their own. The chances of getting a reduced loan interest are extremely low, in contrast to green housing. Moreover, mortagage and interest rates from the banks and other financial institutions will continue to favor green building. These institutions are increasingly discouraging traditional building, as the differences in rates support. For example, Wells Fargo is one of the major banks that reduce loan interests for green building owners. Benefits do vary by state; some states offer lower tax credits, whereas other have higher. In Wisconsin, for instance, it is about 22 to 32 grades. This means that the tax credit is about 10% for green houses and another 10% is for HVAC systems. The reason for these tax credits is to attract owners to change to green building and use these high efficiency systems in order to improve the standards of building.
No matter the owner’s commitment to the house, an enormous advantage in green building is resale. Usually, buyers prefer houses that do not cost much when it comes to maintenance. The high maintenance costs that come with traditional houses make them less attractive to the buyers, as they will have to spend more on maintenance. Traditional construction and systems typically break down and need repair or replacement, and those looking to purchase a home from another are very wary of plumbing, electricity, and other factors potentially calling for expense beyond the purchase of the home. Green houses then have better market value, as the systems are renewable and the quality of the construction is superior. Then, prospective buyers are attracted by the fact maintenance costs are lower, and that the green systems save on utility expenses. This adds another advantage to building green. The quality goes to higher and faster rates of resale of existing homes, which in turn encourages investors and sellers to have more green houses under construction. One of the most important advantages of building a green house is having a ready market, and the benefits of the green house translate to far greater value here.
LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design)
This is the leadership in green building. This leadership seeks to transform the way people think about buildings, and motivate communities to invest and embrace all green building. LEED certifies the buildings, saving money and resources with a positive impact on occupants and their health. There are four certification levels, starting from 40 points to 100 points. These points determine if the building is certified as a LEED building. In order to get a Platinum LEED level, the building must meet the highest standards of green systems and efficiency. It is not easy to attain a Platinum rating, and the averages of LEED buildings ar either certified or at silver level. At the same time, even certification is very important for an owner, simply because the home/building meets the basic high standards of LEED. As is seen below, these points are distributed over seven major aspects, and each aspect has portion points of the total points.
For example, the ASU campus in Arizona has a 40 out of 60 pointsof LEED certification, which is considered as a gold LEED building level. The reason that this building is considered a gold building is that it has other points, such as the 30% of reduction in water use, and 29% reduction in energy. It can be clearly seen that the points of LEED are distributed among the various categories. This is one of the buildings that is certified by LEED, and there are numerous buildings that LEED is rating in order to improve the building standards among owners and institutes.
Furthermore, LEED has improved services, as well as public perceptions, through the following:
LEED focuses on the materials used in the construction. They understand how the structure of the material is constructed, and know the composition of the material and its suitability for the desired project. The quality of the material is determined by how much it can be reused and for how long it will serve the building. The materials are also checked for the purposes of health and if they pose any risk to human life (Altomonte & Schiavon, 2013).
Secondly, LEED focuses on the comfort of the occupants by ensuring better standards and the condition of the buildings. To ensure that the occupants stay comfortable, the materials used in the construction must of the highest quality. The comfort of the occupants is the best market strategy, and this leadership provides the comfort to increase their market bargain. The comfort of the occupants is one of the most discussed issues by the leadership, since this is their basis of operation (Altomonte & Schiavon, 2013).
Then, the leadership encourages critical thinking and the ability of how to solve a certain issue by encouraging people to think faster and in a better way. LEED is constantly seeking to upgrade green building standards and offers incentives to those who come up with more efficient and sustainable methods. People with new and valuable ideas on how to improve certain systems are rewarded, and this makes it easier for other bright minds to bring in their ideas and contribute. The rewards that these people receive from their leadership are significant, and this generates further invention and creativity. All of these discussed steps, of course, are advantageous to the green house system, and do not pertain to traditional building. (Bayraktar & Owens, 2010).
HVAC is heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. These have their basis on the comfort factors and potentials of the homeenvironment. HVAC focuses on thermal comfort that is based on regulating the heating systems of the green house. Ventilation is based on ensuring the heat in the house is so high or so low, through energy-efficient air flow. The green house focuses on ensuring that the temperature of the house is low when the outside temperature is high. The system is geared to allow for the free circulation of air, which ensures that the inside air is cool to reduce the high temperature of the house. When the house is cold, the temperature is regulated in such a way that a low heat flow will warm it. Ventilation and air conditioning are necessary in ensuring a friendly and comfortable environment, which makes home life more attractive to the owners. It is true that ventilation, air conditioning, and heating systems are expensive in installation since they make up most of the expenses of the green house. Again, however, the initial costs are offset by the savings the owner will have, and the higher degree of comfort. Having the best HVAC systems makes it easy on the owner to maintain them, as the materials and equipment used are high efficiency and high quality (Erickson & Cerpa, 2010). Moreover, states are divided into zones, so for example Milwaukee, WI, is in zone 6A. ASHREA 60.2 and 90.1 are used for zone 6A and all equipment sizing and efficiency requirements are based on zone 6 requirements. \
Consequently, as the requirements change from zone to zone, even the temperature design conditions differ from zone to zone. This goes to how carefully LEED assesses HVAC systems, and based upon the difference in states which go to different temperature needs. It also promotes green building for owners, who benefit from this level of expertise in systems and construction that does not exist in most traditional building.
Green house plumbing helps in the reduction of energy costs and it helps save a a great deal of resources. Green plumbing, by virtue of its better design, reduces the energy used in the house by increasing efficiency, and this makes it easy to save energy. The plumbing system in the green houses helps in the reduction of energy and this then reduces the likelihood of needing to spend on repairs or additional utility bills. Green plumbing also promotes better health; drainage and water flow systems operate more cleanly, and this makes the houses more hygienic. The chances of infections or diseases to occur that are reduced since the drainage system is so efficient. This is an extremely important consideration for any owner thinking about building green, as there is nothing more important than the health of the family. Proper plumbing is also environment-friendly, and this lessens the health issues that come with poor environmental conditions for the community. Health hazards can be a direct result of poor waste disposal or a poor method of handling the waste materials from traditional houses. The virtually perfect plumbing of the green houses makes it easier for the occupants to enjoy a free, clean environment and better ways of disposing of wastes. This reduces the cases of infections owing to poor plumbing (Jaffal, Ouldboukhitine, & Belarbi, 2012).
During the construction process, the body that regulates the process of construction and ensuring that every occupant is safe makes it compulsory to equip the green houses with fire sprinklers. Fire protection is a major concern of LEED, as traditional housing is so prone to these disasters. Even as green houses are more safe than traditional, measures must be in place to address any possible fire. LEED, which is the leadership in ensuring that the quality of services are guaranteed, makes it a requirement that all green houses are installed with fire sprinklers to take care of any possible emergency that could arise. No project can get any credit from LEED without the fire protection program. The people who get the loans and support from the government cannot access any fund if there is no proper plan for fire protection in their projects. Owners should be aware of this emphasis. Traditional houses often have smoke detectors installed, but these are not of the standard of the green systems. That LEED mandates protection also encourages other fire safety measures, which in turn create necessary competition for getting LEED credits (Bayraktar & Owens, 2010).
Lastly, there are two main solar systems used in the lighting system of the green house. The first one is the stand-alone system, which works independently. They are designed to supply the DC or AC power systems, depending on the connection systems of light. This makes it possible for the supply for the independent supply of AC or DC loads. The main energy storage method is the batteries. Secondly, the grid power connection systems are designed to operate in parallel, and the electric utility grid is used in the connection. The power that is produced by the grid can either be used in the green house or, if the output is in excess, it can be reverted to be used in the other grid power supply. This has the advantage of incentives, and the operating cost is relatively low (Jaffal, Ouldboukhitine, & Belarbi, 2012).
In the modern era, a number of environmental issues have been of great concern to all societies in the world. Numerous studies and research are done in order to minimize the combustion of CO2, to protect the ozone layer, and to improve the general quality of life. In my estimation, green building is a vital process in addressing all of these issues. In my four academic years of education in Milwaukee School of Engineering, I have learned that, each year, the standards toward perfection are improving. I believe that home owners and builders must see the great advantages to themselves in building green, and apart from tax credits and savings of money. In the final analysis, I am sure that we would all benefit enormously by continuing to move to green building, and by improving these green building designs we could definitely help to solve larger environmental issues.
- Altomonte, S., & Schiavon, S. (2013). Occupant satisfaction in LEED and non-LEED certified buildings. Building and Environment, 68, 66–76
- Bayraktar, M. E., & Owens, C. R. (2010). LEED Implementation Guide for Construction Practitioners. Journal of Architectural Engineering.
- Erickson, V. L., & Cerpa, A. E. (2010). Occupancy Based Demand Response HVAC Control Strategy. In BuildSys (pp. 7–12).
- Jaffal, I., Ouldboukhitine, S.-E., & Belarbi, R. (2012). A comprehensive study of the impact of green roofs on building energy performance. Renewable Energy.
- The number of points a project earns determines the level of LEED certification. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.usgbc.org/leed#certification
- The Green Building Market: Its Growth. (2013, January 15). Retrieved from http://blog.helblingsearch.com/index.php/2013/01/15/the-green-building-market-its-growth-top-sectors-key-players/